In 2 Corinthians 3:13 -18, Paul compares the new covenant with the old covenant, in terms of Moses and Christ. When Moses was in God's presence, the glory shone on his face. When he came down from the mountain, he would put a veil over his face. In Exodus it says that he put the veil so that people would not be afraid to look at him. But here we are given another reason. As time went on, the glory on Moses' face under that veil became less and less; and so he put the veil over his face, so that the Israelites would not see that the glory was gradually disappearing (verse 13). There are many Christians today in whose private life the glory is becoming less and less. When some of today's 50-year old preachers were 25 years old, they were on fire for God. But now their attitude to money and sin and many other matters have become un-Christlike. This is one of the main marks of old-covenant ministry - the glory fades away.
In a new-covenant ministry it's exactly the opposite. We don't have to put a veil over our face. We don't have to hide anything in our private life. Jesus never came with a veil over His face, because in the new covenant this veil is taken away. "When you turn to the Lord the veil is taken away" (2 Corinthians 3:16). Now when we see the glory of Jesus in God's Word, the Holy Spirit changes us from one degree of glory to another so that His glory in us increases day by day (verse 18). In other words, if we are submitted totally to the Spirit, the anointing upon our life will be more today than it was a few years ago, and much more than it was 30 years ago. But if you are not faithful, then the glory will decrease in your life as you grow older. Many, many zealous young people backslide as soon as they get married. Why does that happen? If you marry in the will of God, your zeal and glory will be far more than when you were single. But the glory will decrease, if your wife, or your home, become more important to you than the Lord. Such a man stops seeing the glory of the Lord and begins to backslide.
Some brothers, when they were unknown, ordinary people serving God, had a tremendous anointing and glory in their lives. But as their ministry spread and they became well known, they lost their anointing. They began to be more concerned about what people thought about them. Or perhaps, when they started their ministry they had very little money and they were very careful with their money. But as they mingled with other Christian workers who loved money, they became like them. Then the glory began to fade away.
It is very easy for such things to take away the glory from our lives. And most preachers, when the glory is fading away, try to cover it up - just as Moses did. Make sure that doesn't happen in your life, because that is not the will of God. It must be the opposite in our lives - the glory must increase. So look steadfastly into God's word and see the glory of Jesus always. That is how we can be preserved.
2 Corinthians 3:18 is the one verse that best describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the entire New Testament. When the Holy Spirit becomes Lord in our lives, He brings liberty. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (verse 17). He frees us primarily from the power of sin, but also from the love of money, from the traditions of our fathers and elders that are contrary to the Word, from the opinions of people, etc. This is a great freedom indeed. Then we become free to serve God and not man.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are told that the Holy Spirit shows us the glory of Jesus in the Scriptures (The mirror is the Word of God - James 1:23-25). Some people read the Bible only to get sermons and check doctrines. But the Holy Spirit primarily wants to show us the glory of Jesus in the Bible. As we see that glory, the Holy Spirit also changes us into that likeness. That likeness includes likeness to Christ in the way He ministered as well. We will begin to minister like Him. The Spirit will show us how Jesus made sacrifices in order to serve His Father - and He will make us make sacrifices also to serve the Lord. Our life and our ministry will change radically if we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. We will become new covenant servants - and we don't have to leave our secular employment to be that. Any brother or sister in the church can be a new covenant servant.