Christians are no longer under the letter of the law or qualified to minister by the letter.
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Rom 6:14 NAS
But we are called to walk by and qualified to minister, the Spirit 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
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, will 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! Indeed, what was once glorious has no glory now in comparison to the glory that surpasses it. For if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which endures! 2 Cor 3:6-11 BSB
The Spirit of a law is the authors intent or reason for writing the law in the first place. Romans 13:8-10 and Gal 5:14 both tell us the Ten Commandments and all of Gods laws can only be fulfilled by “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
These verses reveal to us that the Spirit of all of Gods law is “love.” God wrote the letter of the law out of love. The letter of the law is designed to protect us from each other’s fallen nature and show us our need for the Savior. The letter of the law must have consequences, or it will be ignored. Thus, the letter brings condemnation and death if violated. On the other hand, the Spirit of the law, “love’ brings no condemnation or death with it.
Jesus walked by the Spirit of the law all of the time while the Pharisee’s walked by the letter of the law. You can see the radical difference in the two in Jesus encounters with the Pharisee’s. The Pharisee’s always wanted to enforce the letter of the law. The good Samaritan, the woman caught in adultery, Jesus healing on the Sabbath, etc. The Pharisee’s hardness of heart broke Jesus' heart and ultimately led them to use the letter of the law to crucify the author of the law.
The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God." John 19:7 NAS
Jesus, on the other hand, used the crucifixion to continue His walk by the Spirit of the law.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 NAS
Is it Easier to Walk by the Letter or the Spirit?
Some minimize walking in love and focus on keeping the letter of the law, insisting this is what God wants. But, we are called to walk as Jesus walked and not the Pharisee’s, love is God’s higher calling. “Love” is the reason our Father wrote the letter of the law, His purpose and intent for its very existence. If we endeavor to keep the letter, we can never fulfill His purpose for the law, and there is no doubt we will end up acting as the Pharisee’s did if we want to or not. Judging others sin while we still have sin in our own lives like the Pharisee's. But when they brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, Jesus did not say, he who has not committed adultery cast the first stone, He said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Those who walk by the letter always end up self-righteous and hypocritical, condemning others while justifying themselves. Often not even trying to reach out to the lost who they see as terrible sinners in any meaningful way, other than maybe telling them they are going to hell if they do not repent. Possibly, even coming to the conclusion that some are beyond salvation, and should not be saved, just like the Pharisee’s did with the Gentiles they called dogs.
The truth is, it is much easier to walk by the letter than by the Spirit of the law, especially for men. A set group of written rules leaves no room for thinking or life itself. The rules are not near as messy and involved as “love.” Just look at the Pharisee’s who never got themselves dirty and involved in anyone's life. They just pointed to the rules and kept on walking, rushing through life alone in pride. Thankfully, Jesus did not act like the Pharisee’s.
“Love” as Jesus loved, entails getting involved and giving our time. It involves loving the unlovable and even your enemies who hate you and say vile things about you. It involves getting dirty and stepping into others messes at times to help them out. “Love” involves sharing our resources and helping our brother and sister in Christ who stumble. Always encouraging them in their faith in God’s promises and reminding them who they are in Christ. “Love” entails letting people into our lives and our messes too when we need encouragement and love.
“Love” is the only thing that fulfills all of God’s laws. There is no denying this truth. God’s original purpose, intent, the reason for writing the law, cannot be fulfilled by keeping the letter of the law.
The letter kills, and the Spirit brings life.
The Pharisee’s brought death, and Jesus brought life. The Pharisee’s walked by the letter of the law and Jesus walked by the Spirit of the law, “love.” What will you do?
Father, help us to walk as Jesus walked. We do not want to be a Pharisee. Help us overcome our fear of letting others into our lives and loving them. Open our hearts more to your love and let it flow through us to all we meet. Amen
More studies to read:Jesus is The End of The Law for BelieversDo You Know the Spirit of All of God's Laws?Letter Kills, Spirit Gives LifeChristians Are Not Under the Law of Moses, Our Standard is Much HigherWhat is Maturity? Knowing God's Holiness or God's Love and Grace?Do Not Let the Holiness of God Blind You to the Love of God
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