2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:…
The apostle in the text contrasts the state of believing Christians with that of the unbelieving Jews, for the former, all with open face, behold the glory of the Lord. Now the language here employed admits of some latitude of interpretation. The word "open" means unveiled, and this shows that a contrast is intended. And the phrase may either be rendered "with open face," alluding to the face of the beholders, or "in an open face," referring to the face of Christ, as contrasted with that of Moses. For at the sixth verse of the next chapter the apostle expressly says that "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." If, then, we understand the words in the former sense, the spiritually enlightened Christian is contrasted with the carnal and prejudiced Jew. But if we understand the words in the latter sense, the objects contrasted are the Christian and Mosaic dispensations, implying that the beholders have now the advantage, externally, of a far more glorious revelation. Christ did not put a veil on His face like Moses, but openly reflected the glory of the Lord. Now, in whichever sense the words ought to be grammatically explained, we apprehend that both ideas are included in the view of the apostle. He obviously means, that however it was in former times, and however it might be still with blinded, unbelieving Jews, both the veil of Moses and the veil of the heart were now taken away in reference to the Christian believer. There was no longer an obstructing medium interposed between them and the sublime truths of redemption. The light fell at once upon the eyes of their understanding and the object of their contemplation, and nothing tended any longer either to obscure it or to intercept its progress. There was neither a diseased organ of vision in the beholder nor a concealed object.
I. In the first place, IT BECOMES US TO REFLECT, WITH UNFEIGNED GRATITUDE TO GOD, ON THE PECULIAR ADVANTAGES OF OUR OWN EXTERNAL SITUATION IN REGARD TO THE MEANS OF GRACE. There are many heathen nations in the world who have never enjoyed the light of Divine truth in any degree. And how obscurely was it possessed even by the ancient Israelites! Yes, the way of salvation is now patent and plain. The glory of the Lord, the excellent glory of His Divine mercy and love, as seen in the whole series of His dispensations, and reflected from the word of His grace, is now placed fully in our view.
II. BUT IT BECOMES US TO CONSIDER THE STATE OF OUR OWN HEARTS IN REFERENCE TO THE PRIVILEGES WE ENJOY. In our day there is no veil upon the truth, but is there none upon our own minds? Do we now distinguish that glory of the Lord which emanates from the plan of redemption? Do we discern the moral beauty, and feel the blessed influence of the doctrines of grace? If so, then the internal veil has surely been removed from our hearts. But if not, let us remember that the fault is our own, and that the blindness is in ourselves, for the glory of the Lord has been openly revealed. And if we discern it not the veil must be still upon our hearts. This was the case with many among the Jews even after Christ had come, And, alas! how many among professing Christians in the present day have the same veil upon their hearts. For otherwise, how shall we account for the dimness of their perception in discerning the real nature and bearings of Divine truth? Why do they not see sin in all its native deformity and soul-ruining consequences? Why do they not see the beauty and excellency of holiness, and the pure and spiritual happiness with which holiness is connected? Why do they not recognise the claims of God upon the devoted affection? Or why do they not feel and acknowledge the unspeakable obligations under which they are laid to the infinite love and grace of the Redeemer? Why do they not see the magnitude of the gospel salvation, and the aggravated guilt and infatuation of neglecting it? And why do they form such erroneous, unworthy, and unscriptural conceptions of that salvation? Were it only a cloud of ignorance which overshadowed their understandings, it might easily be dispelled, and could not long remain with all the abundant means of instruction they enjoy. But, alas! it is a dark cloud, not of ignorance merely, but of prejudice. It is the influence of pride, stirring up the enmity of the carnal mind against the humiliating doctrines of the gospel; it is the cherished indulgence of some favourite sin; it is the inveterate love of this present evil world. But it is the peculiar privilege of the true believer to behold the glory of the Lord with open face in the mirror of the gospel. Savingly taught by the Holy Spirit, he has been delivered from his native ignorance and unbelief; he has obtained the gift of spiritual discernment, and he beholds wondrous things out of the Divine law. He sees a majesty and a glory in the Scriptures, a high importance and excellency in spiritual subjects, to which he was originally blind.
Parallel VersesKJV: Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: