Archive for March 31st, 2020

2 Corinthians 3:5-9

In 2 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul makes clear that his ability to preach the Gospel is not his own, but comes from God. Paul doesn’t consider himself sufficient for the great task of changing lives for Jesus. Only Jesus is sufficient for such a big job. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Some people refuse to be used by God because they think of themselves as “not ready,” but in a sense, we are never ready or worthy in our own strength. If we were, the sufficiency would be in ourselves and not from God.

Spurgeon wrote “Our sufficiency is of God; let us practically enjoy this truth. We are poor, leaking vessels, and the only way for us to keep full is to put our pitcher under the perpetual flow of boundless grace. Then, despite its leakage, the cup will always be full to the brim.” The ancient Greek word for covenant (diatheke) had the ordinary meaning of a “last will and testament.” Paul’s use of the word reinforces the sovereignty of God, because it is not a negotiated settlement, but a divine decree. God anoints those who minister in His power with the power of the Holy Spirit within. Through that power we can give new life through the shed blood of Jesus.

There was glory associated with the giving of the law and the old covenant. At that time, Mount Sinai was surrounded with smoke; there were earthquakes, thunder, lightning, a trumpet blast from heaven, and the voice of God Himself. Moses put a veil over his face after speaking to the people. As glorious as the radiant face of Moses was, it was a fading glory but the glory of the new covenant endures without fading. “Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?”

Paul reminds us that if the old covenant, which brought death had this glory, we should expect greater glory in the new covenant, which brings the ministry of the Spirit and life. The new covenant will far exceed the glory of the old covenant. “For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.” The old covenant was a ministry of condemnation, but the new covenant is the ministry of righteousness. The old covenant is passing away, but the new covenant will remain forever. The old covenant had glory, but the glory of the new covenant far outshines it, just as the sun always outshines the brightest moon.

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