Where the Spirit of the Lord is There is Liberty
2 Cor 3:12-18
12 Since this new covenant gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory fading away. 14 But the people's minds were hardened, and even to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, a veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses' writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away. 17 Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. 18 And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. NLT
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.
When Moses gave the children of Israel the Law of God, they were not able to fully understand the significance of it. Although they assented to the law and promised to follow it, they were really quite ignorant of its meanings and implications. There always were a number of God’s people led by the Spirit of God who could comprehend the weight of the oracles of God.
But Jesus came to be the great discerner of the law, to bring to light the hidden things so that it might be said that they sat in darkness has seen a great light. Now in this passage Paul has particular reference to the Jewish people but there is a principle involved here that is applicable to all people. Everyone who reads the word of God will have a veil on their hearts until they are set free in Jesus Christ. Even in Christian ranks there are a great number who cannot accept or understand the plain teachings of the Bible. Therefore they often deny the miracles and every other supernatural (God) thing in the Bible.
I was reading about the infamous Jesus Seminar. Supposedly Christian scholars who have collectively determined what part of the gospels we can count on. Only one story from Marks gospel is accepted at authentic. Almost the entire gospel of John fails their test of authority.
Is it that they know more than the rest of us or is it that they are blinded, having a veil over their understanding that cannot be penetrated by intellectualism or scholarly endeavors.
Our form of government was given to us by men who understood that only a Christian people could be so governed. Liberty as defined by our founding fathers was never meant to be a licence to commit and ever increasing number of immoralities.
I. We are partakers of a new covenant.
A. Since this new covenant gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory fading away. 14 But the people's minds were hardened, and even to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, a veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth.
B. The old covenant was based on obey God and live or disobey Him and die.
C. The covenant was given in fear from Mt. Sinai with loud thunder and lightning.
D. When Moses came down from the mountain his was glowing and the people could not handle that so Moses put on a veil to cover his face.
E. Paul uses this as a metaphor to show that although the Israelites received the law, they could not embrace it in their minds and hearts.
1. They never could understand the purposes God had for them in it.
2. They never could see the design that God was giving them.
3. They had made the law a way to get to God by changing its demands so that they could do them.
4. But the law never could change the human heart and therefore they were spiritually blind.
F. But if the Jews, who had the law were still in darkness, how much more those who did not have the word of God.
II. Christians are the only ones who see clearly.
A. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses' writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.
B. Only, only by coming to Jesus can one have their blindness taken away.
1. The Pharisees asked Jesus a question. John 9:40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" NKJV
2. Their blindness was a curse on them because of their continued rebellion against God. Isa 6:10 "Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed." NKJV
3. Referring to the Pharisees Jesus said, “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." Matt 15:14 NKJV
III. Only becoming a Christian takes away our blindness.
A. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away.
B. This is a focal point in the Christian faith.
C. For the knowledge of God does not come by long hours of study but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. Paul makes this crystal clear in writing to the Corinthians who fashioned themselves as somewhat super saints. 1 Cor 1:18-22 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. NKJV
2. Later in the letter, Paul once again makes them see that it is not education that makes Christians but God’s Spirit. 1 Cor 2:1-5 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power , 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God NKJV
3. Where ever Paul went he was depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to cause people to believe his message. 1 Thess 1: 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, NKJV
IV. Knowing the truth brings real freedom.
A. 17 Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom.
B. I have been reading a great book, The Story of Liberty by Charles C. Coffin. In this book he tells the beginnings of the modern freedom movement. But the essence of it comes from what we find in our own Declaration of Independence.
1. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “
2. They understood that God is the grantor of liberty and it is not left to governments to grant it or deny it.
C. But today freedom is contrived as the liberty to do what ever we want without moral restraint.
1. But Jesus said that that was not freedom.
2. John 8:31-36 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." 33 They answered Him,"We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will be made free'?" 34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. NKJV
3. Jesus is telling us that if we are still under the power of sin, that we have no desire to be free or regret that we are still bound by sin, that we are then in bondage to sin and are not really free.
4. Paul puts it this way, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, Gal 5:13 NKJV
V. Only those who reflect the glory of the Lord are truly free.
A. 18 And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. NLT
B. Being free means we are free to reflect the life of Jesus.
C. Being free means we have real freedom to live godly and are no longer to obey the flesh with is various lusts.
D. Those who are still controlled by their lusts are far from free for they do not reflect the life of Jesus in their lives.
Here is a little test. Does your life reflect what God wants from you or what you want? If when people look at you and do not see Jesus maybe you are still in bondage to your own self. The only way to escape and become free is to give yourself fully over to Jesus. Give Him your heart today and He will set you free.