Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
Out with the Old; In with the New
2 Corinthians 3:6 -11
03 January 2016
Mankind is daily dividing history by times and dates; of before, and after events. And whether Christian or not, the very calendar system we use centres around the birth of Jesus. As Christians, why do we believe the coming of our Lord is the turning point of history? In Second Corinthians 3:7 - 11, Paul defines the two great epochs of history, and how they affect humanity today.
Before the manger, God gave the Law through Moses; a reflection of His perfect righteousness, and commanded us to live up to it: but men failed. When Christ came, He fulfilled the Law for us, and made men righteous. The difference is radical: men constantly striving and failing; or God working once on behalf of believers. Between the two covenants, there has been a radical change in grace, and this is the turning point of history.
The first effect this has on people is that it requires them to choose between life and death (v. 6 - 7a). In verse 6, Paul writes that "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." That is, the Law of God given to Moses kills us because it shows us to be transgressors of the Law, and is "a ministry of death" (v. 7) to those who try to keep it. Paul warns in Romans 6:23 that "the wages of sin is death," and eternal punishment from God. But now Christ has arrived, and offers believers total forgiveness. Therefore, choose life!
Secondly, Christ's coming requires men to choose between righteousness and condemnation (v. 7b - 10). The old covenant Law came with glory, and Moses' face shone from being with God to receive it. But Moses' glory "was passing away," and soon gone. In contrast, Paul asks, "won't the ministry of the Spirit be with much more glory?" In the Old Covenant, Moses was with God, and God's glory with Moses temporarily. In the New Covenant, God's glory is in us, and that too permanently. Believers are now personally vessels of God's presence; so let that glory shine!
Lastly, we are to choose the permanent, not the temporary (v. 11). The Old Covenant of Law served only to condemn and point us to Christ. When He came, it was superceded by the new covenant, which gives actual right standing before God, and will never pass. For this reason, Paul writes "For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory."
The Law was given by Moses, and served only to condemn sinners. Christ has come, and He offers righteousness to all. Men stand either with Law and death, or Christ and life. Why choose death? Choose Christ, and live.