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Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,  who has made us competent 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 Corinthians 3:3-6)

We delude ourselves when we place our confidence in what we can do for God.  Indeed disciples in Christ learn to pray, they read their Bibles, they enjoy digging into what Scripture can teach them, they minister to others and they are generous with their money and their spiritual gifts.  But true disciples do not place any confidence in any of these activities, they place their confidence in Christ. They know that Christ will work in and through them in powerful ways and He will make them competent ministers of the new covenant.

The verses above are so rich and profound.  As one commentator has said these verses are about life and death issues.  The letter kills while the Spirit gives life. The letter in this context is the Law, the Law of Moses, God’s moral law.  Paul says that under the new covenant He is not a minister of the law (shockingly God’s moral law), but of the Spirit.  He is a minister of life.

When we impose expectations on ourselves for a certain standard of behavior we are subjecting ourselves to the law.  We strive to meet the standard.  If we succeed we become prideful, breaking God’s moral law.  If we fail, we condemn ourselves and strive all the more, never reaching a place where we feel competent to meet our own standards  much less God’s.  But Paul speaks of the “confidence we have through Christ towards God.” This is a confidence that God changes hearts.  Verse three of this chapter in Corinthians reads: “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. The Spirit of God is active in a believer changing their very character and motivation.  Out of those changes come actions that please God and meet in every way His standards (including His moral law).  Paul says that there is nothing coming from us that can please God, the only thing that pleases Him is what He produces in us.  God and God alone is sufficient.

Are our churches ministers of the law or are they, like Paul, ministers of the Spirit.  The last verses of the chapter read: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Categories: Law, Life, Walk
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