Transfiguration through Trials
Now what is said here is these two things: First of all, there is the pattern, perfect, complete - Christ glorified. The Holy Spirit comes to work that pattern out progressively in the children of God. He has come for that purpose, to take it over, and to do it. We are not allowed to say how He shall do it; He chooses His own way. That will lead to this next thing. The apostle goes on: "We have this treasure in vessels of fragile clay, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Now, how is it going to be done? How are these vessels of fragile clay going to contain, and increasingly contain, and manifest, this glory of the character of Christ? Now in the way that we would think, perhaps, or choose: "We are pressed on every side ... we are perplexed ... we are pursued ... we are smitten down ... we are always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus ... we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake ... death worked in us ..." (verses 8-12).
That is rather a disconcerting, discouraging view of things, but that is how the Spirit does it. The fact remains, whether we like it or not just this: being pressed on every side means that we are pressed into something more of the Lord Jesus, and that something more of the Lord Jesus is pressed into us. It means that you and I would never come to this transfiguration, only through these trials and these adversities. These are the Holy Spirit's means of our perfecting, of our growth in Christ.
It is a pity that it has to be like that; a great pity that we cannot be Christ-like, without being put into difficulty and trouble and suffering, but that is how it is! Give people absolute exemption from all kinds of difficulties and troubles, and see what kind of people they are - self-centered; self-sufficient; self-assertive. People who are never ill have very great difficulty in being sympathetic and understanding with the sick. They have, at least, to make a great effort to be patient with them - that is why I like doctors to be ill sometimes! But sympathy, understanding, patience, come to us along this line of painful experience; it is a matter of character, is it not?
And so the apostle puts alongside of our transfiguration, all these difficulties and adversities, and in effect he says, This is the Holy Spirit's material; these are the Holy Spirit's instruments for working Christ into us. If we are not rebellious, if we do not allow bitterness to creep into our spirit, it works out that way. Under the government of the Holy Spirit, suffering and trial, difficulty and adversity, will effect this.
(continued with # 25 - "Occupation with the Lord")