2 Corinthians 3:7-11 – “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.” NKJV
I believe that the paragraph of our text hits the very heart of the entire chapter and message of Paul’s call for Grace, not Law. It must be studied in connection with Exodus 34:29-35. Paul never denied the glory of the Old Covenant Law, because in giving of the Law and maintaining the tabernacle and temple services there was clearly glory. What Paul argued was that the Glory of the New Covenant of Grace was far superior, not that the Old had no glory.
He gave some definitive reasons for his argument that I believe offer us insight, help, hope, and comfort. In 2 Corinthians 3:7-8, he reveals that the glory of the New Covenant means Spiritual Life, not Death. Do you remember what happened when Moses came down from the Mountain, after his conversation with God? His face was shining with the Glory of God. It got the attention of the people very powerfully. Paul was arguing from lesser to greater glory. If there is glory in the Law that brought death, how much more is there in the New Testament’s Covenant of Grace that brings life.
The Law cannot justify the Lost Sinner. (Galatians 2:16). The Law cannot give a Sinner Righteousness. (Galatians 2:21). The Law cannot give the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 3:2). The Law does not give an Inheritance. (Galatians 3:18). The Law cannot give Life. (Galatians 3:21). The Law cannot give Freedom. (Galatians 4:8-10).
In 2 Corinthians 3:9-10, he reveals that the New Covenant Glory means righteousness, not condemnation. The Law’s purpose was not salvation because salvation cannot come by works. The Law produces CONDEMNATION and that is a MIRROR that reveals just how dirty, vile, corrupt and lost we really are. It shows our filth but cannot cleanse us, that must come through Grace! Man’s need is for RIGHTEOUSNESS and God gives His Righteousness through Faith in Jesus Christ! Galatians 2:21, “For if righteousness [comes] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
If you try to be a Law Keeper you will find yourself feeling more and more guilty every day and with every failure to measure up. On the other hand, if we trust Christ and receive His Grace and live by Faith we will experience freedom, acceptance, and joy. 2 Corinthians 3:10, tells us that the Law really “lost its glory” when compared to the surpassing glory of the Ministry of God’s Grace. Then in 2 Corinthians 3:11 we find that the New Covenant is Permanent, not Temporary. Notice the tense, “that which is passing away.” Paul wrote at a time in history when the ages were overlapping. The New Covenant of Grace had come in, but the Temple Services were still being carried on and the nation of Israel was yet under the Law. The Judaizers wanted to mix the two covenants. Paul asked an incredibly pertinent question, “Why to go back to that which is temporary and fading away?” He argued that we are to “Live in the Glory of New Covenant which is getting greater and greater.”
God’s Grace is an INSIDE JOB! It changes us from the inside and then that becomes visible on the outside, not vice versa.
God, bless you richly as you live Free in Jesus!