Summary: The New Covenant is greater than the Old. The glory of the New Covenant includes the transformation that is possible through the work of the Spirit in us.
A. As you know, transformation is big business on TV these days.
1. Our present love affair with reality shows has led to many TV programs that have to do with transformation.
2. There are home makeover programs that transform ugly rooms and deteriorating homes into something that could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
3. There are programs like the Biggest Loser that transform men and women from obesity to healthy.
4. This is all well and good, but these transformations are external.
B. God is also in the transformation business, but the changes that God wants to bring into our lives does not focus on externals.
1. The makeovers that God is interested in bringing about have to do with our hearts, and our character.
2. The glory of the new covenant has to do with this marvelous transformation that God brings about in our lives.
3. Let’s work our way through today’s text from 2 Corinthians 3 and discover what Paul says about the glory of the new covenant.
I. Understanding the Word
A. In our text today, we witness Paul contrasting the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
1. A covenant is an agreement or an arrangement made between to people.
2. In most covenants, the two parties enter into the agreement on equal terms.
3. But in the biblical sense of covenant, God is the prime mover who approaches us to offer a relationship upon conditions that we can neither initiate or alter.
4. Our only choices are to accept or reject God’s covenant.
B. Interestingly, when Jesus and Paul called this covenant “new,” they used a specific Greek word.
1. In Greek there are two words for “new.”
2. One is neos, which means “new in point of time.”
3. The second Greek word for “new” is kainos which means not only “new in point of time, but also new in quality.”
4. Can you guess which of the two words were used by Jesus and Paul? Jesus and Paul both use kainos when speaking of the new covenant.
5. Therefore, we need to understand that the new covenant is not only new in point of time, but that it is quite different in kind from the old covenant.
6. The new covenant produces a totally different kind of relationship between us and God.
7. Let’s look at some of these differences that Paul points out in the text.
C. First of all, let me make a clarification. In making the contrasts between the Old and New Covenants, Paul did not deny the glory of the old covenant, because there was glory in the giving of the Law and the maintaining of the tabernacle and temple services.
1. What Paul affirmed, however, was that the glory of the new covenant was far superior, to the glory of the old covenant.
D. The first contrast affirmed by Paul is that New Covenant glory means spiritual life, not death.
1. Look at verses 6-8: He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
2. When Moses descended from the mountain, after conversing with God, his face shone with the glory of God.
3. This was a part of the glory of the giving of the Law, and it certainly impressed the people.
4. Paul then argued from the lesser to the greater: if there was glory in the giving of a Law which brought death, how much more glory is there in a ministry that brings life!
E. The second contrast affirmed by Paul is that the New Covenant glory means righteousness, not condemnation.
1. Look at verses 9 and 10: If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.
2. Again, Paul is arguing from the lesser to the greater.
3. The Old Covenant was considered glorious, even though it brought about condemnation.
4. The New Covenant is greater because it produces righteousness and changes lives to the glory of God.
5. Our greatest need is righteousness, and God’s greatest gift is righteousness through faith in Jesus.
F. The third contrast affirmed by Paul is that the New Covenant glory is permanent, not temporary.
1. Look at verse 11: And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!