But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as from the Lord, the Spirit.
— 2 Corinthians 3:18
This is the mirror we should be searching for and looking at continually. But what is this mirror? And why a mirror?
Friends, this is so powerful! When you look in a natural mirror, who are you looking at? Yourself, right? So it is with the gospel mirror. But it is not your sinful self you will see. No. You are looking at yourself in Christ. In fact, He has so much identified Himself with you, that He is you. He became you:
For such a High Priest became us,
who is holy, harmless, undefiled.
— Hebrews 7:26
The holy, harmless, undefiled life that Christ lived in the flesh is your life; He lived it perfectly. Do you believe it? It is true. He has borne not only all your sins but all your “griefs” and “sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). And it goes even beyond this. God is omniscient. He has felt and experienced everything we will ever go through, and He gave this experience to His Son on the cross, for Christ bore all the curse of sin—everything it entails.
Then, would it not also be true that He also won the victory in every personal trial we will ever experience? What does the Word say?
For we have not a High Priest
unable to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,
but One having been tempted in all things
according to a similitude without sin.
— Hebrews 4:15
In all points? Friends, that is more than just being tempted in similar ways in His own flesh, though that is included as He did have His own experience in His flesh. But our Immanuel (God with us) “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14).
What does that mean? It means that CHRIST on the Cross experienced everything you and I and everyone else will ever experience on the Cross, pertaining to our sins. There is a reason why the word “eternal” is attached to “Spirit” here. The Spirit transcends not only all space but all time.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of CHRIST JESUS my LORD: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win CHRIST, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of CHRIST, the righteousness which is of GOD by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
— Philippians 3:8-11
What does it mean to have “the fellowship of His sufferings?” First, it means that He has already suffered everything you will ever go through, and therefore they are His because He suffered them first by the eternal Spirit that has gone before you. And the fellowship aspect of it is that you acknowledge this fact that CHRIST suffers with you, and you with CHRIST, on the Cross whatever mental or spiritual pain you have. And by not giving into the temptation to murmur or complain, you are easing His suffering so that He does not also have to suffer with your sin, only your feeling of infirmity—which is greatly lessened for both parties by the fellowship together. This is the active “knowledge of CHRIST JESUS” we need to have, not merely a head knowledge about Him. He is to be in our moment-by-moment thought life.
And this is also part of what it means to be “in Him”—”in CHRIST”—which is such a common, yet underappreciated, theme in the New Testament Scriptures. Your suffering is in CHRIST. He bore it perfectly already. And as you behold CHRIST bearing it perfectly, you will become changed into the same glory, bearing it perfectly just as He did. You are in CHRIST. His robe of righteousness is upon you, because you are living His life He lived for you, and even where there is the slightest imperfection of your humanity coming out, He has you covered.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of GOD: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in CHRIST JESUS unto good works, which GOD hath before prepared that we should walk in them.
— Ephesians 2:8-10
Did you catch that? The good works we are to live have already been created in CHRIST JESUS! He has already lived them by the eternal Spirit, and we just need to receive them as a gift, to be manifest in our lives today. This biblical concept of CHRIST already have lived our life, and especially our temptations and griefs, is also described in the Spirit of Prophecy through Sister White:
We cannot explain the great mystery of the plan of redemption. Jesus took upon himself humanity, that He might reach humanity; but we cannot explain how divinity was clothed with humanity. An angel would not have known how to sympathize with fallen man, but Christ came to the world and suffered all our temptations, and carried all our griefs. Are you not glad that He was tempted in all points like as we are, and yet without sin? Our hearts should be filled with gratitude to Him. We should be able to present to God a continual thank-offering for His wonderful love. Jesus can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. When we are in sorrow and trouble and temptation, we need not think nobody knows, nobody can understand. O, no; Jesus has passed over every step of the ground before you, and he knows all about it.
— Review and Herald, 10/1/1889
As the shepherd goes before his sheep, himself first encountering the perils of the way, so does Jesus with His people. “When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them.” The way to heaven is consecrated by the Saviour’s footprints. The path may be steep and rugged, but Jesus has traveled that way; His feet have pressed down the cruel thorns, to make the pathway easier for us. Every burden that we are called to bear He Himself has borne.
— Desire of Ages, p. 480
Christ alone had experience in all the sorrows and temptations that befall human beings. Never another of woman born was so fiercely beset by temptation; never another bore so heavy a burden of the world’s sin and pain. Never was there another whose sympathies were so broad or so tender. A sharer in all the experiences of humanity, He could feel not only for, but with, every burdened and tempted and struggling one.
— Education, p. 78
If this were not true, friends, then how could it be written that Christ “took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17)?
Did He face the grief of a divorce, or a miscarriage, or a dreadful disease, having never been married or ill Himself? Yes or no?
Yes, He did, for He was “crucified among” us (see Gal. 3:1)! On the cross, Jesus was in the eternal Spirit among all mankind, embracing all their experiences of trial and temptation. He then took the dying guilt from every human failure and placed it upon Himself.
But that is not all. Not only did Christ experience our guilt and consequences of our sins after every time we fall, but He has experienced victory in every place where we are tempted, whether we have fallen short (sinned) or not. This is what the Law requires: our own personal life without sin, which He has lived for us! He had an experience of a sinless similitude of all our personal temptations—that is, facing them all “without sin,” thus gaining the victory for us! That is how and why we must go to the cross of Calvary. The eternal Spirit by which the atonement is made makes the cross a timeless reality, for both our failures (taken from us) and our victories (offered to us) are there, made accessible to us by the Spirit; it is not imaginary.
Remember, He is Immanuel, meaning God with us, not merely among the Jews 2,000 years ago. And not only did He experience all of our choices, but all of His choices in our lives. This is because the Spirit has the ability to not only see all of what was, is, and is to come but also what could have been and what could be. In other words, He sees and experiences all our possibilities. He has already gained victory over every one of our temptations to sin! This reality is already in Him, but as we behold this in the gospel mirror, beholding Christ as us, we are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory (character to character).
What this practically means is that in every situation we face, we are to see Christ in it—His living His victorious life in us. His righteousness in our lives, experienced by Him, is already reality in Him; it only needs to become a reality in us. How?
Look and live!
Behold the Lamb of God, who has both gained the victory and experienced our sins unto death! His life is our life! That is what we must behold. And that is the way to live. Our best energies are not to be expended on trying our hardest to do things right but in searching for and seeing Christ, and in beholding we are changed as this becomes a major part of our prayer life.
When you see that it is you when you look in the gospel mirror of Christ, what you see will become your own personal experience—the new you. When you search for and see a picture (mirror) of Christ with unveiled eyes of faith, believe it is your reality and say “Amen” (it is so). This is the faith of Jesus—the faith of your reality in Him, which you grasp by beholding in belief of it.
This is the mystery of the Gospel, of you in Christ, that Christ may be in you—the mystery of the mirror.
Heralding the Loud Cry Book
For further study on this topic, I highly recommend reading through the first two sections of the book by Cameron Schofield called Heralding the Loud Cry:
Note [On the Old Covenant]
Not to take away from the abundance of beautiful gems you will find in his book, the first couple parts of the third section, ‘Revisiting 1888’ teaches what E.J. Waggoner did about the covenant made at Sinai, which was not completely true, though his general understanding on the covenants was correct. According to the Spirit of Prophecy, the Sinaitic covenant, with the conditions being the Tables and the Book of the Covenant, was a good covenant and is still in effect today, to lead us into the new covenant experience of having the Law written in our hearts, as it was for the patriarchs. The written Law, and a covenant to keep it, was fully GOD’s plan due to and is why He brought the children of Israel to Sinai, for they had been corrupted by worldly and idolatrous practices in Egypt and would need the education.
Here are a couple of Spirit of Prophecy quotes on this:
“And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:3-8).
This is the pledge that God’s people are to make in these last days. Their acceptance with God depends on a faithful fulfillment of the terms of their agreement with Him. God included in His covenant all who will obey Him.
— E.G. White, Letter 263, 1903
The covenant that God made with His people at Sinai is to be our refuge and defense …
This covenant is of just as much force today as it was when the Lord made it with ancient Israel.
— E.G. White, Southern Watchman, 3/1/1904