A New Way…
2 Corinthians chapter 3 tells of a new way. As you read below, the scripture is in plain text. My reflections are presented in bold italic.
Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! We are so vulnerable to seeking our own praise. We want endorsements. The challenge is we easily take our eyes off of God’s work in and through us as soon as we seek validation from others.
The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. There is nothing that reveals the work of Christ more than a changed life. When a life is changed, we know that we did not accomplish it on our own. In fact, we are a small part of God’s amazing work in people.
We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. Our confidence comes from our trust in God through Christ. God makes it possible for us to share this new way with others. God is our qualification and recommendation, and the Holy Spirit gives life.
The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. We still love the old way. We tend to want the structure of God’s law, as it feels more predictable. Yet the truth is, we have shown incredible failure to live out God’s laws through our own efforts. Human effort always starts out good and ends poorly.
Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! The Holy Spirit is giving life – not the law. There is no comparison. The law condemns. Christ frees us from condemnation. Through Christ, we are made right with God. There is no comparison. This new way is forever.
Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. We have a freedom and boldness in living for Christ today. The Holy Spirit fills us and makes it possible to be present in this world with courageous victory. Through Christ, we are no longer confused by the old law. We are open to live life filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. The freedom that is in Christ is amazing. Instead of trying to change through the blunt force condemnation of the law (the big stick approach), we are transformed through the Holy Spirit, who is constantly moving us toward a complete restoration of being made in the image of God.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18 NLT
Encouragement: Embrace the freedom made available to us through Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit fill, lead, and guide each of us. Resist lifting the old way based on laws above the new way given to us in Christ.
Prayer: Dear Father God, thank You for the foundation of the law recorded in Scripture. Thank You for showing us that no set of laws attempting to be fulfilled in human strength can ever bring about true change and freedom provided through Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You Jesus, for releasing us from condemnation and making us right with God the Father. Thank You Holy Spirit, for giving us freedom and boldness. Thank You for restoring us everyday to reflect God in and through our lives to this world.
In Jesus name, Amen
-Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center