2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) 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 by the Spirit of the Lord.
In part II of this series, we discussed how there is a veil over the human heart, concerning the word of God. This veil makes understanding the word of God impossible, until removed. When one turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in absolute surrender, the veil is removed. We understand there are three definitive experiences which take place when one turns to the Lord and that veil is removed.
I. HIS WORD BECOMES ALIVE & ACTIVE IN OUR UNDERSTANDIN
II. BEHOLDING THE MESSIAH WE ARE TRANSFORMED
In these first two we see how our beholding Christ, transforms our lives, by the formation of Christ’s character in us. This takes a continual attitude of humility and desire to know Christ more. We are beholding the Person of the Word of God in the scriptures, not Bible facts. These first two are clearly revealed as the ministry of the Spirit “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (II Corinthians 4:16).
Yet there is a third aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is more glorious than the ministry of death, as seen through Moses.
III. AS WE ARE TRANSFORMED, WHAT IS INSIDE SHINES FORTH
2 Corinthians 3:18 – 4:2 (NKJV) 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 by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
I have highlighted the word “Therefore” because it is the beginning of chapter 4. Interestingly many have memorized II Corinthians 3:18 (concerning the ministry of the Spirit), in beholding the Living Word of God and being transformed into what we behold yet have no clue what Chapter 4 verse one declares. You may be asking why this is important. The reason it is important is because the truth communicated in chapter 3, continues and is expanded upon throughout chapter 4.
We must remember that scripture was not written with chapter numbers, verse numbers, or paragraph headings, as study aids. In fact, the New Testament, originally written in Greek, has no punctuation. Our desire for modern aids of study, often makes unnatural breaks in the context of the scripture and fragments our understanding of what God is communicating. This is not the only place this occurs in the New Testament.
When considering the word “Therefore” (4:1), we must understand that it connects what is about to be said with what was previously stated. In our case, we read, “Therefore, since we have this ministry”. What ministry is being referred too? The more glorious ministry of beholding, which begins when a person turns to the Lord, in absolute surrender and beholds Christ in His written and spoken word; from II Corinthians 3:18.
“Therefore” then communicates what has been transformed inside us, must come out and in a powerful way.
“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”
This is seen in a twofold ministry of…
- Not losing heart in trial and continuing in fellowship together.
- Shining forth Christ in us, as we minister the Gospel concerning Him.
The second point is seen in three aspects of character.
- We renounce the hidden things of shame; meaning we are walking in sanctification and righteousness, rather than practicing sin.
- We speak Christ crucified and His word in truth, not for personal gain or to place ourselves above anyone (consider verse 5).
- Not only do we preach the truth, but we live the truth in such a way that our lives are a sword manifesting the truth of Christ we preach into their very conscience.
This is where we see a very powerful illustration of the veil, its creator, and what it produces.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NKJV) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
Even though the world around us is blinded by this satanic veil, which pulls at the sinful self-will of man, God gives us a command.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV) For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Remember that Jesus calls us “the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden”, in Matthew 5:13-16. This is where we see the more glorious ministry of the Spirit, over the ministry of death, through Moses. The glory that radiated from Moses was unable to remove the veil over Israel’s heart. Christ, the hope of glory shining forth from us, will not perish and can remove the veil on the heart of the lost, and bring spiritual sight to the blind.
This is only possible by our beholding Christ (in His word) and being transformed inwardly. What God has formed in us, of the Christ life, must shine forth.
Sadly, this is not the case for far too many Christians, who appear to either be natural men without understanding concerning the word of God—or those who have ceased beholding the image of Christ, as they engage the word of God.
Why are so many Christians, all of whom are to walk in the ministry of the Spirit, not commending themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God? Why are so many not shining forth?
The answer is simple. All Christians have this potential through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, yet it is limited until the individual is baptized in the Spirit, receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This is the gift of the Father ministered by Christ Himself, upon those who have absolutely surrendered (Luke 11:13Acts 1:4, 8).
To understand the one who has committed to Christ in absolute surrender let us look at two passages, which reveals this state of being.
Philippians 1:19-21 (NKJV) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Both passages are true of those who were the first to be baptized in the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It was true of those who were filled again with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:23-31, it was true of Cornelius house in Acts 10:34-46 and the Ephesians believers in Acts 19:1-10. It will be the state of all who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which begins their life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Since I mentioned the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and many of my readers attend Pentecostal churches, let me briefly handle tongues. Although unknown tongues are the normative initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit (in Acts of the Apostles), they are not the ongoing evidence, nor are they the purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is “power” to be Christ’s witnesses (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8). It is true this at times includes wonderful and miraculous sign gifts, which testify to the truth of the gospel, but our passage from II Corinthians 4:7-11 reveal what power to be His witnesses means.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
Wow! It does not get any clearer than that. When considering what the ministry of beholding Christ in the mirror of God’s word produces, it is easy to understand our need for the power of the Holy Spirit, to PERSEVERE in escalating temptations, trials and tribulations.
When we shine forth for Christ, commending ourselves in the conscience of every man in the sight of God, we can be certain, that the one who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving takes notice; and seeks to destroy our ability to shine.
This is the reason Paul and the apostles were hard pressed on every side, as will anyone who absolutely surrenders and lays hold of the fulness of the Spirit. The more we shine, the more pressed we are with perplexing and prospective blows. It is the fulness of the Holy Spirit in the one being hard pressed, which steady’s them with power and hope by His inward fulness of Spirit.
The ministry of the Spirit must ultimately take place in circumstances, which lead through the valley of the shadow of death. This means we will be led, by the Lord into situations beyond our ability to contend with, which catalyzes our shining forth.
Therefore, we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our moral flesh.
Soon all Christians, in every land will feel what this means. Let me encourage you to seek absolute surrender now, be transformed inwardly, shine forth and when trouble comes, rejoice and glory in your infirmities; for when you are weak, He is strong through you.