New & Improved.
2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life?. – 2 Corinthians 3:8 NLT
In this section of his letter, Paul addresses the differences between the old covenant, represented by the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets, and the new covenant, written on the hearts of men through the power of the Holy Spirit. He compares one to the other, using the word glory 19 times in an attempt to prove the new covenant superior to the old. The old covenant was given by God and, therefore, was good. But it has been replaced by the new covenant. Both were marked by God’s glory, but the glory of the new covenant was greater. The old covenant, or way, was dependent on man keeping the laws of God, given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The problem was that man, because of his sin nature, was incapable of keeping his part of the covenant. He continually sinned, breaking God’s commands and failing to keep God’s holy standards for righteousness. The old covenant ended up condemning man, exposing his sin and revealing his failure to meet God’s requirements for holiness and acceptance.
Paul understood the purpose of the law in the lives of men. He wrote about it extensively in his letter to the believers in Rome. In fact, Paul was constantly having to fight against those who wanted to demand that the keeping of the law was still a requirement, even on Christians. There were those who followed Paul on his missionary journeys, teaching new converts that their salvation was incomplete unless they also kept all the Jewish laws and religious rituals like circumcision. These individuals were a constant thorn in Paul’s side and he had to deal with their false teachings everywhere he went. He told the Roman believers, “it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, ‘You must not covet.’ But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power…sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me” (Romans 7:7-8, 11 NLT).
But what made the new covenant of Christ’s death so much more glorious was that it nullified the need for men to keep the law as a requirement for being made right with God. Paul wrote, “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are” (Romans 3:21-22 NLT). Paul told the Corinthians, “how much more glorious the new way, which makes us right with God!” (2 Corinthians 3:9b NLT). The objectives of both the old and new covenants were to make men right with God. Sin had separated man from God. Sin is nothing more or nothing less than rebellion against God’s authority. It is rejection of his rule over our lives and refusal to acknowledge Him as our Lord and Master. God’s law revealed His holy standards for righteous living. It put down in writing what God required for men to have a right relationship with Him. But all it did was reveal man’s inability to live up to that standard. For generations, man attempted to restore his relationship with God through self-effort and better behavior, only to fail miserably. That’s why God sent His Son. That’s why the new covenant is more glorious than the old. Because the new covenant provided a fail-proof way for man to be restored to God. Jesus Christ provided a means by which sinful man can be cleansed, forgiven and given new life. We have a Spirit-empowered capacity to obey God that we didn’t have before. We have been given new hearts that desire to live according to God’s standard. And God is slowly, but surely transforming us into the likeness of His Son. “And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18b NLT). And it just doesn’t get any better than that!
Father, I can’t thank You enough for the new way You provided so that I might be made right with You. I never could have kept the law and lived up to Your holy standard. I was doomed to defeat, a product and a victim of my own sinfulness. But while I was stuck in my sin, You sent Your Son to die for me. He took my place on the cross and suffered the penalty and the punishment that was meant for me. He took my sins on Himself and, in exchange, He gave me His righteousness. So I stand before You as holy and righteous, uncondemned and totally forgiven. I am right with You because of what Your Son did for me. Thank You! Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men