Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The letter of the New Testament - Part 1

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills , but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor 3:5-6 NKJV)

I would most likely be preaching to the choir if I talked about how the Apostle Paul is referring to the Law in the above passage. In the verses that follow, Paul talks about "the ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation" - AKA "the Law." He contrasts this with "the ministry of the Spirit" and "the ministry of righteousness." Contrary to popular belief in modern Christian culture, the Law is not the ministry of the Spirit nor the ministry of righteousness! The Law is the ministry of death and condemnation! The ministry of the Spirit and of righteousness is all based upon Jesus Christ, not Law.

If you try to mix the two, you end up with the ministry of death and condemnation. Just say I had a glass of clean water and I offered it to you. But just before you drank it, I added a tiny little speck of cow manure. Are you still going to drink it?

That's what happens when you put even a tiny bit of Law in your Grace drink. It contaminates the whole thing!

So... we "get" the Law thing. Or at least I hope we do. The Christian life is not about living by the Law. Mixing the Law into the Christian life is like mixing cow dung into pure, clean drinking water.

But there is something else... something much more subtle... that can just as easily contaminate the Christian life, if not "applied" properly.

The New Testament.


Yeah, the New Testament.

Before I get to my point, I do need to say that the true New Testament (or New Covenant - the Will of God), in and of itself, really is the basis for our life in Christ. The actual New Covenant does not contaminate us! The New Covenant is LIFE! The New Covenant is Christ-in-us.

However, we have these 27 books... Matthew through Revelation... that we call the "New Testament," and if we don't apply these written words correctly, they can very easily become "law" or "letter" to us. Indeed, the pure words that are meant to be LIFE can very easily become like pure water contaminated with cow excrement!

How? Why? What the...?"

Ok, I'll get to the point. In Part 2. :)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 


  1. Joel, great post!

    It's mind boggling. We would never consider drinking water that had a little dung in it yet, for years, I took in a lot of teaching and preaching that had law mixed in with grace and didn't think a thing about it. I even went back for more. All the while, I was dying and I couldn't figure out why.

    Now, thank goodness, I've gotten to the place where I recognize when law has been added in and I immediately reject it. I'm sure, at times, it sneaks past me without me recognizing it because lies can often be very subtle. If they weren't, no one would accept them.

    That's why I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit in me who gives me a little nudge to let me know something's not right. I really appreciate this group of bloggers because Father has spoken to me many times through all of you to make me aware of when something is not quite right.

    Father said he would keep us from falling and he meant just that. I'm finding out that I no longer have to fall for lies because he's right there at all times speaking truth to me.


  2. I am glad you took this topic up. I have the struggle with this issue (seeing law in NT) once in a while so I am looking forward for the next post.

  3. Well said, Joel!

    Keep it up.


  4. Aida... it's so true that lies can be very subtle. I know I don't have all the answers - I'm still learning a lot every day! And "mind boggling" is a great phrase to describe some of the differences between what I used to believe and how I see things now. :)

    Bino... I have lots of different directions that I can go with this. :) When I started writing this post, I thought it would be nice and simple, but so many thoughts have come to mind and I have no clue how I'll cover them all! I probably won't, but perhaps there can be some good discussion, or at least some thoughts sparked in some of us as to how we (the church) are letting even some of the God-inspired New Testament become "letter" to us.

    Derek... thanks. :)

  5. Rob Rufus calls legalists "poo praisers".....he did a message that had me rolling, (if you are interested in checking it out, it's "How wonderful is the Gospel" and it's linked in the sidebar on my blog)..and marveling at the Gospel message, anyway....I think it's very possible to see the "to do" parts in the NT/NC and turn them into law, I know I used to do it....I think pure grace and full NC is the only way to go, and as we marvel in grace we long to be pleasing and honoring to God, not to gain approval, cause we already have that, full acceptance, but out of the overflow of love that is welling up inside us, and yes the Holy Spirit is equipped to guide and direct and teach us and speak to our hearts......Awesome isn't it, God's WAY GREAT!!!
    If we don't have the Gospel so soaked into our being and understand the love of the Father and his acceptance of us and how he sees us as perfectly righteous forever, we may very likely see "law" in the New Covenant......

  6. Lydia... "Poo praisers." LOL :) I think I've heard him use that term before, but I haven't listened to that particular message, so he must've used it more than once. Heading over there to download that message when I'm done here.

    As I commented on your blog, I've been hurt by the subtle legalism that's found in viewing the NT in the wrong way, and I know many others have as well. It takes a long time to recover, and indeed it's pure grace and a proper understanding of the New Covenant that will build us up and heal us.

  7. Lydia, I've never listened to Rob Rufus but you speak so highly of his teaching that I decided that I've got to hear him. I found two messages with that title so I'll listen to the two of them. I've already downloaded the first one and the second is downloading now.

    Thanks for recommending it.


  8. Oh cool Aida, let me know what you think!!!