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The Ministry of Death

"But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
II Corinthians 3:7-11

Good Morning Beloved,

Welcome to worship!
We're so glad you're here today, thank you for joining us. 

The last time we were together, in our study of II Corinthians chapter 3, verses 1-6 we again heard that by works of law no one shall be justified or sanctified. It is only by accepting Christ, is a man justified and only by being obedient to His Spirit can he be sanctified. The law can give no one life but rather brings condemnation to those who break it. Life comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is the only law-keeper, to those who will receive His transforming new heart by receiving Him.

Today, we find the apostle Paul contrasting the glory of the Ten Commandments with the glory of the life-giving Spirit. If the Law that leads to death was glorious, how much more glorious is God’s plan to give us life through His Spirit?
Paul is obviously himself in II Corinthians. In fact, the whole letter is a defense of his own ministry and his own integrity. And one of the things he uses to defend himself is that he was a minister of the new covenant. 

Let's bow our heads in prayer. 

Heavenly Father,

Father, we just thank You for Your Word for us today. Thank You for Your truth, which You have made so clear, so powerful, and so potent. Oh how it does speak to our hearts. Lord, we just ask that You would reach out to every soul here with Your Spirit and bring new life, a life that produces righteousness. Lord, bring salvation, repentance, generate contrition. We pray that anyone among us, who doesn’t truly know the Savior, Jesus Christ, that they might come with an eager, penitent heart, seeking forgiveness by grace, through the provision of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Father, we thank You that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, so that You could extend grace to us, those who believe. Lord, we pray that You would grant faith, grant grace, grant salvation, to every needy heart. And, O' Lord, how we thank You that we are no longer trapped in the bondage of legalism, that we can enjoy the freedom of faith, the blessing of grace through Your Son, Jesus Christ
It is in His precious name we pray

Today's Message: The Ministry of Death 

The superiority of the new covenant is argued on three counts. The first found in verses 7 and 8 is that the ministry of the Spirit is more splendid than the ministry that brought death. "But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? "

"The Ministry of death" is here defined as letters engraved on stone or the Ten Commandments. The design and effect of the law was to kill, to prove man guilty of condemnation. It certified man a transgressor because he broke this law. Through the law sin receives its strength and power against man, for it would not establish as wrong if there was no law against it.

Galatians 3:10, says, "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them."

And, in I Corinthians 15:56 is says, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;"

Yet this ministry of death had glory. When Moses descended from the mountain with the Ten Commandments after conversing with God, his face shone with the glory of this encounter. His face was so radiant that the people were even afraid to approach him!

Exodus 34:29-30 says, "It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him."

This is part of the glory of the giving of the Law and it impressed the people.
Moses is viewed as the minister of the Covenant of death because he was the agent through whom God delivered it to the people and God delivered it with glory. God’s glory was seen in the countenance of Moses. Apparently this radiance would fade, or pass away, over time until Moses again would go into the Tabernacle of God’s Presence and meet with God. Moses glory was an outward brightness because the people were directed to follow external regulation; the rituals, the priesthood, the Temple, the Sacrifices.

In Exodus 19:16-20, we're taught, "So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up."

Today we have an inward glory because God lives within and it is permanent because God is eternally with us. The Greek word for glory, doxa, refers to the splendor of God’s manifest presence.

If this ministry of death so manifested the glory of God, in verse 8, Paul asks will not the ministry of the Spirit be far more glorious? "how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?"
Because Moses’ glory was a fading glory, the argument advances the superiority of the unfading, unfailing New Covenant.

The glory of the Old Covenant is not to be compared with that of the New Covenant. The glory of the old was external, radiated on Moses face from the Shekinah Glory of God’s presence, the Spirit’s glory is intimate and internal as well. The Spirit’s Shekinah shines from within us, the light of God’s presence filling the soul. The former was transcendent, impermanent glory for over the course of time Moses face faded. Moses, the mediator of the Law, in the course of time was removed by death. Jesus Christ, the abiding light in every believing heart is the eternal mediator of the New Covenant.

Since the glory of the old faded into insignificance the ministry of a Christian is marked by the Spirit, not the Law. It is the ministry of the Spirit to make one righteous, something that the law cannot do.
Hebrews 9:11-28, says this, "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."

In verse 9, we find the second argument for superiority of the new covenant, that the ministry that brings righteousness is more splendid than the ministry that condemns. "For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory."

The Law was not given for the purpose of salvation; for there is no salvation through obedience to the law. The law produces condemnation. It reveals our bondage to an unpayable indebtedness, and it is a yoke too heavy to bear and a guardian that disciplines.

In Colossians 2:14, it says, "having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

And Acts 15:10 says, "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?"

Galatians 4:1-5 teach us that "Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."

The Ministry of the Law brings condemnation because the natural man is unable to obey the Law. Therefore, condemnation is just consequences for all who break the Law. Yet it was glorious because by the Law we know right from wrong and it reveals to us how far short we fall. It is like the mirror that reveals how dirty our faces really are. The ministry of the Law gives no one who accepts it the power to live by it. However, the one who will accept Christ Jesus will be granted the power to live righteously, as Christ Himself lived.

Jesus Christ is the believers righteousness and this ministry of the gospel brings righteousness. First it brings righteousness through justification because Christ’s obedience is imputed to the sinner on the ground that the penalty of the sinner’s disobedience has been paid for by Christ who suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous. Then it is a ministry of righteousness in sanctification because the Holy Spirit causes the believer to grow more and more in obedience to the Word of God and a likeness to Christ.

In Ephesians 4:13, it says, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."

Therefore, the Spirit does more than justifies us, He sanctifies us, He causes us to live righteously. In accordance with the New Covenant, God’s Law is written on the believer’s heart and overcoming power is granted, based on following Christ’s Lordship. In the Spirit’s power the believer fulfills not simply the law but the will of God. Before the law the sinner is guilty and powerless, shut up in condemnation and judgment. However, by the Gospel he is offered forgiveness and power to live righteously and eternally. The ministry of the New Covenant produces righteousness and changed lives, to the glory of God!

In verse 10, it places the comparison between the covenants on an eternal scale. "For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it."

When the glory of Moses ministering the Law is compared to Christ ministering the Gospel, Moses’ ministry must pale into insignificance. When the brightness of the sun shines you have no need of a flashlight or the moon. When the righteousness of Christ is revealed it exceedingly out shines the righteousness of the law. The glory of Moses and the law was temporary though real. The glory of the old dispensation dimmed into nothingness by the brightness of the new. Moses had a temporary shining. Jesus is glorified eternally by all the glory of God. Christ as the Son of Righteousness has out splendored Moses into paleness. Just like the Gospel of Grace through faith out shines the Law

Hebrews 13:20, "Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,"

In many ways the Mosaic law is to the Christian what a crutch is to an athlete. It is good when needed and used properly. However, a crutch cannot be employed to win a l00-yard dash, nor can leaning on a system of legal statements ever bring us spiritual victory.

The diminishing splendor of the Old Testament law is emphasized by comparing it to the surpassing glory of life and liberty in the Spirit. Referring to Moses' shining face after he had been given the Ten Commandments, the apostle likened the fading brightness of his countenance to the temporary and incomplete nature of the Sinai disclosures he had received. The people of Israel would soon discover that God's message from the mount was also the standard by which they would be condemned.

Where the Holy Spirit reigns, however, there is abundant grace, and its splendor far exceeds that of the law. Imagine striking a match in a completely dark place. A sudden burst of flame provides an impressive display of light. But if you struck a match in the presence of the noonday sun, its flickering, rays would seem quite insignificant. The commandments were demanding and ultimately condemned; however, life in the Spirit brings the experience of God's transforming power into our heart, and in our lives. Beloved, the diminishing splendor of the law is no match for the glory of God's grace.

Paul's third argument for the superiority of the new covenant found in verse 11, is that the ministry which lasts has more splendid than that which was fading away. "For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory."

If this transient and temporary ministry of death was glorious, will not the permanent and continuous ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? I'd like you to notice, that it says the Old Covenant fades away because at that time they were in an overlapping of ages. The Covenant of Grace had just been inaugurated yet the Temple services still were on going. Those services ended by 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Should the Temple be rebuilt and the priesthood reinstituted, there would be no glory, no Shekinah glory dwelling in the holy of holies. The Law of Moses is a religion with a most glorious past, but it has no glory today. The light has gone and only a dim shadow remains.

Colossians 2:16-17 says, "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."

In Closing...

The Gospel of Grace has come and it has permanent glory. The ministry of the Spirit is a ministry of eternal glory. Does that mean the Law is wrong or that there is any error in the Law? No. But the binding authority of the law ceased with its fulfillment and the offered Salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet this Gospel which did away with the authority of the law is never to be superseded

"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." - Galatians 5:18 

The ministry of the Old Covenant, in which the law condemned transgressors, faded away at the coming of Christ. The ministry of the New Covenant is carried out in the power of the Spirit; it gives people a right standing before God, and it lasts because it will not be superseded by another. The ministry of Grace is internal, it brings life, and it creates increasing glory for those who abide in Christ.

What wondrous comfort and glorious security there is for the Christian in the knowledge that;
"And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation," - Hebrews 5:9

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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