The Letter Kills, But the Spirit Gives Life

The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. (2 Cor. 3:6)

The law of God is holy and just and good; it is inexorable, and we have fallen under its just condemnation. That is at the bottom what Paul means by the “the letter killeth.’ He does not mean that attention to pedantic details shrivels and deadens the soul. No doubt that is true, within certain spheres; it is a useful thought. But it is trivial indeed compared with what Paul means. Something far more majestic, far more terrible, is meant by the Pauline phrase. The letter that Paul means is the dreadful handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and the death with which it kills is the eternal death of those who are forever separated from God.

But that is not all of the text. The letter killeth, Paul says, but the Spirit maketh alive. There is no doubt about what he means by ‘the Spirit.’ He does not mean that spirit of the law as contrasted with the letter; he certainly does not mean the lax interpretation of God’s commands which is dictated by human lust or pride; he certainly does not mean the spirit of man. No real student of Paul has doubted, so far as I know, but that he means the Spirit of God. God’s law brings eternal death because of sin; but God’s Spirit, shed abroad in the heart, brings life. The thing that is written killeth, but the Holy Spirit in the heart gives life.

The contrast runs all through the New Testament. Hopelessness under the law is described in the seventh chapter of Romans. “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But this hopelessness is transcended by the gospel. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord… For the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ The law’s sentence of condemnation was borne for us by Christ who suffered in our stead; The handwriting of ordinances which was against us—the dreadful ‘letter’ of which Paul speaks in our text—was nailed to the cross.

-J. Gresham Machen-

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14 thoughts on “The Letter Kills, But the Spirit Gives Life

  1. (1) in your teaching ‘LETTER KILLETH BUT THE SPIRIT GIVETH’ now my question is this what is the meaning of the word LETTER KILLETH

    (2) is there any difference between LETTER KILLETH AND SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE

    {3) Are we still under the ten commandment

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  2. Thanks Daisi,

    Machen was homing in on his point when he wrote, “God’s law brings eternal death because of sin; but God’s Spirit, shed abroad in the heart, brings life. The thing that is written killeth, but the Holy Spirit in the heart gives life.” I know his English usage can be a little archaic, even though he was writing less than a hundred years ago. But what a hundred years it has been. As for being “under” the Ten Commandments, I guess the is yes and no. Yes, the one who is apart from Christ as the one intercessor between God and man is still under the Law as the measurement of their righteousness before God. Yes, even for the Christian, the Law is the perfect example of good and evil, right and wrong, and so still an example of the right way to live. You know, love God and love your neighbor as yourself, in this you fulfill the Law and the Prophets. But the Christian, will not be judged by God on the last day so as to be found wanting in a perfect righteousness, because they have been robed, so to speak, in the righteousness of Christ. He is our substitute. A vicarious sacrifice. We receive the imputation of a perfect life. Baptism is a type of this; we fall down into the waters of death to sin, and arise from the flood into newness of life. What is old has gone; what is new has come.

    Neiswonger

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  3. God did not doze off and allowed the Snake to creep into the Garden.It appears that fundamental Christianity seem to believe that God got real upset at Adam & Eve for fouling up and thus began the horrible jouney of mankind.

    God planned for man to fall, giving man a choice to choose between the 2 trees, does not imply man has an uninterruped free will.
    The Bible makes it clear that man has free will and dosent have it at the same time. read PHILIPPEANS 2:12-13. Being saved isent a 15 second task of saying
    “Call upon the name of the lord and thou shalt be saved”. Being saved is hard. Its progressive, and no one will achieve it until he is perfected and Godlike.
    God does the calling & the Saving, not man. If anyone thinks that they are totally saved in this liftime is delusional.Whatever circumstances God places man in after thier birth, What country, what kind of homelife they are having, what exposure they are having, such as Religious background, etc, etc will all have a bearing on how far this person will have progressed in this lifetime. Someone said “Christ is OUR substitute, but substitute for what? Who is OUR.
    Most people think that OUR is only meant as Christians. My Binble sals it the whole human race. Mankind will be saved whether they like it or not.

    The Bible says in…1 Timothy 4:10

    For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, SPECIALLY of those that believe.

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  4. The book of Romans is the MAGNA CARTA of the Christian faith. All the other epistles are reinforced teachings of it. A clear understanding of all the 16 chapters of the book of Romans gives the believer a firm foundation of his/her faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    #1

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  5. Did not complete my comments when I accidentally pressed the “enter” button when I was making a statement about the book of Romans.

    #1 No one not on earth has any ability to change his/her sinful nature –
    the sin nature is inherent as a result of Adam’s disobedience.
    BUT by one man’s obedience i.e. jesus of nazareth (God who came to be
    living as man on earth) and through His finished work at the cross (Jn 19:30) all of humanity have been made righteous _ YES, ALL OF HUMANITY have been made righteous. “Who would believe this good report” This is the good news. This TRUTH is NOT contingent on whether humanity believes it or not.
    BUT upon believing this good news, the believers will enter into a NEW LIFE IN CHRIST.

    eMPHASIS IS MINE: if people believe the sun moves round the earth they will
    fight a person who says contrary to what they have always been believing i.e. the sun moves round the earth. Their wrong belief does not change the TRUTH that the earth is the one which actually moves around the sun.

    So the truth that we have all been made the righteousness of God in Christ is not contingent upon our belief that we must live holy in order to be made righteous. The truth is: We have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus.

    How do we become righteous? By believing and receiving Jesus as our Lord and Saviour not by trying to act good, talk good think good.

    This truth about faith righteousness has not been properly taught in churchdom, if I may use this word.

    We have all received righteous nature instead of sinful nature. This is the toogoodtobetrue and it is definitely N E W S!

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  6. THE CORRECTIVE JUDGMENTS OF GOD

    “0 Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing (lest Thou diminish me).” [Jeremiah 10:24].

    The Hebrew word for “correct” is “yasar,” and has also been translated as-TO INSTRUCT, TO CHASTEN, BE TAUGHT, BE REFORMED, etc. While the Greek word is “paideuo” and includes the thought of CHILD-TRAINING, involving the whole process of discipline which girds us up to the right way.
    The admonition for spiritual growth is always before us, “GROW in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 3:18]. To grow in grace requires that we pass through all of those processes whereby the works of the flesh are stripped off, and we cease to follow our own self-centered will, and become conformed to HIS WILL. Thus we see God often has to use corrective measures to bring us to the place where it is “no more I, but Christ liveth in me.” [Galatians 2:20].
    Jeremiah realized this need for development, and He also realized that “the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” [Jeremiah 10 :23], and so he made his request, “CORRECT ME, BUT WITH JUDGMENT.” What a prayer! “Lord, gird me up, bring me into aright standing with Thee, instruct me in the way that I should go, USING YOUR BLESSED JUDGMENTS to accomplish the purpose. Not with anger, that would surely diminish me, but if You use Your judgments, it shall work good in me.” Ah, what a revelation concerning the judgments of our God.
    Man has long viewed God’s judgments as a vindictive action prompted by a motive for revenge and supported by a tumultuous wrath that must be pacified. NOT SO! Such is a gross caricature of our God! His mercy and grace are super-abundant, and though He finds it necessary to chasten, His wisdom and righteousness produce a just and pure chastisement conditioned to correct the situation, and thus bring forth a creature improved by the process.
    ALL OF GOD’S JUDGMENTS ARE CORRECTIVE IN NATURE, motivated by His love, and used to work out a divine purpose, into our good, and His praise!
    “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: for whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” [Proverbs 3:11-12].
    One of the things that needs to be considered is that to speak of the chastening and correction of the Lord does not necessarily mean receiving a whipping. Remember, the main goal in view is that of vital INSTRUCTION, that we might learn to walk in the way that is pleasing to the Lord. God is not in the process of continually spanking His children just for the sake of spanking them. God uses these various methods of discipline TO TEACH US, INSTRUCT US, that we might grow up into spiritual maturity, conformed to His will, being partakers of His divine nature. It is a constant demonstration of His love, to know that He is vitally concerned with us, that He would give us this individual attention, and shapen our lives to His own image.
    “Despise not…” this word “despise” comes from the Hebrew word “maas” meaning, to loathe, despise, reject. How often have men rejected the instruction of the Lord, and found to their sorrow that they should have hearkened to Him.
    Jeremiah has often been called “the weeping prophet” because of the tears which he shed for his people. What sorrow of heart he must have felt because of their rebellious condition, and how often the word of the Lord came to him, “In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction.” [Jeremiah 2:30]. “They have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” [Jeremiah 5:3]. “This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.” [Jeremiah 7:28]. What an indictment!
    “Blessed is the man whom Thou chasteneth, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law; that Thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity.” [Psalm 94: 12-13] .
    Blessed-literally, HAPPY, VERY HAPPY! Surely the Psalmist had received light from the Lord to utter such a thing. Happy is the man whom the Lord chasteneth, and whom He teacheth. And indeed, it is so! For when the Lord has duly taught man His law, man shall find that he has entered into a NEW REST. The way of the transgressor is hard, but “take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29-30].

    There’s no rest in thy confusion,
    Good and evil, gold and dross,
    But the twain for thee are parted,
    Separated at the cross.

    In the blessed girding up of our Lord, though it requires a stripping of things the self-life holds dear, in due time we shall discover we have but lost the weight of earthly burdens, and they are no loss at all–we are simply freed to enter into a higher realm, into HIS rest and peace.
    Not only do the judgments of God bring rest unto our own soul, but there is another side to this, when we read, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” [Proverbs 29:17]. There is no doubt that we all have experienced seeing those children who torment and pester their parents, causing them much grief with their rebellion and self will. Finally when the parent has endured all he can take, or at least realizes that this has gone on long enough, he steps in with discipline, and all is quieted. The child learns a lesson; and the parent has rest.
    Consider how the children of Israel, wandering through the wilderness, complained and grumbled, wearying the Lord with their ways. Again and again He had to discipline them, instruct them, teach them their lessons. They cried for flesh to eat, and He gave them quail, enough until they were sick, smitten with a plague, and they buried a great many. Soon they murmured and complained again, and He sent fiery serpents among the people, and many died. Over and over again they had to learn their much needed lessons, until they became obedient, willing to walk in the way of the Lord.
    Thus it is yet today, the Lord continues to work in us, instructing us, teaching us His ways, and when He has a people fully developed and prepared, they shall become HIS REST, even as it is written, “The Lord hath chosen Zion: He hath desired it for His habitation. THIS IS MY REST FOR EVER: HERE WILL I DWELL.” [Psalm 132:13-14]. “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:22].
    Now we must examine this word “judgment,” the Greek word, as used in the New Testament, is krisis, and with the letter “k” changed to the letter “c” it is brought directly over into our English language as CRISIS. All of the pressures and trials which produce these times of “crisis” in our life are simply a working out of God’s corrective measures, His judgments. The root from which krisis comes is “krinein” meaning, TO SEPARATE. And so it is, a crisis is a critical period of time, a decisive moment, a turning point; hence, a separating, choosing, deciding, judging. The very purpose of judgment is to separate you from the old, that you might come into the new. To separate you from selfhood’s rebellion, giving you a turning point, and heading you in the right direction, into the will of God.
    The man is very sick, he is growing steadily worse, and finally there comes a Crisis, either he begins to mend, or else death comes. It is a TURNING POINT! And when God orders the crisis, it is to turn us towards righteousness, and bring us into HIS NEW LIFE.
    “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” [Eccl. 3:1]. We would propose the thought that judgment time is a time to rejoice, for it betokens that now there shall come a bend in the road, a turning point, and measures will be taken to correct things. This is not a time of dread and horror, but a turning point, A CRISIS, reversing the downward trend into decay and utter corruption, so that new life might be manifested. Degeneration must end and regeneration begin!
    “Say among the heathen that THE LORD REIGNETH: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: He shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad: Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.” [Psalm 96:10-13].
    Ah, if we tell you that there is a turning point, things will be corrected and brought into righteousness, then you will rejoice. But if we say it is a time of judgment, you say, Woe is me! But it is all the same thing, that’s what God’s corrective judgments are all about.
    The Psalmist, speaking by divine inspiration, declared, “My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times.” [Psalm 119:20]. This is explained further when we read on, “0 Lord, quicken me according to Thy judgments.” [Psalm 119:149]. To God be the glory, for by the inworkings of divine judgment A QUICKENING is wrought. True, it often means death to the carnal realm, but when He has wounded, slain, brought into nothingness, He also shall heal, make alive, and bring forth into a place of glorious fullness.
    One thing we always need to remember, the afflictions and tribulations which are HIS INSTRUMENTS are always applied with HIS LOVE which is ever pure and entirely free of human temperament and sentiment; so much so, that if no other expedient remains, He does not hesitate to slay in order to make alive.
    “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His sight.” [Hosea 6:1-2].
    “I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished. For I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased.” [Jeremiah 30:11,30].
    Yes, the spoilation is allowed by God, and HE can bring to nought if it seemeth to be necessary, but never does He allow it to end there, for the message goes on through the lips of the same prophet, “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord. –And ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” [Jeremiah 30:17,22].
    “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: for He maketh sore, and bindeth up: He woundeth, and His hands make whole. –Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.” [Job 5:17-18,27].
    Surely we have barely begun to understand the depth and wonder, the richness and blessing of the judgments of God. “He is The Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” [Deut. 32:4]. HIS WAYS ARE JUDGMENT, and strange as it is for our minds to comprehend, it has become the most potent for blessing of all of Love’s instruments of mercy. “Zion shall be redeemed (Hebrew, freed) with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.” [Isaiah 1:27].
    Then the prophet Isaiah was also moved to declare, “Yea, in the way of Thy judgments, O Lord, we have waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to Thy name, and to the remembrance of Thee. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early: FOR WHEN THY JUDGMENTS ARE IN THE EARTH, THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS.” [Isaiah 26:8-9]. Since it will require God’s judgments to teach men righteousness, we need to re-examine much of the thinking handed down to us through the theology and creed of man, and come to appreciate and revere our God of judgment equally with our God of love; accepting every circumstance He sends, whether of sorrow or joy, with an equal gratitude. Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and remedial are His judgments.
    One man wrote, ” Judgment, not in the sense of vengeful retribution, but of that involved when a craftsman working on a mass of clay, or an ingot of metal, continually examines the results of the various processes to which he subjects it, with a view to assessing whether or not his skill and artistry are producing the desired results.”
    Surely God’s creative work is seen all through the process of His judgments. There is no failure in the plan and purpose of our Lord. His instructions will bear fruit, and bring glory to His name. His chastenings will ultimately yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” in those who are exercised thereby.
    “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” [John 3:17]. Not a ministry of condemnation, but one of life, to bring us salvation. Yet how shall this salvation work in us, and be ministered to us ? Part of it is via the way of His judgments. “For judgment I am come into the world, that they which see not might see.” [John 9:39]. How can there be new life unless there be A TURNING POINT from the ways of condemnation and death ? So the rest of that verse reads, ” And that they which see might be made blind.” This is understandable, as long as they “think” they can see, they will not receive the light, they think they already have it. But once they are plunged into such darkness they know they cannot see, this becomes a crisis, a turning point, to arise in the light of the Lord.
    Thus even those aspects of judgment which seem to bring more darkness and devastation, all of these actions are ultimately used to bring forth new life and light. Some have to be plunged momentarily into more death before they are ready to be turned into new life, but judgment is equal to all the needs. And there is no contradiction in being “saved,” and having life, and having judgment, for judgment is but the means to the end, and a turning point to rise up into Christ.
    And HE shall “bring forth judgment unto victory.” [Matthew 12:20]. The Spirit of the Lord shall move, shewing judgment to the nations, and yet “a bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench,” for His processes of judgment are UNTO VICTORY.
    Although the LOVE OF GOD has been rarely associated with His judgments, we rejoice for the quickening of the Spirit which opens our eyes to see it so. Even when judgment is understood as having a loving purpose in the “believers,” it is most often thought of as having a purpose of another kind towards those whom many term as “unbelievers.” As if God could change His nature, or could have two purposes, one of love, and another of hate. Nay, our God changeth not, His chastenings are given in love to His whole creation, whether any return that love or not. “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Matthew 5:45].
    How we need a divine outpouring of rain– an overflowing of the Spirit upon all flesh. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” [Hosea 10:12]. A more literal Hebrew rendering, “till He come and teach righteousness,” for the same root word is used for “rain” and for “teach.” HE is the TEACHER of righteousness, and HE shall come unto us as the RAIN to bring forth new life in us. Yet for all of this coming of rain, for some He shall first be as a torrent to sweep away their refuge of lies, and then teach them of His truth.
    Praise God, when the Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, then shall there be an inworking which shall bring forth righteousness. Every chastening will be exercised with divine purpose, and bring forth the desired correction.
    2 Thessalonians 1:5 speaks of “the righteous judgment of God.” God’s judgments are just and righteous because of their perfect order and sequence. First of all they began with the Head of the house. “Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” [Hebrews 3:6].
    “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” [Hebrews 2 :10].” And being made perfect, He became the Author of aionian salvation unto all them that obey Him.” [Hebrews 5:9). And Calvary became a focal point of victory, for “Now is the judgment of this world now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” [John 12:31]. And He was able to declare, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” [John 14:30]. And thus we find the GREAT TURNING POINT, that appeared to man to be a failure, ending in the death of the Son of God, was actually the turning point and the manifestation of the beginning of a marvelous redemption. For it is written, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” [John 12:32].
    Yes, the turning point was first made manifest in THE MAN CHRIST JESUS, and as the Captain of our salvation, He did, by the grace of God, taste death for every man. His tremendous consecration, “not My will, but Thine be done,” which was prayed at Gethsemane, and fulfilled at Calvary, revealed how complete was His perfection, and it became the turning point for all history; The judgment “of the world,” i.e. the whole arrangement of this present system, hinged upon that which was wrought in THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE, even our blessed Lord. And now it can begin to be measured out to all of those who would be joined unto the Lord, to become one in Him.
    So then we pass from The Head, to the house itself, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the HOUSE of God: and if it FIRST BEGIN AT US, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God ?” [1 Peter 4:17].
    Judgment beginning at the house of God! This does not imply a sudden visitation of catastrophes, calamities and troubles, but it means that there will be a concentration of divine instruction and discipline, as God carefully purifies each individual, until He can gather to Himself a FIRSTFRUITS. Those who are apprehended for this hour will find that their ways are under the watchful eye of the Lord, He orders every step of their path, and He will bring pressures to bear upon them which help to turn their feet in the right direction. In due time there shall be an outreach, as this correctional working proceeds to those who yet wait to be called and drawn by the Spirit, for He is to be the Saviour of all men. But remember, for us, it is a present-tense process, as we seek to be filled with His fullness, we must be duly purged and cleansed, and there are these ordained TURNING POINTS, CRISIS, JUDGMENTS to work His way in us.
    Violations or ignoring of vital principals might go on for a time, because the judgments of God are not always sudden and apparent, but often work slowly and on a long term course. But there are many conditions and situations, confusions and frustrations, limitations and complications, which, if we but knew it, are judgments. They are brought our way by the hand of God, to hem us in, to subdue us, to bring us to the point of complete submission to His will.
    How lovingly the Father watches over His own. What tenderness arid faithfulness are seen in the way HE “girds up” our way. It would be a real mark of learning if, when we find ourselves frustrated and confused, to simply sit down and ask the Lord for more understanding of HIS way to learn to USE these situations as sign posts along the way, telling us that God would put a bend in our path and turn us more towards His plan for us. There seems to be so much “fight” yet left in men. We are so determined to push “our” way through, regardless of how rough the going becomes. And so the frustrations continue to build up, the limitations are increased, and the complications multiply until we come to the end of our selves, and then cry out, “Lord, shew me Thy way.” Yes, thank God for these little measures of His judgments, divinely used to correct us, to instruct us, to bring us into alignment with His will and purpose.
    If these judgments are effective in us now, then we read, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting (age-abiding) life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life.” [John 5:24]. The word “condemnation” is actually the Greek word “krisis,” the process of judgment. To yield to the mighty hand of God NOW is to escape the future general judgments which will yet come. For after the HOUSE has been thoroughly judged, and brought up to divine specifications and qualifications, and found approved in His sight, then shall the process of judgment pass onward to the next order. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, “BUT EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER…” [1 Cor. 15:23].
    “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” [John 3:19]. Praise God, who ever thought it to be so? THIS IS THE JUDGMENT, THAT LIGHT IS COME INTO THE WORLD! This is what causes a crisis, a turning point, for the LIGHT to come. Now it is obvious, when men’s deeds are evil, they love darkness rather than the light, so they are not about to come to the light of their own choosing, but God knows they need a change, to be turned, so HE SENDS THE LIGHT TO THEM, and this illumination will cause the turning, as the darkness is dissipated.
    What was the turning point for Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus? IT WAS LIGHT! It was his judgment hour, for the light had come. True enough, a sudden burst of light can be a shattering experience if you are only accustomed to the darkness. It will blind you, but that is only a part of the process to turn you, and God will give a new eye-sight.
    While there are future judgments to come, in divine sequence to work in every man, this we also read, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” [1 Corinthians 11:31-32]. To yield to the Lord NOW, and despise not the chastenings of the Lord, but to allow them to work their process in us now, then we shall not have to be condemned, judged with the world, partaking of those processes yet to come. Being a goody, goody gumdrop is not a sign that Christ is living in us.
    “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” [Matthew 21:44]. Thus we are challenged to FALL NOW upon the Rock, and come into submission to Christ.
    If we resist, harden ourselves against Him, then in due time the Rock will fall on us, for we shall be broken and subdued, regardless of the route we take for its accomplishment.
    But we must notice these words, “it will grind him to powder.” The root word here is the Greek word “Iikmao” meaning-to disperse, scatter, or literally, TO BE WINNOWED. Rotherham gives a footnote in his translation which points out that this being “winnowed” is the same as in Daniel 2:34-35. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became LIKE THE CHAFF OF THE SUMMER THRESHING FLOORS…”
    Men might reject the Stone, but the Stone will not reject them. And if they refuse to bow now, and become broken before Him, in due time HE WILL VISIT THEM, winnow them, separate the chaff from the wheat, and bring a turning point in their life, until they are ready to acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour. Every judgment is correctional in its working in us, and praise God, in due time the whole earth shall be visited with His restoration process. It is not a time to be feared, but to rejoice in, for it means that regeneration has come for the whole of creation.

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  7. I think you should read the message bible to get a clearer meaning on what apostle paul meant by “the letter killeth, but the spirit gives life” so as not to take the meaning out of context. Emphatically , apostle paul was trying to simplify what we should focus on as Christians, “The Spirit”, The spirit of God gives life which the letter/law could not give. The spirit will make the obedience of the law our nature and something easy to do, because the law is rule and obeyed by the flesh/physical, while the Spirit spiritual things which rule the physical.

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    • “I think you should read the message bible to get a clearer meaning on what apostle paul meant by “the letter killeth, but the spirit gives life” so as not to take the meaning out of context.”

      Paul takes the Old Testament out of context constantly. Romans 9 is a good example. There, Esau and Jacob which is about the inheritance of land is ripped out of context so he can pretend its about salvation. Pharaoh, who according to the context of Exodus 9 was hardened by God showing mercy “I could have killed you with the plagues already, but for this purpose I spared you [commonly mistranslated 'raised you up']…” is ripped out of context to pretend that God just arbitrarily forced people to sin. The story of God showing Moses his backside and justifying it by saying “I will show [this] kindness to whom I will show [this] kindness, and favor to whom I will show favor” is twisted and contorted into a claim that God doesn’t show mercy to everyone. And of course, Paul adds to that “he will harden whom he will harden” which is not in the Old Testament anywhere but is his mistranslation of one little phrase in Exodus 9 ripped out of context AND mistranslated. Paul does all of this — and worse — and we’re supposed to worry about keeping him in context? What goes around comes around, Paul. You take the Old Testament out of context — we take you out of context — its only fair.

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  8. As to the phrase “The letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive,” this should not simply be understood as knocking the Old Testament in favor of the New (even if that is what Paul meant; see my comments above about Paul taking the OT out of context and how that gives us the right to take him out of context) — But it should be understood as meaning that an undue reliance on the exact letter of the text always kills in religion. You can’t make a religion off of every little nitpicky ceremonial point — you can’t insist on perfect of observance of every ceremony — without robbing the religion of the higher more important point, morality. If you try it, you end up with dead ritual. Or if you insist on every metaphyiscal point — the doctrine of the trinity — too much, you end up making a belief system so rigid, so contrary to thinking and rationality that it implodes on itself. What you need in religion is a rigid moral system that stays the same but can thrive in changing metaphysical understandings and ritual situations — this alone will live.

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  9. Ironically, Machen sets off the very trap that this saying of Paul was trying to help the children of God to avoid.

    The ‘letter killeth’ is referring in its higher sense to literalism, i.e. killing (by applying literal translation to allegorical explanation) the spirit of the teaching of Christ which, rightly understood, allows the spirit of Christ to uplift and guide, leading to spiritual regeneration, revelation and salvation.

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  10. I did say its ‘higher’ sense, namely the spirit of Christ – which includes His moral teachings most certainly – can now ruch through the hearts and minds of His childre, not written on tablets of stone. Why moral? Because nobody, regardless of how they see salvation, can escape the repercussions for violating the laws of God – and this is avoided by following the Way laid down by Jesus the Christ of God.

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  11. This world is a place of choice, because when we are in our mother’ s womb we are directed conected to God, but immediatly we have give birth to, we disconected, and now in the world of choice acording to deuteronomy 30vs 19

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