Readings for the Day
Judges 17,18 Psalm 89 2 Corinthians 3
Verse of the Day
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 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.
Paul spends quite a bit of time in 2 Corinthians 3 distinguishing the old covenant from the new covenant. Although there are 3 covenants God made with the people Israel in the Old Testament, the one he is referring to here is the Mosaic covenant. This is the one Moses received from God by direct revelation on Mount Sinai, where God inscribed the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets.
Paul contrasts this with the new covenant that we have received through Jesus. Whereas Moses was the only one who came into God's presence, he had to wear a veil to protect the Israelites from seeing God's glory. As the Corinthians turned to Christ the veil was removed, and God inscribed his letter on the tablets of their heart. Paul uses this metaphor in saying that he did not need a letter or recommendation from the Corinthians, for they were a living letter of Christ that had been imprinted on their hearts.
Whereas the Law could only kill, because it had no power to change a hardened heart. The Holy Spirit, who came on us when we believed, has given us a heart of flesh, not of stone. Therefore, rather than being in bondage to Law that we could never fully obey, we are set free by the Holy Spirit, and are being transformed into into an ever-increasing likeness of His glory. Of course, this is His work and not ours! This is why Paul says, "Our competence comes from The Lord".
Paul makes a key distinction in how true transformation takes place in the life of a believer. Once one turns to Christ for salvation, the rest of their lives are spent being transformed into the image of Christ. Notice it says, "being transformed". We do not come to faith in Christ by all the good things we have done and by keeping the Law. And we do not spend the rest of our lives being empowered by dead stone tablets, but by the Spirit who has written God's law on our hearts.
So a question you might ask yourself is, "Am I living in the freedom the Spirit gives". Am I experiencing abundant life through what has already been done for me? I think this becomes a big problem in the church when we don't teach on this subject. We start with preaching grace, and go back to teaching the Law. We start with what has been done for us, and we go back to trying to build a resume with what we have done for God.
But the Good News of Easter is that not only has Christ been raised from the dead by the power of God, but that same resurrection power is the fuel for our life. Every day we need to crucify our old self, which was in bondage to the Law and be raised to new life in the power of the Spirit. What covenant are you living under, the new one or the old one? God has made us ministers of a new covenant, where our competence does come from how good or smart we are, but is given to us of God.