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Grace is Life

Grace is Life

We’ve been looking at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In my last post, we talked about the battle between life and death.

Paul obviously understood the importance of this principle. He continues to talk about it in the next few verses..

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

Romans 5:18-19

Because of Adam’s sin, everyone is now under the same guilty verdict. Because of that, we deserve the death sentence.

However, because of the work of Christ on the cross, that sentence has been nullified. According to this verse, we now have been given access into a not guilty life through Christ.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19

Paul finds another way to tell us the great things that God has done. Adam caused us all to become sinners. But, by the love of the Lord, His sacrifice has now made us righteous in God’s eyes.

These are wonderful truths that we need to be meditating on. Don’t let the enemy lie to you. Never convince yourself that you’re unworthy of God’s love. Jesus Christ has made you worthy. You can be clothed in His righteousness.

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.

Romans 5:20a

As we continue along this line, we see where the villain of the story comes in. Remember, it’s the law that empowers sin.

I like the way this verse reads in the original Greek. It tells us that the law sneaked in so that the sins would increase. The law is very stealthy. You would think that it’s trying to help you. But instead, it’s trying to trip you up.

In actuality, the law is the word of death that the devil stands upon. The law’s goal is to increase sin and the reign of death.

I’m grateful to God that this isn’t the end of the story.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20b-21

The truth is that where sin abounds, the grace of God super-abounds. Nothing can outperform our Lord. Sin, no matter how great, cannot outdo grace.

Christ won a great victory. So now, just like sin reigned in death, grace now reigns through righteousness, being focused on eternal life.

God’s grace is now carrying out the agenda of life. At the same time, sin is carrying out the agenda of death. It’s up to us to decide who’s reign we want to submit to.

Personally, I want to choose life. But the question becomes; how do I walk in this life that Christ has purchased for me? That’s a good question, and over the next couple of chapters in Romans, Paul deals with that very thing.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now. You won’t want to miss this important teaching.

Question: How have you messed up in trying to follow the law?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Death – The Evil Emperor

Death – The Evil Emperor

As we continue looking at the book of Romans, Paul is dealing with the battle between life and death. In my last post we were seeing the result of the cross in this struggle.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:15

This verse should really open our eyes to the truth. Death became king because of the one offense, when Adam sinned. But now, in Christ, how much greater is our reigning in life because of God’s super-abundant grace?

This verse literally says that we will rule or be kings in life through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, it seems that many believers are fighting the wrong enemy. We think that the devil is the highest enemy. NO! He answers to his boss – death.

If you have subscribed to this blog for any length of time, you probably know that I’m a scifi nerd. I remember when Star Wars first came out. Darth Vader was the evil mastermind that the rebel forces were trying to defeat.

But then, in the second movie, The Empire Strikes Back, we were shocked to see Darth Vader bowing before an even higher being…the Emperor. That’s the way it is in our spiritual battle. Death is the emperor that the devil bows before.

Death is the real enemy, not the devil.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15

That’s why throughout Scripture the battle has always been life versus death. That’s what we’re always told to choose between (Deuteronomy 30:19). The choice is always between life and death. It’s not about good and evil, or even God and the devil.

That’s why Jesus holds out life to all who will come to Him.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:24

Notice that we haven’t crossed over from the kingdom of Satan, but from death. We have got to grasp this truth. Our greatest enemy is not the devil, it’s death.

When we speak or act in the power of death, that’s when we give him power over us. Satan is the Darth Vader of the empire of death. His goal is to carry out the agenda of death.

But there’s a greater truth at work in us. Now we are the king through Christ. We have the authority of life. That is, if we speak and act according to the agenda of the God of life.

It seems that we’re always on the lookout for sin and the devil. We need to start watching for the little ways we let death enter the scene.

…and do not give the devil a foothold.

Ephesians 4:27

What is a foothold? Simply put, it’s a place to stand. We have to stand on God’s Word. The devil has to stand on death’s word. Actually, he has to operate the same way we do. The difference is that the Word of Life is more powerful, has more authority, than the word of death.

If you haven’t already done so, change your way of thinking. Choose life and speak the Word of God. That’s the best way to a victorious lifestyle.

Question: How have you seen the battle of life and death playing out in your experience?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Anointed to Teach (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

In my last post, I started talking about the teacher’s anointing.  What’s the purpose of a teacher in the body of Christ?  I think the answer will surprise a lot of people.

There are many who think the reason we need teachers is so that we can learn what’s in the Bible.  Actually, it seems to me that this is what most teachers are trying to do.  They believe that it’s all about getting my knowledge of the Scripture into your brain.

I’m here to tell you that this is NOT what God is calling teachers to do in His kingdom.  Yes, we are to use the Scripture, but the purpose has to be according to God’s agenda.

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life…
Proverbs 6:23

The calling of a teacher is to bring light.  Specifically, godly teaching shines a light on the way of life.  It shows how to get from where you are now, to where God wants you to be.

Scriptural teaching is never about knowledge and always about life.  You know that you’ve sat under an anointed teacher because you leave with an understanding of how to walk on a higher level with Christ.

As a matter of fact, if you look up the word “taught” in the New Testament, you’ll find out that it’s always about how to live.  They were taught how to walk as a new creature in Christ.  They were taught the walk of faith and how to love one another.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Colossians 1:28

This is the goal.  It’s the perfecting of the saints.  A teacher’s anointing brings with it a passion for the building up of the body of Christ.

As I look around the church of this generation, I see very few who operate in the teacher’s anointing.  That doesn’t mean that there are few called and anointed teachers.  The problem is that if the only examples you’ve seen are those who simply pass on Bible knowledge, then that’s the course you’ll follow.  We need teachers who are willing to spend time listening to the Holy Spirit.

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
1 Corinthians 2:13

I think that we should listen to the Apostle Paul.  After all, he did write most of the New Testament.  Where do you think he got his teaching from?

As for me, I know that I’m called as a teacher.  I also know that I’ll be judged more strictly.  I want to make sure that the message of my teaching is not simply Bible knowledge, but the true light of the Word of God for the hearers.

This should be the heart of every teacher of the Word.

Question: How do you recognize a teacher walking in his or her anointing?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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A Matter of Life and Death

We find that there are many paradoxes in our Christian walk.  As we continue through Second Corinthians, Paul talks about one of these that are a part of the ministry.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
2 Corinthians 4:10-12

This is one of those parts of the ministry that no one wants to talk about.  But it’s a vital part of being effective for Christ.

You’ll never understand how the life of Christ is working in you until you first understand His death.  Paul knew and embraced this truth.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

The true path to a powerful ministry is learning to carry the death of Christ within you.  What do I mean by that?  Do we walk around with a sad look on our face like some kind of spiritual Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh)?

Absolutely not!  The death of Christ is an inward realization.  We carry the death of Christ so that His life can be revealed in us.  Carrying His death, yet revealing His life – that’s one of the great paradoxes of ministry.

As believers, we love to focus our attention on Jesus and His resurrection.  The power that was revealed on that day sealed our redemption.  That truth is beyond question.

What we fail to realize sometimes, is that the resurrection is the Good News for those who are without Christ.  The cross, on the other hand, is Good News for the church.  Paul explained this in his first letter to the Corinthians.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

Without the resurrection, we couldn’t be saved.  But, without the cross, we couldn’t walk in the power of God.  We need both to be effective for Christ.

I once posted a series on the power of the cross.  To read it, click here.

Paul understood the value of carrying the death of Christ in his daily life.  It was the foundation for the power he walked in.  That’s what he’s referring to in the last line of the original passage we looked at above.

Please understand that he’s talking about himself and his ministry team.  It’s because they allow the death of Christ to do its work in them, that they can reveal the life of Christ to the church.  The Corinthian church is walking in the life of Christ because Paul and his team were obedient to the call to die to self.

We need a new revelation of the cross of Christ.  Then we’ll see the power that was manifest in the early church.

Question: What part does the cross of Christ play in your daily walk with God?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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A Ministry of Life and Death

In my last post, I talked about the victory we have in Christ, even through our humanity.  Paul now goes on to talk about what this victory looks like his in ministry.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The first thing that we need to understand is who Paul is talking about in this passage.  He’s referring to himself and his ministry team.  He tells us that their lives give off a spiritual fragrance.

Of course, this could also apply to any believer who’s walking in their calling.  Christians who are living for themselves don’t have this “aroma”.  That’s because the life of Christ is only evident in those who strive to live as Jesus did.

The apostle says that their lives create a spiritual atmosphere around them.  When people are near them, they pick up on the truths that are a part of Paul’s ministry.

Paul mentions two groups of people who his ministry affects.  He also tells us what the “fragrance” is that he’s giving off.

The two people groups have to do with the direction that they’re heading.  That’s how Paul describes them.  The first group is those who are heading toward salvation.  The second is those who are heading toward destruction.

The effect that the ministry has on these two groups may sound counter-intuitive at first.  But as we look closely at it, we’ll see what Paul means.

The first group is composed of people who are headed toward salvation.  Their desire is to see God’s completed work accomplished in their lives.  To those believers, Paul’s ministry is the aroma of death.

Why is that?  Simply put, it will take the death of self to see the resurrection power of Christ at work in you.  This all points back to something Paul wrote about in his first letter to this church.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

It’s the message of the cross, where our old self is crucified with Christ, that releases the power of God in our lives.  Those who are headed down the path to ruin and loss think that the message of the cross is foolishness.

However, Paul’s ministry also had an effect on those who were headed toward destruction.  That was the evangelistic side of his calling.  His goal was to bring light and life to those who are in darkness and sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

This is the other side of ministry.  There has to be the call to receive Christ’s offer of salvation.  It’s a call to life.

As I look at the apostle’s ministry, and how he sees these two goals, I have to agree with his final assessment.  “Who is equal to such a task?”

In our own strength and intelligence, we’ll never be able to accomplish this great work.  But, I praise God for the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  It’s His work in us that makes us competent ministers of the grace of God.

Question: How do you see the “aroma” of life and death at work in your ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Life that’s Over the Top

SkateboardI’ve been posting about the Gift of God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s a river of life bubbling up from within us. Jesus told us that it’s eternal life. It’s His perpetual, continual life that’s flowing through us.

But in calling it eternal life, the Lord was speaking about more than just length. It’s not just about how long you live for. Look at how Jesus describes it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

If I tell you that something is full, would you only think about it in one dimension? Full implies more than just length.

The word full that the Lord used actually means superabundant in quantity, superior in quality, and excessive in amount.

Think about it this way. I come to you and ask you, “Can I borrow your car to go grocery shopping?”

You say, “Sure.” But the next thing I know is that a 2016 stretch limousine with a chauffeur pulls up to my house. That’s the picture this word evokes.

In spite of that, we usually settle for the Flintstone mobile – spiritually speaking. We should be expecting so much more from our walk with God. He wants to lavish His life upon us.

The gift of God is where this spring of life comes from. When Jesus called it a spring of water, the word He used was of the surface fountain. The source was not included.

That’s how it is with us. You can’t see the source because it’s in the spirit. I’ve got to tap into the Holy Spirit to get the spring going.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
2 Timothy 1:6

This verse tells us that the gift of God is received by the laying on of hands. It’s imparted from one who has already received it. The gift must be passed on and received.

But this verse also makes it clear that it can lay dormant after it’s received. Why would anyone want to ignore the gift of God’s eternal life flowing through them?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

How does Paul describe this gift of God? The apostle says that He’s a Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Boldness comes from this Spirit. Why? Because He gives us a life that’s over the top. If you have perpetual life to draw upon, who cares what people think?

If you borrow money for a mortgage, the bank tells you how big a house you can get. But if you win a Powerball jackpot, no one can tell you what to buy.

That’s what God gives us in the spirit. We have power, love, and a saved mind. Because you can draw on the Holy Spirit and His perpetual life, you now have the power for everything God calls you to do.

You have enough love for all who come your way. You have a saved mind to know God’s will.

What else do you need? It’s up to us to seek it out. All we have to do is to trust God to receive it or fan it into flame.

Question: How have you experienced God’s abundant life working in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The Word Works

BibleI’ve been posting about the Word of God and how it imparts life to us. In my last article we saw how the Word of God will only benefit you if it’s received with faith. Faith itself is brought to us by the Word of God. How can I position myself to receive from the Lord?

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

God is a co-worker with us and it’s His job to confirm His Word with signs and wonders. When receiving the Word of God, that’s the mindset I must bring with me. I want to hear from God. He’s using a human being to distribute this Word, but I want what God has for me.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10

This verse explains what God provides for us. Even though the context is talking about finances, Paul makes it clear that the scope is far greater by calling it the harvest of your righteousness.

One major principle is that God provides bread for food. That’s the logos of God. It’s the Word that can give you immediate benefit. It’s readily digestible and palatable.

There’s also another major truth found here. It deals with sowing. If you’re a sower – you want the long-term benefits of the Word of God – then you’re seeking rhema from God. God is willing and able to drop the grain of rhema into your spirit.

The key is that you must be seeking this blessing. It doesn’t happen by accident. You need the attitude that says, “Sure, I hear Pastor Nick preaching, but I want to receive a Word from God.”

God desires to give His Word in all of its forms to anyone that will listen and receive. By the power of His Spirit, He gives both at the same time. God sends the digestible logos of preaching right along with the raw rhema from the mouth of God Himself.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

This question that Paul asks summarizes the entire scope of this teaching. Paul literally asks how does God fully supply you with His Spirit and activate His miraculous power in you? That’s the question of the hour. It’s what the church desperately needs to learn and lay hold of. It’s what the world is dying to see in operation.

I believe that it’s this truth that will usher in the end time harvest of souls before the coming of the Lord. The answer that Paul gives is that the Spirit is given and His power is activated in you by the hearing of faith.

This is where the power of God resides. It’s not a work of the law. It only comes as I hear His voice and let it inspire faith in me. This is the foundation for the miraculous. God and I as co-workers.

He’s looking for someone who’ll listen for His voice. It’s time for the church to enter that intimate place with the Lord. Only then will we see the glory of God released through His people.

Question: What’s your mindset while hearing the Word preached or taught?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Warfare, Word of God

 

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Obedient Faith

BlurI’ve been posting about the Holy Spirit as the one who nourishes our spirits. I talked about Jesus speaking to the crowd who had been miraculously fed by the loaves and fishes.

The Lord told them that He was the living bread from Heaven. They got offended at some of His words and many began to leave Him. As He was left alone with His disciples, they told Jesus that His teaching was hard for them to understand. So He said the following…

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

He explained to them that He wasn’t talking about His physical flesh. Christ was talking about His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is sent from heaven He will give life.

At that point in history, Jesus fulfilled the role of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. That’s why He could tell them to believe His words and receive life – the living bread.

But understand; right now it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to give life. If I want this in my life I must feed on His word to me. Hearing and believing the Holy Spirit is the key to everything we need.

But the real question is; do you truly believe if you don’t obey?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:17-18

What kind of faith is James talking about here? Some ethereal faith, believing it will all turn out good in the end? Absolutely not!!

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
James 2:20-23

We must have faith in the instructions God gives us. How? By the Holy Spirit. Why did Abraham offer his son? Because God had said to do it

That’s righteousness – our spiritual food. Believing that what God speaks to you is the right thing to do. That’s the same spiritual food that Jesus ate. That’s the life that the Holy Spirit is offering to us right now. But in order to see this manifest, I must spend time with the Holy Spirit – the giver of life to the church.

Question: How have you been obedient to the Holy Spirit lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Have You Been Taken By God?

PowerlessThere are some important truths that we can learn from the life of the patriarch, Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5

This verse says that it was by faith that Enoch was taken. Faith is always a choice. It’s the decision to accept and believe something that I have come to understand about God.

We must choose to be taken by God. This is the first and most important choice of the any believer. As Christians, we have accepted the sacrifice of Christ. But very quickly after salvation it becomes obvious that God wants more than just a prayer and an offering.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. The Lord says to each one of us, “I want you. I have a purpose and a plan for your life.”

The Scripture says that Enoch was transported so that he did not see death. It’s clear that God doesn’t want us to see death at work in our lives.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

Jesus Christ has brought us over from death to life. The problem is that sometimes, because of our flesh, we’re more comfortable with death. We allow things into our lives that are killing us.

There was a prerequisite to what Enoch experienced. Before he was taken, he was well-pleasing to God. This is one of our greatest blessings in Christ – the fact that today we can be pleasing to God. That’s why the writer talks about it in the next verse.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

This verse literally says that apart from faith you are powerless to please God. You can try to work to please God – but you’re powerless to accomplish it. The only thing to do is to choose to believe He exists, and then earnestly seek Him as the Rewarder of your life.

It is only because of these two choices that the Lord of the universe is well pleased with you. It’s because of your faith that He wants to take you as His own – if you’ll let Him. His desire is to transport you from death to life.

Just like with Enoch, God takes you out of your old life and brings you to a new place of blessing. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly where the Lord transports you to.

Question: Why is it important to know that my works have nothing to do with being pleasing to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Faith, Power of God

 

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Righteousness and the Power of God #powerofGod

PowerWe know that the manifestation of God’s power in our lives is directly linked to relationship.  But this brings up a very important question.  What’s the relationship between righteousness and the power of God?

I grew up always feeling unable to walk in the power of the Spirit, because I was never good enough.  We’ll now look at what the Bible says about the relationship between the power of God and righteousness.

The fact is that no Biblical principle exists in a bubble, even though we like to teach them that way sometimes.  Righteousness, mercy, love, and power all relate to each other.  Right now we need to see how power and righteousness relate.

Just to make sure we have the same understanding, I define righteousness as being right in God’s eyes.  It’s when God looks at you and says that you’re living correct according to His standards.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

This is an incredible claim, when you think about it.  Ever-increasing glory.  This sounds powerful to me.  Remember that the definition of power is the ability to produce change.

Think about the amount of power required for this verse to be fulfilled.  We’re being transformed into the likeness of the Lord from our imperfect state.  This is the place Paul is bringing us to in Corinthians, chapter 3.  Listen to how Paul describes this change of living in the verses prior to this.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:6

It’s obvious that he’s talking about the difference between the power of the law and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Life in the New Covenant isn’t based on the power of the law, but on the Spirit.  If we try to use the law, then death will be at work in us.  But it’s the next verse that’s even more revealing to us.

If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
2 Corinthians 3:9

Did you catch what Paul said here?  He said that this ministry – the ministry based in the power of the Spirit – brings righteousness.  It is not the other way around as many people teach.  Some would have us believe that if you live a righteous life, you’ll receive the manifestation of the power of God.

This verse shows us the fallacy in that kind of thinking.  It’s just the opposite.  You need the power of God in order to live righteously. In actuality, righteousness is only obtained through God’s power.

Question: Why does living righteously require God’s power in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Power of God

 

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