…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:6b, NIV
This piece of Scripture has been quoted to me, more than once, when I make statements such as, “I am trying to literally follow what the New Testament says to do” when dealing with sinning brothers, when departing from fellow believers who are divisive or gossips or sexual immoral, or when staying away from teachers and their followers who are embracing new twists on the Gospel. The insinuation is that my stand on the Word is legalistic and harsh and the ones who quote this Scripture are wishing that I would just “walk in love” or “walk in unity“. It has been said to my face that I am “not loving as Christ loved” when I am departing from people and/or congregations.
|The Veil is Torn|
But is that what 2 Corinthians 3:6b really means? Isn’t the entire Word supposed to support and uphold the same meaning and teachings throughout the Bible? Now of course, I understand that the Old Covenant has been replaced with the New Covenant, but does that mean that we are now free to swim around in sin without guilt or party with sinners since we all are under grace now?
No is the answer to these questions and this is the debate the Apostle Paul confronted head-on while in ministry and in his written letters.
14- Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
15- What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
16- What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.
2 Corinthians 6, NIV
But I wasn’t even going to mention Paul or his writings when I first started this post, for the 2 Corinthians 3:6 verse got me thinking about HOW one is to LIVE by the Spirit of God vs living under a hard-hand of any of the written word (the “letter”).
For by white-knuckling our way through life, seeing God as a hard task-master, and obeying the do’s and don’ts of the New Testament without the fruit of the Spirit growing in us, we can experience death. The letter will indeed kill all joy and peace and even desire to live holy as we try to obey God in our own strength! It is a grim, unpleasant, hard, and unhappy way to follow God. I know, because I lived that way for the first 7 or so years of my Christian walk.
But after one is enlightened to understand that the power of the Holy Spirit can and will equip you to walk freed from sin, while cleansing you when you do slip and stumble, one can be filled with great joy and peace while patiently and steadfastly obeying God.
1- Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2- Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
3- For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
4- When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3, NIV
So yes, of course the LETTER kills. Rules and Regulations are condemning, for the sinful flesh fails at keeping rules and regulations and wants to rebel, even as Paul taught.
BUT as we learn to live our lives led by The Spirit of God, filled with the fruit of the Spirit of God, keeping on minds on what the Spirit desires, we will see that obeying God’s commands are definitely NOT burdensome. If we can learn to keep our minds on the glory that is to come, and learn to remember that pleasing God has great benefit in this life and also in the life that is coming, then we can joyfully carry out the commands and desires of the Lord … which is exactly what the New Testament teaches in every letter!
2-This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
3-In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
4-for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5, NIV
God’s ways will not be burdensome, but we will be encouraged as we grow in holiness, peace, and
|We love Him
because He first loved us
1 John 4:19
joy knowing that we are pleasing the Father Who purchased us with the blood of His Son and we will grow in self-control, assurance and in joy as we continually look forward to being made more like Jesus Christ as we look forward to seeing Him face to Face. What a glorious day that will be!
3- We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. …
5- But if anyone obeys his word, love for God
is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:
6- Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. …
15- Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
16- For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
17- The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. …
28- And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29- If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
1 John 2, NIV
5- For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
6- and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7- and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
8- For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9- But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.