Monday, March 19, 2018
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:3-6(NLT)
God led the Apostle Paul to Corinth, and as Paul followed God’s leading there was a strong movement of God’s Spirit. That resulted in a church that was to have a huge impact on the spreading of God’s message throughout the region.
In his later testimony before the high council of Israel, Paul described in his own words how previously he had been the chief persecutor of the church:
And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison. The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the followers of the Way from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished. Acts 22:4-5(NLT)
Back then he had been called Saul; now, with a changed heart and a re-purposed mission, his name was also changed to Paul, and the Spirit of God moved mightily in his life to change the world.
This is the difference between spirit and letter of the law. The “letter of the law” alerts us to the fact that sin is possible…indeed, it is impossible to avoid. The “spirit of the law” is written without words on the heart, deep within, and lifts us to a higher plane.
Saul had been acting on the letter – even carrying letters of condemnation against Jesus and the church. The letter of the law can only create division between people, and more separation between humans and God; the Spirit, conversely, knits our brokenness together. Previously Saul was a breaker, destroying people’s lives; now, under the direction of the Spirit of God speaking mercy and grace to his heart, a once-condemned sinner became a saint, and was building the church instead of tearing it apart.
The Spirit of God always dwells in places where hearts are tender, responding to love, grace, and mercy. It is that condition to which Lent drives us. Like Paul, confronted with a great light (which was actually the presence of the resurrected Jesus) on the Road to Damascas; the light blinded him, led him to accept Christ, healed his spiritual and physical blindness, and set him on a road that would turn the world upside down for the Kingdom of God.
We are also confronted with that same light when we consider the great sacrifice of the cross. It is not a light you can ignore for long.
The letter of the law always ends in death, because sin is always first-degree. The spirit of the law ends in life.
If the abundant life of Christ is your aim, let the light hit your heart…that’s where the Spirit of God wants to live.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road; have a blessed day.