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What the Bible says about Mirror, Seeing in a Mirror
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 7:1-5

Years ago, a minister of my acquaintance gave a sermonette in which he suggested that every time we had car problems, we should try to find a constructive spiritual parallel or analogy. Perhaps bald tires could represent a lack of faith, or low oil on the dipstick, a lack of Holy Spirit. In that spirit, when we see spiritual faults in others, we should convert them into mirrors, examining our own spiritual progress and looking for similar things in ourselves that grieve God's Holy Spirit.

While living in Texas, I drove Interstate 20 five days a week between mile-markers 565 and 614, and I noted all kinds of disgusting driving behaviors, including tailgating, cutting others off, excessive slowness, excessive speed, aggression, and timidity. People shook their fists at me in rage for not going fast enough and also for going too fast!

Yet, when I was late for an appointment, I become similarly annoyed and frustrated about people driving at a snail's pace. When a tailgater followed me too closely, my carnal nature urged me to step on the brakes and give him a good scare. The strange thing about these rude behaviors is that when I do the same despicable things to other people, they do not seem nearly as offensive.

Seeing our behaviors—good or bad—mirrored in someone else is something every parent has experienced. How many parents have ever said, “Just wait until you become a parent. You'll know exactly the way I feel”? We parents, for good or bad, transfer our values and our ways of doing things to our offspring.

David F. Maas
Specks as Mirrors

Romans 7:23-24

Paul writes in II Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (emphasis ours). Transformation is a process, as is redemption. We should be able to understand this fully from our own experiences since being converted. We know that we are not completely free from Satan and this world.

The apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." This verse indicates that everything concerning salvation is undergoing a process of transformation. Human nature and this world have their hands upon us, and we have to fight them off. We know that if we do not, we will conform to them and their ways. Gradually, as we learn and overcome, the veil is removed, but a time is coming when we will have fullness of everything promised.

Paul relates his experience in Romans 7:23, "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." He writes that the law of sin brought him into captivity. A person in captivity is not free, is he? In verse 24, he continues, "Who shall deliver me [redeem me completely] from this body of death?" A person in need of deliverance is not free. Even as a long-time apostle, Paul was not truly as free as God fully intended him to be.

We see this pictured in the children of Israel in the wilderness. They were physically free—that is, they had fled beyond the boundaries of Egypt—but they were still not free from Egypt's influence, which they carried right with them in their minds and displayed in their conduct and attitudes. This is why God urges us to flee Babylon (see Jeremiah 51:6; Revelation 18:4). We cannot physically escape from its borders because Babylon's influence is worldwide, but we can escape spiritually by not permitting it to influence our conduct and attitudes.

All this means that we will not truly be redeemed until we fully come into our inheritance. Then we will be completely released from all the effects of sin, and it will be plain to all that we are indeed God's peculiar treasure.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Our Uniqueness and Time

1 Corinthians 13:12

One translator describes what "we see in a mirror, dimly," as "a riddle and an enigma." Paul suggests that now we do not see God nearly as clearly as we would like, but the time is coming when we will see Him in startling and bold clarity. He is illustrating a time-consuming process of change that gradually transforms.

The important element for us is that now, because of His merciful revelation of Himself to us, we do see a portion of His eternal glory, even if imperfectly. Others are totally blind to even the part we see imperfectly. We are in the process of becoming just like Him, and we will share His very life in glory, as I John 3:2 assures us: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

in Jude 24 we find measureless encouragement if we will believe what it says: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. . . ." We will be without spot, blemish, or wrinkle; we are going to experience perfection.

This is what is promised to us to enjoy when we see Him as He is, when we have the fullness of His Spirit, when we are fully redeemed. Moreover, because of the gift of God's Spirit, we are also promised a small foretaste in this life. We can know something of the joy of holiness and the hatred of sin as Christ knew them. God wants us to experience the love, joy, and peace that passes all understanding. At the time of our full redemption, God will wipe away all tears, and our joy will be unmeasured and unmixed.

Do we love God and our brethren? As the apostle John teaches, they go together; they cannot be separated. We have our failings on both scores. Because we belong to Christ, we can experience that love. Its fruits are just budding, but in the Kingdom of God, we will experience it in full flower.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Our Uniqueness and Time

James 1:22-25

An old Yiddish proverb reads, “Der Spigel iz der greste farfirer,” meaning “The mirror is the greatest deceiver.” We find this statement especially true when we use mirrors that distort the image. How many of us have:

  • seen mirrors at amusement parks that make us look taller or fatter than we really are?

  • tried to shave or perhaps to insert contact lenses using those stainless steel mirrors at Interstate highway rest areas?

  • tried to judge whether to pull out into traffic using a side-view mirror with the warning etched onto it, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”?

Jesus' brother, James, advises us that looking into God's law—“the perfect law of liberty”—and becoming a faithful doer of the Word is the only accurate and reliable mirror to evaluate spiritual progress (James 1:22-25). But many of us prefer to judge our spiritual progress by making comparisons with one another, something the apostle Paul points out in II Corinthians 10:12 as being unwise.

Human nature, very standardized and predictable, seems to have a blind spot to its own faults and shortcomings. Like the car mirrors mentioned above, human nature distorts what we see in ourselves. This mirror is the great deceiver when we apply it to ourselves, but so clear when observing the faults of others.

Jesus' admonition in Matthew 7:1-5 reflects this principle:

Judge not, that you be not judged [Jesus refers to condemning or passing sentence, something we are not authorized to do]. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

In Romans 2:19-24, the apostle Paul gives a parallel warning to Jewish religious leaders for hypocritical condemning:

. . . and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

In both instances, the topic of judging is ancillary to the egregious evil of tolerating sin in oneself. In other words, the anger both Jesus and Paul express is far more intense against concealing or tolerating sin in oneself than against judging. As we learn in the first chapter of Amos, the sins of Israel's enemies were hideous and disgusting, but the concealed hypocritical sins within Israel—from the people who allegedly made a unique covenant with God—produced a more noxious stench in God's nostrils.

Other people's sins do and should make us angry. But the things that intensely annoy or anger us about other people's behaviors should serve as warning indicators of the very things that God finds offensive in us.

David F. Maas
Specks as Mirrors


 




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