Paul and the other apostles were being attacked for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, Paul described in detail the suffering that they were enduring for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was so severe at one point that they were so utterly burdened beyond their own strength that they despaired of life itself. But that was to make them not rely on themselves, but on God who raises the dead.
Then Paul began to give a defense of their ministry and a defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For, there were those who were contending with them about the gospel because this was at that time in history after Jesus had died on the cross for our sins, and he had risen from the dead, and he had ascended back to the Father, and now the apostles were taking the message of the cross to the people. But not everyone accepted the message (see 2 Co 1-3).
2 Corinthians 3:14-18 ESV
“But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Hard Hearts and Dull Minds
This was speaking of the Jews of that time who would not receive the message of the gospel of Christ and would not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah. They refused to see that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy of Scripture regarding the Messiah who was to come. So, with stubborn hearts and minds they chose to close their eyes to the truth.
But this doesn’t just apply to the Jews who still will not embrace Jesus as their Messiah and Lord. This applies to all people who have heard or who are hearing the truth but who have hardened their hearts to the truth and who have made their minds dull, stupid, and insensible so that they do not understand the truth, and so that they do not see the truth clearly.
Intellectually they may understand the Scriptures, for many of these people do profess faith in Jesus Christ, not like the Jews who would not even acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. For, some of them even teach the Scriptures. Some of them are even pastors of church fellowships. But they dull their own minds and hearts to the truth so that they can live the lie.
Have you ever known a person who is a compulsive liar? Have you ever known an abuser, a user, a person who takes advantage of others for their own selfish and sinful lusts? Have you ever been personally acquainted with an addict, someone who continually repeats the same offenses over and over again cyclically, habitually, and deliberately?
Did you then or do you now know that person well enough to at least suspect when he (or she) was/is lying to you, when he is telling a story to cover up something he has done, or in advance of something he is plotting to do? Do you recognize what might appear as a veil coming down over his (or her) face? It is like a dullness that just sweeps over the countenance.
If you do, then you have a pretty clear picture of this “veil” which covered the faces of those who refused to believe the truth but who willfully and deliberately chose to reject the truth in favor of the lie. They harden their hearts and dull their own senses to the truth so that they won’t feel guilty about doing the evil they are doing or are plotting to do.
Only Through Christ
Only through genuine God-given faith in Jesus Christ can this “veil” ever be lifted, though. Only through surrender of one’s heart and life to Jesus Christ can one be set free from this veil which darkens their minds and their understanding. Only when one turns to the Lord in faith and leaves his lifestyle of sin behind him is that veil lifted so that he can see clearly.
First, the Father must draw them to Christ, and then they must believe in Jesus with God-given faith which submits to Christ as Lord, which dies daily with Christ to sin, and which lives to Christ and to his righteousness in obedient walks of faith in Jesus Christ, all in his power, strength, and wisdom, and under his direction and guidance.
For, we can do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift of God and not of ourselves. But receiving the gift of God’s grace is not just receiving his forgiveness and the promise of eternal life with God. It is accepting the cross in one’s own life. It is being crucified with Christ in death to sin and living to righteousness.
It is walking away from lives of living for sin and self, it is giving up the self-life and that gamble many are playing with their lives, thinking that God will not judge them for their sins. And it is now embracing the truth of the gospel and walking in holiness, and in moral purity, and in righteousness, and in truth in the power of God’s Spirit now living within them.
And once that veil is lifted, now we can be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Now we can walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Now we can say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. For this is what God’s grace equips us to do!
By Jonathan Foreman
I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all
So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope
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