God’s True Mirror

  • Steve Hatter
Mirror on the grass reflecting birds flying in the sky

Did you know there is something called a non-reversing mirror? A non-reversing mirror, also known as a True Mirror, allows a person to see something as though he were looking directly at it, instead of its mirrored image.

I found this idea fascinating. One advertisement described how utterly transforming seeing oneself in the True Mirror could be: “day after day, for a lifetime, you’ve been seeing an altered version of yourself in every mirror you’ve gazed in. The only person on earth whose true face you never see in real-time is your own.”

No doubt there has been a tremendous effort and investment brought toward the creation and marketing of the True Mirror. However, as I thought more about its fundamental function and purpose, I saw that its use probably leads to temptation and not personal holiness. This is because its focus is on the external and temporal. It is likely yet another tool tempting narcissism in an already self-obsessed culture.

Scripture tells us that God is not so much interested in our external looks but in what emanates from our heart: “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

What Christians need most is a “True Mirror” to see our hearts as they really are!

And guess what? God, in His infinite grace and loving wisdom, has given you that “true mirror of the heart.” It is found in your close relationships. Your spouse, your children, your friends, and even those you might consider enemies, are people providentially placed by God within your temporal circumstances for many reasons, but one clear purpose is to sanctify you!

The word translated as “sanctification” in most Bibles means “separation.” Progressive sanctification is what gradually separates the people of God from the world and makes them increasingly like Jesus Christ.

Sanctification differs from justification in several ways. Justification is a one-time work of God, resulting in a declaration of “not guilty” before Him because of the work of Christ on the cross. Sanctification is a process, beginning with justification and continuing throughout life. Justification is the starting point of the line that represents one’s Christian life; sanctification is the line itself.

Sanctification is a three-stage process – past, present, and future. The first stage occurs at the beginning of our Christian lives. It is an initial moral change, a break from the power and love of sin. It is the point at which believers can count themselves “dead to sin but alive to God” (Romans 6:11). Once sanctification has begun, we are no longer under sin’s dominion (Romans 6:14). There is a reorientation of desires, and we develop a love of righteousness. Paul calls it “slavery to righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

The second stage of sanctification requires a lifetime to complete. As we grow in grace, we are steadily changing to be more like Jesus This occurs in a process of daily spiritual renewal (Colossians 3:10). The apostle Paul himself was being sanctified even as he ministered to others. Paul claimed that he had not reached perfection, but that he “pressed on” to attain everything Christ desired for him (Philippians 3:12).

The final stage of sanctification occurs in the future. When believers die, their spirits go to be with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Since nothing unclean can enter heaven, we must be made perfect at that point. The sanctification of the whole person—body, soul, and spirit—will finally be complete when we receive glorified bodies (Philippians 3:21).

Our role in sanctification is both passive and active. Passively, we are to trust God to sanctify us, presenting our bodies to God and yielding to the Holy Spirit. Actively, we are responsible to choose to do what is right.

One writer described the balance of trust and choice this way: “Both the passive role and the active role are necessary for a healthy Christian life. To emphasize the passive role tends to lead to spiritual laziness and neglect of spiritual discipline. The result of this course of action is a lack of maturity. To emphasize the active role can lead to legalism, pride, and self-righteousness. The result of this is a joyless Christian life. We must remember that we pursue holiness, but only as God empowers us to do so. The result is a consistent, mature Christian life that faithfully reflects the nature of our holy God.”

This brings me back to all the people God has sovereignly placed in our lives. My precious wife proves an incredibly effective “true mirror” of my heart because we live in a one-flesh relationship and after forty years she knows me better than I know myself. She will easily bust me on my true intentions if they are less than holy, even if my outward behavior is fine.

In the raising of our five children—now all adults—God proved to me every day how far I had to go to be truly Christlike in sacrifice and service to them. I look back and I am shocked at the selfishness that God needed to work out of me through the sanctifying agency of being their dad!

God has used church family relationships to sanctify me in a similar fashion. I have had to search my heart on many topics over the twenty years we have been at Anchorage Grace Church, and I have had to repent and seek restoration when and where I have been wrong.

The truth of the matter is this: everything and everyone in our lives has a purpose in God’s amazing sovereign plan for us as individuals and corporately as His church. There is always a bigger picture. There is always an overarching goal.

The apostle John makes it clear that we will never be totally free from sin in this life (1 John 1:8-10) Thankfully, the work God has begun in us He will finish (Philippians 1:6).

See the people around you as the “true mirror” of your heart and thank God for them!