We become like what we watch. The objects of our attention shape our becoming. Our potential as creatures is realized by what we behold. We are moldable creatures of clay, conforming to whatever most attracts our gaze. What we behold shapes us, for better or for worse. Obviously, this profound reality carries with it massive implications for our media diets in the digital age, as we will hear today from Pastor John, preaching long before the digital age. In this clip, over thirty years old, Pastor John is applying the glorious text of 2 Corinthians 3:18 to our media diets. Here’s Pastor John.
Focus your attention on the glory of God. Focus your attention on the glory of God. There’s a reason for this: you become what you behold.
Glory in Degrees
Now, that’s not just a nifty little saying. That’s a straight-out biblical paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed.” I’ll just stop right there. How do you get changed? Behold the glory of God. If you behold the glory of God and hold it in fixed view, you will become like that in your mind. You will think the way God thinks, see the way God sees, feel the way God feels, assess the way God assesses. You will be repelled by the things that repel God when you behold the glory of the Lord.
“Do you want to become holy? If you do, there is an agenda: watch Jesus — a lot.”
Let me finish reading: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” I just love that phrase. It’s so hope-giving because I know I’ve got such a long way to go: “one degree of glory to another.” It’s progressive. The holiness that comes by beholding the glory of God does not happen instantaneously. From one degree of glory to the next, we move toward the image of Christ.
What Do You Behold?
But the point I want to make here is that it happens by beholding him. If you’ve got your Bibles open to that text, you might want to just look a chapter later to 2 Corinthians 4:16. Listen to this awesome statement of the man, the old man. Paul’s getting old here: he’s got arthritis maybe, and his back aches, and his eyes are not so good anymore, and his hearing’s not so good. He can’t walk as far. He says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” The word renewed here is the same word from Paul used in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” It’s being renewed every day.
Now, how? How Paul? How do you as an old man get new every day? The answer:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
Now, here’s the key to being new, brothers and sisters. Do you want to be new in your mind as a young person, in your whole being and spirit as an old person? Do you want to be new? Stop watching the world — which very practically comes down to television. Stop watching the world. Why would we want to be entertained by the unbelieving so much? Why are we so hooked on videos and on television and on movies and on the radio? “World, tell me, show me, feed me, shape me, make me.” That’s what we’re doing. “Oh no, not really. I’m not the least affected when I watch.” You become what you behold.
I just ask you to compare in your life the degree to which you behold the Lord Jesus and the glory of our God, compared to the degree to which you behold the world. How do they compare? Might there not be some insight here as to why we live in weakness and failure in the temptations of our lives? Why we don’t have the effect in the world that we would like to have? Why can’t our relationships be fixed? Is there perhaps some correlation between the fact that we focus so much on the world? We live in the world, we ooze world, we watch world, we read world.
“How do you get changed? Behold the glory of God.”
How many of us read books that have spiritual wisdom? Look at television that has spiritual wisdom? Look at movies that have spiritual wisdom? Read the Bible with its spiritual wisdom? How much time do we devote to this biblical principle that is unassailable? You become what you behold.
I urge you to check out your lifestyle. Do you want to become holy? Do you want to become new so that you see like Jesus, think like Jesus, feel like Jesus, love like Jesus, care like Jesus, judge like Jesus? If you do, there is an agenda: watch Jesus — a lot.
Father, I just beg for the miracle of transformation in our lives. Would you come right now and just convict us and give us some choices about how we spend your Lord’s Day afternoon and evening? Are we really going to go home — are we going to spend more time tonight asking the world, without any God in it, to entertain us? Then we will reap what we sow. And I just pray, Father, that that not be so. In Jesus’s name, I ask it. Amen.