The Letter And The Spirit
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."(2Corinthians 3:5-6)
Did you know that if you are a Christian you are not to obey the letter of the law, but rather, the spirit of the law? Jesus obeyed the spirit--the Pharisees used the letter of the law to accuse---right?
"And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him." (Matthew 12:10)
"And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him." (Luke 6:7)
"And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?" (Luke 14:3)
The pharisees were always trying to catch Jesus disobeying the law. Well, the law says that you should rest on the Sabbath--Jesus was busy healing people on the Sabbath. Jesus broke the letter of the law! Yet He did not sin--because He was in complete obedience to the Spirit--the Holy Spirit! I think it is interesting that they are described as lawyers and Pharisees. The job of a lawyer is not to uphold the law--but rather to find loopholes in the law--in order to benefit the client. You see, the letter of the law is very useful if we are trying to justify our own sin--or judge others. When someone quotes the law to you--don't believe it--they have decided to knock God off His judgement seat and become a judge themselves! Legalists and Pharisees always have a motivation behind quoting the law. If God is really trying to reach you about your disobediance, He will! Perhaps He might use another person, but it will always be with love--always!
So, how can we use this in our own lives? Easy--listen to the Holy Spirit! The Spirit of the law is what we must fulfill as Christians. Listening to the Holy Spirit is actually a lot more difficult than obeying the letter of the law--because we will have to stop listening to ourselves , and start listening to God. We might have to get free of some of the traps of the law--such as self-righteousness--or self pity. Obeying the letter of the law leads us either to self righteousness--or the other extreme of constant guilt (pity)--both are wrong! God doesn't want His children living in either of these traps! He wants us to follow the Spirit-- and listening to the Spirit will always produce good fruit in our lives.....
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."(Galatians 5:22-25)
Wow! Who wouldn't want the fruit of the Spirit! Love, joy, peace--these are certainly in short supply in the world--but God says we can have them--if we crucify our flesh and walk in the Spirit. Obedience to the letter of the law will never produce these fruits!
REMEMBER TWO THINGS.....
1. CRUCIFY THE FLESH....That is to bring the cross of Christ into your life every day--apply the forgiving and healing power of the cross to your flesh--in other words--RELY ON JESUS!
2. WALK IN THE SPIRIT....LISTEN TO THE HOLY SPIRIT! He will tell you what is right and wrong--be obedient to the Spirit!
If you want to be an able minister of the new testament (as opposed to a creaky old lawyer from the old testament!)--you must go by the Spirit and not by the letter. The letter kills--but the Spirit gives life!
"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2Corinthians 3:5)
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