What is the “newness of the spirit” that today’s Good Word is talking about? It’s contrasted with the “oldness of the letter.” What does it mean?
Back before Christ came, God’s people were under the Law of Moses, and they were held to the letter of the law. When they made mistakes, they paid for those offenses by offering the animal and food sacrifices that the law prescribed.
Think of it like a list of rules. Next to each rule is a box. You put a check mark in that box if you complied with that rule or performed that duty. (Do you have a similar list in your planner or on an app?)
Now, some of us get a lot of satisfaction from those check marks — check all the boxes and we win! For others of us, they represent a bore of a chore — it must be done, like it or not.
When Christ came, the boxes and the checks disappeared. What were they replaced with? The Holy Spirit within us. Instead of following an external law, we receive an internal guide who helps us understand what to do in each of our life’s specific situations.
Think of it. The Law of Moses couldn’t possibly cover every single issue that humans face — some weren’t even around back then. For example, “Should I try an online dating service?” or “Should we get in vitro fertilization?” or “How much TV is too much?” Life is complicated, so Jesus simplified it by giving us two commandments in Matthew 22:36-40. (Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.) Then, in His mercy, He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us in the details.
That way, we’re not falling into legalism (obeying laws without love in our hearts) or self-righteousness (believing that our own goodness saves us). Praise our Lord for the newness of spirit!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.