The Glory That Excels

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
The Glory That Excels

II Corinthians 3:7-18 

Welcome, thanks for joining us. This program is produced by Heralds of Hope, we are a small media ministry, and our mission is to use media to make disciples of Jesus Christ to accomplish the great commission in our lifetime. Media has many forms, what you are doing, listening to the radio, is one form. There is also TV, internet, and the printed page. There are many forms of media, and we want to use everyone we can to make disciples. 

Today we will be looking at the next section of verses in II Corinthians 3. We want to encourage you in your walk with Christ so that you will be more committed to Him, after all, we are His disciples. Here is Bible teacher J Mark for today’s teaching. 

There is a saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” In other words. the more familiar we are with something the less likely we are to appreciate it.  

Is it dangerous to become accustomed to things that we use every day? Yes and no. The problem arises when we become so familiar with things of the Lord, that we lose our wonder, our awe, and our appreciation for them.  

If you and I had lived under the Old Covenant, we would be amazed at the revelation of God in Jesus. Imagine living under the Law. It spelled out acceptable behavior, but it gave you no internal power to obey. Every year on the Day of Atonement you were reminded of your sin AND the fact that you could never keep the law well enough to be accepted by God.  

Think about the freedom you received in the coming of the Savior. Think about the joy, hope, and peace rising from within because now there’s a power that makes it possible for you to live above the law. Think of the newness, the excitement, the desire to tell everyone about this new way of life.  

Go with me to II Corinthians 3. In this text, Paul talks about two things, the glory of the old covenant and the glory of the new. And he demonstrates that the glory of the new covenant is “The Glory That Excels.” Listen as I read II Corinthians 3:4-18. 

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God.  

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,  

6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,  

8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?  

9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.  

10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.  

11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—  

13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.  

14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day, the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament because the veil is taken away in Christ.  

15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.  

16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 

Let’s observe three CONTRASTS that demonstrate “The Glory That Excels.” 

I. The Contrast of Letter and Spirit 

Paul says God has made us able ministers or competent servants of the new covenant. That ability doesn’t come from studying the ancient texts or from technical analysis of the writings. Rather, the ability comes from the presence of God’s spirit in us.  

The text tells us that the letter kills! The word means to kill outright or figuratively, to destroy. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.” They were so intent on covering every possible angle of interpretation and application that they missed the spirit of the law. That’s why they condemned Jesus for healing someone on the Sabbath day! Theirs was a joyless, legalistic obedience.  

The contrast is – the spirit gives life! The mind, will, and emotions of a genuine Believer are transformed. There’s no longer a reliance on performance for acceptance. Now, our acceptance by God is based on our glorious relationship with Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit recreates you and me from the inside out. That affects all we are and do!  

Does this new freedom always make it easy to obey? No. How do I obey the command to be separate from the world, and yet recognize that if I isolate myself, that robs me of opportunities to impact others?  

If you have the Spirit of God in you, obedience is no longer a duty to endure but rather a joy to explore. The spirit gives us the “want to,” because we are “partakers of the Divine nature.” God, the Creator of the universe, lives in you in the person of His Holy Spirit. Obedience is no longer enforced from the outside, it is motivated from within. Love is the motivation.  

Jesus’ coming unlocked the chains of bondage to the law and freed us to live in the spirit! Hallelujah. Truly the Spirit provides a glory that excels! 

II. The Contrast of Fading and Advancing Glory 

The glory of the old covenant was a fading glory. It was a glory that began to diminish as soon as it was revealed. Moses covered his face because the people could not look at the glory of God reflected on his face after he’d been in God’s presence.  

When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, he veiled his face because the people saw God’s glory and were afraid to come near him. But there was another reason for Moses’ veiled face. This glory was fading.  

Not only was the glory of God fading from Moses’ face, but the glory of the law was receding from the moment it was given. It brought only condemnation. It laid out God’s demands for acceptance, but it also made it clear that no human could ever meet those demands. That’s why Paul refers to the Law as “a ministry of death.” That was true in several ways. Remember, thousands upon thousands of animal sacrifices were made to cover man’s sin.  

The glory of the old covenant revealed God in his holiness. Through the sacrifices, it gave mankind a way to be accepted by God. The blood of the sacrifices covered the sins of the people. But it was a system that needed replacement if there was ever to be a hope of meeting the righteous demands of the law. There had to be something better. 

There is – the ministry of the spirit. Paul argues that if the law written in stone was glorious, even though it could not change the heart, how much more glorious is the ministry of the spirit which transforms our minds and results in a changed life? 

Christ’s coming was the beginning of a new era. Today, every time another person enters the family of God more glory is added. Every time we say yes to the Spirit and no to the flesh, the glory increases. And it will continue to increase until the redeemed of all ages gather around the throne of God in heaven to soak in His glory for all eternity. What an awesome reality! 

So, the contrast is between the fading glory of the Mosaic Law and the advancing glory that characterizes the new covenant. The coming of Christ was the beginning of this advancing glory. It is surely a glory that excels. 

III. The Contrast of Condemnation and Justification 

Here is the major contrast in the glory that excels. The law is called the Ministry of Condemnation. Condemnation is judgment; it means to receive an adverse sentence. It means to be pronounced guilty as charged; to suffer the sentence of punishment for your misdeeds.  

On the other hand, you have the ministry of righteousness or justification. Justification is pardon; it is an act of grace. Someone else took my sentence and paid the penalty. We are pronounced righteous by our acceptance of Christ’s righteousness. No wonder Paul says the law had no glory in comparison to the justification offered in Christ! No one in their right mind would choose condemnation over justification. This is the glory that excels! 

This is what we celebrate every year at Christmas. The glory of God is revealed in Jesus Christ. John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Paul says that we gaze openly on the glory of the Lord and are transformed into the same image! 

The glory revealed on Mt. Sinai was a fading glory because it didn’t touch the hearts of men. It gave them rules and regulations to follow but gave no transforming power. It was a ministry of condemnation. No wonder Job cried out for someone to go between him and God, to show him how to be accepted by God.  

The glory that was revealed at Bethlehem was altogether different. Emmanuel came, “God with us.” The glory displayed in the night sky to the watching shepherds is an advancing glory. It was revealed in a short burst on the Mount of Transfiguration. It shook the earth and raised the dead at the crucifixion. The empty tomb and the ascension added more rays, and it took a quantum leap forward with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  

These contrasts demonstrate so clearly the glory that excels. I hope you have a renewed appreciation for the glory that excels. I pray that your joy in Jesus will be greater because of these truths we’ve meditated on this morning.  

Let’s review those contrasts one final time. First, is the contrast of the letter and the spirit. Which one are you living by? Then, the contrast between receding glory and advancing glory. As you look at your own life is it bringing more glory to God each day? Finally, the contrast between condemnation and justification. Is the glory of justification evident in your life? Are you being changed from glory into glory as you behold the face of Jesus?  

Let the Lord search your heart as you reflect on those questions. 

Thanks, J Mark for this teaching from God’s Word, and thank you for being there. We believe God’s people are supposed to read the Bible and allow it to affect their lives. The teaching in the Bible is for us and we are supposed to live it out. Thanks, J Mark, for giving us practical ways for us to do that.   

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  Thanks again for joining us, Lord willing next week we will be together for another lesson from II Corinthians. I leave you with Paul’s parting words from this book, “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”  

*This episode is an exposition by J. Otis Yoder, re-recorded by J. Mark Horst, with an opening and closing by Arlin Horst.

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