From Today in God’s Word
2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3
In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul continues his teaching on the sincerity of the messengers and the authenticity of the message they have delivered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He compares the Old Covenant with the New here and he breaks open a big topic in his day and ours. How do law and gospel relate? Are they at odds?
The law itself was external to Jews (written on tablets) and it was therefore possible to be a physical Jew without having a circumcised heart (Rom 2:28-29). Paul calls the ministry of the law the “ministry of condemnation” and this matches up with his statement to Timothy about misuse of the law (1 Tim 1:8-11). But we know that true Jews were saved under this Old Covenant ministry and so it is evident that the Spirit was circumcising hearts even under the ministry of condemnation. In this way the remnant was saved, having been chosen by grace (Rom 11:5), but for most of Israel a veil still keeps them from recognizing that the law was leading to Jesus as the greater glory (Rom 11:7, 25).
But the better promise of the gospel (Heb 8:6-13) is that God does not not merely extend a law that condemns, holding us in wait for deliverance (Luke 2:25-32), but he has sent the Deliverer and we are now freed from the condemnation of the law (Rom 8:1-4), not by its removal but by its complete fulfillment in Christ, and we are no longer under its safe-keeping because the object of faith has come in the person of Christ (Gal 3:23-29) so that we who have been united with him in death have now been joined to Him in new life (Rom 6:3-5, 7:3-6). Unlike Moses, whose face would dim as the glory of a fading covenant radiated from him, we have the glory of an eternal covenant that will never fade or be replaced (Heb 13:20-21). We now have an eternal high priest who has once and for all made the perfect sacrifice that is wholly sufficient (Heb 10:1-18).
We also see Paul teaching progressive sanctification in this passage whereby we grow in Christ likeness little by little by the work of the Spirit in us. What is amazing is the way the Spirit does this. Verse 18 makes it clear that it is by beholding the glory of the Lord that we are transformed (John 3:14-15, 2 Cor 4:6). It is by seeing and savoring Jesus!
May we make it our mission to see and savor Jesus each day for transformation by the Spirit from one degree of glory to the next until that great day when the work in us is completed at his coming.
Soli Deo Gloria!