|2 Corinthians 3 |
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need letters of recommendation to you or from you, like some others?
2 You are our letters written in your hearts, known and read by all men;
3 Since you are obviously shown to be a letter from Christ ministered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
4 We have such confidence as this through Christ toward God.
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as coming from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
6 Who has made us able ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter [the Bible], but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.1 [The letter is the Bible and the law. Little by little each spoken word from His Spirit that you hear is engrafted into your heart and imparts the life of God to you making you a little more pure.]
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stone, was glorious, "so that the children of Israel could not steadily look on the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance;" which glory was to pass away;
8 How will the ministry of the spirit not be more glorious?
9 For if the ministry of condemnation is glorious,2 how much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. [The Ministry of Condemnation is the Spirit condemning the sins in you, commanding your repentance; and with your repentance, then the Spirit destroys the sins in your body, circumcising your heart. When you have, (by the Spirit), mortified the sins in your body, then you receive the Ministry of Righteousness, which is the learning of how to walk and speak righteously, walking by the Light of Life, walking after the Spirit.]
10 For even that which was made glorious has no glory now, because of the glory that excels it.
11 For if that which is passing away was glorious, that which remains is much more glorious.
12 Since we have such a hope, we use great plainness of speech.
13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not steadily look at the end of that which was passing away.
14 But their minds were blinded; for even to this day the same veil remains, not being taken away when the old testament is read. Because the veil is taken away only in Christ.
15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts.
16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil will be taken away.3
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 And all of us, as with an unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.4
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1 Who has made us able ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter [the Bible], but of the Spirit.
Paul was not a minister of the Letter [the Bible], but of the Spirit. Ministers of the Letter read and quote the Bible, expressing their opinions as to what it all means. They speak from their carnal minds, the nature of death, and preach their opinions from the vain imaginations of their evil hearts. But a minister of the Spirit speaks words learned from the Spirit. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Even Jesus did not judge, speak, or act without the Spirit's specific prompting:
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, John 5:30
whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. John 12:49-50
the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord);
but He [the son] is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, John 5:19
He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory,
but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him, that man is true,
and there is no unrighteousness in him. John 7:18.
Jesus said that a man who preaches from his own mind seeks his own glory. A minster of the letter seeks your money, your admiration, and your subjection to his authority. The preachers of Christendom stand condemned for seeking their own glory and then accepting pay for their worthless words; when to even charge for true words of life like Balaam, spoken from the spirit of God, is expressly forbidden by Peter and Jesus. Seeking their own glory, the preachers of Christendom speak from their carnal minds, the nature of death, and preach their opinions from the vain imaginations of their evil hearts.
Your preacher can have memorized the whole Bible, but he cannot pass on life or spiritual growth to you. Only words heard, as spoken by the Spirit, will give life.
When the Spirit communicates to a man, the Spirit has access to every experience, every sight, every sound, every word, every thought, every feeling that man has had in his life; and the Spirit uses those experiences to illustrate its teachings. Plus the Spirit is aware of every man's language, dialect, and understanding of vocabulary; so the Spirit speaks to a man in precisely understandable language tailored exactly for that man. And the Spirit speaks with inflections of love, kindness, firmness, etc. There is no comparison between reading the Bible, however wonderful it is, and hearing the infinite wisdom of God expressed to you in language, often accompanied by visions, that communicate precisely and instantly a message, teaching, or command.
The Spirit of God teaches us how to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Realize the world changes, and changes quickly. The Bible does not keep up with those changes, but the Spirit of God does, recognizing all the changes in man's environment and teaching him what to deny and how to live.
For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The letter kills.
The letter is the law. The law is what shouts our failures. The law is what condemns us as we walk in our selfish flesh. It tells us we should not want things; not envy; not commit adultery; not lie; to love our neighbor as ourselves; to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and might; honor our parents; etc. And, while we are walking in the flesh, it is impossible to totally comply with that law. The law restricts our flesh; the law does not impart the life of God to us, it only reminds us of our weakness and motivates us to look for change.
And then Christ came and strengthened the law, making it even harder to be obedient. He changed "eye for an eye", to "turn the other cheek; love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you." He made adultery, not just the act, but the thought in the heart. He made murder, not just the act, but the anger and hate in your heart. He told us not to repay injury or insult. He told us we will be judged by every idle [ineffective] word we have ever spoken, Mat 12:36. He told that if someone asked for our coat, to give them our shirt too. He told us to be perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect. He told us to be merciful like the Father is merciful.
But reading all those requirements does not make us able to comply with them; rather it shows us how seriously different we are from what we are called to be. The law kills our self-confidence, by identifying and calling attention to our selfish, evil behaviors, performed by men dead to the life of God. The law cannot impart the Spirit or the life of God to you. It cannot make you capable of loving God with all your heart, or loving your neighbor as yourself, or being prefect; only the Spirit can do any of that. Reading the Bible does not trigger the Spirit to impart the life of God because the words in the Bible, however wonderfully true they are, are not the same as hearing the Spirit speak to you with words of life.
but the Spirit gives life.
If we seek God, we must first suffer the humiliation of our failures to comply with the moral laws, and demonstrate our best efforts to minimize further failures with acts of repentance. As we seek God: waiting on him, watching, and listening, we begin to hear the Voice of the Lord. The first things we hear are words of assurance that he is going to work with us and help us. Then he shows us the secret sins of our heart, most of which we are not even aware, until "he has set all our evil before him, and our secret sins in the light of his countenance." This is the Spirit of grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and how to live godly, soberly, and soberly in this present world. The words He speaks to us that we hear and keep are engrafted into our hearts and impart the life of God to us. The more words we hear and keep or obey, the more life of God we receive — until finally we become like Him, pure, when He has redeemed us from all iniquity and purified for Himself a people who are His very own, zealous for good works, which works are commanded by Him. The words we hear Him speak to us are engrafted into our heart.
The flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are Spirit and they are life-giving. John 6:63.
From the Word of the Lord: "The Spirit of Grace both charges and removes, just like Jesus said 'repent,' and also healed. Hear and live; the Spirit gives life with every word heard."
2 The Ministry of Condemnation: Some of you may be saying: "But there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus." Yes, true; but until you are cleansed of sin, you cannot be in Christ Jesus. The full verse says: There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, who walk after the Spirit and do not walk after the flesh. If you still sin, you are walking after the flesh. To walk after the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit in thoughts, words, and deeds. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal 5:18. To walk after the flesh is to walk according to your carnal mind and evil heart, before it has been cleansed and purified; until then you are not in Christ Jesus because your are still walking in the flesh — in your lusts, desires, affections, pleasures, pride, anger, vanity, fear, worries, plans, etc. In order to be freed of sin, to then enter the kingdom, the Holy Spirit has to show you your sins and command your repentance. The Spirit doesn't condemn you, it condemns the sins in you.
Every man's heart starts filled with evil, filled with sin, defiled, and disqualified for heaven. Unless your heart is cleansed and purified by the Lord's Spirit that destroys sin within man, every man walks according to the ways of the world and the god of this world, fulfilling their desires and lusts of their flesh according to their thoughts, according to their evil imagination, according to their carnal minds that are enmity against God and cannot be subject to the law of God. Rom 8:6-7. Every man is judged by their words and works, including those who claim to be Christians; God shows partiality to no man. From the word of the Lord within: "Only a heart that is purged of sin is acceptable to God. Everyone is expecting Jesus to be their excuse. If you are still sinning, you belong to sin and not to Me. See myself — thus no sin has a place in me. You are without excuse O man. Sin in believers is intolerable. The pure is innocent of all defilement." You can think you are a Christian and call Him "Lord," but if you die still sinning, you are banned from heaven. All defiled men are banned from heaven. When purified by grace, men are translated into heaven while on earth and then forever. To be freed of sin, even the desire to sin, you must obey the Lord's spoken commands that you expose yourself to hear, by waiting on Him in humble silence as you listen and watch; that is the one thing needed. Luke 10:39-42.
That which is condemned by the Holy Spirit is the fleshly, carnal mind; and it is destroyed by the Spirit along with the associated deeds of the body which the mind dictates. George Fox has an excellent explanation of the Spirit condemning sin in a believer who wishes to become righteous.
For Christ is manifest [revealed] in the flesh, to condemn sin in the flesh, to all who witness Christ in them, male and female; I say, Christ is manifest in their flesh; he condemns the sin that is in their flesh; yes, and makes an end of sin, and finishes the transgression, and brings everlasting righteousness into them. But first he condemns the sin that is in their flesh, the unrighteousness in their flesh, and ungodliness in their flesh; the liar, the swearer, that is in their flesh; the adulterer, the fornicator, the idolater, and all sin, whatever it is, he condemns in the flesh. So Christ is manifest in the flesh, to condemn the sin that is in the flesh; everyone who witnesses Christ condemning sin in the flesh, that they through Christ, who condemns sin in the flesh, might become God's righteousness, and so God's new person [creature]. But the sin being uncondemned in the flesh, they are of the serpent, of the unrighteous one, of the ungodly one, who adulterated from truth, they are his. But the sin being condemned in the flesh, Christ is manifest in the flesh, so that they become Christ's; they are God's, and are in Christ, who destroys the devil and his works, which are out of truth. And these know the new life, which God is served in; and these know the new earth, in which dwells righteousness; and these know the old earth, in which dwell unrighteousness. And these can bring forth things old and new.
The Lord condemns sin in your flesh by revealing it to you and commanding your repentance; with your acknowledgement of His revelations being true, you obey His commands; by grace He then removes even the desire for that sin from your heart. This process is repeated, first with your actions, then your words, and then your thoughts; until you have crucified your carnal mind and sinful nature.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9.
I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts. Isaiah 65:2.
Once the mind is destroyed, then the Ministry of Righteousness and Life begins, also by the Holy Spirit.
In this Ministry of Condemnation you must die to the law of sin and death, being condemned by the Law, until you are brought through the law. You will see that every thought, and every word is evil, rooted in judgment, pride, and anger. You will be placed under tribulation and then you will see how your mind becomes a raw beast, screaming in anger, depression, and doubt. Here you are broken, your pride is slain, your self-confidence is destroyed, and all your old worldly desires become loathsome; there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and you have nothing left, but to depend on Him to deliver you from yourself.
Despite the Spirit convicting you of your sins and condemning the sin within you, the Lords' voice is kind, gentle, pure, easily understood, easily accepted, peaceable, complete, morally correct, encouraging — never with even a hint of sarcasm, bitterness, or condemnation — never incomplete leaving you guessing what he wants; instead His words are full of love itself — his spirit of Love — for he is Love. He will tell you things about Himself. He will encourage you. He is kindness. He will tell or show you things about yourself; some will be things that are ugly. But since he is your friend, you know that he is showing them to you for your own good. So you listen and watch. And you don't run; stand before the Son of Man. And you repent of what he shows you. And sometimes he gives you commands. You are hearing the Word of God, the living Word. And hopefully you will obey his commands and show him you love him by being obedient. If you obey his commands, he will remove the desire to sin from your heart. More on this subject is available in How to Receive the Changing Power of God.
3 When one turns to the Lord, the veil will be taken away. Christendom has the same veil over their understanding today. They have the words of warning, the words of intense requirements, the words counseling to strive with every effort; but they don't hear.
Indeed you [God] are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument;
for they hear your words, but they do not do them. Eze 33:32
Their hearts are veiled by their selfishness and presumption that those words only apply to "bad" people, not "righteous" people like themselves. We know that a man really has no deep understanding of sin, until the Holy Spirit shows it to him. A man must turn to the Lord, conscious of his failures to observe the outward law, in order to receive this understanding of sin in himself; then the veil is taken away.
God reveals unrighteousness to the spiritual man. But the natural man cannot receive the things the Spirit of God and cannot see the depth of unrighteousness. This is a basic function of the Holy Spirit — to convince the world of sin [unrighteousness]. The typical sect-attending Christian has no concept of sin, limiting it to murder, theft, rape; he is unaware that intolerable sin includes: adultery, pre-marital sex, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, partying — immorality, impurity, greed — evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. From the Word of the Lord within: "Every thought of man is at best a vain hiss." What is to be known of God, is revealed by God within a man's heart, Rom 1:19. Mark! Not from reading a book. Not from listening to a preacher speaking without words supplied by the Holy Spirit, as he speaks. When a man silently waits for the Lord, the Lord searches his heart and mind, showing him his sins —the veil is taken away. And the same grace of the Lord that shows a man his sins, also takes the sins away — not just forgiving, but destroying even the desire to sin from your heart: For this purpose the Son of God is revealed [in us], that he might destroy [in us] the works [sin] of the devil. 1 John 3:8.
4 all of us, as with an unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord. Paul is saying that they all saw the glory of the Lord, as though looking into a mirror; and as they beheld the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ Jesus, they were changed into the image of Christ themselves [God's image of true righteousness and holiness] from glory to glory. This is not make believe Christianity, this must actually occur in you to attain salvation; and it will occur if you seek the Lord with all your heart and soul.
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor 4:6. [Your persistent seeking of the Lord, obeying his voice, will result in Jesus Christ appearing in your heart.]
When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Col 3:4. [When he appears, you enter the Kingdom, and also appear in glory.]
Strip yourselves of your former nature that controlled your conduct, which corrupts itself through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the newly created nature [of Christ], which is created in God's image of true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24. We are changed into the same image [God's image of true righteousness and holiness] from glory to glory.
You are recreated in God's image, which is glorious. But the world does not see Christ; for such a person's life in hidden in Christ Jesus. Col 3:3. You will know them by their fruits. Mat 7:20. And the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness (or meekness), and self-control. Gal 5:21-23.]
all of us, as with an unveiled face, behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.
From the Word of the Lord within: "Seek his face. Seek his face in ever increasing glory."
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