Word of the Law Vs. Spirit of the Law

The spirit of the law goes beyond the written word or letter of the law and attempts to capture the purpose or intent of a law when it has been written. Modern constitutional interpretation is also divided in these directions. Currently, specialists in the Living Constitution advocate a strategy of “mental” interpretation, even if it is based on a mind that reflects broad forces. Originalist or textualist scholars advocate a more “letter-based” approach, arguing that the constitutional amendment process necessarily excludes broader interpretations that can be obtained by passing an amendment. This way of thinking did not happen by chance, it continues to this day. My mother told me the story of a time when she was going through a very difficult situation in her life. She wanted to find a place to pray and went to a small church to pray. It was extremely hot that day and she was wearing a sleeveless dress. The dress wasn`t short or inappropriate, it was just sleeveless. When she sat down, a lady from the church approached her. I never greeted her, never asked her name or why she was there, but simply said these words.

“Excuse me, but that`s not how a woman should come to church, you have to have your arms covered.” Not only did it make my mother feel terrible, but it also didn`t bring comfort to the situation she was facing. What happened?? This woman followed the letter of the law. In this case, Church policy became the letter of the law. What he lacked very much was the spirit of the law, caring for someone who was hurt and needed prayer. In the Gospels, Jesus is often portrayed as critical of the Pharisees. He resembled the Essenes more than the other Jewish groups of the time (Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots); However, the Pharisees, like Jesus, believed in the resurrection of the dead and divine judgment. They advocated prayer, almsgiving, and fasting as spiritual practices. The Pharisees were those who tried to be faithful to the law given to them by God. Not all Pharisees or Jews of that time were legalists. Although modern language has used the word Pharisee pejoratively to describe someone who is legalistic and rigid, it is not an accurate description of all Pharisees.

The dispute over the “spirit of the law” versus the “letter of the law” was also part of the first Jewish dialogue. [1] Listen to what Philippians 2:8 says about Christ; “And when he appeared as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient unto death, unto the death of a cross. Christ`s obedience to God`s will was an act of humility. He humbled himself by becoming obedient. If we obey the things God tells us, we deserve nothing, we humble ourselves. We bow before God and before God`s Word and say, Yes, Father, I will do exactly what you say. I will not dispute your word, I will not doubt your word, I will humble myself and obey your word. And although God requires our obedience to His Word, this does not mean that we “deserve” anything if we obey God. This means that we humble ourselves so that God can exalt us later.

Isn`t that exactly what God says He will do? James 4:10 says; “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” So we have to have an attitude of humility. Jesus said in John 4:34; “My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to do His work. If people could just understand that these words must be OUR words, and this attitude must be OUR attitude. Heavenly Father, my food is to do your will! And what sustains me is to finish your work. When I do “works of obedience,” I do not “deserve” my salvation. I bow before God! Are you too proud to admit that you have to humble yourself? Are you too proud to follow the letter of the law? Are you too good for that? Jesus was not. The spirit of the law versus the letter of the law is the question. Forgive me for my bad attempt with Shakespeare. There is a big difference between obeying the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. These differences are crucial and need to be addressed because they affect your relationship with God and how you address others. I will do my best to help you understand the difference between these two things and hopefully help you walk in the freedom and life that God has given you.

3 – Count on the Holy Spirit to help youThe letter of the Law is really about doing everything. The Spirit of the Law is about God doing everything through you. If you want to embody the Spirit of the Law, give the Holy Spirit more space to work both in you and through you. If you do, you will find that you will be able to love God and love people better. This will lead you to continue in the spirit of the law and not fall into the trap of the letter of the law. In Matthew 5:20-44, Christ showed that obeying the “letter of the law” is a matter of physical action, while obeying the “Spirit of the Law” requires more than mere outward actions—it also includes an attitude of the Spirit—what the apostle Paul called “circumcision of the heart” (Romans 2:28-29). Referring to Christ`s law of marriage, divorce, and adultery, Jesus said in Matthew 5:27 and 28; “You`ve heard him say; You shall not commit adultery, but I tell you that whoever looks at a woman desiring her has already committed adultery with her, in his heart. This statement of Jesus is proof that the Spirit of the law comes from the heart. And that spirit is love! Let me give you a few examples. Jesus gives us the exact words of one of His laws in Matthew 19:9. This is “the letter of the law”; “And I say to you (Jesus says), whoever divorces his wife, except because of immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Now, if you have the “spirit of the law,” will you commit adultery? Of course not.

What is the “spirit” of the law not to commit adultery? The spirit of this law is love. Love for your husband or wife and love for God. When you love your husband or wife, you honor them and are loyal to them. When you love God, you honor God and you are faithful to God. Do you want proof of that? Here is the proof; According to God, the two greatest commandments ever given, mentioned in Matthew 22:37-40, are the commandment to love God and the commandment to love our neighbor. God says that all other commandments depend on these two. In other words, every commandment of God, every law of God depends on the Spirit of love! Love of God and love of neighbor. It is the “spirit” behind every law of God. I think you will agree that life is much less complicated and much more enjoyable if you live according to the spirit of the law. It will be even better if you allow God`s Spirit to help you do this. Remember that the law kills and does not produce life in you because it requires of you something that you cannot give. Therefore, do not be bound again, trying to live according to the letter of the law, but live in the freedom that God has given you.

It is not freedom without limits, but freedom without slavery to respect all the principles of the law. I leave you with the words of the apostle Paul: Here is a question; Can you obey “the letter of the law” without having the “spirit of the law” in your heart? Yes, you can. You can go through the movements but have no love in your heart.

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