Crosses             LBG                  HateLove

Devotional - week of February 10, 2008


MINISTRIES OF THE LETTER AND OF THE SPIRIT

 

God … 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 Corinthians 3:6

 

In this verse, Paul defines the two types of Christian ministries of his day. One type was the ministry of the letter—which is a ministry of the law. This ministry teaches that a person can have victory over his sin and in his service to God in his own wisdom and strength. The other type of ministry was the ministry of the Spirit. This ministry teaches that a person lives the Christian life and fruitfully serves God by being filled with the Holy Spirit—and explains how one can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s was a ministry of the Spirit.

 

Ministers of the letter teach that one should love God and then encourage us to love God. Ministers of the Spirit teach that one should love God and then show that to do so is humanly impossible. They say that one can only love God as the Holy Spirit fills him with love (Romans 5:5).

 

The ministry of the letter results in death and the ministry of the Spirit results in life (2 Corinthians 3:6). The death of a believer is a sense of failure and disappointment because he cannot have victory over his sins and is ineffective in his Christian service. The life resulting from the ministry of the Spirit is the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10). It is a sense of peace and joy in having victory over sin and in being effective in Christian ministry.

 

In addition, the ministry of the letter results in condemnation and the ministry of the Spirit results in righteousness (2 Corinthians 3:9).

 

In light of the vast differences between these two ministries, we evangelicals must ask ourselves a very sobering question. Are any of us engaging in a ministry of the letter rather than a ministry of the Spirit?

 

A believer can determine if he is under a ministry of the letter or if he is under a ministry of the Spirit. If he is being encouraged to serve God in his own wisdom and strength, he is under a ministry of the letter. If he is being taught how to be filled with the Spirit and that God will live out His love and His will through him, he is under a ministry of the Spirit.

 

What should one do if he realizes that he is being served by a ministry of the letter? The best thing he can do is look to God for His guidance and then wait for God to give that guidance.