The Surpassing Glory- 2 Corinthians 3:8-11

In our previous post, we examined Paul’s identification of the law as a ministry of death, that the purpose of the law was to show us our flaws and shortcomings, to make us aware of the fact that we are “dead in our transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1), that the law “was put in charge to lead us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24). We also noted that Paul makes reference to Moses and the giving of the law to Israel, that the law was glorious because it was a reflection of God’s character, that it came with glory because it came to show the people how they were to live as God’s people. As we continue on in this passage to the following verses, we must first understand what the function of the law was for the people of Israel. We must understand that Israel were not God’s people because they were the most righteous, not because they were the wealthiest, not because they were the most powerful, but simply because God chose them. The law, then, was sent not so that Israel would obey it in order to become God’s people, but to show Israel how they were to live as God’s people. Obedience to the law did not make them God’s people, obedience to the law displayed to the world the fact that they were God’s people. This is the reason why Paul here contrasts the law with the Spirit, telling us in verses 8-11 about the “ministry of the Spirit”, and He does so by contrasting the “glories” of the two. The reason he compares the law here with the Spirit is that both are sent to “show” God’s people how they are to live as God’s people. And in the verses we are examining, he shows us here how the ministry of the Spirit is more glorious. Does this then mean that the Spirit, as opposed to the law, does not show us our flaws and shortcomings? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that the Spirit shows us our flaws and shortcomings, but also gives us the power and ability to overcome them. The “ministry of the Spirit” is a ministry which brings life, not death. The Spirit works in our lives to bring life, to help us overcome our flaws and shortcomings, to be more and more a reflection of God’s character, of which Jesus was the perfect reflection. So the Spirit shows us our flaws and shortcomings not to condemn us, but rather to make us aware of them so we may be able to overcome them, that we may become more righteous, more alive, more a reflection of God’s glory, more like Jesus. This is why Paul refers to the ministry of the Spirit as the “surpassing glory” (verse 10). The ministry of the law was reflected in the face of Moses, but this glory “faded away” as Moses got farther away from the presence of God. The ministry of the Spirit is shown to be more glorious here in the fact that the glory is able to increase as we are enabled by the Spirit to draw closer and closer to God. The ministry of the Spirit, then, is shown here to be far superior to the ministry of the law. Both are sent to show God’s people how they are to live, but the main difference is that the Spirit is not a law given to us, but a person who comes to live in us. The Spirit not only shows us how we are to live as God’s people, but also gives us the power to be able to live that way. The ministry of the Spirit is “more glorious” because it better enables us to reflect God’s glory to the world, to reflect His character, to be more like Jesus, who was the ultimate reflection of God’s character. The law was not sent to make Israel God’s people, but rather to show God’s people how they were to live as God’s people, but the Spirit is sent to those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior both to make them God’s people and also to show them how to live as God’s people. The ministry of the Spirit, then, is more glorious because it better enables God’s people to reflect His character as they draw nearer to Him. The Spirit not only shows us our flaws and shortcomings, but also does not use those shortcomings to condemn us, but to make us aware of them so that through His ministry to us we may be able to overcome them. It is these flaws and shortcomings which ultimately prevent us from being conformed to the image of Christ, which prevent us from being more like Jesus. The Spirit is given to us to help us overcome these flaws and shortcomings and be more like Jesus. This is the “ministry of the Spirit” to which Paul refers here, and it is only through His “ministry” to us that we can become more “glorious”, that we can more and more be a reflection of God to the world.

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