Read 2 Corinthians 3
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Greater Glory of the New Covenant
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
God has always been about the transformation of His people. We read in the Old Testament that God gave the Israelites the Old Covenant, or law, to help transform them into who He desired them to be. However, the difficult part of the Old Covenant was that there was no way to measure up completely; no one could follow the law perfectly. Animal sacrifices helped momentarily, but they couldn’t fully atone for sins once and for all. The only person allowed in the presence of God was Moses. When he came away from meeting with God, his face was so transformed that he had to wear a veil to protect the people around him from seeing such glory.
In the New Covenant, depicted for us in the New Testament, people still fall short of God’s glory. There is still no way to completely be sin free or to fully measure up, but the difference is that Jesus’ blood on the cross fully covers our sin, now and forever. Here, Paul is reminding the church in Corinth, and the church in 2020, that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have access to God–the veil has been taken away from our eyes. Unlike the Israelites, who couldn’t draw near to God, when we put our faith in Jesus, we have direct access to God at all times… even more than that, His Spirit comes and dwells within us. Because of that unlimited access, our unveiled faces are able to behold the Lord’s glory. And as we gaze on the glory of God, we begin to be transformed more and more into His image.
You see, transformation is the goal. God meets us where we’re at, in the middle of our sin, but He loves us too much to leave us there. Therefore, He gives us His Spirit inside us, His Word to guide us, worship to fill us, and community to walk alongside us. As we spend more time in the presence of God through these gifts, we will be transformed to look more like Jesus. And as we begin to look more like Him, we begin to reflect that image to those around us, hopefully bringing them to a place of transformation themselves.
Verses 4-6 talk about how Christ makes us competent ministers of the gospel through Himself. Do you ever doubt your adequacy as a minister of the gospel? How can this verse be helpful to you?
Verse 17 says that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. How have you experienced the freedom found in Christ? How does walking in step with the Spirit bring even more freedom?
How has God transformed you as a person? In what way do you currently need to be transformed? Are you spending enough time with God to allow Him to transform you?
Did You Know?
In this passage, Paul contrasts the way God carried the two covenants to His people. The stones carried the old covenant and the Holy Spirit brought the new covenant. These vehicles represent the nature of each covenant: hard and unbending, compared to personal and friendly.