Paul reminds the Corinthians immediately that the Lord is in their hearts, in their human spirits. Their hope of freedom comes from that great fact, for the One who is within them is God Himself. Paul identifies Him: “The Lord is the Holy Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is also there.”
Freedom is being out in the open, having boldness, having nothing to hide. Those who are free have no reputation to defend, no image to hide behind, nothing to preserve about themselves. They can be themselves. Everywhere today people are longing for this type of freedom. The only thing wrong is the way we do it. We are being taught in the world that the way to be “me” is to think about “my” advantage, “my” efforts, and to defend and demand them.
But God’s Word teaches us that it is quite another process. Being ourselves and having freedom does not mean denying the potential for all the evil that is possible in our hearts and lives, but it is knowing that we have another basis on which we receive God’s acceptance and approval. They are gifts to us. The faith He gives continually accepts anew the gift of righteousness of already being pleasing to God.
On that basis, we serve Him with gratitude for what we already have. We do not have to earn His favor, and our performance is not going to affect it. When we start looking at the One who is doing this in our lives—Jesus—and beholding Him with all our veils taken away so we are not afraid to look at our own evil capacity, then a wonderful thing happens. Without even knowing that we are doing it, just by rejoicing in what we have and serving the Lord who gave it to us, we suddenly discover—and other people will discover—that we are becoming loving people. And love is the fulfilling of the Law; the very demand that God made in the Law that we tried so hard to fulfill by our self-effort will be fulfilled without our even realizing it when we begin to love out of the grace and forgiveness of God.
It is a process of growth. It does not happen in one great transformation when we are suddenly sanctified, filled with the Spirit, or baptized. It happens as we keep our eyes on the glory of the Lord and not on the face of Moses, not on self-effort but on what He is already giving us. When we do, we suddenly discover the Spirit of God has been at work making gradual changes. We are becoming loving people, easier to live with, more attractive, more compelling. Our lives deepen as it loses its shallowness; we are more understanding of things. That is the work of the Spirit. Remember what Paul says: This “comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It is not we who do it; it is He who does it.