The Spirit, Not The Letter

The great Boulder Dam project in America brought fertility to vast areas which had once been desert. In the making of it there were inevitably those who lost their lives. When the project was completed, a tablet was placed into the wall of the dam bearing the names of the wor … More

Spirituality
Paul could go through what he did because he knew that it was not in vain; he knew that it was to bring others to Christ. When a man has the conviction that what is happening to him is happening literally for Christ’s sake, he can face anything.

Paul was a brilliant and well educated man; yet he did not depend on his own adequacy and gave all the glory to God and not himself (v. 4). Paul’s opponents were legalists who told the people that if they obeyed the law they would become spiritual. This legalistic type of ministry dulled the eyes of the people and made them think they were sufficient in themselves. We don’t have the right to claim that we have done anything on our own. God gives us what it takes to do all that we do (v. 5).

 

Paul goes on to draw a contrast between the covenant of the law granted to Moses and the covenant of the gospel established by Christ (v. 6). While both the law and the gospel were glorious, they differed radically from each other. Paul did not deny the glory of the Old Testament law but he makes it plain that the New Testament of grace is far superior and he gives the following reasons:

  1. Because it brings spiritual life and not death (vv. 7-8). The best the law could do was condemn the sinner but the spirit giveth life.
  2. Because it produces changed lives and not just condemnation (vv. 9-10). The law was not given for the purpose of salvation but was like a mirror to help man see his sinful condition.
  3. Because it is permanent and  not temporary (v. 11). When the Veil in the  temple was rent as Christ died on the cross, the law and the Jewish religious system ended (vv. 13-16).

Application

It is so easy for me to try to measure spirituality by what I do and what I don’t do. My spirituality  cannot be measured by whether I go to church every time the doors are open or become a deacon or Sunday school teacher, but by what kind of a person I am on a day to day basis.

II Corinthians 3:4-11 (English Standard Version)

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

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