The Letter Kills, But the Spirit Gives Life

Stephen's Face

(Reading: 2 Corinthians chapter three)

A year or two ago, some Christian friends invited me to attend a church service with them at a “Bible church.” As I sat there looking around the auditorium, I saw many faces that had no life in them and that included the pastor. There was no life in his preaching–or in the whole service for that matter. It was just a bunch of people going through the motions as they kept the law of church attendance on Sunday. Sad to say, I have seen this same lifelessness in some house church meetings as well.

In 2 Corinthians chapter three Paul makes it clear that when the Bible becomes a letter of legalism (so many commandments that we must keep) it kills us. In this chapter he speaks of the glory of Christ that is ours in His NEW Covenant that should shine from our faces as we follow the Spirit in fellowship with Him. If the New Testament becomes a system of rule keeping, we will entirely miss what the New Covenant is (read Hebrews chapter 8)! Here in chapter three, Paul refers to  what happened to Moses as he ministered the Old Covenant Law. Moses’ face shone brightly when he came back down from the mountain after receiving the law in a personal encounter with God, but that glory faded as the letter of the law he ministered worked death within him. As time went on the shining on his face faded because the letter of the law kills, but it is the Spirit that gives life (vs. 6).

This whole chapter is about there being no need for written letters if we are walking in the Spirit of Christ. If we are abiding in the Spirit we are the letters from God. We are the only letters that are needed to minister the gospel as our faces shine with His glory and His Spirit is speaking through us. It is sad that legalism (you must attend church on Sunday, you must tithe, you must not do this or that, etc.) has so taken over in our churches that few Christians today have faces that shine with the glory of the abiding Christ.

Paul wrote, But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.” I remember my first two years of trying to be a “born again” Christian. It began when I was led in a “sinner’s prayer” by a well-meaning pastor in my living room one evening. But soon it was evident that something was missing. I was encouraged to read the Bible, but it was all so many words with no life in them. I might as well have been reading a phone-book with so many names and numbers with no coherent flow. I attended church on Sunday and Wednesday evening every week and went to Sunday school class and even taught one, all to no avail. That empty hole inside prevailed. It was not until I finally surrendered my whole life to Christ unconditionally that the Spirit of God came into me for the first time. In my first attempt to become a Christian I had made a mental decision at the encouragement of a man, but after a spiritual crisis two years later, I surrendered all that I was (a confused mess at best) to Him as He drew me to Himself and filled me with His Spirit. It was then that His glory began to shine from my life and the words of the Bible began to leap off its pages into my heart.

The spiritual meaning of the entire Bible will be veiled to us just as it is and was to those Jews under the Old Covenant if we do not have the Spirit of Christ abiding in us as our Teacher. It will become a letter of laws that we must keep by our mental gyrations instead of a love letter from our Father in heaven that leads us into a deeper loving relationship with Him through His Spirit. Paul wrote, “You are a letter from Christ written with the Spirit of the living God on tablets of human hearts.”

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent [sufficient] of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence [sufficiency] is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2Cor 3:4-6, RSV – emphasis added)

16 comments on “The Letter Kills, But the Spirit Gives Life

  1. Kenneth E Dawson says:

    Beautiful stuff bro and I am printing the article out—I just escaped a bible church that I was attending in Tulsa,OK and now living in Davis,OK I am glad to be working on Sunday so I wont have to listen to anymore ( federal teaching ) I live in ontological covenant life and its much more enjoyable–its for real Good News

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Let me see, “ontological”…I used to have one of those. Oh, wait… that was an ocarina. To be honest, I had to look it up; “Having to do with a state of being.” I think that Paul had that, “For me to live is Christ…” THAT is covenant LIFE for sure. I am glad things are working out well for you in Davis.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good article, Michael! 👍🏻

    Since I do not want to leave lifeless letters here, I need to admit that I feel no inspiration from God to write more than this, my dear brother: 🕊❤🌪🍞🍷☀️🌿 (i.e. Spirit/love/like the wind/ bread and wine/light and life). 😇

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Susanne. You did well. As the saying goes, “It is better to say nothing and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
      🕊❤🌪🍞🍷☀️🌿to you as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Roland Rhodes says:

    “Two Covenants” by Andrew Murray is also an excellent inner EYE opener as well as your very appropriate post. May His Spirit continue …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Brothers in Christ: I came into your teaching through a search online. I and a few friends have been reading many of your writings. Few know the things you are teaching, but we have been shown these thing from God also. I have a youtube channel with some of my teachings at Gods Entire Vision. I would like to communicate with you sometime if God wills. Thanks, Dennis.



  5. Beautifully said.. Thank you.
    God is the source of life 🌱 and love 💕!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. 🤔humm…looks like my lil’ sprout next to ‘life’, changed form.. its ment to be a lil’ sprout growing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A beautiful message, Michael. I loved that line, “If we are abiding in the Spirit we are the letters from God.” ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Patricia Lelión says:

    Gracias Michael por esta bella enseñanza. Hoy hablaba de este tema con una hermana en Cristo y amiga desde hace 28 años, Dios está quitando el velo de sus ojos y de su corazón con respecto a este asunto. Ella salió de su congregación maldecida por el pastor y el enemigo estaba colocando en su vida culpa, pues se sentía una especie de “apóstata” por no asistir al culto cada domingo. El Señor ha estado trayendo luz a su vida. Hoy le daba Gloria al Señor por esto.

    Qué realmente la Luz de Cristo brille en nosotros y seamos esas cartas abiertas.

    Patricia wrote:

    Thank you Michael for this beautiful teaching. Today I was talking about this topic with a sister in Christ and a friend for 28 years, God is removing the veil from her eyes and from her heart regarding this matter. She left her congregation cursed by the pastor and the enemy was placing guilt in her life, because she felt a kind of “apostate” for not attending the service every Sunday. The Lord has been bringing light to your life. Today I gave Glory to the Lord for this.

    May the Light of Christ really shine in us and we be those open letters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for your comment, Patricia. It is good to hear that your friend and sister in Christ is being set free. It is sad how church people and their pastors act when someone’s spiritual eyes are finally opened, isn’t it?
      Thank you for your encouragement, dear sister. You truly are an open letter written by the Lord to be read by all who encounter you.
      Your brother IN Christ


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