We have a real enemy, Satan, whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Therefore Paul exhorts the Corinthians to follow his example and forgive the ones in the church who offended them, so Satan doesn’t have a chance to work his schemes of division and destruction – “For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Paul says we are equipped to do the work of the ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by our human capabilities of adhering to the letter of the law, “but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” And the Lord makes us ministers for the purpose of reaching others – “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”
Paul explains that both the old covenant and the new covenant are glorious, but the new covenant is more glorious because it changes people’s hearts and lifts the veil of darkness from their eyes – “But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The ones veiled in darkness, who don’t accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, are controlled by Satan, the god of this world – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them… For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Although this world is controlled by Satan, the ruler of darkness, Christians don’t lose heart because what is happening in the spiritual realm far exceeds what our eyes can see in the earthly realm. Everyone’s earthly body is perishing, but for the Christian, “the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Therefore, Paul lives his life to please the Lord, walking by faith with a mind set on eternal things. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
As a new creation reconciled to God through Christ, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation, which is to share the good news of the gospel with others, so that they too may have hope of eternal life with Christ.
(2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13)