Job 31:1-32:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1-11; Psalms 43:5; Proverbs 14:5-6
NT: “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written 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 we have through Christ before God. It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-6 CSB)
One of the challenges that Paul faced in Corinth, and in other churches that he had planted and established, were encroaching outsiders peddling a different gospel than what Paul had preached. One group of outsiders were known as Judaizers. They taught that grace through faith in Christ alone was not enough to save you. They claimed that you also had to “become a Jew” and keep all the requirements laid out in the law. Apparently, these Judaizers were accredited and showed up with letters of commendation, and used those letters to sow doubt in Paul’s teachings and persuade people in the Corinthian church away from the gospel of grace that Paul preached. Paul had no accreditation or letters of commendation. What he had instead was a church full of transformed lives. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a long such-were-some-of-you list. Before Paul came preaching the gospel of the kingdom, the people in the Corinthian church were anything but righteous, but had been transformed and made righteous by grace through faith in Christ.
The law that was being pushed by the Judaizers gave righteous requirements, but no ability to fully live according to those requirements. Because of that, time after time, the Jewish people fell away from the law and forsook God. In response, God often said that a time would come when He would give His people a new heart of flesh instead of a hardened heart of stone – and He would inscribe His law on their heart (instead of chiseled in hardened stone) so that they would be able to live their lives according to God’s word, will and ways. That promise was fulfilled through genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. It is by grace through faith alone that we are able to fully live the lives God has called us to live. Our confidence before God and men doesn’t come through our ability to obey God’s laws through our own efforts. Our confidence comes through the grace God gives us as we place faith in His Son, which enables us to be righteous and live righteously. The transformed people in Corinth were evidence for the case. They were living, breathing, irrefutable epistles that stated and proved the veracity of the gospel of grace through faith in Christ.
That begs the question: what do our lives have to say about the gospel? It is one thing to say we are Christian and believe in Christ. It is another to live a life by grace that proves that everything in the gospel is true. Has your life been transformed? Are you a living epistle for Christ? What story is your life telling? Are you falling short in your efforts to do good, or are you abounding in grace through faith? Believing who Jesus is, is one thing. Placing your faith fully on Christ’s life, death and resurrection is another. If you consider yourself a believer, but have not experienced the life changing power of God’s grace, perhaps you haven’t fully repented and fully believed and staked your life on the gospel message. It’s not too late.
Prayer: Lord, my desire is to be a living epistle: a living, breathing, working testimony that proves that Your gospel of grace through faith is true. Help me to not place my confidence in my credentials or my abilities to do good, but instead to rest my life fully on Your grace that fills and empowers me as I fully place my faith on Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Continue Your transforming work in me, that I may be everliving evidence for the case. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.