“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And 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. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:17-18).
God’s goal for the believer, beyond their salvation, is that they become conformed to the image of Christ. As you can see by the verse above, that transformation is a process where the believer proceeds from one stage of glory to another. Here are three analogies, from Hannah Whitehall Smith’s The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, that might help us to better understand the process.
First, the example of a potter and his clay. From the moment the lump of clay comes under the transforming hand of the potter, it is, during each day and hour of the process, just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day. Therefore, it pleases him, but it is far from being the vessel he intends it to be in the future.
Second, in the natural order of things. A little baby may be all that he or she could be or ought to be and may perfectly please its mother. Yet it is very far from being what that mother would wish it to be when it reaches maturity.
Third, the formation of fruit on a tree. The apple in June is a perfect apple for June. It is the best apple that June can produce. But it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple.
God’s works are perfect in every stage of their growth. In this life of sanctification, all we can do is put ourselves daily into His hands, where He is free to shape us and mold us according to the good pleasure of His will. We keep ourselves there, in His hands, by a continuous exercise of faith. This is our part of the sanctification process. And when we do that we are pleasing to God. Understand this, it will require years of training and discipline to mature us into a vessel that will be in all respects to His honor and fitted for every good work (II Timothy 2:20-21).