The Believer’s Transformation
2 Cor. 3:12-18
The glory Moses experienced in connection with the old covenant was a fading glory. In contrast,
the glory which Paul enjoys regarding with the new covenant is unfading. Moses needed a veil
because the glory of the old covenant, as great as it was, faded away. The messengers of the good
news of the gospel need no veil at all, because the greater glory of the new covenant never fades:
I. The hope (2 Cor. 3:12)
A. “Seeing then we have such hope”. This is the belief that all the promises of the New
Covenant will occur. It is hope in total and complete forgiveness of sins for those
who believe the gospel (Rom. 8:24, 25, Gal. 5:5; Eph. 1:18, 1 Pet. 1:3, 13, 21).
B. Boldness of speech. The Greek word for “boldness” means courageously. Because of
his confidence, Paul preached the new covenant fearlessly without any hesitation or
Illustration 1: What is the Christian’s hope?
1. Eternal life is the Christian’s hope (Tit. 1:2).
2. Christ’s coming is the Christian’s hope (Tit. 2:13).
3. Resurrection is the Christian’s hope (Rom. 8:23-24).
4. The glory of God is the Christian’s hope (Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27). This is a reference to the
splendour and wealth of Christ’s kingdom (Col. 3:4) and also to the moral perfection which we
will share at resurrection (1 Jn. 3:1-3).
5. Perfect righteousness is the Christian’s hope (Gal. 5:5).
6. Rich inheritance is the Christian’s hope (Eph. 1:18).
7. To be like Jesus is the Christian’s hope (1 Jn. 3:2-3). All of these things are the certain
possession of every true Christian. This is our hope. It is not God’s will for the believer to be
unsure about whether or not he possesses these things; rather it is His express will that we
“abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). Praise God for such a salvation. WOLE by D. Cloud
Illustration 2: Thirty Years’ War
During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were
forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid,
his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of
Scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone,
he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.
Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his
pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many.
“Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed;
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves and clouds and storms
He gently clears the way.
Wait thou His time,
so shall the night soon end in joyous day.”
It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our
sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this
truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope.
Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God’s hands. Wait for His timing. He will give
you a “song in the night.” — 10,000 Sermon Illustrations
II. The fading glory (2 Cor. 3:13)
A. When Moses came down from communing with God, his face shone, reflecting the
glory of God. When he spoke to the people, they could see the glory on his face, and
they were impressed by it. Moses knew that the glory would fade away, so, when he
finished teaching the people, he put on a veil. This prevented them from seeing the
glory disappear, for, after all, who wants to follow a leader who is losing his glory?
B. The word translated “end” in 2 Cor. 3:13 has two meanings: “purpose” and “finish.”
The veil prevented the people from seeing the “finish” of the glory as it faded away.
But the veil also prevented them from understanding the “purpose” behind the
fading glory. The Law had just been instituted, and the people were not ready to be
told that this glorious system was only temporary. The truth that the covenant of
Law was a preparation for something greater was not yet made known to them.
III. The veiled face (2 Cor. 3: 14-16)
A. Whatever was Moses” reason for using the veil, his action proved to be prophetic.
Not only was ancient Israel unwilling or unable to comprehend (they were spiritually
blind) the transitory and preparatory nature of the Old Covenant, but the dullness
remained with subsequent generations. The Jews of Paul’s day (to this day) failed to
perceive that the Old Covenant was a preliminary message, not the final word of
God’s revelation. Though the cloth that veiled Moses’ glory and the Old Covenant
was gone, Paul said a perceptible spiritual veil remains and has not been removed
(cf. 4:3-4; Rom 11:7-8,25).
B. The veil of unbelief that covers their hearts can be taken away only in Christ (2 Cor
3:14), that is, whenever anyone turns to the Lord. Moses removed his physical veil in
the presence of the Lord. So, for any Jew – or anyone – who turns in faith to Christ
the Lord his spiritual veil is removed. The Lord who mediated the Old Covenant is
the same Lord who established the New.
Illustration: Spiritually Blind
A minister who faithfully proclaimed the Gospel in an open-air meeting was challenged at the close
by an unbeliever who stepped from the crowd and said, “I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I don’t
believe in God or Christ. I haven’t seen them.” Then a man wearing dark glasses came forward and
said, “You say there is a river near this place? There is no such thing. You say there are people
standing here, but it cannot be true. I haven’t seen them. I was born blind. Only a blind man could
say what I have said. And only a spiritually blind man could say what you have said. The Bible says of
you, ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor. 2:14). Doesn’t the Word of
God say, ‘The fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Illustrations of Bible Truths.
IV. The Liberty (2 cor. 3:17)
A. In the Old Covenant when Moses entered the Lord’s presence, he removed his veil
(Ex. 34:34). In the New Covenant it is the Spirit who removes the veil. The Holy Spirit
is the personal “Agent” of Christ; He is the Spirit of the Lord (cf. Rom 8:9). The Two
are One in purpose (Jn. 15:26; 16:6-15) and in result (Rom 8:15; Gal 5:1). Paul’s
words the Lord is the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17; cf. v. 18) do not confuse these two Persons
of the Godhead. Instead, they affirm the Holy Spirit’s deity.
B. A major result of the New Covenant is freedom. Elsewhere Paul compared those
under the Old Covenant to children of slavery and those under the New to children
of freedom (Gal. 4:24-31). This freedom is possible because Christ has redeemed
from the penalty of the Law those who believe so that they become children of God
(Gal 4:5-7). This freedom as children is confirmed by the Spirit, who enables
Christians to call God Father (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).
V. Transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18).
A. Paul illustrates the meaning of sanctification and growing in grace. He compares the
Word of God to a mirror (“glass” James 1:23-25). When the people of God look into
the Word of God and see the glory of God, the Spirit of God transforms them to be
like the Son of God (Rom. 8:29). “Changed” in this verse is the same as the Gk. word
for “transformed” in Rom 12:2 and “transfigured” in Matt. 17:2, and explains how
we have our minds renewed in Christ. The Christian is not in bondage and fear; we
can go into the very presence of God and enjoy His glory and grace. We do not have
to wait for Christ to return to become like Him; we can daily grow “from glory to
glory” (v. 18).
B. Truly our position in Christ is a glorious one! The ministry of grace is far superior to
Judaism or any other religion, even though the NT Christian has none of the
ceremonies or visible trappings that belonged to the Law. Ours is a glorious ministry,
and its glory will never fade.
Illustration: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”
Rev. E. P. Scott was a missionary to India. One day he saw on the street a man of so strange an
appearance that he inquired about him, and learned that he belonged to a wild mountain tribe
among whom Christ had never been preached.
Mr. Scott prayed over the matter, and decided to visit that tribe. As soon as he reached their
mountain home, he fell in with a savage band who were on a war expedition. They seized him, and
pointed their spears at his heart.
At once the missionary drew out the violin that he always carried with him, and began to play and
sing in the native language, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name!” He closed his eyes, expecting death
at any minute.
When he reached the third stanza, as nothing had happened, he opened his eyes, and was amazed
to see that the spears had fallen from the hands of the savages, and big tears were in their eyes!
They invited Mr. Scott to their homes, and he spend two and a half year among them, winning many
of them to Christ. —Amos Wells
Under the New Covenant, we are now free from the bondage of the Law. As children of
God we can now call God our Father. We can also enjoy His glory and grace now as God
transforms us to be conformed to the image of His Son.