Life-Study of Psalms, by Witness Lee

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There are two aspects of the law—the aspect of the letter and the aspect of the Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 3:6 Paul says that "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Whether you have a killing law or a life-giving law depends on your attitude. If your attitude in coming to the law is to care only for the commandments in letters and to realize that you cannot fulfill these commandments, then you have the law in the aspect of the letter. However, if you take every part of the law—all the commandments, ordinances, statutes, precepts, and judgments—as the word breathed out by the God whom you love, then you will have the law in the aspect of the Spirit. Then instead of trembling before the law of letters, you will be happy to be fed with every part of the law as the word, the breath, of God.


Just as the law itself has two aspects, so also the function of the law has two aspects.

A. The Negative Aspect

1. As God’s Commandments to Expose Man’s Sin

As God’s commandments, the law exposes man’s sin (Rom. 7:7b; 3:20b; 5:20a; 4:15b). Every item of the law with its statutes and ordinances exposes our shortcomings, defects, dishonesty, and unfaithfulness. For example, the commandment about not worshipping idols may expose the fact that many things are idols to us. For some people a pen or a diamond is an idol. Also, the commandment about keeping the Sabbath may expose our not resting regularly according to God’s ordination. By failing to rest properly we fail to enjoy God’s love expressed in the commandment to keep the Sabbath.

2. As God’s Regulations
with Statutes, Ordinances, and Rituals
to Guard God’s Chosen People in Its Custody
That They Might Be Conducted to Christ

As God’s regulations with statutes, ordinances, and rituals, the law functioned to guard God’s chosen people in its custody that they might be conducted to Christ (Gal. 3:23-24). The law kept God’s chosen people in custody, in ward, in the proper way until Christ came. The sheepfold in John 10 signifies the custody of the law. The Lord Jesus is the door of the sheepfold (v. 9), and through Him all those who were in the sheepfold could come out. Thus, on the negative side the law functioned to guard God’s chosen people until Christ came.

(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 40, by Witness Lee)