Freedom From Veils- 2 Corinthians 3:13-18

In verse 12, we learn that Paul’s boldness in ministry came from the hope he had. He knew who he was and whose he was, and this knowledge led him to be very bold in his ministry to others. He then, in verse 13, compares himself to Moses. This post will examine why he does so and what he is telling us as believers today. He begins by showing how he is not like Moses, for Moses would “put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away”. The question immediately arises as to why Moses would keep a veil covering glory that was fading away? What we find here is that the veil was not only meant to protect Israel, but also to “protect” Moses. Moses had been in the presence of God and received the law from God. We must remember here that the purpose of the law is to show us we are sinners, and being in the presence of the law clearly showed Moses his flaws and shortcomings, with the implication being that Moses also kept the veil on to hide his shortcomings from the sight of the people he was to lead. The veil here is primarily one which causes us to deny or overlook our flaws and shortcomings, to deny who and what we really are and to hide the truth of what we really are from others. This is confirmed in verses 14-15, where we find that the same veil remains to this very day when the Old Covenant (the Law) is read. The purpose of the law, again, is to show us we are sinners, to show us we come up short and show us our need for a savior. The veil that remains is a self-imposed one, one that covers peoples minds and hearts, one that causes them to consciously deny or not realize the fact that they come up short, and to subconsciously work to hide those shortcomings from others. This veil is removed only in Christ (verse 14). In Christ the veil is removed which keeps us from denying the fact we are sinners and leads us to accept Christ as our savior (verse 14). The veil is also removed in another sense in verse 16, which is why Paul states this fact of the veil being taken away in Christ twice, both in verse 14 and verse 16. In Christ the veil which causes us to deny we have flaws and shortcomings, and also the veil which causes us to try to hide those flaws and shortcomings from others is removed. This is the context of the statement in verse 17 that “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom”. The freedom here is specifically freedom from the need to put on a “veil”, to wear a mask to hide our flaws and shortcomings from others. It is the freedom to be real, genuine, authentic. It is the freedom to be what we are created to be and do what we are created to do, freedom from the need to project the image that we have it all together, and that those we minister to should as well. In Christ we are free, free from the need to project an image of perfection to those around us, free from finding the need to put on a mask to cover up our shortcomings and inadequacies, free to live in genuineness and authenticity before the world. Why is this important? We find the answer in verse 18, where we see that it is with “unveiled faces” that we “reflect the Lord’s glory”. How do we reflect the Lord’s glory? We must remember that everything gives glory to God when it does what God intends it to do. This was true of Jesus, who brought glory to the Father by doing what the Father intended Him to do. This is also true of each of us, who bring glory to the Father when we do what He intends for us to do. We only do so, according to Paul here, when we live with “unveiled faces”, when we live genuine and authentic lives before others, not hiding our shortcomings and inadequacies behind a mask, freely admitting we don’t “have it all together”. This freedom from the expectations of others, from the bondage of ordering our lives based on what others think of us, frees us to reflect the Lord’s glory, to do all He intends for us to do. According to Paul here, hiding behind a mask covers up what and we are truly meant to do and be, keeps us from reflecting the Lord’s glory by doing all He intends for us to do. In Christ, it has been made possible for us to live our lives free from hiding behind any masks, but it is through our choices moment by moment and day by day that we are “being transformed” (present tense, a process) into our true selves and live as we are truly intended to live. In Christ it has been made possible for us to live free from the opinions and expectations of others, free to live to please only our Father, just as Jesus did. It is made real in our lives, however, only as we live with “unveiled faces”, as we rid ourselves of our masks.

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