Friday

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (v. 17)

2 Corinthians 3:4-18 Friday 25 May 2018

Psalm: Psalm 69:1-21


Background

Paul’s comments about Christ’s glory and the freedom in the Spirit occur within the context of a letter in which he is concerned to ward off criticism of his own ministry. He is also concerned to uphold the integrity of the Christian message as he understands it.

We know from both of Paul’s letters to the troublesome Corinthians that he was plagued by rival preachers within their ranks (2 Corinthians 2:17), who sought to discredit him. Some of these preachers were seeking to lead the people back towards a much more legalistic form of Judaism. Paul withstands this strongly.

Paul is careful not to give the impression that he is attacking the old covenant. He does not deny that it had divine glory. What Paul argues, however, is that the old covenant provisions pale into insignificance in the light of the new covenant that has come with Christ (verses 7-8). A new and brighter glory has come in the person of God’s son and here the language of glory was a visual image for the presence of the divine.

Paul’s critics had been saying that Spirit-filled Christians had been doing outrageous things with their freedom. Paul refuses to retreat and argues that he is talking about the type of freedom which transforms people’s lives to such an extent that they will not only live up to the ethical standards of the law but far exceed them.

Paul maintains that where the fruit of the Spirit abound, people have gone far beyond what can be achieved by keeping rules- even biblical commandments.


To Ponder

  • Many Christian groups over the years have taken the ‘freedom in the Spirit’ to unacceptable and extreme lengths – introducing, for example, communities of free love. Have you ever encountered such groups? How did they justify their stance? How might you refute their claims?
  • What safeguards can and should churches and Christian groups put in place to curb ‘freedom in the Spirit’ being taken to excess?
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