“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” (2 Corinthians 3:6-7).
The letter kills. This is a reference of the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments. This was God’s standard of perfection, His expectation for the way of man given to Moses atop Mount Sinai. As a harbinger of things to come, Moses brother Aaron and the Hebrew nation had turned to rebellion and idol worship upon Moses return with God’s law. Man minus God instantly reverts to sin and unrighteousness.
But the Apostle Paul said that the law kills! Why? Why would God give man something he could not accomplish and knew would kill him?
That Apostle Paul said, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound” (Romans 5:20). Paul went on to say, “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7).
We have to remember the severity of the unrighteous condition man had fallen into after he allowed sin to enter the skin. Moses describes it as, “The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Jeremiah adds that man, “walked after the imagination of their own heart and after Baalim” (Jeremiah 9:14)
Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes describes the nature of the unregenerate man as having, “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live” (Ecclesiastes 9:3)
After the fall the nature of man was sin always. His default position when left to his own devices was evil, madness, worshipping anything but God and rebelling against nothing but God. Man did not know good only evil. He did not know righteousness only unrighteousness.
Man was drawn to sin from his own lusts within. He had no conscience or will for good. James tells us that, “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).
There is a way which seems right to the sinful man, “but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Sin and unrighteousness left unchecked will destroy all of mankind. Evil is nothing short of a cancer that will eat and destroy anyone that comes under its influences. Man had to be shown right from wrong, good from bad, righteousness from unrighteousness. God gave man the law to teach him these things. The law was to show him the way, how to live Godly, how to live and stay alive!
Although the Mosaic Law was God’s standard of perfection for man and the key to life, it was not, however man’s salvation. The law was dependent upon the will and actions of man. That was its weakness. Man can never achieve perfection on his own through his will because of the evil infused in him. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). At some point in time the sin that is within the skin will grab the spiritual steering wheel and cause man to fall out of the way.
The law brought righteousness and death by unrighteousness to the consciousness of man. But he was doomed and damned to perpetual failure. So why even bother? Why did God bring the law into man’s life? Was it only to show how bad he is? Was the law intended to condemn man only? What purpose does the law serve?
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24-25).
There are two discoveries that man must make. First is that he is full of depravity. Left alone, the sin within man wells up and takes over. Man cannot recognize unrighteousness without first knowing what righteousness is. This was the purpose of the law, so man would know right from wrong.
The second discovery man has to make is that he cannot achieve righteousness on his own.
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Man cannot fulfill the obligations of the law on his own. He needs a Savior
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17).
Man had to learn the hard way that he needed the Law, couldn’t achieve the Law on his own but needed a Savior to do so. He had to learn the Law and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost is what makes man complete and capable. No other way to righteousness is possible.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me… And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you…But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14;6,16,17,26).
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