Second Corinthians 3 is the background for the message. Verses 1-3: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Paul wasn’t asking for recommendation letters. The false teachers of that day carried letters of recommendation. Paul said he didn’t need one; the people were the recommendation as his living epistles. You and I are living epistles, living letters of recommendation. Is the life you live a recommendation to others making them want what you have? We’re all guilty of complaining. Don’t get in the habit of complaining too much. I have a lot to praise God for. I got up. The a.c. was working. I had a car to drive to church. Let’s brag on Jesus instead of complaining all the time. We are to be living instruction manuals on how to be a Christian. That’s a living epistle–living right, talking right, walking right. We all have someone who made an impact on us. We’re now Christ’s letter. A hypocritical influence shows loose living and presents an unclear message as an epistle for Christ. Live right. Being a Christian changes where we go and how we act. A letter reveals the personality of the writer. As an epistle, do people see Jesus in us? Christ is our sufficiency. He has made up for where we are lacking. Ask God for help when you need it. If there is anything in us, it comes from the Lord.
Down in verse 6 Paul contrasted the law of the letter with the spirit. That doesn’t mean we can do our own thing. He wants us to adhere to the Word of God. The Old Testament is beneficial. We don’t understand everything, but contrast the rigidness of the law with grace. If you failed in one area of the Law you were guilty of it all. No one could keep it, but the Lord Jesus Christ. There are three divisions of the law. (1) moral, as seen in the 10 Commandments. All 10 are carried over into the New Testament except keeping the Sabbath. (2) ceremonial, as seen in the system of sacrifices. (3) civil, as seen in social laws with penalties for violating them. The Law left no room for discussion. The Bible isn’t outdated. The Law was given for us to discover what sin is. It can’t save, but Jesus can. The Law was temporary. It was fulfilled in Jesus.
As our school master it teaches us what God thinks about sin and brings us to Christ by our faith. There is no freedom under the Law. But under grace we have a liberty not found in the Law. The Law showed us our sin but offered no way out. Satan has sold people a bill of goods. He tells unsaved people there are too many rules; there is no freedom. He’s the father of lies. The truth is we have freedom in Christ. Sin held us in its grip; we were in spiritual bondage, a puppet on Satan’s string. When we became a Christian we became free in Christ. With that freedom we can be a living epistle for the Lord.