The Grace of God
The Scripture in 2 Corinthians 3:17 is the defensible ground from which every true believer can and should elicit the grace of God as an answer to the Mosaic law, if a Jew, and the demand of death for sin, if a Gentile. While the matter of the believer being under the Mosaic Law if a Gentile is absurd without this verse, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty whether Jew or Gentile.
For in Christ there is no difference, for as many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for as believers we are all one in Christ. And as Scripture goes on to say if we then are Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise made to Abraham.
A Veil Upon The Mind
Now as Scripture makes clear in 2 Corinthians 3:15, the person who is not at liberty in Christ is in the group spoken of here as having a veil upon their mind.
There is no mincing of words here; if the veil is up on the heart/mind, then the absence of the Spirit of liberty (Lord) is not present. This condition exists because self-effort has not yet ceased in its attempt to justify self in the sight of God. It is only the Christ of God that earned salvation, and it is in His righteousness only that we are accepted.
Just as clearly is the point made in verse 16 – the mind that turns to the Lord will have the veil removed from the heart/mind because of the presence of the Spirit of liberty (Lord). This point is not up for debate – this is a declaration made by the Spirit of God to we who have fled for the hope placed before us in Christ. Self and self-effort will agree to nearly anything, but there is one exception to which most never succumb – crucifixion.
Men and women are willing to be religious, devoted, and busy with the things of church anarchy, all done to escape crucifixion of self, anything but in self-aggrandizement for our achievements to please God. It all goes back to the many found in Matthew who stand before the Lord boasting of their wonderful works, but no mention of being baptized into the body of Christ which takes place simultaneously with crucifixion of our old man and the consequent death of the same.
The Spirit of Liberty
The spirit of liberty that comes forth from those who understand what has taken place within them is what glorifies Jesus the Christ and His finished work. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. This is an indicting statement to all professing Christians who claim to occupy a place under God’s personal judgment or punishment prescribed by violation of the Mosaic law. The previous statement should not be misconstrued as establishing the elimination of the natural facts that are consequences of bad or destructive lifestyle practices.
When considering what is meant by liberty in this passage we do well to consider what makes this liberty the opposing force against bondage of law and its attendant penalties. Let’s go back up to 2 Corinthians 3:3 where we see the tablets of stone and the tablets of the human heart/mind as well as God’s plan for each.
When the Lord speaks to those who have submitted to His righteousness He speaks by His spirit to the tablet of the fleshy heart/mind, not to be confused with the carnal heart/mind of Romans 8:7. But when speaking to those who are lost He speaks by His tablets of stone – written in stone with His own hand to the Jew or to the Gentile by the conscience and natural awareness of wrongdoing. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There are no exceptions.
While there are those professing salvation who proclaimed that we are still under the law and subject to the weighty judgment of God upon our disobedience to the law, their claim does not nullify God’s word. If we rely on obedience to what is written on these stone tablets for righteousness we are rejecting the grace of God. This rejection is what is meant in the Scripture concerning those who oppose themselves. If we claim to have submitted to His righteousness, God says this through Paul; “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Leaving no doubt that Paul is speaking to professing believers he then adds this; you did run well, who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth; this persuasion comes not from him that calls you, “for a little leaven (pride) leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Paul is admonishing them harshly and instructing them that it is now obvious that they no longer believe the record that God gave of His Son. This denied record is found in 1 John 5:10–11 where there are those who dare to call God a liar and who choose to disbelieve the fact that eternal life is only found in His Son.
In the next post we will take up the discussion of those who have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge as in Romans 10 as it relates to 2 Corinthians 3.