2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 11
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|Today in our text Paul is going to begin to talk more and more about God’s presence in us. It’s amazing how he does it. How that God’s presence in us changes us from the inside out and qualifies us as being authentic and makes us adequate in Him. Servants of a New Covenant – Part 2|
The Adequacy of Ministry
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 3. We’re doing another little series as we go through 2 Corinthians entitled “Servants of a New Covenant.” This is part two of that particular little series. It started in chapter 3. We’re looking today at verses 7-11. Now, I don’t want you to get frustrated. I cannot get as far as I want to go and so we’re introducing something that the next time we’re together we’ll pull together and as you read ahead of me you’ll see what I’m talking about.
But let me get you into these verses and make sure we’re in the flow of what scripture is saying. Paul, in verses 5-6 of chapter 3 has introduced the fact that he is a servant of a new covenant. Now, that’s a profound statement, especially for the apostle Paul. He’s a servant of a new covenant. He says in verse 5, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves.” You see, in the old covenant you had to be adequate in yourself, but obviously proven inadequate by what the law demanded. “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter,” talking about the old again, “but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Now, what Paul is introducing here has already been introduced in his messages, but what he’s saying is the new covenant, if you boiled it down, is all about Jesus Christ coming to live in the hearts and lives of people who have trusted Him for their salvation, trusted Him as their Lord and Savior. This is what the gospel is: this is good news. God’s good news: Christ has come to live in the hearts of those who trust Him. So Christ coming to live in a believer makes the believer adequate. He enables the believer to be everything He demands the believer to be. Everything we aren’t apart from Christ, He is in us.
Now if anybody in the New Testament understood this, the apostle Paul understood it very well. He says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me.” That is the essence of the new covenant. “And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of Man who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” You’ll find this theme in just about every epistle that Paul writes. Even in Philemon when he writes and tells a man to forgive a slave that has run away, and this man can’t do that unless God in him empowers him to do it. And when I was in conference work I wanted to put together a series, “The Christ-Life in Philippians,” “The Christ-Life in Colossians,” The Christ-Life in Galatians,” because it’s everywhere.
Paul was a religionist that was completely turned inside out by the new covenant: Christ coming to live in him. Paul knew above anybody that when Christ came to live in him, He came to replace him, not to renew his flesh, but to replace him. Because you see, Paul was honest. When a lot of us are not willing to be honest, he was honest. He was willing to admit what he could not do. He began to realize what the flesh really could not accomplish and so therefore he needed to be replaced by the Holy Spirit of God. Listen to his words. Now there are his words; if you didn’t know that Paul wrote it, it would sound like many of us on any given day of our life. Romans 7:14-25, some people say, “Oh, no, he’s lost at that time. He couldn’t have been saved.” That’s as far from the truth as you can get it because the text itself will explain itself.
He says in verse 14, “For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh,” still fleshly, there’s something about me that I deal with. He says, “sold into bondage to sin.” That flesh has been sold into bondage to sin. That’s why you don’t walk in the flesh: you walk in the Spirit. “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Now, I’m going to be honest today. How many of you could have said that about yourself in the last month? Anybody besides me? “The thing I want to do I’m not doing.” He says, “But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good.” If you didn’t have the Law, you wouldn’t know what was expected. You wouldn’t understand where you were.
“So now,” he says in verse 17, “no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.” Can you imagine a person who is lost standing before God saying, “It’s not really me, it’s sin that dwells in me. It’s not my fault.” He’s a believer who understands the principle of the flesh: the depravity of the flesh. He says in verse 18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me,” and some people would say, ‘You see there, he has to be a believer because Christ lives in him.” But they don’t keep reading. Just keep reading, “that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” Brings that up twice. “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law,” now look where this law is, “in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”
And then he says, “Wretched man that I am!” That’s like saying “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus.” Now, let me ask you again, have you had days like that? Anybody besides me? “Wretched man that I am!” He sees the flesh for what it is. “Who,” not what—there’s no formula here—“Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God,” I really want to do it, “but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
I wish we could put this in front of us on our mirror every morning. Anything I do today in my own power, in my own strength, in my own wisdom, with my own expectations, I am serving the law of sin. When are we going to get it? When are we going to understand that? Thank God for Paul, that he understood it. In Romans 7 he’s just simply being honest as a believer. He came to understand what he says in Galatians. It can’t be “me” anymore. It’s got to be Christ living through me.
I want to tell you, that’s a tough place to come to, to realize what you’re not; to see the depravity of the flesh; to see how it will tear a person apart to get what it wants. When you begin to realize the wickedness of the flesh, it makes us all fall on our knees and say, “Oh, God, how desperate we are for Your grace to work in our hearts.” Paul saw that Christ came to replace him, not make him better. Paul as a Pharisee was a religious man, and sincere in every effort he had to do well for God. But the problem was, he impressed everyone but God. You see, God is only impressed when He looks at us and sees Himself. Christ met Paul on the Damascus road as Paul was going to arrest Christians, of all things. And He blinded him for three days, and Paul was never the same again. All that he had accomplished for God in the religious world, all of those things he had done for God, he said, “According to the law I was found blameless,” in Philippians 3. He now looks at it as rubbish. Every bit of it: just rubbish.
Listen to his own words in Philippians 3:7-11: “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [that means to know by experience], for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law [I don’t want to ever think that I’ve done anything that God calls righteous other than say “yes” to His will and His Word], but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” Paul is saying the deadness of my flesh to love people that are unlovable, in the deadness of my flesh to get what I want done, in the deadness of my flesh, I want to see Christ’s life replace that. I want to experience His resurrection power. He says, “and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
And one of the implications of that particular verse is that I might be the living out there among the dead. Paul discovered that he could not live the Christian life. If we could just get half of Christianity in the 21st century to understand that. I see books all the time on how to live the Christian life; you can’t live the Christian life. Christ is the Christian life. He comes to live in us, to live that life through us. You see, He will and He promised He would if we’ll just bow before Him. Paul wanted the Corinthian church to understand when they began to say, “You didn’t have any letters of recommendation,” in 2 Corinthians 3. He wanted them to understand that anything he did that men would applaud, anything he did apart from the power of Christ, meant nothing: he was a total failure apart from the empowerment of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Only Christ in Paul could produce through him a ministry that was authentic. And changed lives are always the result of believers who allow Christ to live His life through them. The results of Christ living through a believer are irrefutable. You can’t miss it and nobody can argue with it. When you see a transformed life, it just shuts everybody up. It shuts the skeptic up. It’s not a matter of intellect at this point. It’s a matter of somebody being transformed from the inside out. Nobody argues with a caterpillar when they see a butterfly. They just accept it. There’s something beyond. It’s irrefutable.
Well, Paul was not adequate in himself. And that’s the strongest statement I think he makes so far in chapter 3. “I’m not adequate in myself. I don’t sit down at a table and plan out my strategy for how I’m going to do this and that and ask God to bless it. I am not adequate in myself.” Christ was his adequacy. As Paul says in verses 5-6 again, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant.” Now he mentions in the last part of verse 6 the letter of the law. He says, “not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The letter of the law demanded a certain standard that Paul couldn’t reach and as a result of that it killed every one of his efforts.
It kills all of our efforts. The hand of God is not upon that which a man comes up with and asks God to bless. In fact, the law condemns every effort before salvation and after salvation to produce ministry or anything that God would look at and say, ‘That’s good.’ God doesn’t say that about anything unless He sees Himself in it; unless He sees it originate from Himself. But we must be living as servants of a new covenant, like Paul said. It’s not a passive life. It must be lived by faith. I don’t know how many people come to me and say, “You’re preaching passivity. I don’t have to do anything. Is that what you’re saying?” No! It’s not what I’m saying. You’re listening in the right ear but you’re not listening in the left ear.
People aren’t hearing any more. They’re not hearing what he’s saying here. You have to walk by faith. Walking by faith is the discipline of the Christian life. If we’re going to experience Christ daily in our lives, we must walk by faith in Him and in His Word. He says in Colossians 2:6, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him.” How did you receive him? By faith. Then so walk you in Him. How did you receive Him? By faith. Then so walk you in Him. How do you walk in Him? By faith. Living by faith means trusting Christ and Him alone.
Well, today in our text Paul is going to begin to talk more and more about God’s presence in us. It’s amazing how he does it. How that God’s presence in us changes us from the inside out and qualifies us as being authentic and makes us adequate in Him. The only thing that can mask this change—now hear me well—the only thing that can mask what God is seeking to do in and through my life is my unwillingness to bow before Him. And when that happens, then that change is not going to be seen. His hand will not be seen on my life. It will not be seen on your life. We have masked it because we have chosen to do things in our own way to accomplish what we think He would bless.
Now let’s look and see what we can learn from this. There are two things that I’m going to show you. But let me read the Scripture for you and then we’ll jump in. Verse 7, “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.”
The fading glory of the old covenant
Now, what is the key word that went all the way through that verse? What’s the word? “Glory.” He’s talking about the glory, and you’ve got to remember that. He’s already set the direction. That’s what he wants us to see. And there are two things that I want us to see.
First of all, the fading glory of the old covenant. Now, let me explain to start off with the word “glory.” And I think in the simplest and most understandable way I can get it across is, “glory” is that which brings true recognition to someone or to something. So the glory of God would be that which expresses either visibly or verbally the true recognition of Who God really is. Now, Paul, in helping them to understand his ministry as a servant of a new covenant, takes them back to Moses. Moses is not what he’s talking about. Israel’s not what he’s talking about. He’s going to talk about the glory that was on Moses’ face. He wants us to think about the glory that was there.
You have to realize that when Moses had received the Ten Commandments, when he was on the top of Mt. Sinai, he had to go up to where he could be in the presence of God. And it was there, alone with God, in the presence of God. And the Scripture says that God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone with a divine finger. You say, “It does not say that.” Well, excuse me, but in Exodus 31:18 here’s the word, “And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mt. Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.”
Now does that mean the literal finger of God? I’m just telling you what it says. By the way, the Bible was never written so God could understand it. The Bible was written so that we can understand it. And many times there are terms that are used so that we can understand and get the point. God was the One who gave the Ten Commandments. But what Paul is bringing out is that Moses was in the presence of God. It’s not what God said in the Ten Commandments; it’s not Moses’ leadership over Israel. He was in the presence of God. No one was ever in the presence of God that remained the same; nobody.
You see, rarely would He ever expose Himself to anybody until Jesus came as the revelation of Who God is, because God dwells in an unapproachable light, and no man can get near it. People say, “Oh, Jesus came in my bathroom this morning and we talked. We’re just good old buddies.” No, sir. If He came in your bathroom this morning, and He revealed Himself to you, you’d be trying to find a crack in the floor somewhere that you could crawl into. John, one of the favorite disciples, passed out when he saw Him. Very few people have ever really been in the revealed presence of God. And Moses was there in the presence of God, and the glory of that presence changed his whole face. It was on his face.
Verse 7, “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory.” Now, notice how he calls the Ten Commandments the “ministry of death.” He’s making a contrast here. He’s making a comparison, “the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones.” As we’ve already seen, the law condemns all men because it demands a standard no man can meet and therefore turns right around and pronounces judgment of death, eternal death, for those who can’t meet it. So it’s a good thing, but it’s a bad thing. It’s sort of bittersweet. It brings about death, but Paul says the law which was given to Moses, here’s his point, not the law, not Israel, not Moses, it came with glory.
Now the word “came” is the word ginomai. Ginomai doesn’t mean it was really over here all the time, it just got up and walked over here. Ginomai means it came into existence. It had never been before; it came into being from God and with glory. What it’s saying here is it came right out of God. God spoke it; God gave the law. No man could ever say that he came up with the law: God gave it.
Now Paul explains that the law came from God in whose presence Moses had stood. And again, the glory of God’s presence, this is the key, radiated on Moses’ face. Paul says, “so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face.” Now, let me ask you a question. Have you ever been out in the sun and gotten sunburned? I’m fair-skinned, and so if I get out in the sun very long—and this is not a good illustration, by the way, to compare what Moses had seen when he stood in the presence of God, but to give you an understanding—and you go out in the sun and you get sunburned. And when you come indoors, everybody knows that you’ve been in the presence of the sun because the glory of the sun shines on your face and your body. It’s left a mark. There’s something there that radiates that you’ve been in the glory of the sun.
Moses had been in God’s presence and the glory of God shone visibly on his face. But it’s significant to note the last part of that verse when he said the people could not look intently at the face of Moses. Now keep on reading. He says that was “fading as it was.” That glory that he had been in had immediately begun to fade away. The word for “fade” there is the word katargeo. And the word is the word that means “ineffective;” it means in this case to fade into non-existence.
Let me explain it to you this way—and again I apologize; the illustrations never cover a biblical truth, but to give you an idea—let’s say last summer you spent the summer in the glory of the sun. And you got tanned; you had the glory of the sun on your body. And it just reflected that you’d been out in the presence of the sun. And then winter comes and that glory does what? It fades away. And then now we’re coming into summer and everybody is wanting to put on those bathing suits and go back out on the beach. We walk out there and we’ve got our bathing suits on and we’re lily white. Now, it’s interesting. The glory of the sun of last year has faded away. Now we’re all doing the same thing. You have some that have been in the glory; you have others that have walked away from it. And it’s easy to see some are tanned, some are white. We dress the same way, pretty much, and so what’s the difference? The glory is the difference.
And that’s what I want you to begin to think about. How many people come to church that have been in the glory of God and you see it on their face, you see it in their smile, you see it in the sweet attitudes they have towards people. You hear it in the sweet words they speak. You have other people doing the same thing, but they’ve not been in the glory and you can see they’ve walked away. Hang on to those thoughts because Paul, I believe, that’s the germ thought of what he’s saying here.
Moses went up to the top of the mountain to get into the presence of God and there God appeared to him. But he had to walk away from that presence. Why? Because in the old covenant, God was with them on a temporary basis, but He didn’t live in them. And you had to go to where you could meet with God; whereas it’s different in the new covenant. He knew that the glory on his face would fade away. In fact, he put a veil over his face, verse 13, “and are not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face.” Why did he do that? So that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. He knew what was happening. He knew that the glory was fading away. He didn’t want them to see it. It’s like when you get suntanned in the summer and all of a sudden you start wearing long-sleeved shirts. You don’t want people to see that the glory of the sun is fading away.
The significant thing is that the glory that radiated on Moses’ face was just external. That’s all it was. He had to go into the presence of God. And it was externally affected and he walked away. It was temporary and it was external. Again, verse 7, “so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses.” “Look intently” is the word atenizo. It means to “fix your gaze on something,” like you’ve forgotten your glasses and you’re trying to read a menu in a restaurant and you’re fixing your gaze on that; you’re trying to see it because you can’t see it without them. Whichever, but it means to focus on something and look at it intently. And I think with his context here you could also say “to catch a last glimpse of it before it fades away.”
You say, “Where are you going with all this?” Don’t leave me, stay with me. He’s referring to the fact that Moses realized that the glory was fading, and he didn’t want people to see that on his face. Do you see what he’s doing here by contrasting the Law and contrasting the new covenant? The Law, which many of the false teachers preached in Corinth, was only given for a short time. The glory of that Law was fading away, even as the glory on Moses’ face was fading away. Yes, it was given in glory, and it was good, Romans 7 says, but the glory was only temporary and the glory was something external. It was never meant to remain.
Paul had to say to the Galatians in 3:19, “Why the Law then?” That’s a good question. If it’s not meant to remain, if the glory of it was only for a short time, if it only dwelt with the externals, then why the Law? And he answers it. “It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed,” who is the seed he speaks of in Galatians 3? Jesus Christ; “until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.” It was just temporary.
In fact, Paul tells us in Galatians that the Law was like a babysitter. It’s like a tutor, the same thing as a babysitter. It had to drawn the lines, it had to hem us in and make us ready for the covenant of grace which the Scripture says Jesus came in the fullness of time. Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ,” it has a great purpose in it, “that we may be justified by faith.” And that’s new covenant terms there. God’s presence to Moses was accompanied with glory.
But it’s external effect; this is what I want you to see in the passage. Its external effect was temporary and it was external. That’s the only thing it had; it was fading away. When we seek to minister in the energy of our flesh, now listen carefully, performing to the best of our ability, thinking we really know what is good when God has to make that good, when we do that, the glory, now listen to me, of God’s presence is non-existent. It has faded away. And that’s why religion is a cold, calculating, manipulative, cruel and mean thing to have to be up under. Thank God Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship, a covenant relationship, a new covenant relationship with the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. And the glory of which will never fade away. There’s no recognition when we do it ourselves and in our own strength as to Who God is and human flesh does in all of its ability.
I love to read about Dwight L. Moody.? God used that man. He had a fourth grade education; talk about letters of recommendation. He had a speech impediment and God used him to shake two continents for Christ. Let me show you why. In an account, a man was writing Travel with Moody, he puts this story: One day during his great mission in London Mr. Moody was holding a meeting in a theater packed with a most select audience. Noble men and noble women were there in large numbers and a prominent member of the royal family was sitting in the royal box. Mr. Moody rose to read the Scripture lesson. He attempted to read Luke 4:27 out of the King James, and he said, “Many lepers were in Israel at the time of Elisius the prophet.” Now that’s Elisha. When he came to the name of Elisius, he had a speech impediment. He stammered and stuttered all over it. He went back, embarrassed, to the beginning of the verse and read it again. And when he got to the word Elisius, he could not get over it. He went back a third time, but again the word was just too much for him to be able to say in front of all these eloquent and educated people. He closed the Bible with deep emotion and he looked up and said, “Oh, God, use this stammering tongue to preach Christ crucified to these people.”
And this man said the power of God came upon him and one who heard him then and had heard him often at other times said to me that he had never heard Mr. Moody pour out his soul in such a torrent of eloquence as he did then. And the whole audience was melted by the power of God.
That’s new covenant, folks. The glory of the old has faded away. The presence of God is not in the old. The presence of God is eternally resident in the new. That’s why Paul says, “I am now a servant of a new covenant.” So the fading glory of the old covenant.
The everlasting glory of the new covenant
Secondly, the everlasting glory of the new covenant. Big difference in something that’s fading and something that is everlasting. Now, don’t miss this: only when Moses was in God’s presence, he had to go to meet with God, did the glory shine on his face. And the moment he walked away from the presence of God the glory began to fade away. You see, it was external only, temporary and external. I want to keep making you hear that. But Christ, folks—and if this doesn’t make you shout, maybe it will hit you about 3:00 in the morning and you’ll wake up your neighbors—Christ is the glory of God.
First Peter 4:11, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.” And then to seal it off he says, “Amen.” I like that word. It means “don’t you even think about changing this one because that’s it.” Christ, the glory of God comes to live in us. That’s a big difference from the old covenant language. Moses had to go to be in the presence of God. The presence of God has come to live in you and me as believers. Christ is the essence of the new covenant.
And in verse 8 of our text he says, “How shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?” Oh, folks, Christ’s effect on us is not external but it’s internal; and it’s not temporary, but it is everlasting. Look over in 4:6 and see what’s happened. You see, God’s glory is in our hearts. I don’t have to go up on top of a mountain to meet with God. I don’t have to come to church to meet with God. Listen, I can meet with God, He lives in me. I live daily in the presence of God. Remember, you can’t be in the presence of God and remain the same. It changes an individual. Chapter 4:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
He has come to shine in us. And on Mt. Sinai it shone upon Moses. But He’s come to shine in us. We’re eternally affected by the glory of God shining in our hearts. But as the new covenant believers have the glory of God in us, we need to learn how to let it shine through us. The ministry of the Spirit is inward, not outward.
Now, put together what Paul has been saying since verse 1 of chapter 3. Christ, the glory of God, was shining in Paul’s heart as long as Paul lived, how? Chapter 2, chained to His chariot. This produced through Paul authentic ministry and it resulted in changed lives. Paul didn’t need letters of recommendation to take to the Corinthian church. My goodness, he was a man chained to the chariot of God. God lived in him; His light shined through his life and that changed people everywhere he would go. The whole church of Corinth is a living example of that.
Christ in Paul was his adequacy and what people saw on the outside of Paul was a result of the glory of God working on the inside of Paul. Paul was a servant of the new covenant. In his weakness, which he had now come to realize his own self efforts, Christ’s strength now was made perfect in his weakness, as he will say in this letter later on. Are you showing on the outside this morning, the glory of the One who is living on the inside? Paul calls the greater ministry of the Spirit the “ministry of righteousness.” I love that.
The letter kills, remember? But the Spirit gives life. He says in verse 9, “For the ministry of condemnation has glory,” even though it was temporary, “much more does the ministry of righteousness,” not just have glory, “abound in glory;” supersede beyond our imaginations. God gave both the Law and the covenant of grace; both were with His glory. Gave the Law, it came with glory, because it came from God and a man had to be in His presence to receive it. But in the new covenant it came within, Christ came to live in us and we walk today in the presence of God. The greater glory is in the new covenant because Christ is our righteousness.
You see, the old covenant demanded a righteousness we could not produce. In the new covenant, God has come to live in us to produce that righteousness through us. First Corinthians 1:30, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” When Jesus is being Jesus through me, righteousness that meets the standard of God’s requirement is being taken care of. As a matter of fact, in Galatians 5:14 he says, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word,” love. And he goes on to say that’s the fruit of His Spirit. The Law is taken care of right there because in the new covenant; the glory of God lives in us.
To describe the ministry of the Spirit, and how it’s so much greater than the Law which condemns human effort, Paul says, “For the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.” And that word “abound” is the term that describes a greater contrasting effect. It so changed Paul. You read the New Testament and you see the difference in him. In fact, when the old covenant is compared to the new covenant, the glory of the old has completely faded away: it’s gone. You can’t even think about the old when you think about the new. The two—one was meant to lead to the other, and it was only temporary.
Second Corinthians 3:10, “for indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it.” The new covenant completely does away with the old covenant of Law in that sense. It’s now written on our hearts, the One who gave the Law, the One who fulfilled the Law, the One who paid the penalty for those who couldn’t measure up, has now come to live in us. The glory of God lives in us and we say yes to Him, the Law is taken care of. It doesn’t mean it’s ignored; it’s taken care of.
Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” “I gave the Law,” said Jesus. “I certainly know what it says. And I knew you couldn’t do it so I had to become a man, the God-Man, and I fulfilled that Law and I went to the cross for you and now I’ve come to live in you.” So Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:11, “For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is [not with glory but] in glory.” There’s no more demand for us to perform for God, folks.
I guess this passage is beginning to help me to explain to you the heartbeat I’ve had as your pastor. I told you day one; this is going to be my message. This is what changed my life; this is where I’m going to camp out. I can be in Genesis and come up with this message. Somebody said, “Good grief, is that all you ever preach?” No, it’s the well everything comes out of; and if a person doesn’t understand this he gets off on the wrong track. And I’ll tell you how you know God’s hand is not on it: because Jesus reveals His glory in His resurrected power and when He enables me to love people and speak sweetly to people and to treat people in a nice way, when He enables me to rest in Him, when He enables me to accept whatever circumstance comes my way, and let it drive me to Him, when He drives me to prayer, then I know, I know that it’s Him.
But when I grow frustrated, critical, mean spirited, judgmental, I know the glory has faded away. I’m under that which has no glory whatsoever. I’m trying to do what that already tells me I cannot do. And you know, folks, one day I’ll die, but that message is going to stay alive because one day you’re going to stand before Jesus and so am I. And we’re going to be judged by works, either by fleshly works that will burn, or the precious works that were caused by the glory of God’s presence in our life. The only thing that fails the glory of God that now lives in me and you is when we choose, foolishly, to think we have a better idea than God has and we’re going to take the matter in our hands and we’re going to make it happen. And the veil drops; it has faded away.
That’s the difference in living after the flesh in religious mindset, in living under grace in a Christ mindset. God will use every circumstance to drive us to this truth, and I think with everything that we deal with, God is working overtime. He’s driving us to this truth, folks. He’s driving me to it; he’s driving you to it. When are we going to understand that? Romans 8:28; do we believe this? “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called accordingly to His purpose.” Do you know what that means?
When I first studied that verse I said, “Lord, do You even mean You use mean people? Let’s get rid of them.” And He said, “All things.” You mean He uses people that are not like me? That aren’t as talented as me, aren’t as gifted as I am, that have different personalities, that are better looking than I am, do you mean He uses them? Yes. To do what? “To work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
And somebody says, “What good?” Good, I’m glad you asked. Verse 29, “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He [Jesus] would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Do you know what the glory is doing inside of us? It’s getting rid of us so that He can be seen in us. The less there is of us, the more He is seen in us, and the glory of God can be recognized as to Who He truly is, when we walk without veils, when we let Jesus shine from the inside out. His presence in us is forever changing us into His image. That’s what it’s all about.
Christ is the glory of God. He lives in us; He manifests His glory through His power to enable us to be what we ought to be. Three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, were with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration. And when He was there, as he was praying, what happened to Him? The glory of God, the shekinah glory of God began to emanate through His clothes and they saw it. “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Do you mean to tell me now He lives in me?” That’s exactly what I’m telling you.
Now let me ask you this: does His glory emanate through you and touch other people? By the way you’re kind to them, by your words, by your attitude, by your willingness to accept and to rest in the things that God puts in front of you? Does the glory shine or have we pulled the veil down because it’s summer just after winter and the glory has faded away? Where are we as a church today? Where are we? Where are you as an individual? You know, you say, “There are other things that Paul is saying here.” I’m sure it is. But I know this, I know this is what he’s saying here because the word “glory” is the predominate word used in that whole thing. That’s his point: the glory that changes us from the inside out.