Many believers act as though Christians are qualified to minister the letter of the law, especially towards other believers who may be struggling with their old fallen nature and still trapped in reoccurring sin.
This is contrary to what the Bible teaches. As believers, we are only qualified by God to be ministers of the Spirit of the law and not the letter of the law.
And He has qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 BSB
The Greek word used for a minister is defined: a waiter, servant, administrator.
We minister life, like a waiter, we are to serve the Spirit that gives life. As one of the guilty, we are not qualified, able to judge ourselves and others righteously and serve condemnation and death. Only God is the righteous judge.
The Old Covenant letter of the law is the ministry of death and condemnation engraved on stones.
Now if the ministry of death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at the face of Moses because of its fleeting glory, not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry of righteousness! 2 Cor 3:7-9 BSB
Can you imagine where we would be if Jesus ministered the letter of the law unto us as the Pharisee’s did? No one would be saved.
Through the years, fallen men have always ended up abusing the letter of the law, justifying themselves, showing themselves favoritism and partiality, while judging their neighbor and holding them to the letter. The Pharisee’s are the perfect example of fallen man abusing the letter of the law for their own benefit. They even used the letter to kill the author of the law. The Pharisee’s are not isolated in their abuse of the law in this manner, since Adam and the fall until today, fallen humanity naturally wants to judge others and justify themselves. Do you remember Adam’s reply to God? “The women you gave me, gave me the fruit and I ate.” In that short reply, Adam tried to justify himself and judged Eve and God.
The Spirit of the law is the authors sole intent or reason for writing the law.
All of God’s law have as their Spirit, love. This is the intent/reason God wrote the Ten Commandments in the first place. We know this for certain because the Bible is very clear on the one thing that fulfills the entire law of God, love.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Rom 13:8-10 NAS
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." Gal 5:14 NAS
The letter of the law was given out of love to be our guardian, trainer, tutor, and guide to lead us to Christ. The letter of the law protects you from my fallen nature and me from yours. It also shows a person their true need for the Savior, Jesus. When we come to faith in Christ, we no longer need a guardian, we are safe and sound in Him.
Now before faith came, we were held in custody under the Law, having been locked up until the faith being about to be revealed, so that the Law has become our (trainer, tutor, guardian) unto Christ, so that we might be justified by faith. And faith having come, we are no longer under a (trainer, tutor, guardian). Gal 3:23-25 BSB (emphasis mine)
The Greek word used for a trainer is defined: "a boy's guardian or tutor." A guardian is given to a child out of love to protect them until the child becomes of age.
We are qualified to minister love which encompasses grace and truth and not the letter of the law that can only condemn and kill. What did we see Jesus ministering? He modeled and ministered the Spirit of the law. He fulfilled the law by walking by the Spirit just as the above verses tell us the only way the law is fulfilled. In doing so, Jesus did not always keep the letter of the law, breaking the letter of the Sabbath several times but always walking by the Spirit of the law, love. Every time He violated the letter of the Sabbath it was to walk in the real intent of the author of the law, to demonstrate love to the lost and suffering. With who was Jesus angry? The blind Pharisee’s who completely ignored the Spirit of the law, the authors sole reason for writing the law, and strictly enforced and abused the letter. This is why the Pharisee’s did not recognize Jesus. They did not recognize the Spirit of the law, love. They were so blinded by the holiness of God they could not see the love of God, Jesus.
Jesus death for His enemies, is Jesus walking by the Spirit and not the letter. It is the love of God demonstrated for us. We are to love others now as He has loved us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you should love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. John 13:34 BSB
Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, and the story of the good Samaritan, and others, all reflect the Spirit of the law overriding the letter of the law. Being the intent, the reason the author wrote the letter of the law, to walk by the Spirit is always higher and is the only thing that can truly please and fulfill the author of the laws intent.
Under the Old Covenant Law of Moses
Not just anyone could administer the letter of the law under the Old Covenant. Only the Levite Priests were chosen, strictly qualified by God to minister the letter of the law of Moses. In Leviticus 21, God lists additional stringent requirements of holiness for these Priests. God was aware that the letter of the law required special handling and only those he qualified were allowed to minister the ministry of condemnation and death.
In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus pointed out that those who are lawbreakers themselves are not qualified to judge others by the letter of the law. To judge others by the letter of the law, you must be without sin yourself.
But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7 NAS
He also pointed out this same truth in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. In it, we see a common pitfall among those who want to use the law to judge others, they show themselves favoritism, justify themselves while judging others who they see as worse sinners. Jesus points out the failure of this too. The Pharisee in the story would have been justified if he had not compared himself to the tax collector and did as the tax collector did.
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 NAS
Mankind is not qualified to minister the letter of the law. There is only one that is qualified to minister the letter of the law, only one who is without sin and able to minister the letter of the law righteously, God.
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? James 4:12 NAS
Under the New Covenant of Grace and Truth
Jesus is the New High Priest, and He loved us and ministered grace and truth to us. If he had ministered the letter of the law, the woman caught in adultery would have been stoned. Jesus qualified us to love others as He loved us and to minister the Spirit of the law, love, grace and truth, not the letter of the law.
Such confidence before God is ours through Christ. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim that anything comes from us, but our competence comes from God. And He has qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:4-6 BSB
There is no condemnation in Christ, in the Spirit of the law.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:1-2 BSB
Additional reasons we are NOT ministers of the “Old Covenant letter of the law” given by of Moses.
The Old Covenant law of Moses is now obsolete, has faded away, no longer in effect, replaced by the New Covenant of grace and truth.
For if glory was in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory! Indeed, what was once glorious (Old Covenant) has no glory now in comparison to the glory (New Covenant) that surpasses it. For if what was fading away (Old Covenant) came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which endures (New Covenant)! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at the end of what was fading away (Old Covenant). 2 Cor 3:10-13 BSB (emphasis mine)
When read, the Old Covenant to this day places a veil over the hearer's hearts, hardens the heart, blinds them to Jesus unconditional love and closes minds to the truth of the gospel.
But their minds were closed. For to this day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant. It has not been lifted, because only in Christ can it be removed. And even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Cor 3:14-16 BSB
This is why Jesus called the Pharisee's blind, the veil produced by the Old Covenant of law was over their hearts and eyes.
Jesus image is one of love, grace, and truth, not the letter of the law. We are transformed into His image by beholding His glory and walking by the Spirit and not the letter as He did.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3: 17-18 BSB
The only one who wants believers to minister the letter of the law is Satan. Do you remember that Jesus told the Pharisee’s their Father was Satan – John 8:44? The law keeps people sin conscious - Rom 3:20, when the Bible tells us believers are to no longer have a conscience focused on our sin debt – Heb 10:2. Because Jesus sacrifice worked, we are to fix our eyes on Jesus - Heb 12:2, and have a conscience, mind, and thoughts – 2 Cor 10:5 NAS captivated by our forgiveness and His righteousness that we firmly stand in, unmovable and unshakeable. We are assured of our salvation because we know for certain it is all about Him. We stand on the rock when we trust only in Jesus. We stand on shifting sand if we add law keeping back as a requirement for salvation.
Paul told the foolish Galatians they had been severed from Christ and had fallen from grace when they were deceived into adding the law back in as a requirement for salvation.
Whoever are being justified in the Law, you are severed from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Gal 5:4 BSB
Satan knows that Sin got its power to kill us from the law: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. 1 Cor 15:56 BSB. If we are in Christ, Sin no longer has this dominion over us because we under grace and not law – Rom 6:14, but if a believer can be deceived into thinking they are still under the law, they will live in doubt, fear and worry under false condemnation.
The only place Sin lies dead is apart from the law: For apart from the Law, sin is dead. Rom 7:8b BSB
God warns us not to minister the letter of the law. The letter of the law will condemn and kill a person for going one mile over the speed limit; a minister of the letter notices the slightest infraction, even a speck in their brother's eye. The person who lives by the letter is oblivious to the Spirit of the law, the reason the law was written in the first place. This is the beam that is in their own eye, a complete disregard of the intentions of the author of the law.
Do not judge, lest you should be judged. For with that verdict you pronounce, you will be judged; and with that measure you measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, but not notice the beam in your own eye? Or how shall you say to your brother, ‘Permit that I might cast out the splinter from your eye,’ and behold, the beam is in your eye? Hypocrite! First cast out the beam from your eye, and then you will see clearly to cast out the splinter from the eye of your brother. Matt 7:1-5 BSB
We have all heard of reaping and sowing. In other words, God has called us to minister the Spirit of the law for our benefit as well as our neighbors. If we minister condemnation and death by the letter of the law, we will be judged in the same manner. If we minister love, grace and truth, we will receive the same. We are not qualified to be the judge.
Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies (makes righteous). Rom 8:33 BSB (emphasis mine)
What will you minister? Life or death?More New Covenant Studies that applyLetter Kills, Spirit Gives Life
Paul's Method for Talking to Christians Caught in SinFallen From GraceDon't Rearm Your EnemySatan Will Always Point You Back to the LawHow the Letter Killed the AuthorPreaching the Law is Preaching the CurseThe Only Place Sin Lies DeadHow Christians Dilute the Power of the Gospel in Their LivesThe New Covenant of Grace Replaced the Old Covenant of LawJesus is The End of The Law for BelieversChristians Are Not Under the Law of Moses, Our Standard is Much HigherKeeping the Letter of Gods Law, Cannot Fulfill Gods LawA Christian is Dead to the Law, Freed from the Law and Dead to SinYou Only Have Two Commandments ChristianDead to Mr. Law, Married to Mr. GraceChristians are Blessed Because God is Not Imputing our SinsA Christians Sins are NOT Counted Against ThemHoly Spirit Does Not Convict a Believer of Their SinsI Am a New Creation IN CHRISTI Am Holy, I Am Sanctified, I Am PerfectedGod Said a Believer Can Never be Considered UnholyBelievers are Never Called Sinners in the New TestamentJesus Never Called a Believer a HypocriteWalking by the Spirit is Gods Will for Your Life, GuaranteedIf Sin Has Dominion in Your Life, You are Living Under the Law, Not GraceWhat is The One Thing That Keeps a Believer in Sin? How to Stop SinHow to Walk by The SpiritStop Disqualifying Yourself
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20