Friday, October 08, 2010


This statement taken from II Corinthians 3:6 was recently questioned in a comment from another post.  The question is a good one.  Because it is a life/death issue (scripturally speaking), let's wrestle with it a bit.

The law or the letter or the letter of the law kills; important principle at work here.  Especially law in religion kills.  The questioner asks the obvious; are we not to obey God's commandments?  Any other answer than yes would be foolish. 

So how does this work if we aren't to operate by law so the Spirit can work.  First, enter the mystery of God for He isn't lying to us.  Second, I remind you I am a mere man trying to awaken us to this mystery via explanation I am incapable of giving.  Dig?

The context is law versus liberty (:17).  Liberty doesn't fit our heritage well.  We've relied upon rules of performance rather than faith of Spirit.  Therefore, this discussion is quite difficult for our particular ears to hear.  The truth is law kills and Spirit gives life.  God said such.

And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me (Rom. 7:9-11).

For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would have indeed have been based on law.  But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.  Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we  may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, are no longer under the tutor (Galatians 3:21-25).

Freedom is a Christ element.  We are expected to partake of the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25).  Yet, we don't because we have viewed our present condition as having moved from one law to a new one; from one tutor to a new one while we tend to miss the freedom and liberty in Jesus.  The pull is so strong we feel the need to explain away our freedom for we wouldn't want our people to believe we could just be free to do anything we believe in possibility and hope and wonder and awe. 

No, we are careful to abide by rules; yet the Rule Giver says rules kill.  The rules (laws) weren't the problem.  Inadequate flesh was.  The rules of God---His commandments---which call us to go into all the world, to love one another, etc.---are hampered by our "laws" of why we can't, shouldn't, and couldn't when He has freed us to go for it!

In my very frail way I have made an effort to point out that the statement in that the law (in general) kills and the Spirit gives life is in fact a God-given statement.  Liberty is a biblical calling; yet it makes us so uneasy we feel the need to explain exactly what we mean for we are barely free to accept it.  Thus, the church is quite hampered (killed and dead) because we have focused on obeying rules of restriction instead of laws of liberty.


Randy Mitchell said...


I am so thankful to be able to read your articles each day. You are saying the things that need to be said in order to help us realize our freedom. We seemed to be hampered by fear of the "what if" syndrom. If we tell people they are free to do this, what if they interpret that to mean they can go somewhere we don't want them to go. We don't trust that the spirit of Christ is daily changing our hearts to think more like him. If we really believed in the power of Christ and God's love for us, we wouldn't fear the "what if's".

Rules can only restrain and cause resentment. Love for Christ and our brothers and sisters frees us to be thankful for all we have been given and all we can do in service of him.

He freed us to serve, not to legislate.

Thanks for all you do,

Randy M.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that God's law can ever do is kill. It pronounces us guilty and deserving of death. There's no other role for law. It kills.

Grace and forgiveness are dangerously close to the the opposite of law. Grace and forgiveness abolish the penalty of law, but not the law itself; this effectively abolishes the law for those in Christ, though, by leaving law without justice. Worst of all, there is no forgiveness without violation of law.

That's why it's so hard to learn to live in Spirit. How can we ever let go of the guilt, the shame, and the memory, even if God does? But we can, if we just don't make our freedom an excuse for sin. Just remember that God wants us to live in His grace, through His Spirit. It's the only way.

Law is Abolished in Christ.
Ephesians 2
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

NOTE: He's talking about all law there, because all law must be so abolished in order to remove the wall of hostility. That's not just the law of Moses he's talking about.

Anonymous said...

And how does the Spirit make us alive? Not through some one-time change. Not through simply indwellng us.

Spirit makes us alive because we are connected and communicating with God directly. Our spirit died when God pulled away. Life comes again when he breathes a new breath into us through His Holy Spirit, and we are restored to an intimate relationship with Him, one too deep for words. We know His heart, and He knows our mind; our very being is changed and turned toward Him, which was not possible when were dead.

1 Thess 1
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.