But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15
This is where religion comes from. This is all about working your way to heaven or Nirvana or what have you. Think of the old covenant not as just the law of Moses, but as a principle of life. The idea that there is a standard, and our job is to follow that standard, and blessing will come to the degree that we are able to succeed at this is the idea behind the old covenant. At this point it can be any law or any standard. It can be a set of expectations at a particular church or denomination. And so you can have old covenant Christians.
I was an old covenant Christian for years. Pretty much until my last year in college when my supposedly well-ordered life fell apart. An old covenant Christian life is characterized by trying to fulfill expectations like reading your Bible and praying and going to church, and avoiding certain sins, and measuring yourself by comparing yourself to other Christians and mostly by guilt for where you know you are missing the mark, and rationalizations so you can live with yourself and your guilt. Does any of this sound familiar?
Most religions will have all these characteristics because all religions are based on works. And that’s why all religions, including old covenant Christianity (which is, indeed, a religion) require a veil for the same reason Moses required one, because no one can ever follow all the rules, and when you can’t follow the rules, you have to hide the fact that you can’t behind some false pretense that you can. Welcome to the frustrating game of Christianity without grace.
Here’s the truth — even if you have found your way out of this, you can fall back into any of these practices at any time and they will always have the same results. One of my worst downfalls is comparison. I am often intimidated by Christians I think are more spiritual than me, and I take secret pleasure when one of these people falls. On the outside, I’m happy they are doing well and sad when they fall, when in reality, behind my veil, it is quite the opposite. Like the verse says: whenever you hear the old covenant, a veil remains over your heart, “because only in Christ is it taken away,” and Christ has nothing to do with the old covenant. When you come to Christ, everything to do with religion and the law and guilt and rationalizations all falls away. It all comes off with the veil and you are left with something totally new and different and vulnerable and free and full of grace.
And more about that tomorrow.
21 Day Challenge
— Day Ten —
Dull Minds, Veiled Hearts
2 Corinthians 3:14-15
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Paul is using Moses and Israel as an illustration of something that is true for Christians. He is concerned about Corinth believers to whom he is writing to, and, through them, to us. These people had become Christians, and by faith the Spirit of God had entered each, establishing a relationship with Christ which could not be broken. In the Spirit, they were linked to God in an open, clear relationship.
Consider your own experience with God:
- When you became a Christian did you receive the gift of salvation by faith? Was there great thanksgiving? Why or why not?
- When were you introduced to the rules of Christian conduct?
- Did these rules help you to determine what was wrong and what was right or did the rules help you to understand what was expected of you?
- What is your list of rules?
- Does God approve of your list? Is He pleased with you when you can check off most of the things on your list?
- When you cross off the external efforts of the rules of conduct, what remains on your list?
- What happens when your list is too unrealistic? How do you feel?
- What happens when you are successful and have achieved matters on your list? How do you feel? Do you have a sense of accomplishment?How do you think this sense of achievement manifests itself outwardly?
- Do you experience a form of snobbery, tending to look down on those who have not accomplished what you have? Would you define this as prejudice, where certain types of people are acceptable and others are not.
- When these people do not measure up, they do not meet your expectations, do you begin to develop a critical spirit?
- What about those people who do not measure up to your achievement(s)? Do you become absolutely intolerant of them and impatient with them due to their lack of progress? Does a form of sarcasm occur as acknowledged in the way you talk about them or the names you give them? Does bigotry begin to emerge? (Other words for Bigot include chauvinist, partisan, sectarian, racist, sexist, homophobe, dogmatist, jingoist.)
- If you try hard enough, do you think you can keep yourself from evil and so live a life that is pleasing to God?
- How has this thinking made you dull or mediocre?
- Is the veil over your mind?
The great problem is we become blind to these unjustifiable sins in us that we manufactured. If we were not blinded, we would see that we are wretchedly self-righteous and really no different than the Pharisees whom Jesus scorched with His words. And since we do not recognize our acts of bigotry as a sin, we never turn to the Lord to remove the veil. We tend to consider these sins as minor indiscretions that might be a little troublesome, but they are not really sins. God is not very concerned about them because of the great self-righteous record we have in His eyes. So we never confess them; we never acknowledge them as wrong to ourselves or to anyone else; we never turn to the Lord.
Therefore, the blindness is never removed. In verse 16 it says,
16. but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
You cannot take it off any other way; there is no way you can show yourself how self-righteous you are. You have to turn to the Lord. That is the only way it is possible. But because we do not do this, we go on year after year hurting ourselves, hurting others, enjoying the momentary pleasure and sense of excitement we get from indulging these attitudes. We are unaware that gradually there is coming into our life the end of the fading glory, the death, the darkness, the emptiness, the sense of futility, the boredom, the dullness of that kind of Christianity.