Daily D – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 CORINTHIANS 3:17-18 (NLT)
There are many Christians who quote a snippet of this text. Apparently, they are unaware of the basic guideline of biblical interpretation which says that every text must be read in context. Excising a few words, like “wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” almost never leads to good interpretation. This, in turn, leads to faulty application.
A Christian concert at the Dallas County Convention Center back in the 1980s provided me with a wee bit of understanding of the problems associated with misusing this biblical text. During one of the band performances, a young man of college age danced with all his might before the Lord, or something like that. Several people seated nearby admired him for his Spirit-filled enthusiasm. The sweaty guy with glazed eyes and hyperactive emotions looked a lot more like someone looking to impress the ladies. Sure enough, someone spoke the snippet above, “wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Again and again through the years, I have heard this snippet used to give validity to all kinds of behavior. It is almost a ready-made excuse. After all, who can argue with someone who says, “God told me” to do this or that? (Please note I am raising my hand.)
This text and context are about spending time in such immediate connection with God that we look less like a sweaty hormone in action and more like Jesus at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). Notice verse 16: “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” Please read the whole chapter for a better understanding. It refers back to the Exodus when Moses would speak with God face to face and come away glowing. He had to wear a veil when he returned to the people.
The idea is that when we spend time with our Father in heaven, we become more like him. We are shaped by him. With apologies to Rudolph, some might even say we glow. People see more of him and less of us. John 3:30 takes on new meaning and application. At the transfiguration, Jesus was brighter than bright. Here’s the thing, the more time we spend with Jesus, the more people recognize we have spent time with Jesus. The liberty attendant to this reality is the freedom of the unconscious awareness of grace and beauty in action.
This freedom leads us to live as he lived and to love as he loved. It moves us to serve as he served. Life becomes less about us and more about others. Anyone who uses “freedom” to excuse their marginal or sinful behavior is not exhibiting Jesus. Their demonstrations are not spiritual, but carnal. Carnal means they have opened the door to Jesus, but they left the other door open, too.
True freedom closes the other door and seals it shut. Once a person habitually enters the presence of God, all ideas about freedom and personal gain take on new meaning. Whenever a person spends time with God on a consistent basis, he or she begins to love the things he loves and wants those things more and more. True freedom is choosing more God-given goodness while discarding anything holding us back from moving in that direction.
In John 8:11, Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” Sin left her humiliated and broken. Jesus forgave her and gave her freedom to live a new life. He would have done the same for the man if the coward would have shown his face. What prevents you from living in the full freedom Jesus gives?
I will enter into God’s presence daily and live in the freedom he provides.
Our Father, I want more of you. I want people to see more of you and less of me. I want to live the freedom you provide when I close the door to sin habits and enticements. Amen.
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1 Timothy 2:1-4 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. (NLT)
1 Timothy 1:15, 16 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. (NLT)