Is There Life in the Spirit and Death in the Ten Commandments?

Paul wrote:

“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11.)

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632)

Some gleanings of what he possibly meant in that passage:

1 – The ministry engraved on stone (referring to the Sinaitic covenant represented in the Ten Commandments) is glorious.
2 – The ministry of the Spirit (in the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus with his death and resurrection) is more glorious.
3 – The ministry engraved on stone brought condemnation.
4 – The ministry of the Spirit brings righteousness.
5 – The ministry engraved on stone is transitory.
6 – The ministry of the Spirit is eternal.
Discuss …
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5 Responses to Is There Life in the Spirit and Death in the Ten Commandments?

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    This is so interesting, Tim, because in my group at church today we were doing our study on Hebrews and observing how over and over the writer talks about how the priests and sacrifices and mediator and sanctuary were all copies/shadows of the Real Priest/Mediator/Sanctuary/Sacrifice, Jesus. And the writer takes so much time and pains to show how this old system and covenant relate to the good news in Jesus. So when I read your post based in Corinthians I think it’s kind of the same thing: that was good, this is infinitely better … that couldn’t save, this can … that was temporary, this is eternal. It just gives such an amazing picture of God’s overarching work in the world and shows how alive and relevant the whole Bible is.

  2. Anu Riley says:

    This is a bit of a departure from your other writings, it seems! I love it! Put a topic out there, and while it’s great to hear your thoughts on it—-you put the ball in our court to play it out.

    I’ve often said that we as believers claim we are under the NT, but live as if we are still under the OT. Or, we are set free from the curse that came about in the Garden of Eden, yet we live as if we are “naked and ashamed.” As if Christ never came at all, and never did what He did to set us free.

    In a nutshell, we love to talk about grace, but we refuse to live it out. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). We claim to be free in Him, yet we live as if we are still slaves.

    Too many of us still love and lean on and depend on something that the Bible CLEARLY says is obsolete. The New Covenant (NC) is so much more glorious than the Old Covenant (OC), that there is no comparison. And the OC was pretty dang glorious. If we read the narrative of how it was instituted—it was quite a scene. Even Moses was terrified by what he saw.

    It’s not as if God has not always been gracious, but it came to us through the NC like nothing before, or after.

    Believe me, I’ve wrestled with and listened to many persons speak of this struggle—-trying to shed their old ways (follow the rules, do right and all will be well) and embrace the new ways (I need a Savior, not rules to follow. Not MORE rules to follow! Save me FROM the rules!)

    I once read that the NC is often mistaken to be a “new and improved” covenant—-as if God took the OC and just added Jesus to it. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Scripture you provided clearly debunks that. The two covenants are in no way intertwined. They were made by the same God, but that is about all.

    If I could give one piece of encouragement to a new believer, or any believer in general—-it would be to get off that “performance treadmill” and strive to never get back on it again. You are DONE with that, and all it did was wear you out anyway.

    The argument tends to be: If I keep running and putting in more miles, aren’t there guaranteed to be results? I work out on an actual treadmill, and it has produced results. I am stronger, healthier and look better. Why doesn’t this work the same with the Lord?

    I would just say that when He died on the cross for us, He destroyed that “treadmill” that we have such a hard time getting rid of. How can you try to run on a machine that He effectively destroyed?

    If it doesn’t exist to Him anymore, why do you insist that it does? And why are you so adamant to get back on it? And WHY would you want to?

    The answer is that maybe we are trying to live with one foot in the OC (it’s comforting to have a set of rules to follow) and one foot in the NC (it’s comforting to have a Comforter like Christ in our lives!)

    You can’t have it both ways,however. The OC simply doesn’t exist in His eyes anymore. Trying to keep it alive and kicking is blasphemous to Him, and should be to us as well.

    Keep both feet in the NC, because that is where He wants them. And for crying out loud, put those feet UP and rest in Him! Treadmills drain you like nothing else (in real life, too!)

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