Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Holding On To Old Things

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—  unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.  But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.  Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 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.” – 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Sitting less than five feet from me as I write this is a Hope Chest.  It was given to me by my grandfather, and is filled with things that are old, belonging to me, my children when they were babies, or even my grandparents.  They’re just old things, things I can’t seem to part with because they hold memories, even though they are of no true value.  I’m not going to put my baby’s shoes back on their feet today, but I can’t get rid of them.  I’m not going to watch them play with Baby” and “Steve” today, their childhood dolls, but I can’t get rid of them.

Over the years, I did let go of some of those old things.  If I had not, there would not be room for anything new.  It’s a struggle to determine what stays and what goes.  But in the end, the decision is what is of value and what is not.  If I’d never let my kids throw away their sippy cups, they might still need to drink from them today.  But if we’re going to have new things, if we’re going to grow, we have to remove the old to find a place for the new. 

As Christians, we sometimes hold on to old things as well.  We hold on to doctrines that we were raised with and traditions we don’t understand but still follow.   We hold on to past hurts and things that we believe about ourselves because someone once said them.  We hold on to dreams, and broken dreams.  We keep in our firm grasp the very things that keep us from new things that are of greater value.  We hold them in our own chest, our very hearts, as I hold on to my children’s things in my hope chest.

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, Paul is talking about Moses, and how he veiled his face to hid the glory of God from the children of Israel when he came down the mountain after being in the presence of God.  He veiled it because they couldn’t handle it.  It frightened them because they didn’t understand what had happened and why Moses face was glowing. 

But God had a deeper purpose in the veil that would be revealed later on.  The veil, covering the glory of God was a foreshadowing of the veil that would separate God’s people from the Ark of the Covenant, which was where the priest gave sacrifices for sin.  The veil separated God’s presence at the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant from His people.  It was necessary at the time because they couldn’t come near His glory or they would die, having no righteousness of their own.

But later on, Christ came, and died on the cross to be our one time sacrifice for sin.  When He died, the veil was torn, top to bottom as if by God’s hand from Heaven.  This signified the removal of the old covenant of laws, and the new covenant of Grace whereby we all have access to God through Christ.

Paul says that there were many who still held on to the veil after Christ had died for them.  These were the ones who refused to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and held tight to the old covenant.  These are the ones that did not understand that what was precious now was the glory of God being created in us as we are transformed into His likeness.  He says “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding 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.”  Through His Holy Spirit living in us, we are changed.  We no longer need the veil.

Understanding the veil is lifted because we have grace is crucial to understanding where the glory of God has moved.  It is no longer on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.  His mercy is on us.  His glory is within us, and seen in our transformation. His righteousness has covered us through salvation, and His Holy Spirit within us transforms us, bit by bit, day by day, back into the image in which we were created.  His Holy Spirit working in us changes us.  He causes us to reflect on what we’re holding on to, and determine if it is valuable. 

Sometimes we need to take an inventory of the things we’re holding on to.  When you look in that mirror of transformation, looking at the new creature in Christ that God has created, do you really see yourself as the things people have said about you?  Do you really still see the past faults and failures?  God doesn’t.  God sees a transformed creature, created for His Glory. 

Paul also said in this same passage something we often don’t grasp.  He says in 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  Read that again.  The Spirit – capital “S” meaning the person of the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Holy Trinity, is the Lord.  And where the Holy Spirit is – which is living in the souls of those who are saved – there is liberty.  There is freedom from the past!  Freedom from your failures, your broken dreams, your past addictions, your failed marriages, your sins that you won’t forgive yourself for, the words that were painful, and all that was making you into something that God never intended you to be!

Remove the veil!  See the glory of God being created in you!  This is what God sees, and who you are is who He says you are.  No one else knows you as intimately as the Holy Spirit.  In Him we find our value.


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