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By: Larry Shaffer
2 Corinthians 3
To compare and contrast is a common means of understanding that we use to understand concepts. Paul uses contrast to make his point and drive home understanding of the glory of the New Covenant. Specifically, the work of Jesus through the power of the Spirit. Once again, it is not mysticism but it is an internal change of the heart that abides throughout a believer’s life.
Paul uses the illustration of a veil over the heart of the Jewish nation, representing being stuck in unbelief.
“But to this day, whenever Moses is read (The first five books of the Old Testament) a veil lies over their heart. But when a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom,” v15-17.
When one turns to Jesus, even today, illumination, enlightenment and the “ah haw” moment takes place. We’ve heard the testimonies: ‘I see the world different now; I have a new peace and joy that I didn’t have before; I care more about others now.”
The simple truth
The Corinthians (most of them) had experienced this New Covenant transformation. But like us, some were hardened by the petty politics of divisions in the church. Others, tempted by the passions of lust and immorality and then others, seduced by charismatic false teachers seeking to discredit Paul and gain control of people’s devotions. Paul reminds them of the glory of the simple truth of their heart transformation through his ministry of proclaiming Christ. His ministry to them, he reminds them, was simple, pure, effective and legitimate. He says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as SERVANTS OF A NEW COVENANT…, verses 5,6. Paul is not a superstar of the New Covenant or a hero, captain or even a leader of it. He, as are we, was a servant of the New Covenant. That is his claim of legitimacy. Christ through His Spirit is transforming lives, and we are servants to support, serve and point the way toward Jesus and this glorious transformation.
The letter kills but the Sprit gives life!
The Old Covenant, including the 10 commandments, pointed out our sin with the letter of the law. It created our awareness of our sin and our need for a Savior. It can’t save us. But the New Covenant fully reveals the solution to our need and Jesus as our remedy from sin. Paul said, “the letter kills but the Spirit gives life,” verse 6. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they sought life from the law; obeying it to the nth degree. That’s what Paul means by “the letter (of the law) kills but the Spirit gives life.” Following laws and rituals is not a means of grace. That is an empty pursuit with a shocking end. The letter kills. We “believe and receive” Jesus rather than pursuing orthodox behavior as a means to life in the Spirit.
Because of You
Lord, thank you for removing my veil and revealing to me your glory. It was and is irrefutable, irresistible and so very welcome. You opened my eyes, You gave me life and You set me free. I am not adequate for such things but nevertheless, I cling to my adequacy because of You. Amen!