II Corinthians 3:7-18 — Seeing the law for what it is

A lot of times as Christians, we think of Christianity as keeping a bunch of rules.  And so do the vast majority of non-Christians out there today.  But the glory that we have as Christians is not found in a bunch of rules.  Why not?

Paul writes, concerning the law,

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, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?

If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!  (7-11)

As we saw yesterday, the coming of the law was a glorious thing.  Why?  Because it showed us what God is like and how he created us to be.  Before we were in darkness as to these things, but God has revealed them to us.

But there was a problem.  Ultimately. the law led to death because none of us could keep it, at least not perfectly.  And so the glory of the law quickly faded, something that showed in Moses’ face.

When Moses first came down from the mountain with the ten commandments, his face was glowing with the glory of the Lord.  The people were frightened by this, and so he put a veil over his face.  But according to Paul, he kept it on much longer than he needed to.  And the reason he kept it on was because the glory was fading away.  Perhaps Moses was ashamed of this, thinking that if he were somehow holier, the glory would last much longer.  And maybe it would have.

For again, the problem with the law is that no one can keep it.  And because no one can keep it, it cannot give life to anyone.  Nor does it have the power to transform us into Christ’s likeness.

Yet many people continue thinking that it is through the law that they will be accepted by God.  And Paul says when the law is read, a veil covers their hearts (14-15).  As a result, they can’t see the truth concerning the law.  What truth?  All its glory has faded away.

But people think it is still filled with glory and can bring them to God.  And so they spend all their time in their own efforts trying to keep the law.  But in reality, all it does is points out their flaws and condemns them.

But when the veil is lifted, we see that the law’s glory is passed, and it causes us to look for what truly has glory.  What is that?  The ministry of the Spirit, set in motion by Christ’s work on the cross.  Christ paid the penalty for our sin, and now if we come to him in faith, repenting of our sin and making him our Lord, the Spirit starts to transform us from the inside out.  And each day, we are changed from one degree of glory to the next.

In short, this is no glory that will fade away like the glory of the law.  This glory far surpasses that glory.  And because of that, it will never, ever fade away.

So let us see the law for what it is.  It was something that was necessary for a time, to show us what God is like and what he meant us to be.  But it’s something whose glory has faded.  So let us no longer lean on it and our own efforts to change us.  Rather, let us learn to walk with the Spirit day by day.  And as we do, we will reflect our Father’s glory to those around us.

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About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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