Ministry of Death

It always amazes me how the bible reveals things which I never really noticed before. Or how I may have known something but didn’t realize where in scripture it was located.

This morning as I was reading 2 Corinthians, I noticed something interesting. Often, I open my bible and start reading, either forward from that point, but often backwards as well. Today, I landed on Chapter 3 which in the ESV is entitled “Ministers of the New Covenant.”

Here, Paul refers to the Law, as evidenced by that which was written on tablets of stone, has been replaced by that which God has written on human hearts. This gets back to Jeremiah and Ezekiel in which they prophesied about what is called “The New Covenant.”

This whole concept between The Law and The New Covenant is not easy to understand, yet it is important that we do because Paul compares the two as such:

2 Corinthians 3:6 …to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

He goes on to say of the letter, “…ministry of death, carved in letters on stone…” (v. 7). He’s talking about the Ten Commandments and all the other laws that God handed down to Moses.

The crazy thing is that Paul says these laws are being replaced by something much, much better. The Law was good, so good that God’s glory in it made Moses’ face shine. Yet that shine faded in comparison to the new.

v. 9-11 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Yet Moses veiled his face “so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.” (v. 12). In other words, they didn’t want to face up to the fact that their behavior violated the law and thus require their death as compensation.

I think it’s fair to say we didn’t understand the implications of the Ten Commandments when we learned about them as children in Sunday school. I think it’s also fair to say that we weren’t taught anything beyond rote memory of the Ten. Why? Because our Sunday school teachers couldn’t bear to tell us. Why? Because they couldn’t bear to understand it themselves.

v. 14-15 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.

Here’s the real interesting part. The unsaved person doesn’t understand any of this. Why? Because their hearts are hard. They are blinded because of it. Only Jesus can open these eyes.

v. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

This is a game-changer, folks! Jesus removed the blinders and opens our eyes so that we may now see! See what? See our sin that the Law was pointing out! See how hard our hearts were to these matters. See the glory of God in Christ Jesus! See the freedom that lies from a new heart that no longer yearns to sin.

v. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Not everything is made 100% perfect, but, surely, you should see a big change once Jesus removes that veil.

v. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. This comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

v. 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

We are new people, transformed out of darkness into the light, given a new residence not of this world, with a mission to share the gospel. Which gets me to the mission of this blog itself, as represented by this verse:

v. 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

When Adam and Eve bit that forbidden fruit, their eyes became blind to good. The New Covenant is about God changing the hearts of humans that were ruined by The Fall. He has shown his light in the hearts of those to whom he has had mercy. All humans stand condemned because of our deeds and hard hearts. Yet some are granted mercy by God, at his discretion.

John 1:1-5, 12-14, 16-18, 3:19-21 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. 319 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

See? This is a really, really big deal! This should impact each and every day of your life! Maybe you’ve lost that luster and your light doesn’t shine like it once did. Preach the gospel to yourself. Open up your bible and dive deep into it. We are being transformed, my friends. We are not yet there. You have a part in this by cooperating with the Spirit.

Here’s a word of advice. The more I dig into these things, the more and more I see how the bible is interconnected. If you notice, today’s message covers material on Page 1 of the bible all the way to the back cover and everything in between. I may seem to know a lot of things, but that’s not because I’m so smart. I’ve read the bible many times, cover to cover, and will continue to do so. Only with familiarity will you be able to see common themes, just like I have.

A new year is coming soon. Do you have a bible reading plan set up for 2021? If not, you should. Jesus has removed your veil, hasn’t he? Then enjoy your freedom!

Father, I pray that this message fires up at least one person, perhaps more. Amen.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

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