Transforming Into The Image Of Christ

In by Joel Webbon

This article is a part of an extended series of articles. If a particular statement seems to be lacking sufficient support or clarification, we encourage you to go back and read the previous articles, as well as commit to reading the following articles as they are published. Thank you for your patience.

2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.                                                                                                                                                                       

 1 John 3:2-3


The Apostle John has already once mentioned the return of Christ (1 John 2:28). In verse 2 of our text, John now reveals another aspect of Christ's return: The final completion of our sanctification, which is the process of being formed into the image of Christ.


Here in this text, John says, “[that] when [Jesus] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” However, right before making this statement, John says, “and what we will be has not yet appeared.” John is saying that our future state of glorified perfection (the Christian's final and heavenly state where they will be free from all impurity of sin) is not yet a present reality. We currently are not, and never will be, perfectly sanctified in this life.

“Our future state of glorified perfection is not yet a present reality. We currently are not, and never will be, perfectly sanctified in this life.”

However, verse 2 finishes by saying, “but we know that when [Christ] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” John is saying that the instant we see Jesus face to face, we will be made like him. We will be completely sanctified in body and soul. Of course, this only applies to those who have been adopted as God's children through faith in Jesus Christ. Unbelievers will also see Jesus just as he is, but the sight of him will not transform them into his likeness. Rather, they will shrink away in terror and shame from the splendor of his glorious light (1 John 2:28).

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 


Now in verse 3 of our text, John says this: “And everyone who thus hopes in [Christ] purifies himself as [Christ] is pure.” John does not say that if we have our hope fixed on Christ in this way, we “should” purify ourselves. Instead, John says that if we have our hope fixed on Christ in this way, we “will” purify ourselves. In other words, if a person actually understands and believes the truth of verse 2 (we will be like Christ when we see him face to face), it will be proven through their diligence to practice the truth found in verse 3 (we will seek to purify ourselves now).


This reality is another profound motivation for practicing holiness in this life. If a person is truly looking forward to being like Christ in the life to come, they will be actively working to be like Christ now.

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:1-5

1) Are there any longstanding struggles in your life? Have you simply resigned to defeat in these areas or are you still actively struggling against the sin?

2) Do you truly believe that you will be completely free from all sin in heaven? If so, does this belief give you hope that there can actually be freedom now? Why, or why not?

3) Are you sincerely grieved by your sin? Are you earnestly looking forward to being free from the presence of sin in heaven? If so, do you think about this future reality often? Why, or why not?


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To date, Right Response Ministries has only produced new episodes of “THEOLOGY APPLIED” every other week. Although we are incredibly excited about airing new episodes on a weekly basis, this new transition will significantly increase our ministry's workload. In short, we are stepping out in faith. Through much prayer, we have decided to commit to more than we can presently accomplish. We made this decision because we wholeheartedly trust the Lord to move on the hearts of individuals like you to generously provide the necessary resources in order to make this new endeavor sustainable. To that end, we sincerely thank you for your continued prayers and generosity. 

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