This is a text reader for the article below:
Message: The Spirit & the Veil
Growing up spiritually by the Spirit’s aid
Last week we were in 1 Corinthians 2 through the beginning of chapter 3
The big takeaways were all regarding our co-partnership with the Holy Spirit Who had been given to us.
- We are to do NOTHING apart from Him.
- Not self-judgment
- Not pursuing God
- Not living holy
- Not work
- Not ministry
- We are to be ardent keepers of the 1st and most important commandment – LOVE the Lord your God with ALL of your heart and strength.
- Loving God was DIRECTLY connected with the Spirit revealing God to us – coming to know Him more perfectly in relationship and intimacy.
- Loving, as defined by the Amplified version was to…
- Hold God in affectionate reverence
- PROMPTLY obey Him
- Gratefully recognize the benefits He gives
- Without the Spirit’s help we cannot draw back the veil to look upon Jesus
- We therefore cannot be changed into His likeness because you can only become like the Jesus you know.
- The Holy Spirit is our HELPER not our DOER!
Turn to 2 Corinthians 3-4
Paul starts off re-addressing an old issue he has had with this church. Specifically this is to those who had divided themselves into segments of followers which he addressed in 1 Corinthians.. “I am of Paul… I am of Apollos… I am of Cephas…I am of Christ” – 1Cor. 1:12.
“(1) Do you say that this is self-recommendation once more? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you?”
Some of these Corinthians were people followers or followers in name only. Paul had been commissioned by God to be the spiritual father of the believers in Corinth as he said in chapter 4 of 1 Corinthians. As such, Paul and those with him were the “pen” God used to write upon the hearts of these people and since God Himself was the One Who ordained this arrangement – Paul needed no “letters of recommendation” from or to these Corinthians.
So Paul here says that they themselves as believers in Corinth, who make up the church of Corinth ARE IN THEMSELVES his letters of commendation.
“(2) Our letter of recommendation is yourselves–a letter written on our hearts and everywhere known and read. (3) For all can see that you are a letter of Christentrusted to our care, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the ever-living God–and not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts as tablets.”
Paul in this division of his letter is drawing a comparison between the law God wrote on stones under the Old Covenant because Israel refused to hear God’s voice from the mountain – to God’s writing His law now upon their hearts as believers. This writing upon the hearts of believers is in fulfillment of God’s prophetic word through Jeremiah…
Jeremiah 31:31-34, “(31) Indeed, a time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. (32) It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the LORD. (33) “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the LORD. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. (34) “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the LORD. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”
This is of course found also in Ezekiel 36 & Hebrews 8. At any rate, Paul was making the comparison between God writing on their hearts, THROUGH Paul and BY the Spirit to be known and read by the world.
This represents a relationship. Unlike the “religion” Israel demanded of God in the wilderness where they wanted rules, not a relationship – the letter of the law was now replaced with a personality – the Holy Spirit of God!
“(4) Such is the confidence which we have through Christ in the presence of God; (5) not that of ourselves we are competent to decide anything by our own reasonings, but our competency comes from God. (6) It is He also who has made us competent to serve Him in connection with a new Covenant, which is not a written code but a Spirit; for the written code inflicts death, but the Spirit gives Life.”
Paul’s words here are often used by him. Paul lived his life CONSCIOUS that it was lived before God – in His very presence. That is one reason why Paul often made such a big deal about living his life in such a way as to have and maintain a good conscience. He not only preached it, he lived the awareness that he was NOT alone and what he did in life and ministry he did WITH the Spirit of God very much present. He therefore wanted the things he occupied himself doing, to be the sort of things the Spirit (his Helper) could do WITH him!
“(7) If, however, the service that proclaims death–its code being engraved in writing upon stones–came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily on the face of Moses because of the brightness of his face–a vanishing brightness; (8) will not the service of the Spirit be far more glorious?
(9) For if the service which pronounces doom had glory, far more glorious still is the service which tells of righteousness.”
The Old Testament law and covenant had glory because it represented God and clearly revealed Him. It was, in the end however, a book of condemnation, for even though it revealed what God was like and therefore placed a responsibility upon man to act in like manner – we were wholly incapable of doing so! So it WAS life, but brought death! (See Romans 7:7-13)
The New Testament and covenant however reveals a new person and a new life, not lived FOR but rather WITH God! We are MADE righteous by relational trust in the work of Jesus and surrender to His lordship, and OUT of that righteousness we walk righteous and holy lives BY the help of our HELPER – the Spirit of God!
“(10) For, in fact, that which was once resplendent in glory has no glory at all in this respect, that it pales before the glory which surpasses it. (11) For if that which was to be abolished came with glory, much more is that which is permanent arrayed in glory. (12) Therefore, cherishing a hope like this, we speak without reserve, and we do not imitate Moses, (13) who used to throw a veil over his face to hide from the gaze of the children of Israel the passing away of what was but transitory.”
“(14) Nay, their minds were made dull; for to this very day during the reading of the book of the ancient Covenant, the same veil remains unlifted, because it is only in Christ that it is to be abolished. (15) Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their hearts. (16) But whenever the heart of the nation shall have returned to the Lord, the veil will be withdrawn.”
The flesh has ALWAYS been the veil that shields our eyes from seeing God. This is both good and bad. If man were to see God for Who He truly is in His entirety and then sin – there would be no sacrifice for sin. That is why satan’s fall was unredeemable and why Adam and Eve never actually saw God. They hear the voice of God in the garden, but never His person. That is also why our ability to hear and recognize the Spirit is COMPLETELY dependent on our desire for Him and our seeking of Him. If we draw near – He draws near. If we in pride seek to go it alone, He resists being known by us.
“(17) Now by “the Lord” is meant the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is enjoyed. (18) And all of us, with unveiled faces, reflecting like bright mirrors the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same likeness, from one degree of radiant holiness to another, even as derived from the Lord the Spirit.”
The word “Lord” essentially means “master”. It is appropriate therefore that this title extend beyond just Jesus onto both the Father and the Spirit – for which member of the Godhead is NOT our Master?
Now the takeaway from today’s lesson is primarily to reinforce and stir to obedience what we learned last week.
- Hold God in affectionate reverence
- PROMPTLY obey Him
- Gratefully recognize the benefits He gives
If we want to see past the veil and be transformed into the likeness of Jesus we see there – we MUST walk in love and obedience to the Holy Spirit our Helper!
We have to get beyond “wanting to” to actually doing it! We have to forsake our empty platitudes of “Well, God knows my heart” – because what we really mean by that is, “Well, God knows I want to obey, I just don’t do it.”
This would never fly in my home when I was a child. I never once felt compelled to tell my father or mother, “Well I wanted to do it. You know my heart.” They would reply even as God does – “I know your works!” [See Jesus’ letters to the churches – Revelation 2-3]
Jesus told us very clearly that the one who truly loves Him is the one who has his commandments and habitually keeps them. He also said what Paul did in 1 Corinthians – Jesus connected our ongoing and loyal obedience to our ability to see and know Him.
“He who has My commandments and obeys them as a habit of their lives – he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will clearly reveal Myself to him.” – John 14:21
Our ongoing obedience to God IS our reverence and devotion in action. We need to STOP saying, “I WANT to honor You God” and get on with the actual honoring Him. Don’t just say it – DO IT!
Like James says, “Be doers of the word and NOT hearers ONLY – DECEIVING YOURSELVES”– James 1:22
We covered MUCH more in this lesson which you will have to listen to in order to get, but another major take away was the definition of Love – Agape love given by the biblical translator Kenneth Wuest.
“A self-sacrificial love called out of the heart from God’s preciousness to us. A love that compels us to spend ourselves on Him.”
THAT love is the environment which takes us from “want to” to doing and DOING is where the Spirit can freely pull back the veil and reveal Jesus to us to begin His transforming work in our hearts. This effectively takes us from the law on stones to the Spirit’s work in the heart! We become living letters which reveal Jesus!