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The letter kills but the spirit makes alive

Often when I meet people who wear some sort of church shirt, I say, "I hope you go to a church where hypocrites tremble and where sinners get terrified, or Ananias and Sapphira will take over. Some seem to understand and to agree. Recently a woman said she went to such a church, and then named a famous preacher who is speaking at her church soon, who was a very Godly man, but who lost the unction of the Holy Spirit a few years ago. Another person she named who is to speak prances about and is just plain silly.

It is no wonder that the unsaved world has more and more contempt and revulsion for our churches. Do any of us pray to have gatherings such as those in the book of Acts, where people had such respect for Christians that they feared to join them under false pretenses? The Bible teaches in 11 Corinthians 3.6 that the letter kills but the spirit gives life. When I explained the verse means we have dead orthodoxy and gather unconverted folks into our churches unless we preach in the power of the Holy Spirit, even some members of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (to which I belong on LinkedIn), objected that the verse referred to the Old Testament being superseded by the New Testament. In part, yes.

But John Calvin, who would be seen as a flaming Pentecostal by most today, has this to say about the verse. "For by the letter he(Saint Paul) means an external preaching which does not reach the heart., and by the Spirit life giving teaching which is, through the grace of the Spirit, given effectual operation in men's souls. Thus the term 'letter' means literal preaching which is dead and ineffective and perceived only by the ear: but the Spirit is spiritual teaching that is not only uttered with the mouth but effectively makes its way with living meaning into men's minds."

We lose the unction or anointing of the Holy Spirit when we Christians refuse to live holy lives. Such lives are wholly unnatural for us, for we keep our old nature and continue to want to have our own way instead of yielding to Jesus Christ. We gravitate towards churches that calmly welcome hypocrites and where sinners like us are praised. But I hope and pray that God does such a deep work in our hearts that we are transformed, and want repentance and true peace with God.

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