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Letter Kills, Spirit Gives Life,

by Michael Edwards  
3/03/2018 / Bible Studies


Introduction

This Bible study as most I have written is designed to rid the believer of any doubt regarding God’s love for them and their complete and total forgiveness in Christ. It is only satan who wants you to doubt your total forgiveness and righteousness in Christ which leads you to doubt God’s love. Satan knows that doubting these truths is specifically what keeps a believer trapped in reoccurring sin and ineffective for God. These studies are designed to renew the mind.

This study goes in depth with abundant scripture to prove that once a person places their faith and trust in Jesus, they are no longer under the law, they are under grace where sin has no dominion over them. The Bible is clear that sin is specifically defined as transgression of the law and where there is no law a person’s sins are not counted against them. We are called to walk in the spirit of the written law which is love. Get your Bible out and study with me. If you have any questions, comments or objections, I hope you will post them below the study or contact me through private messenger.  

Study

 …who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6 ESV).

All laws have a spirit, the intent of the author, upon which they rest. Most legitimate laws have as their spirit the protection of all parties involved. For example, the spirit/intent of a speed-limit law is to protect life. The spirit is the sole reason for the existence of the letter—the written law. 

We are clearly told that the Spirit of God's law is Love in the following verses:

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14 ESV).

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom 13: 8-10 ESV).

The fact that Love is the intent and Spirit of God's law, tells us that God's laws were never meant to harm us or be used against us. God's law was made for man, not man for the law. "And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’" (Mark 2:27).

If man could love as God loves, there would be no need for the letter of the law. However, due to our inherited Adamic nature, we cannot (Rom 5:12 -21). Therefore, God gave us the letter to guard us against each other's fallen nature, reveal our fallen inherited nature to us and thus lead us to Jesus (Gal 3:23-25). 

God's written law is perfect, holy and just. Yet problems occur. We cannot keep the law, and when dealing with others, we often ignore the spirit the law is founded upon. Just like the Pharisees, we can use the letter to kill, steal and destroy. By manipulating the letter, we grieve the Spirit upon which it rests.

It is important to note the following: “When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_and_spirit_of_the_law

Two perfect examples given by Jesus of man obeying the letter while violating the spirit and thus grieving Jesus are found in the stories of the woman caught in adultery and the Good Samaritan. In both cases, the Pharisees completely ignored the spirit/intent of God’s law and focused on the letter. Ignoring the Spirit of God's law, while wielding the letter in judgment, misses God's way totally and is always sin.

While the law is perfect, in the hands of fallen man everything ends up being distorted and abused. The worst example of this type of abuse by the Pharisees is when they used the law to condemn and crucify Jesus— the author of the law. 

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” John 19:7

In 2 Cor 3:7-11, God calls the Old Covenant of law delivered by Moses "a ministry of death carved in letters on stones" and "a ministry of condemnation being brought to an end," succeeded by "the glory of the ministry of righteousness" (Heb 8:713).

Jesus established the Father's will with His own blood; he took away the Old Covenant by establishing the New Covenant of Truth and Grace (Heb 10:9Luke 22:20John 1:17). He revealed in word and action: Love is the spirit of the letter.

"Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_and_spirit_of_the_law

The letter was only a shadow, not the reality. The reality is the love Christ displayed, the Spirit of the letter.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. (Heb 10:1)

It would ridiculous for Jesus to come and only fulfill the letter of the law, a shadow of the reality. Jesus came to fulfill the spirit of the law and did so when he died for his enemies, all sinners.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:8

Keeping the letter of the law seems easy when we understand walking in the spirit in these next verses, until you understand that loving as God loves us, is a fruit of the spirit and not a work of the flesh. Loving as God loves is a fruit of the spirit that comes from right believing.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:38-48

Only a heart transformed by God's love (We love because he first loved us 1 John 4:19), can love as God does, thus fulfilling the Spirit as the author desired and by default, the letter too. The Spirit of Love has set us free from the letter of death.

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10 ESV).

But I say, walk by the Spirit (LOVE), and you will not (SIN) gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16).

Christians are under Grace and not the letter of the law. 

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Cor 3:3 ESV

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Rom 7:6 ESV

Read: How the Letter Killed the Author

Learn what this means: We also know that the law is made not for the righteous (1 Tim 1:9a).    Read about The Only Way to Be Righteous HERE and Seek First His Righteousness HERE and I am the Righteousness of God in Christ HERE.

The law (of Moses) is made for those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior to show them they need a savior. Paul said he did not know sin but by the law. The law is designed to make unbelievers aware of their sin (Rom 3:20) and to protect us from each other’s fallen natures as the law guides people to Jesus (Gal 3:24). 

The law (of Moses) is for those who have not been made righteous by their faith in Christ: “but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Tim 1:9b). (emphasis mine)

More New Covenant Bible studies: 

Christians Are Released from The Ten Commandments

Go and Sin No More Does Not Mean God is Going to Get You

NEW COVENANT ARTICLE LINKS

New Covenant Bible Studies

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