“…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6

If you have ever read the passage from whence this verse came, you may have realized that this portion sticks out rather oddly. You see, in this passage, Paul was actually defending himself to the Corinthian crowd, telling them that he and his crew were not in this preaching business for their own glory. This was what He said.

“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Here he was, telling them that it’s not about them, it’s not about how great they are, but it’s all about Jesus and how great He is; and then this,

“…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6

What on earth was he talking about?

You see, there are essentially two kinds of preachers in the Bible, those who came before Jesus and those who came after. Now, Paul was one of the first who came after, so it is no surprise then that he found himself constantly being compared with the ones who came before.

But of all the things that were compared between those who came before Jesus and Paul, one thing stood out as being fundamentally different, and it is this;

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17

Paul preached a different message from the men of old. He taught that because of Christ, God is not angry with us anymore. In fact, His permanent love for us so outweigh His momentary bouts of anger at our disobedience, that He sent Jesus to bear the penalty of the world’s sin so that God can now permanently look upon us humans with love and not have to worry that our slip ups will get Him upset.

Now, this was something that the people back then were not used to; because all their lives, their preachers have told them that

“…all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:” Deuteronomy 28:2

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” Deuteronomy 28:15

So why are things so different now?

We need to realize that Jesus death on the cross was a fundamental watershed in man’s relationship with God. For in Jesus and from Jesus flowed

“…My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, perfect in every way, according to God’s law. So because

“…under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.” Hebrews 9:22 [AMPC]

When Jesus went to the cross,

“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMPC]

Now that watershed moment, that act, changed things between God and us. Because all our sins have been punished in the body of Jesus, God has no more reason to get angry with us. And because God now has nothing but love for us, we are eligible to receive all the blessings He wants to provide, and one of them is this.

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever” John 14:16 [AMPC]

And what does the Helper do?

“But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26 [AMPC]

So by this we have a double clad guarantee that we are the very ones that David was talking about when he said,

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-2

Because Jesus has borne the punishment of all our sins on the cross. And when we do find ourselves slipping, the Spirit is there to help us get back on track.

That is how the Spirit gives life.

You see, beloved, the Law is nothing more than a set of standards, but the Spirit is one third of the God Head. The Law was created to measure precision and accuracy, but the Spirit was given to help us achieve precision and accuracy. The Law was set to disqualify, but Jesus has already qualified us. The Law is the standard, the Law is the step; and the Spirit is the elevator that get us to the level where we can keep the Law.

If you think about it objectively, and in terms we can understand; there really is no life in the Law. All it is is,

“…ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes…” 2 Corinthians 3:6 [MSG]

But in the Spirit, one third of the God Head, is life; and by helping us keep to the straight and narrow, He is ensuring that we keep to the life which God wants for us, the life our Father knows is good for us.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep to the Law, we need to realize that we need not do it on our own steam; for the Spirit was already given to help us out with that. And when we fall, there is no reason to beat ourselves up with guilt, because Jesus has taken all that shame on our behalf.

So enjoy the help that you are receiving and let the Spirit guide you into a perfect, Law-abiding life.

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