I have found 2 Cor.3:18 to be the one verse that most describes the entire ministry of the Holy Spirit in the whole New Testament. When the Holy Spirit becomes Lord in my life He brings liberty ( 2 Cor 3:17). He makes me free. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Liberty from what? Freedom from sin, from the love of money, from the wretched traditions of fathers, grandfathers, elders and all that, and from the opinions of people whether they think well of me or criticise me. It's a tremendous liberty. There is freedom to serve God and no longer to serve men. This is what the Holy Spirit brings. (2 Cor 3:18). The Holy Spirit shows me the glory of Jesus in the Bible. The mirror is the Bible. In the mirror I see the glory of Jesus. The Holy Spirit shows us not just doctrines and sermons - some people read the Bible to get doctrines and sermons - the Holy Spirit also shows us the glory of Jesus in the Bible. Everything in the New Testament is to show me the glory of Jesus Christ. As I see that glory, the Holy Spirit does another work in my heart of changing me into that likeness. This is what the Holy Spirit does.
People say, "What about ministry?" I see how Jesus ministered, and I begin to minister like that. I see how Jesus made sacrifices and went here and there preaching, and I make sacrifices and go here and there preaching. Don't think your ministry will become less. You will minister with more and more sacrifice. Your life and your ministry will change when you allow the Holy Spirit to do the work mentioned in 2 Cor 3:17,18. You will become a new covenant servant, and you don't have to be a full time worker to do that. Any brother or sister in the church must be a new covenant servant.
"We are not sufficient for this ministry." (2 Cor. 3:5). It's not as if we can produce all that is required for this ministry, but our sufficiency comes from God. A new covenant servant does not depend on anything within himself to serve God. It is all from God. "God, You give it to me. I'll give it out." It's like the servants who distributed the wine. These servants took the water to Jesus, He turned it into wine and they distributed it. The disciples took the five loaves to Jesus, Jesus multiplied it and they distributed it. In the same way we take our limited resources to God and God anoints it, blesses it, multiplies it. That's how we are to serve. After so many years of serving God, many people in God's work get discouraged, gloomy, and depressed. They are exhausted because they are trying to serve out of their own sufficiency. I believe we need God to give us even physical health to serve Him. You may go out to serve God in some difficult area and you need physical health to do it. Just think of that promise, "Those who wait upon the Lord shall exchange their strength. Even young men will faint, but we will mount up on wings as eagles." Our sufficiency is from God. When you are in financial difficulty, you have that verse, "Our sufficiency is from God." Whatever your need may be in the new covenant, our sufficiency is from God.
He has made us servants of the new covenant. In the new covenant we are not servants of the letter but of the Spirit (2 Cor.3:9). There are two ministries mentioned here, a ministry of condemnation and a ministry of righteousness. What is a ministry of condemnation? A ministry of condemnation is one where people feel condemned when you preach, and they go away. You may think that's a wonderful ministry because you got everybody convicted. That is Old Testament. The law condemns people - "You are not good enough, you were never good enough." There is a lot of preaching today in Christian circles in what is called revival meetings which is just telling people, "You are not good enough, you are never going to make it. You are like this and you are like that." They all sit there feeling condemned. That is not Christian preaching. Christian preaching leads people to righteousness and glory. They feel convicted but they feel lifted, healed and delivered by the end of the meeting, and they go with hope. If your preaching ever brings people into bondage you can be sure that you are not a new covenant servant. If as a result of your preaching, people feel condemned rather than lifted, that's old covenant preaching. If you push people down instead of lifting people up, that's old covenant preaching. New covenant preaching lifts them up and gives them hope.
In 2 Cor.4:1, Paul continues to describe his ministry. "Because we have received this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart." 'Lose heart' means to get discouraged. Even the Apostle Paul was tempted to be discouraged. So if you are tempted to be discouraged, that is not strange in the ministry. I have been tempted many times to get discouraged. But Paul says, "We don't get discouraged. We refuse to get discouraged because we keep our eyes on Jesus and we think of the tremendous ministry God has given us." (2 Cor 4:2).