I came across an article that was written which basically said the entire Bible was the ‘letter that kills’ and although the Bible is nice book we can’t expect scripture to change us or empower us, but rather we must hear from the Spirit’. The article can be referenced here : http://www.hallvworthington.com/getverses.php?search=2+cor+3%3A6%3B&version=160 I hope to bring clarity to the confusion and error this article presents.
The law was given to show us our sinfulness and God’s character (and it was also given as a system of rules to govern a theocratic kingdom (kingdom led by God instead of a human king or leader) back before Israel actually had kings like Saul and David). You see ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man was always sinful. So even before the Law of God was given, man was in sin but the Bible says that men were not accountable before the Law because there was nothing by which to judge our actions. The Law is the standard by which we are judged. As that article states, the Law was given to show us how incredible sinful we are. The Bible states in Romans 5:20 that the Law was added so that our sin would actually ‘increase’! The letter is the Law just as this article states. The Law of God will never impart life to anyone. It was never intended to. It simply shows us our sin. As the apostle Paul states, it makes our sin ‘utterly sinful’! It puts us in a place of total depravity, complete helplessness to save ourselves or do anything on our own to claim our own self-righteousness. The article is correct on this first point.
Now at the 2nd point the article starts getting sidetracked doctrinally. Christ did not come to STRENGTHEN the Law. Christ DID NOT come to (as the article states) ‘make it even harder’ to be obedient. On the contrary, He came to set us free from the burden of the law, the weight of law upon our necks, the burden of constantly trying to do, do, do. He came to fulfill the Law. He is the embodiment of everything the Law of God reveals, is and points to. He also came to transition the Jews from the Law unto grace (which was to be established after his death and resurrection). Christ’s teachings were not about trying to top the Law or increase it. He was teaching them about the true intent of the Law-which was God’s character. As sinners, when we see God’s true character- absolute love; absolute mercy; absolute justice; absolute righteousness; absolute perfection-we see how far away we are from Him, the chasm between our mortality and His immortality, His perfection and our imperfections, His love and our shadow of what we know as love. Christ came to fulfill everything in the Law because we never could. He did this to bring us back into right relationship with the Father-a relationship that had been severed in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve partook of the Tree of Knowledge, disobeying God. His teachings, many of which this article quotes from the Sermon on the Mount, were not about increasing the Law or making it harder but rather were about showing the heart condition behind the command. Example in point is adultery. The Jews up to that point only focused on the act of adultery but ignored the heart condition of lust. They focused on stoning the murderer but never saw or concerned themselves with the heart condition of hating someone. They only focused on getting retribution (eye for an eye) as opposed to offering mercy and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. He told them that all their external actions were empty because they were only on the outside, it was what was on the inside of a man that made him clean, not the outside (as according to the Law and traditions).
The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:4, goes on to tell us “Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”!! Galatians 3:24 states ‘The Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ’. The law was a ‘tutor’ or instructor guiding us toward the savior-making us so hungry and thirsty to be set free from the burden of the law around our necks! This is why Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 ‘Come to me all are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ This scripture was not Jesus telling people to come to him who are just tired of life (busyness, family, work, etc). This was Jesus telling them if they came to Him, they would finally find rest from their weariness (of trying to keep the law; of trying to be right before God)! That is called His grace and mercy. We as believers are supposed to ‘rest’ in His grace every day, all the time, in whatever we are doing. Not that we are lazy or idle but rather that He is the one working thru us, in us and with us! We no longer have to live every day trying to make sacrifices to appease God. We no longer have to try and keep every commandment of the law every day because Christ already kept every single command of the law when He walked this Earth. When God looks at a believer (a Christian) He only sees the perfection of Christ! He sees every Christian as perfectly righteous!! Glory to God! This is the beauty of the Gospel! This is why we believe what we believe! 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 states this perfectly. Verse 17 tells us that ‘everything old (in our old sin nature) is gone, behold, everything we now are in Christ is completely brand new’ (we have been given the very nature of Christ in our spirit)! Then verse 21 tells us ‘Jesus who had no sin in Him, became (everyone’s) sin for us, so that in Him we are now the (perfect, spotless, complete) righteousness of God’!!
The Law is still there and it’s always a guide of sorts but once we have been born again, God’s law resides on the inside of us, internally guiding us into right and wrong. We are no longer bound by the ‘letter of the law’ but rather are ‘led’ by God’s Holy Spirit in us! Galatians 5:1 says “It is for the very purpose of freedom (from the law and burden of sin) that Christ has (permanently & completely) set us free! The Christian life is supposed to be one of joy, freedom and love! We love others now because Christ loved us! See all of this was impossible before Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary but now, as a born-again believer you have true freedom and joy.
You need to understand two other things as well. First of all, when you read the 4 Gospels, you must read them in the context of the Old Covenant transitioning to the New Covenant. Meaning that, Jesus’ sayings and teachings were still in light of people living under the commands and burden of the Law of God. They had not been set free yet. No one during that time had been born again or filled with the Spirit because Jesus had not yet died for the sins of the world nor had He conquered death yet by being resurrected. This dramatically changes one’s understanding of the Gospels-and for the better since it brings clarity and unity to the Word of God.
Speaking of the Word of God, this is the second thing I want to mention and which this article addresses in the last couple of sentences (and the attached article you reference). The Law of God is the Word of God but the Word of God is not necessarily the Law of God-if that makes sense. When I first got saved and for many years that I attended an Assembly of God church andI was taught that the Law of God and the Word of God are the same thing. That is incorrect and will bring confusion and disharmony when reading the Bible. For example, when you read Joshua 1:8, it states ‘Do not this Law depart from your mouth but be careful to do everything written in it, meditating on it day and night being careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful in everything you do.” Now this is a great scripture and very applicable to us as believers studying and meditating on the Word of God everyday but we as believers in Christ DO NOT meditate on the LAW every day. The Law of God is specifically the 10 Commandments and the other 600+ ceremonial and civil laws given to the Nation of Israel, in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy. The Law of God is part of the Word of God but it is not all of it. The New Testament writings for example are the Word of God but they are not the Law of God. When the Bible says ‘the letter kills but the spirit gives life’, this is talking about the Law. The Law is the letter, the written code. The letter DOES NOT refer to the entire Bible. This is an enormous distinction and once understood will help clarify your readings. For years after I was saved I didn’t have a proper understanding of what the Law was, it’s original purpose and how Christians are under a different covenant (unchangeable agreement) than the Israelites were in the Old Testament (Old covenant). Too many Christians today read the Bible as just one big book with everything written towards the Christian and it is in a sense but, it is the story of two separate yet intertwining covenants that God has with His people. There are many things written in the Old Testament that are useful to for us today (to reflect on, as an example of what not to do or in God dealing with sin, etc.) but that does not mean everything written in the Old Testament is directly written to the New Testament believer! Again, this will make an enormous impact on reading and correctly interpreting the Bible because when we read it is important to know who the book is written to, why it was written, when it was written and what was the message it is trying to convey.
This article states the Law cannot impart life unto you, that it cannot make you capable of loving God or loving your neighbor as yourself and that only the Spirit can do any of that. This is a true statement but then it goes into grievous error in the next sentence when it states ‘Reading the Bible does not trigger the Spirit to impart the life of God because the words in the Bible, however wonderfully true they are, are not the same as hearing the Spirit speak to you with words of life.” Daniel, I will tell you straightforward with all sincerity, that is absolute heresy and a lie of the devil himself. The Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired Word(s) of God. It is living, active and was written by men of God under the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is life itself. Jesus is life itself (John 1:1-4). Jesus is called the ‘Word of God’. Everything in the Bible points to Jesus, speaks of Jesus and is filled with the life-giving power of Jesus! It is the only book that is truly living and can speak to our very heart, spirit and soul. Hebrews 4:12 states ‘The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing apart the soul from the spirit and discerning the thoughts, attitudes (and intentions) of the heart of man’. Whenever a person says they have heard from God but it does not line up with the Bible, they are in error and deception. The Bible is God speaking His very words unto us. It is our blueprint for life and a guide we should be using to test what we think we are hearing from God. If it doesn’t line up with the Bible it’s false. People who go around trying to hear voices from God all the time will definitely end up hearing voices but it won’t be the voice of God-it will be the voice of the devil and his demons-or even sometimes our own vain imaginations and desires. Yes God will speak to our spirits because He Himself is spirit (John 4:24), He gave us the precious Holy Spirit to live inside of us and direct us in life but we are not to be going around trying to just hear a spiritual voice to receive some type of revelation or direction. That is technically occultism and honestly how men like Joseph Smith ended up in deception and now we have entire bodies of people living out his lie (Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, etc).
Now I will say to every Christian out there- I want you to know how much Jesus loves you! We have been born again and received the Spirit that is from God-the Holy Spirit bears witness with our own spirits that we are His very own children (Rom 8:16). You are a strong in the Lord with a calling and anointing to do great things (Jer 29:11). The devil is a liar (John 8:44) and has slipped deceit into your mind and heart, trying to discourage you and get you off on a path away from God’s love and grace. He wants to beat you up, run you down, tire you out, get you exhausted from trying to do, trying to be. Trust me, I’ve been there at times and struggled fighting off the devil’s lies too-any born again man or woman will have to fight that fight. Why do you think the apostle Paul tells us to ‘fight the good fight of faith’? The devil wants to sift us all as wheat (Luke 22:31) and I pray that your faith may not fail!! To God be all the glory!