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Read Introduction to 2 Corinthians


6 who also 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.


but the Spirit gives life.

The Law cannot give life (Ga 3:21), yet God wants fellowship that comes from the words of the Law.

“Gives life” refers to the transformation of life by the Holy Spirit. This is a New Covenant truth (Ezek 36:26-27; 37:14). It is the point of 2 Corinthians 3:18 later in the chapter. People can engage the dynamics of the New Covenant. New Covenant ministry provides enabling grace, the empowering presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ro 7:6; 8:3). Adequacy of ministry is not determined by conformity to the Law as the Judaizers claimed. New Covenant agency offers the more adequate government by dynamically energizing the believer through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This glorifies God rather than a human agent.

The Holy Spirit gives new spiritual life to those who receive Christ as Savior (Ro 6:4, 11; 8:2, 10). The Spirit gives “life” because He works internally to produce change. The Holy Spirit can reach into the heart and transform volition to do God’s will. He can enable the believer to fellowship with God.

The contrast between “letter” and “Spirit” is a contrast between dispensations. The Mosaic Law was also a national system giving regulations for a national entity called Israel. The Law demanded obedience (Ro 10:5; Ga 3:10, 12). The Law was external precept and ritual, but the economy of grace has spiritual and inner power. One kills, but the other gives life.


Biblically, there is no such thing as a self-made man.


The Mosaic Law had a different purpose than the dispensation of grace.  The Law defined sin; it identified what was contrary to God’s nature.

A ministry of simple commands is death dealing because it imposes guilt. Those who push rules in their ministry have a ministry of death. All it does is produce deadly blame and kill dynamic Christian living. Legalism is a fall from the grace principle (Ga 5:2, 4). By bringing knowledge of sin, it brings guilt upon the person and condemns him. Where there is sin, there is judgment. Sin brings death to God.

In the economy of grace, every believer has the indwelling Spirit. This spirituality is grace oriented because God provides all the resources that a Christian needs for living.

Genuine spirituality rests on God’s Word applied by the Holy Spirit to experience. No human minister can reach people with the mere dead words of man; it takes a supernatural ministry from the Holy Spirit (Ga 5:16). The Spirit gives Christian living the power of spiritual life (Ro 8:2).

All of us are deficient when it comes to serving the Lord. God makes us sufficient, efficient, and effective. Biblically, there is no such thing as a self-made man.