The Greater Glory of the New Covenant.

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 compares a life lived under the Law with a life lived under grace. Paul knew the Corinthians had begun to lose their Gospel influence when they began embracing the false message of the Judaizers. The Law, even though divinely given, could not transform a person. No standard can change a heart. Its splendor is to convict.

Matters of Life and Death

Life often requires us to evaluate the best choice among good options. Paul's comparison and contrasts reminds his readers that Jesus saves completely by grace, not by adherence to standards. No regulation can save a soul. There is value to the moral code of God, described with "splendor" and "glory" in these verses. They are given to prove our imperfection and show us why we need Jesus, the perfect Law-keeper.

The message of the Judaizers started and ended with the Law, promoting man's ability to save themselves and please God on their own. It was eternally destructive.

Those who have accepted God's grace find confidence to honor God in Jesus Christ. The word "confidence" means to believe in something or someone to the point of placing full reliance and trust in the object. Paul himself had formerly thought he was following the Law perfectly. Disciplines are important, but a person's value is not limited to how well they adhere to a list of religious chores, even if the rules are morally sound.

All our imperfections are made right when we are saved by Christ, and we stand in the view of God as perfect. When we live in and by grace, this will make us gracious people. Lawkeepers are not truly gracious. They look good and are knowledgeable and compelling, but prove themselves to be impatient and kind over time.

Having received God’s grace, we need to be equally gracious with each other, especially those who are teachers and disciplers. Lawkeeping teachers constantly harp on the sins of the saints at the expense of exalting Christ, who by the Holy Spirit has transformed our lives to no longer live under the power of sinful choices and consequences. Legalism evaluates our value based on how we perform compared to others. This is defeating, discouraging, and ultimately distracting. Christ must be first in everything, even the way we address sin.

The word “adequate” in verse 5 indicates a degree of ultimate sufficiency. Paul is clear: we are not enough in ourselves; only God can fill the void in our hearts and souls. At the point of conversion, God gave us the righteousness of Jesus Christ by the omnipotent regeneration of the Holy Spirit. We all have equal standing before Christ and should have the same humble view of ourselves before others.

We are servants in a community of life. All believers are forever alive in Christ and continually walk in triumph. Those who have received Christ’s love are supernaturally taught to love one another. They don’t evaluate each other based on success and failure.

Application Points

  • Do you judge your value or the value of others based on performance or comparison? That’s what legalism does. Love each other based on Christ’s perfections and His work in us rather than performance.
  • You can only be taught to love one another when you’ve received the love of Christ. Have you experienced that transformation?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Philippians 3:2-6 – Where to put your spiritual confidence.
  • Psalm 30:33 – No one can stand without forgiveness in Christ.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11 – Continue on your current trajectory.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Not I, But Christ"

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow;
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden!
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.

Not I, but Christ, in lowly, silent labor;
Not I, but Christ, in humble, earnest toil;
Christ, only Christ! no show, no ostentation!
Christ, none but Christ, the gath'rer of the spoil.

Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling, soon, full soon, I'll see—
Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling—
Christ, only Christ, my All in all to be.