Hopelessly Devoted: Second Corinthians Chapter Three Verses Seven through Eleven

This morning’s devotion comes from Ethan Magness. Now if the ministry of death, carved in […]

Mockingbird / 10.21.13

This morning’s devotion comes from Ethan Magness.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11, ESV)

ku-xlargePaul has come to the conclusion here that the Law has done its job. How? Put simply, though the Law cannot cure the chronically self-inclined human nature, it exhibits human nature with crystal clarity. In laying our natures bare, our profound need for a Savior is laid bare with it. The Law is useful in setting us up beautifully for our own demise—and for the resurrecting work of an atoning God. Now the Law, according to Paul, having performed its “ministry of death,” is set aside for the “ministry of righteousness.” The Gospel, the eminently permanent presence of God’s love for humankind, is now here to stay!

But this is where the questions come in. Isn’t my faith a contribution to salvation? I am called to believe, aren’t I? What about my actions of obedience? Don’t I need to show God that my faith is real by how I live my life? If I love the Lord, I should love His Law too, right?

We have a propensity for these kinds of protests of the Gospel message, dimming down the bright end of our death in Christ. We prefer the control Pelagianism offers, the hope we might be able to contribute to the divine contract.

It is not abnormal to find circles in which “salvation” means the admission ticket to God, but “Christian Living” is thereafter the maintenance fee. In these circles Christianity—a faith based upon God taking control of your life for you—looks more and more like any other moralistic balance beam. Returning to the Law as one’s mettle testing—more than being a dishonest portrayal of Christ’s ministry—is fraught with needless hazards, leading believers back into the “ministry of death.” In modern parlance, the return to the Law creates psychological burnout. It kills, and it cannot make alive.

The Christian is not under this penalizing and paralyzing power of the Law. The Christian walks under the umbrella of grace, covered by grace, and moved to life and faith and holiness by grace. This is the Christian message, the “ministry of righteousness” that gives us hope.