God's Holy Spirit gives us new life
1We do not need any more to show that our work is good. Some people need to have letters from other people to say that they do good work. We do not need to show you letters like that. Nor do we need you to write a letter like that for us. 2You yourselves show that we have done good work. You are like a letter that is written on our lives. Everybody can read that letter and they can understand it. 3It is clear that you are a like a letter that Christ himself has written. We are the people who brought God's message to you. Now people see what God has done in your lives. That is like a letter that they read. But it is not a letter written on paper with ink. It is the Spirit of the living God who wrote it. He did not write it on pieces of stone. Instead, he wrote it deep inside you. #3:3 Moses wrote the rules of God's Law on pieces of stone. See Exodus 34:27-28.
4We know that these things are true. Because of what Christ has done, we trust God to help us. 5We know that we cannot do this work by ourselves. We never think that. But God makes us able to do it. 6God has made us his servants. So we are able to tell people the message of his new agreement. This new agreement is not about rules. Rules tell people what they must do and they bring death. But God's new agreement comes from his Spirit. And the Spirit brings new life to us, not death. #3:6 This does not mean that God's rules themselves caused people to die. People saw that they were not good enough to obey those rules completely. So they could not, by themselves, please God. They needed God himself to save them from sin and death.
7Moses wrote the words of the old agreement on pieces of stone. It showed how great and powerful God was. Moses' face shone brightly after God spoke to him. It did not stay bright, but the Israelite people still could not look at Moses' face. The old agreement that brought death was powerful. 8So the new agreement, which comes from God's Spirit, will show the power of God even more. 9The old agreement showed people that they were guilty. God's new agreement makes people right with him. So surely the new agreement shows God's power even more than the old one did!
10The old agreement was great and powerful at one time. But now God's new agreement has come in its place. The great power of the new agreement shows that the old agreement is no longer powerful. 11The old agreement was powerful, but it came to an end. God's new agreement will continue always. So it surely shows the power of God even more!
12So, because we know all this, we speak God's message bravely. 13We are not like Moses. His face did not continue to be bright with the light from God. So he covered his face with a cloth. He did not want the Israelite people to see that the light was coming to an end. 14But those Israelite people could not think properly. Even today, they still do not understand the message of God's old agreement. When they read it, they are like people who have a cloth that covers their minds. It continues like that unless they believe in Christ. Then Christ removes the cloth so that they understand. 15Even today, when the Israelite people read Moses' books, a cloth still covers their minds. 16But when a person turns to trust the Lord, then God takes the cloth away. #3:16 See Exodus 34:29-35.
17The Lord is the same as the Spirit. And when the Lord's Spirit is with anyone, that person is free. 18We show the power of the Lord to other people. It is like God has removed a cloth from over our faces. He is changing us so that we become more and more like him. We show how great God is more and more clearly. It is the Lord who does all this, by the work of his Spirit.