“We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away… All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:13,18,CEB).
The Old Testament story of Moses’ practice of veiling his face that the Apostle Paul is referencing in these verses is found in Exodus 34:33-35. The Old Testament story is one of my favorites because it’s theologically rich and yet, counter-intuitive.
Moses periodically entered into the presence of God at the Tent of Meeting. When he left the Tent of Meeting and returned to the people, he fastened a veil over his face. It seemed that Moses hid his face so as not to scare the already fearful Israelites with the shining glory of God that was reflected on his face.
But, that’s not really the case!
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29, ESV).
On the day of Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, Peter stood up and declared to all the Jews in Jerusalem who witnessed the event that this Spirit-filling was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (see Acts 2:16-21). So, the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the era that Joel was talking about–the last days–in which God pours out His Spirit on all His people.
There is a quality of life that Christians enjoy that results from being a believer and follower of Jesus. Jesus referred to it as abundant life: “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10, HCSB).
The Apostle Paul expounds on the spiritual blessings that God supplies His people in the opening chapter and verses of the book of Ephesians.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11, NLT).
The Apostle Paul describes Christians as people presently living in bodies that will die and be resurrected and then live forever.
“What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did.” (Romans 8:3, HCSB).
Some consider Romans 8 the greatest, most theologically eloquent chapter about Christian spirituality in the New Testament. Certainly, some verses from Romans 8 are the most often quoted, often taught, and often preached of any in the Bible. Here’s a few examples:
“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand everything” (Proverbs 28:5, HCSB).
Those who seek and know God bear the unique responsibility of assimilating God’s spiritual kingdom, the Kingdom of God, into the reality in which they live because they are residents of both realms—the present created order and the future spiritual order.
But we live, think, and experience the world in which we live through our five senses. Unfortunately, according to the order of this world, if you cannot see it, hear it, touch it, feel it, or smell it, then it does not exist.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The desires of the flesh mean not just bodily cravings but all the ordinary desires of fallen human nature including sexual immorality, jealousy, and anger (see vs. 19-20 for a complete list). The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy, peace, and self-control (see vs. 22-23 for a complete list). The only way to conquer the flesh is to yield to the Spirit. Jerry and Marilyn Fine call this the principle of displacement. When you walk by the Spirit, it displaces your natural tendency to gratify the desires of the flesh. Walking by the Spirit refers to a pattern of conduct governing of all of one’s life. Walking by the Spirit includes both direction and empowerment–making decisions and choices according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and acting with the power the Spirit supplies to execute these decisions and choices and to live righteously. You walk by the Spirit when you cultivate your relationship and fellowship with God so that the fruit of the Spirit displaces the desires of the flesh.