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Background Scripture: II Corinthians 3:6, 7, 8


“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.  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?” …

Moses wore a veil.  The Christian does not need to.  Moses’ veil hid the radiance of his face, a reflection of God’s glory, while that radiance was fading away.  Moses functioned as a prophet, priest and king under the Old Covenant, a passing covenant, a covenant crying out to be fulfilled.  Jesus Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King under the New Covenant which will never pass away.  Believers in Christ share those offices.  There was glory in the Old but there is a surpassing glory in the New.

In II Corinthians 3, Paul contrasts the letter that kills and the Spirit that gives life.  The letter is the law, but it is not just the law.  There was “spirit” in the Old Covenant, both the Holy Spirit who is God and the inner spirit of man.  The Glory Cloud which led Israel in the wilderness and which entered dramatically into the Most Holy Place of, first tabernacle and then temple was the presence of the Lord God, who is spirit. (John 4:24).

The Lord said to Israel, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts” (Deut. 6:6).  Were there no Israelites under the Old Covenant who knew the Lord and who had His commands upon their hearts?  Indeed there were.  One finds some of their names in Hebrews, chapter eleven.  The “letter” then, is not simply the law; it is the law devoid of saving faith.  It is words written in ink or chiseled into stone, but not written upon the heart.  It is commands kept in hope of gaining salvation thereby, and not in heart-felt obedience to the Lord who saves.

Even at best the Old Covenant cried for the New for the veil which covers the heart of the natural man can only be taken away by Christ (II Cor. 3:14).  “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord the veil is taken away” (v. 15).  And who is that Lord?  “The Lord,” says Paul, “is the spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (v. 17).

The natural man is bound, limited, hidden by a veil over his heart. (v. 14).  It has been so ever since Eve, the mother of all humans (except Adam), wanted to be more than God designed her to be and so broke God’s law regarding the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.  Adam, with her, entered into the bondage of sin.  Ashamed of their nakedness they hid among trees.  Their descendants ever since have been hiding, hiding from the Lord and from each other.

In Christ, humans are liberated by the removal of the veils over their hearts.  We are set free by Christ, through the ministry of His Spirit, to reflect the Lord’s glory, ideally without shame or fear.  The law takes on new meaning for the believer because it no longer condemns.  That condemnation was borne by Christ and consequently His follower is set free with the assurance of God’s forgiveness.

Persons in Christ do not need to veil their faces as Moses did.  We should not, for it is our calling to reflect the Lord’s glory.  If Moses was embarrassed because his reflection of God’s glory visibly faded as the hours passed, we do not need to share that embarrassment.  For we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (v. 18).

The person united with Christ by faith has the Spirit living within him.  He is free to be the person God designed him to be.  The law, which before was a finger-pointing accuser, is now his friend, written on his heart by the finger of God.  The law set forth in Scripture informs the Christian concerning the will of the Lord whom he loves not yet made perfect, he disobeys, but when he does he is moved to repent, to seek and to accept the Lord’s forgiveness.  There is freedom; there is life.

Willard Macmillan


– This article comes from AI’s devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”