Summary: When we look in the mirror what do we see? Do we see someone hopelessly lost in sin, or a repentant sinner, forgiven and being transformed into God’s image from glory to glory every day? Let’s look at Paul’s discussion of being remarkably transformed in 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2.
When we look in the mirror what do we see? Do we see someone hopelessly lost in sin, or a repentant sinner, forgiven and being transformed into God’s image from glory to glory every day? Let’s look at Paul’s discussion of being remarkably transformed in 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2.
To understand Paul’s metaphor, we must read the background in Exodus 34:29-35 where, when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai, his face shone because he spoke with God. People were afraid to come near him, so Moses’ face was hidden because he put a veil over his face.
2 Corinthians 3:12-13 “Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.”
Paul spoke plainly, compared to mysteries concealed under the old covenant. He adds a metaphor that the veil prevented Israel from seeing that the glow on Moses’ face was fading away, as the veil on their hearts prevented them from seeing the glory of the old covenant was fading too.
2 Corinthians 3:14-15 “But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart”
This is the only time Paul refers to the Hebrew scriptures as the old covenant, testament, will, or set-agreement with God. Not just Jews, but also many Christians have a veil on their hearts. The Greek is clear, the veil is the old covenant and it is lifted in Christ.
That does not make the entire old testament now irrelevant, but the covenant or agreement is now replaced in Christ with a new covenant. The phrase “whenever Moses is read,” means the first five books of the Old Testament. The veil on Moses face becomes a veil on people’s hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:16 “but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” Turning to the Lord is an Old Testament expression for repentance, and there is a day coming when the sons of Israel will turn to their Lord and the veil will be lifted.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are called the Lord. The Nicene Creed reminds us that the Holy Spirit is also “the Lord and Giver of life.” Notice the liberty of the new covenant, liberty from the guilt and slavery of sin, not the veil of the letter of the law.
The Eastern Orthodox Church calls this “being transformed” theosis, purification from God and being filled with God’s light. Roman Catholics call this “being transformed” divinization, being made after the image and likeness of God. This has similarities to the Protestant idea of sanctification, the process whereby God makes us holy.
Christian males need no Tallit, covering head and heart when praying. We are to gaze on God’s face, as mirrored in Jesus, and we mirror or reflect Christ, with our faces and hearts unveiled. Moses had his temporary glow covered. Christians are a permanent light, uncovered and letting it shine.
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
The very best of us would not be able to sit in ministry of the new covenant except for God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but repentant sinners may engage in the ministry because of Jesus and the cross. We don’t promote or condone sins, but humbly and gratefully repent.
Take a look in the mirror and see a child of God, a person being transformed into God’s image from glory to glory. Let’s give God thanks for what He is doing in our lives. Thank God that a repentant sinner has been given undeserved mercy.
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