"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." -2 Corinthians 3:6
This is a beautiful verse within an amazing passage describing the differences between the old covenant and the new covenant. For those who are unfamiliar, the old covenant refers to God’s rules, promises, and ways of interacting with his people as found in the Old Testament. The Israelites had to follow a long, tedious list of religious laws, traditions, ceremonies, and so on. All of us have been children and can relate to the Israelites: no matter how hard we tried, inevitably we broke one of our parents’ rules, and we were punished. Even though the commandments and sacrifices of the Old Testament are glorious in their own way and reflect God’s glory, the system they create is inherently flawed. This is because WE are flawed. As humans, we are sinful, and so we can NEVER attain the perfect standards of the law (or “the letter,” as it’s referred to in this verse). The more we try, the more we focus on ourselves, on our own performance, on our own failures. Our spirit begins to die as we lose focus on our God and focus instead on outward actions, ignoring our heart. The law puts us in a hopeless situation. BUT! We serve an AMAZING God. In Christ, our hope is restored as we participate in the NEW covenant – a covenant built not on religion, but on a relationship. As we fall more and more in love with our beautiful savior, his Spirit gives us freedom from legalism and religious acts. His Spirit breathes new life into us, and enables us to act in ways that we never would have been able to otherwise. HE imparts the competence and confidence we need to reflect the glory of the Lord to those around us, as his Spirit transforms us day by day to look more like his Son. Praise God for this amazing gift!