“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.” —II Corinthians 3:14-16
The Veil of Religion
When Moses received the law on Mount Sinai, he spent an extended time in the presence of God. One of the end results of being in God’s presence was that his face sustained a supernatural glow to it. When Moses came down from the mountain, he covered his face with a veil. This effectively stopped people from being frightened by his appearance, but later, the veil was used to hide the fact that the glow was dissipating.
Far too often we as Christians find ourselves hiding our true spiritual condition behind a veil of Christian activity. We discover that the love for God and the zealous desire we once had have somehow faded away, and we don’t know why. We know how we are supposed to feel, and there is a sense of guilt for no longer exhibiting the same longing for Christ that we once had. We’ve come too far down the journey of faith to quit, but living for God has somehow lost its exuberance and joy. So, instead of quitting, we put on our Christian veil and hide behind Christian actions so that none may discover how empty and lonely our hearts have become. Sin (some old, and even some new struggles) has somehow crept back into our everyday lives. We are of all people most mediocre and miserable.
The Reason Behind Spiritual Decline
In almost every case of spiritual decline or spiritual burnout, the key culprit is a wrong object of faith. As new believers, we should have been taught to place our faith exclusively in Christ and what He did for us at Calvary. Someone should have ardently and consistently warned us that attempting to live for Christ through the means of works or self-effort would destroy the life and vibrancy of the Christian experience. But, sadly, in most churches, the very opposite is true. We are told what we are to do, how we are to look, and where we should go and not go. This advice, in itself, is not wrong; however, Christianity can only be experienced when one is walking within the processes of grace and faith. Christianity is not as much about what we do as it is about what we believe. As we place our faith in God’s provision (Christ and the Cross), we continually experience an abundant flow of grace, which is, in reality, the equipping and stabilizing work of the Holy Spirit.
Through faith and grace, the Holy Spirit reveals to us the areas of our lives that need to be changed. As a result of properly maintained faith (Christ and the Cross), our hearts are renewed, our love for Jesus is both maintained and continuously growing, and the work we do for God is accomplished from a heart that is full, free, and joyous. We become “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10). This is the proper and divine way to fully experience all new covenant benefits.
The Defeated Christian Life
So, if a believer finds himself hiding behind the veil of religious activity or perhaps finds himself being dominated by some besetting sin, that is a sure sign and indicator that we haven’t yet properly understood the biblical way to live for God. We have not secured Christ and the Cross as our constant object of faith. We have probably been jumping from fad to fad, and living with the hope that the latest routine listed in a current popular Christian periodical might give us victory and set us free from a defeated Christian life. We continue in various programs, routines, and disciplines, but it is to no avail. We try, we labor, we lose, and we cry.
While the battle is a little different today than for the first century Jewish believer, the battleground hasn’t really changed all that much. The Jews of the first century church struggled with releasing the Mosaic law, while Christians in the 20TH century struggle with the idea that grace is truly sufficient to bring freedom from sin. Only the way of faith and grace can produce a joy-filled existence that also empowers the believer to carry out the function to which God has called him.
Self-righteousness reigns supreme in much of the Christian church because of faith in various laws that we embrace and perform. This ministers to our self-importance. We become proud (as were the Jews in the first century) of what we do, as well as what group we are a part of. However, all that this law-minded lifestyle will produce for the Christian is a believer who is weary, defeated, and confused. It’s time to stop hiding behind the veil of religion and a love for law. It’s time to embrace Christ and the Cross!
The Victory of the Spirit
When the believer elects to address the Christian life through the concepts of grace and faith (faith in Christ and the Cross), then the Bible promises that the Spirit of the Lord will strip away the presence of the veil. Instead of hiding what you truly are behind the mask of Christ, the Holy Spirit will promote Christ in you to the degree that the first glow that once adorned your life and Spirit will return. Being a Christian will once again bring great joy. Being a believer who is constantly being overhauled into the image of Christ by the grace of God will bring life and hope to others as well. You will be able to share with others the truth that faith in Christ and the Cross can truly make a difference. Sin that was defeating you will begin to drop off and fade away. You will find yourself leaving the veil of religion behind, and one day its memory will be obscure, having been replaced (in the future) by the crown of life. This adornment will neither hide you from others, nor will it hinder your ability to see clearly. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is (always) liberty” (II Cor. 3:17), and when the Spirit of the Lord is free to transform us, believers will be forever changing into the image of the Lord, “from glory to glory” (II Cor. 3:18).