“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?” (2 Cor.3:7)

Would you like to experience more of God in your life? Then these words from Paul should be of interest to you. In so many words, he tells them (and us) that their “experience of God” will blow away anything we see in the Old Testament.

Which leads to an important question: In what way does the New Covenant under Jesus Christ blow away the Old Covenant under Moses? It’s important that we understand this.

The temptation is to think that Paul is talking about miracles, the outward supernatural signs of God’s power. So is Paul saying that the miracles experienced in the New Testament age blow away the miracles experienced in the Old Testament age?

Not likely. If this were a reality show – “Old Testament Miracles vs. New Testament Miracles”, I think Moses wins the thing going away. The parting of an inland sea down the middle like a 7-layer salad pretty much blows away anything Paul did.

Is Paul saying then that Christians under the new covenant can expect to have more miracles done in their lives than the Jews had done in theirs? Is following Christ just one big power-trip, just one amazing experience after another?

Then why does Paul turn around two chapters later, and say, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor.5:7). Clearly Paul is not saying that a Christian’s life is just one episode of “Touched By An Angel” after another.  In fact, this is one of Paul’s reasons for writing these letters to Corinth. To calm them down. To throw some water in their face. They’re so ga-ga over their spiritual gifts, and over their “experience”, that they’re missing the point of why God gave them the Holy Spirit in the first place.

Those gifts of the Spirit which you so desperately crave are meant to help produce in you the fruit of the Spirit which you – and the world – so desperately need.

So how is the ministry of the Spirit more glorious now than what happened in the days of Moses? Paul goes on to say in 2 Cor. 3:12: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Sure, Moses did miracles. Paul did miracles. Every once in awhile God still pulls a rabbit out of the hat. It’s great when it happens. That’s nothing though. What Moses didn’t have, and what the Old Testament Jew didn’t have, because Jesus hadn’t died yet, is – drum roll, please: the inward power of having God’s very Spirit dwell within us, to heal our hearts from sin, and grow within us the character and love of Christ. 

That is the greatest miracle of all, and this is what changed between the Old and New Testaments. It was Jeremiah who foretold a time coming when God would establish a “new covenant” with us. “The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:31, 35).

This is what Paul is trying to get across to the Corinthian Christians in 2 Corinthians 3.  You think you’re experiencing God because you speak in tongues and have seen a few healings? Ooh, ahh. The glory which comes from outward acts of power fades away, Paul argues. It’s what’s happening inside of you that matters most.

So know this in your quest and desire to “experience God” – dramatic answers to prayer are awesome. Warm fuzzies from heaven are great. But you begin to truly experience God’s power in your life when you can turn away from a temptation that used to throttle you. Or love someone that you used to find impossible to love before. Or experience peace in situations which used to fill you with worry or despair.

Those gifts of the Spirit which you so desperately crave are meant to help produce in you the fruit of the Spirit which you – and the world – so desperately need.

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