“…you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3: 3-6)
St. Paul reminds me here of the new “covenant,” that is, the new arrangement between God and us, His people, made possible through Christ, in the Holy Spirit. The Apostle stresses that the Spirit of the “living God,” as distinct from lifeless idols, and as distinct from the “letter” of some man-made ethical system or philosophy, is life-giving. The “letter kills” when it is devoid of the Spirit, because it makes external demands for obedience, without providing the power to carry it out. The Spirit “comes and abides in us,” effecting inner change of human hearts.
Today I am grateful for this reminder, that I’m called first and foremost to seek communion with Him, in heartfelt prayer, rather than just go through the motions of external piety. It is inner change that is indeed possible and accessible to me, for it is brought about by the Lord, the Holy Spirit; a “new self,” created “to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24)