2021-02-28 – 2 Corinthians 3:7-4:6 – With Unveiled Faces
2021-02-28 – 2 Corinthians 3:7-4:6 – With Unveiled Faces
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
[SLIDE] I got this cool flashlight a few years ago. It is called a Streamlight. It could actually be considered a weapon as it has a lot of power. It puts out 275 Lumens, or the equivalent of 9,500 candles. I don’t think it could burn anything directly but the makers claims it can incapacitate an attacker for a few seconds if you shine it in their eyes directly. An effective tool to say the least. I got one for each of my family members so they could see in the dark and maybe protect themselves a little. Today we are going to talk about a different kind of light. The light of God’s glory. I pray this message makes a difference on how we choose to live out our Christian faith going forward.
Please turn now to 2 Corinthians 3:7, page 1024 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Last week and in the previous chapter, the apostle Paul conveyed the understanding that as Christians we now have on us The Fragrance of Christ. I don’t know about you, but that message really resonated with me. In verse 16 of chapter two, Paul also wrote that “to some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life”. In that, he was pointing out that some folks will receive Christ followers as part of their family and they will welcome us heartily. However, others will look upon us as if we were figuratively pointing the finger of the God at them. They will not want to be around us because we look like, act like or even smell like Jesus Christ and thus they are convicted of their sins. Sins that even they know are leading them to death.
Now in today’s message, we are going to talk about death and life. But more specifically about some of the differences between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant (agreement or contract with God) was given to Moses by God, and it included what is commonly referred to as the Law of Moses. We can read about that in the first part of Old Testament in our Bibles. Whereas the New Covenant that we now live under as Christ followers, is based upon God’s wonderful mercy and amazing grace. And that is what the New Testament in our Bibles is based upon.
I feel so privileged and happy that I live under this New Covenant of grace, aren’t you? So many times we take things for granted, but the more and more I read of the Old Testament, it makes me realized how fortunate and blessed we really are.
So starting at verse 7 of this third chapter of second Corinthians, Paul wrote:
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory which was set aside, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory. [SLIDE] 10 In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was set aside was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.
This is kind of a compare and contrast proclamation by Apostle Paul. Here Paul is comparing the ministries of the Old Covenant against the ministries of the New Covenant. As you might be aware, in the Old Covenant, the Jewish Nation was bound by the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments that were written by God onto stone tablets. And because Moses was actually with God, it caused Moses’s face to subsequently even glow with God’s glory. I bet it was a site to be seen.
So, I thought it would be good to read that account together today, to be reminded again of this great peace of His-Story. In Exodus 34:29, it reads:
“29 As Moses descended from Mount Sinai—with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain—he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone! They were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called out to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community returned to him, and Moses spoke to them. [SLIDE]
32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he commanded them to do everything the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever Moses went before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil until he came out. After he came out, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 and the Israelites would see that Moses’s face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil over his face again until he went to speak with the Lord.”
Again, God’s glory radiated or shined from Moses’s face. But notice here it says that Moses put the veil back on his face only after he had finished speaking. And now Paul is telling us in these first verses today that the real reason Moses did this, the reason he put on the veil in the first place, was because the glory that Moses received and was radiantly displaying while he was speaking, was actually fading away, and Moses didn’t want to reveal that fact to the Jewish people.
So the glory that Moses received from God back then was only temporary. However, the glory that we now have because of Jesus the Christ is much better. Again, verse 11 says “For if what was set aside was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious”. You see, the glory that Christ now offers us will never fade.
Verse 12 continues that thought:
12 Since then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. 13 We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from gazing steadily until the end of the glory of what was being set aside, 14 but their minds were hardened. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. 15 Yet still today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
Paul in these verses is referring back to the Jews of his day. He is attempting to get the Corinth believers to realize that the Jewish people who refused to accept Jesus as their Christ and Savior-Messiah, effectively chose to continue to live under the Law Moses instead. Just like the Pharaoh in Egypt, their hearts were hardened against the Lord. I bet that understanding just broke Paul’s heart. Paul was once one of them. He was a persecutor of that faith, but now an evangelist.
This past Thursday night our church men’s group met again as we are going through this book called The Covenant. We talked about the differences between the Old and New Covenants and how fortunate we are now to live in this time of mercy and grace. However, it seems today that many so-called Christians are stuck in between what was required by the Old Covenant and the freedoms we now have in the New Covenant. They call themselves Christians but they still try to enforce the Law both inside and outside of the church. The biggest difference between them and us is that we don’t do things for the purposes of trying to gain our freedoms.
For instance, based upon Jesus and Paul’s instruction, we don’t demand for anyone to be tithing anything in order to get to heaven. We don’t demand that anyone get baptized in order to be considered a Christian. And nobody has to confess their sins to the Pastor to be forgiven. We are under the time of grace. There is nothing we can do to earn Heaven on our own. Although actions like tithing, getting baptized, and confessing our sins are certainly great things to do. These are the type of demands that were required in the Old Covenant not the new. And whenever we attempt to add any requirements to the simple but yet complete saving grace of Jesus Christ, then we effectively diminish its beauty, value and significance. I hope you understand this. Paul continues at verse 17:
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Last week you might recall that we read about where Paul referred to the “death that leads to death”, and the “life that leads to life”, and now in this last verse here Paul refers to the hope we now can have because of the glory of the Lord. That we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory”. So, if you put this all together, we, as a God’s children, are transformed from death to life, and from life to glory. And that glory we receive from God because of Jesus will never, ever fade, Amen?
The title of this message today is With Unveiled Faces. You see, under this New Covenant contract, we don’t have to put on a veil like Moses anymore. For God’s glory is a permanent part of us, and His glory will never fade. And God’s Holy Spirit now resides in the temple of our hearts, so we are never away from Him anymore. And with that understanding, we as Christians now have true liberty, and true freedom. As verse 17 says here, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. I love that word freedom, don’t you? Dr. Martin Luther King’s words ring loudly in my mind, when he shouted, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Of course, in that, he was talking about the freedom from mortal slavery and oppression, but in this case, we are talking about slavery and oppression from our own sin. It is only because of God’s glory, God’s grace and mercy that we are now gifted true freedom from the persecution of our own sin. That is a blessing that we do not deserve. And that causes me now to shine God’s glory for all to see.
The last section we have starts in Chapter four. It is subtitled, “The Light of the Gospel”. Starting at verse 1, Paul wrote:
4 Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. [SLIDE] 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, since we have this ministry”. “Therefore, since we have this ministry”. What an amazingly powerful statement this is. First, whenever anyone uses the word “Therefore”, that means he is referring to what was stated previously. What was stated previous was that 1) In Christ, we are now under the New Covenant, and 2) With Unveiled Faces, and 3) With the glory of the Lord with us that will never fade. And then Paul followed with, “since we have this ministry”. In that Paul is talking to the Corinth people as well as he is talking to us today. Since we have the Great Commission from Jesus Christ. And since we have been charged to “go make disciples”, then “we do not give up” either.
Jesus never said that the Great Commission work would be easy, but that is what He called us to do. There are people around us whose eternal lives are perishing. In Paul’s words here, he wrote that the little “g” god (or satan) has “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel”. But God’s glory should be shining brightly through us, and since we are not wearing any veil, then we should let His glory be seen ever the more brightly.
This reminds me of what Jesus said Himself as written in John 8:12 Jesus said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” And in Luke 8:16. He said, “No one lights a lamp and covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he sets it on a stand, so those who enter can see the light.” So Jesus is the light of the world, and we need to let His light shine through you into the darkness brothers and sisters. Let God’s light shine through you. And perhaps you will have the privilege of leading somebody to Christ.
Now I will be the first to admit that this is a very dark world we live in today. But take heart, because the light shines most brightly in the darkness. You don’t need a 275 Lumens, 9,500 candle power flashlight, as it only pales in comparison to the light of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.
Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to remove your veil and show the light of Christ to the world? That is God’s will for you today and I hope you will consider.
Let us now stand together and blanket all this with prayer.
Let us sing together, one verse of Amazing Grace.
Next week we will continue in this second chapter of Second Corinthians. Thank you again for joining us today. May God be with you till we meet again.