More Glorious (2 Cor 3:7-11)

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:7–9, KJV)

Growing up in the summers, I would spend time at my grandmother’s house in New Jersey. She was the first in our family to have a color television set. It was kind of mesmerizing watching television. The routine every day was basically the same. I would wake up have breakfast and watch some television before going out to explore the countryside. There was not a lot of television channels from which to chose in those days. So, sometimes all there was to watch were some game shows.

The game shows were kind of funny. These were shows like, “The Price is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.” When you watched these shows, there was usually some sort of grand prize at the end. When the person won the big prize, the announcer would begin telling the contestant about the prize package they won. Sometimes it might be a one week all-expense paid resort vacation. At this the contestant was overjoyed. Yet, it would get even better. After announcing the resort, the host might say something like, “And you can drive to the resort in your brand-new Cadillac!” At this, the contestant would lose it because the last part of the prize was much greater than the first.

Paul wrote the church at Corinth and explained that he was a minister of the New Covenant, indicating that it was one in which the “Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). In this passage, he continued the thought by comparing the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. He wrote that the Old Covenant, which was written on tablets of stone, was a ministry of death. At first glance, this does seem a bit harsh, but remember, Paul is contrasting the new with the old and there is a distinction.

We first must understand that the Law was holy, righteous, good, and true (Rom 7:12). Yet, the Law was limited. It did not have the life-giving power of the new. The Law presented the holy standards of God. Through the Law, people should have come to an understanding of their own moral deficiency due to sin, and the penalty of sin, which is death. The Law was to point people to understand their need for mercy. The Law was perfect since it proceeded forth from God to man. Thus, as Paul explained, the ministry of the Law “was glorious.

Yet, the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit was even more glorious. For with the ministry of the Spirit is a ministry of life and righteousness that comes through mercy and grace. The Old Covenant was one of judgment and condemnation while the New Covenant is one of righteousness and life.

So, you might ask, “How then were the Old Testament saints saved?” Well, it was not by obedience to the Law. It was by recognizing the truth of the Law as it pointed to their sinful condition, in that no person, other than Jesus, ever perfectly fulfilled the Law. They were saved as a result of understanding their sinful condition and coming to God by faith, hungering and thirsting for His righteousness. The penalty of their sin, like ours, was paid by Jesus on the cross, which for them was a future event. (Remember, the Temple sacrifices were but a foreshadowing of the finished work of Christ on the cross.)

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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