Summary: God gives maturity & Christian growth as we follow His Spirit not as we follow the law. The Spirit gives life, the letter of the law kills
2 CORINTHIANS 3: 1-6 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE
Whose endorsement is more important to you, the endorsement of men or the endorsement of God's Spirit? Would it be an endorsement of a letter of reference or the endorsement of the effectual working of the Spirit of God?
Wherever you find the genuine, you will find somebody promoting the counterfeit. Even art critics have been fooled by fake "master pieces," and sincere publishers have purchased "valuable manuscripts," only to discover them to be forgeries. The genuineness of a ministry is seen in the spiritually transformed lives not in conformity to external rules.
No sooner did the Gospel of God's grace begin to spread among the Gentiles than a counterfeit "gospel," a mixture of Law and grace, appeared. Those that spread this false gospel major emphasis was that salvation was by faith in Christ plus the keeping of the Law (Acts 15:1ff). They also taught that the believer is perfected in his faith by obeying the Law of Moses. Their "gospel of legalism" was very popular, since human nature enjoys achieving religious goals instead of simply trusting Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to work. It is much easier to measure "religion" than true righteousness or spiritually. But God gives maturity and Christian growth as we follow His Spirit not as we follow the law (CIT). The Spirit gives life, the letter of the Law kills.
I. LIVING LETTERS; 1-3.
II. AN ADEQUACY OF GOD; 4-5.
III. THE SPIRIT'S COVENANT; 6.
Verse 1 reviews some charges leveled against Paul. "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?
Having had to affirm his own motive in contrast to the gospel-peddlers, Paul is sure that he will be attacked as egotistical and self promoting. No utterance of his was safe from perversion at the legalists' hands. Since Paul states "again" apparently this commending [ƒ¶ƒ¼ƒ¬ƒ¤ƒ¶ƒºƒ¤ƒ°ƒ¬ - "to place together, placing one person with another as a way of introduction or recommendation"] was repeatedly required because of the constant accusations empowered by the vicious Accuser of the godly.
Infiltrators had succeeded in penetrating the ranks of the leadership in the Corinthian Church on the strength of certain "letters of commendation" which they produced on their arrival. Thus, those false teachers said they had letters that authenticated their authority but Paul had none, he had to commend himself, which is not proper.
There is an element of the ludicrous in any suggestion that Paul might stand in need of letters of recommendation or that his ministry and personal character needed to be documented. His work spoke for his character. Now Paul is not saying that letters of commendation are a deplorable practice, he was simply saying that there is better proof. (Rom. 16:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:10-11).
The best proof of authenticity of ministry is given in verse 2. "You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men."