A letter from Christ. Written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. Engraved not on tablets of stone. Instead, inscribed on tablets of human hearts. That is how Paul regarded the saints at Corinth (2Cor. 3:3). And, not gonna lie, that’s how I regard myself. I think it’s a safe application. Written to them, but written for me, I think it’s fair to count myself as a page in the eternal epistle God is writing through grace by His Spirit.
Not that I’m much of a letter to read. There’s a lot more editing to be done. But as I hover over 2Corinthians 3 this morning . . . and if I’m understanding Paul’s comparison of the old and new covenants correctly . . . and if I’m picking up on what Paul is laying down concerning the life giving ministry of the Spirit of God . . . then I am, to some degree, reflecting and radiating the glory of God.
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2Corinthians 3:16-18 ESV)
The old covenant was given through Moses. Written on tablets of stones, it provided the means for relationship based on the letter of the law. Though Paul describes it as “the ministry of death” (v.7) and “the ministry of condemnation” (v.9) it came with glory. Such glory that it caused Moses’ face to shine. Such glory that the Israelites couldn’t look upon the face of Moses and so he wore a veil (v.7). Glorious not because it provided the means of salvation, but rather, glorious because it was God’s appointed manner to direct men and women toward the Son of salvation. Yet it was a glory that faded.
Cue the glory that surpasses it (v.10). The ministry of righteousness (v.9) . . . the glory that is permanent (v.11). Not law conveyed through a man coming down from a mountain, but life given by the Spirit come down from God Himself. The Spirit of the living God supplanting the letter of the law. The glory of the Spirit surpassing the fading shine on Moses face. The Spirit of God providing once for all, and once forever, freedom. The veil removed through Christ (v.14b). The glow of glory directly reflected upon, and radiated from within, the faces of believers.
We turn to Jesus — the veil of darkness, guilt, and shame is removed — and we behold the glory of the Lord. Literally, like looking in a mirror we reflect the glory of the risen Christ as we, by faith, are brought face to face with Him through the active agency of His indwelling Spirit. Though dimly, we mirror Christ. His majesty and radiance faintly seen in sinners saved by grace. Those once of the letter of the law now walking in the freedom of the Spirit. Those once bound by sin and death are now released by the finished work of the resurrected Christ. Those once with hearts of stone, now given hearts of flesh . . . written upon by the Spirit . . . evidencing something of the wondrous work of God’s overflowing love.
But beyond just reflecting something of the glory, we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” The reflecting of His glory increasingly becomes a radiating of that glory. The Son’s rays not just bouncing off our faces, but emitting from within our very core. As the Spirit of life continues His sanctifying work of conforming us into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), we emanate the glory of Christ. As we no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20), the mind and heart of Christ bubble to the surface manifesting the presence of God through us.
Not something we make happen. “For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Reflecting the glory of God . . . Radiating the glory of God. All by the grace of God.
Even so, blessed Spirit, keep writing the letter.