2 Corinthians 3:6
Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills…
I. A COVENANT OF THE SPIRIT. The old covenant, the Law which came by Moses, was the "letter" - precepts laid down to be literally obeyed, fixed and rind, external and ritual. The new covenant, the gospel, is the covenant of love, of spiritual obedience. The Jew, under the old covenant, could not be exempted by any piety of spirit from the letter of the legal ordinance; but under the new covenant the spirit of the observance is chief. The old covenant did not supply the inward Power producing obedience - it was something outside of man, imposed upon him. But the new covenant has for an essential feature the Power of God operating in the heart, leading to newness of life. The old covenant approached man from without, the new covenant works from within. One is "letter" - external; the other is "spirit" - internal.
II. A COVENANT OF LIFE. In the old covenant there was the holy Law and the command to fully obey it: "The Law is not of faith; but, The man that doeth them shall live in them" (Galatians 3:12). The old covenant demanded perfect obedience: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them" (Galatians 3:10). Thus the old covenant tended to condemnation and death, because fallen human nature failed to keep the perfect Law of God. The "letter" of unswerving righteousness convicted man of sin, and then "killed" him. Not that the Law was evil, but that it showed the evil in man. "The wages of sin is death." The Law, by discovering sin, showed that the wages were due. The old covenant thus left man condemned, and, if man was to be justified and restored, there was urgent need of a new covenant. We find, thus, that the old covenant is ever Pointing to the new, and that the design of the former was to lead to the latter: "The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24). Moreover, the Jew possessed the new covenant as well as the old, though not so fully unfolded as we have it. Men condemned by the old covenant lived the life of faith upon the Son of God who was to come, and thus participated in the life giving principle of the new covenant. This new covenant is a covenant of life:
1. Because Christ has perfectly fulfilled the Law of God on man's behalf, and to man this perfect obedience is imputed. Condemnation is thus avoided. Life is secured for man by man's Substitute.
2. Man's personal transgressions are atoned for by the sacrifice of Christ.
3. The Holy Ghost is given to kindle spiritual life in man, to sanctify his nature, to bring him at last into full accord with the perfect Law of God.
III. A COVENANT NOT TRANSITORY. The old covenant has passed away. The new covenant puts men in a position with relation to God which is an everlasting one. Death and the next world will not call for the abrogation of this covenant, nor any changes occurring during the residence of the human family in the world. The old covenant was imperfect; it demanded something beyond itself; it was designed to do this. There is no such element in the new. It is complete; it calls for nothing outside of its own provisions.
IV. A COVENANT OF SURPASSING GLORY. This arises largely from points already noticed.
1. Its spiritual character.
2. Its issues in bringing life, not death, to fallen man.
3. Its enduring character.
4. Its direct initiation and administration by the Son of God. "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The inauguration of the old. covenant saw the face of Moses illumined. The new covenant came with the transfiguration of Christ.
5. Its marvellous revelation of Divine love. The old covenant laid the emphasis upon Divine righteousness; the new, whilst displaying with untarnished lustre this attribute of Deity, exhibits pre-eminently the love of God. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.