II Corinthians 3:6

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Pastor_Bob, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    In II Corinthians 3:6 we read: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (KJV)

    I have always understood this verse to mean that we, in the New Testament age of grace, are to live by the “spirit of the law,” and not simply the “letter of the law.” We can now approach God differently than they did in the Old Testament.

    Of course, in the Old Testament, one’s relationship to God was based on the keeping of the law. Today, we approach God through His grace and the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, our actions should be governed by the fact that we have been saved by the grace of God and not simply a dutiful keeping of the “law.”

    The question is, how is this principal balanced with the following verses:
    1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (KJV)

    God's Word tells us that God expects our obedience (If ye love Me, keep My commandments, etc…) and that our obedience is better than sacrifice. Would this passage indicate that keeping the “letter of the law” is at times needed even when the “spirit of the law” is not present in us? Obviously Saul would have been better to obey.

    Now, consider the following verse:
    Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. (KJV)

    Clarke says:
    Here is the dilemma I am trying to resolve. If our service to God and our observance of His commandments is not from the heart (we act by the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law), then those activities are an abomination to Him.

    If those activities are an abomination to Him, is obedience always better than sacrifice? Should we teach our people to obey even when that obedience is not from the heart and may fall under the category of an abomination to God? Is there a proper balance that we must observe? Is there a biblical principal that explains the process to take someone from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’? Point ‘A’ being keeping the “letter of the law;” point ‘B’ being keeping the “spirit of the law.”
     
  2. HankD

    HankD
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    My opinion;

    The spirit of the law is the result of God's love (agape) in giving the letter of the Law to fallen beings to protect them from each other.

    The letter of the Law: Thou shalt not steal.

    The spirit of the Law: Love one another.
    How can I steal something from someone I love?

    But we can't really love (agape) until we are regenerated.

    But, IMO, to comply with the letter of the Law is better than wilful disobedience with lesser attendant consequence of compliance.

    HankD
     
  3. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    I agree. How, then, do you get someone from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law?
     
  4. HankD

    HankD
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    The Second Birth. If they are already saved then they probably need to be disentangled from legalism.

    My opinion of course.

    A steady diet of The Gospel of John worked with me.

    HankD
     
  5. James_Newman

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    Mat 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
    Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    Wouldn't this be an example of the letter vs the spirit? The letter of the law said not to commit adultery, but Jesus said if we look upon a woman to lust, we have committed adultery in our heart. I think as Hank said, loving one another is the true spirit of the law, but we should find that the spirit of the law is more strict than the letter.
     
  6. IfbReformer

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    In some cases yes, the spirit of the law is more strict than the law, but in others it is not. Sometimes what can seem a violation of the strict law, is actually in keeping with the Spirit of that law.


    Mark 2:23-27
    " 23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
    25He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

    27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”"

    The sabbath law was meant to teach man to teach man he needed to rest, it was not meant as a prison to lock himself in as the Pharasises had made it. The teaching of the pharisies was opposite the spirit of Sabbath law - they essencially taught that man was made for the Sabbbath.

    This is an interesting point which I would like to see others take up:

    Is the spirit of the law is more strict than the letter most of the time, some of the time, or all of the time?

    IFBReformer
     
  7. Journeyman1

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    Pastor Bob,
    Isn't the act of obedience a decison that brings about a change of heart? For example, I may not feel in love anymore with my wife, but, when I decide to love her despite my feelings and act lovingly to her, doesn't the feeling of love return?


    jman
     
  8. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    Journeyman1,
    Yes, I think you are on the right track. I teach my teens that actions must immediately obey even when our will doesn't want to.

    For example, young men (and old men for that matter) must discipline themselves to immediately turn away from anything that they see that is of a lewd nature. A TV commercial, a billboard, a pedestrian, etc... Even when our natural inclination is to look, if we've taught ourselves to look away, then it will produce a change of heart that will result in a disdain for that sin.
     
  9. Craigbythesea

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    If we remove 2 Corinthians 3:6 from its context, we are likely to misinterpret it. However, when we interpret it within its context, the message is plain.

    2 Corinthians 3:
    1. Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?
    2. You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
    3. being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for 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.
    4. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
    5. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
    6. who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
    7. But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,
    8. how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
    9. For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
    10. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.
    11. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
    12. Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech,
    13. and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.
    14. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
    15. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;
    16. but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
    17. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
    18. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (NASB, 1995)

    In very many places in Paul’s writing we find him contrasting the two covenants—the covenant of law and the covenant of grace. Christians are not under the old covenant of law (Rom. 6:14) and therefore have no responsibility to obey it. They are entirely free from it, just as a man who is dead no longer has any responsibility to obey it (Rom. 7:1-4). Christians are, however, under the new covenant. But the new covenant is not a list of do and don’t—it is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There are no tables of stone, there is no Torah—the word of God is written upon our hearts and we obey it from the heart because we Love both God and our neighbor.

    We as Christian are ministers of this new covenant. The old covenant brought death to all who were under it—the new covenant brings life to all who are under it.

    Romans 8:
    1. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
    3. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
    4. so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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