The Spirit of Glory: The Medium of the Glory (continued)
But you notice through this chapter, and what Paul is writing, there are these fundamental contrasts. These fundamental contrasts which are of such tremendous importance, and dear friends, I do not feel that I can put sufficient emphasis and stress upon this matter, it goes far deeper and more into the present situation than most of us realize. My difficulty is to make it clear, make it plain. Here we are in the presence of something of tremendous importance to Christians, because, after all, and this I am sure you will agree with, the real need where the Christians are concerned is that our Christianity shall be glorious. And that we should be glorious Christians, in the right sense. Well, you agree with that, but how? And it is by not only recognizing, but coming into the good of these fundamental contrasts which are presented to us in this chapter. There is this contrast at the heart of the others. The contrast between the Law given by Moses, and the Revelation given in Jesus Christ. There is the contrast between tables of stone, and hearts of flesh, and so on. But, right at the center of these contrasts, this is this one: "The letter killeth, the Spirit giveth life."
Now let us be very clear as to what that means, that is not a contrast between the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. It cannot be that. The letter, the letter there is the Word of God, but it is not set in contrast to the Holy Spirit as necessarily bringing death, while the Spirit brings life. I want you to be very clear in your mind about that. You see, when you use that phrase: "the letter killeth," do not thing for a moment that that means that the Word of God brings death. You have got to get it in its setting and understand what it is that the apostle is saying here. It is between legalism in relation to the letter or the Word of God, and life which comes by the Holy Spirit's action upon the Word of God. This is what the apostle is saying here, as he has said much more fully in other parts of his writings.
He is saying, 'Look here, because of a state in persons, their heart was hardened,' because of a state in persons the Word only comes to them as a legal statement of 'thou shalt shalt and thou shalt not.' It is something imposed upon them. It becomes a heavy and dead weight upon them. It just is a matter of oppression. 'Now you must do this and you must do that, and must do the other thing, and you may not do these things.' And so it may be the Word of God, but because of a state in those concerned it becomes simply legalistic, and therefore it becomes bondage. It is the same Word, it is all the Word of God, but it is the effect that it has upon us. And that depends entirely upon our state.
(continued with # 18)