We all know what the letter of the law looks like, just look at the Ten Commandments. But, Paul tells us that LOVE is the only thing that fulfills all of God’s laws. This tells us that LOVE is the Spirit of all of God’s laws. The Spirit of the law is the authors original intent for writing the letter of the law. The Spirit is the primary reason the letter exists. Jesus lived, walked, breathed, ministered, and died fulfilling the Spirit of God’s law.
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: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Gal 5:14 ESV
Most Christians are aware of the following description of God’s kind of love in 1 Corinthians. The Bibles also states that God is love, and these verses describe Jesus, our Father, and the Holy Spirit perfectly. They have the exact same nature. If you want to see precisely what God looks like, exchange the word love for the word God in the following verses.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Cor 13: 4 – 8
As followers of Jesus, when we learn to abide in the vine that is Christ, walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh, this love is produced supernaturally through us as His branch. A love like this that can even love our enemies cannot be manufactured by the flesh. It is Jesus flowing through us and doing the loving Himself.
Now, notice the contrast, what the letter of the law produces compared to what we know the Spirit of the law, LOVE, produced in Jesus. Think of the Pharisee’s who walked by the letter of the law. Understand that these are all sins produced while trying to adhere to and enforce the letter.
The letter of the law is not always patient, not kind, can lead us to be boastful and proud, can be self-seeking and easily angered. The letter does keep a record of wrongs and does not always protect. The letter of the law can fail, often be used to violate the authors original intent.
The Pharisee’s display a great contrast to Jesus. These men started with very sincere hearts and made great commitments to the faith. Imagine giving up all of your personal dreams as a youth to commit to serving God. I know I was not ready to do that when I was young and have still not done this to that degree. They gave up a lot to gain their position. They started out wanting to serve God and do the right thing, but they misunderstood the purpose of God’s law. Their inherited fallen nature from Adam fostered this misunderstanding and got the best of them. They thought they were being constantly judged by God, by the letter of the law and therefore judged others the same way. They turned the letter into a weapon. In ministering the letter, they consistently violated the Spirit of God’s law. In the end, they allowed the holiness of God to blind them to the love of God and used the letter of the law to kill the Author of the law. Their adherence to the letter over anything else is why they could not even recognize Jesus as he ministered the Spirit and not the letter.
What happened to the Pharisee’s can and does happen to Christians today. If we are deceived into thinking we are still under the letter of the law, sin will have dominion in our life.
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Rom 6:14 NAS
By default, the letter of the law will produce the same characteristics we saw in the Pharisee’s. Our inherited sin nature still running the show.
As Romans 6:14 states, sin is not the master of a saved believer under grace, but only when we agree with God and believe we are under grace and no longer under the law. In God’s eyes, we are no longer under the law, just as the verse states. But if we do not believe or doubt Romans 6:14, we will live like it is not true, in doubt, guilt, condemnation, worry and fear of punishment. And, what we saw in the Pharisee’s will come forth in our life. Those who feel judged by God will judge others as they justify themselves.
The original Greek text that the following verse comes from is telling us we are not qualified to minister the letter of the law. We are qualified to minister the Spirit of the law. The word minister means to serve up as a waiter. We serve up life just as Jesus did. We do not serve up death like the Pharisee’s.
We are ministers of a New Covenant. The law kills but the Spirit gives life. “…who has made us sufficient to be 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 ESV)
Check to see if you are in the faith.
We are saved by faith through grace and not of works so no man can boast. It is all about faith in God’s promises. There is no fear in faith. Can you declare: I am the righteousness of God in Christ when you fail? Do you at all fear punishment from God if you break the letter of the law? If you do, to some extent, you still believe you are under the law and its condemnation. The law of sin and death is displayed in the letter of the law. The wages of sin are death. God does not want us to sin because we are under grace and not the law. But we no longer need a schoolmaster, the letter of the law, when we come to faith in Christ – Gal 3:22-23. The law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death, by setting us free from the letter and the curse of the law. In Christ, we are free from ever coming under the condemnation the letter brought.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:2 ESV
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— Gal 3:13 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:1 ESV
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18 ESV
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 ESV
Now we go forward doing the next right thing, compelled and constrained by the love of Christ, never out of the fear of punishment or condemnation.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 2 Cor 5:14 NAS
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