Pattern and Principles: Letter and Spirit
2 Corinth. 3-6 – “He [God] has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”.
Yesterday, I had a visit with one of the younger pastoral leaders God has put around me, and they are doing fantastic jobs (you know yourselves – may you never choose the wrong path at any or every crossroad). Our conversation centered around the Letter vs. the Spirit.
I chuckle when I see or read people suggest that God has Grace in the NT and not in the OT, because in my studies – we rarely find any judgement by God in the OT not preceded by warning and/or negotiation (Grace). The difference between the OT and NT however, is how God relates to us – we still have LETTERS in both testaments (covenants) but we have abundant SPIRIT life in the NT (direct access to God and Indwelling of the Spirit).
Under the OT, it is strictly forbidden for any one to be both a King and a Priest (even if you have the gift like David), however, under the NT – anyone who accepts Christ becomes a Royal-Priest (it is not human ordination that triggers this, it is believe and confession of Christ as Savior and Lord). As Royal-Priest, one now willingly chose to follow the Letter, led by the Spirit.
Both under the OT and the NT letters exists (that is what the Bible is), however, it is NOT the letter that SAVES, it is NOT the letter that LEADS, letters makes/helps us understand what needs to be done and when not done, that it is a sin. However, every letter given by God has a Spirit for why it was given – take Sabbath for instance, Jesus said the spirit behind it was “rest” not enslavement as Pharisees made the letter to be.
Paul the apostle told us NT believers many times (more in his letter to the church in Rome) that, none of us can fulfill the letter of any law (NT or OT) without the Spirit. First the Spirit gives us life through rebirth, then the Spirit empowers us through gifts and fruit, then being in us He helps us obey the law as we yield – “not my will but yours”.
So at the end of the day, while we need the letter, read and meditate on it daily, we need the Spirit more for application. Our theological seminaries (and some churches) are full of professors of letters without the Spirit, and many of our Churches are full of “spiritual acrobats” who could care less about truth in letters, thereby praying amiss or living life in wrong tangent.
As the bible encourages us, may we read and meditate on God’s law daily and may we intentionally yield to the leading of God’s Spirit in us, as He leads us into all truths. In Jesus name. Amen.