03/05/16In the gospel of Luke chapter 22, we read about the Supper the Lord Jesus had with His disciples shortly before He was arrested and subsequently killed. In verse 20, it is stated that Jesus took the cup and gave the disciples to drink out of it, accompanying this action with the words, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you’. That night, the Lord Jesus cut a blood covenant with His disciples (representing the entire body of Christ).
We live at a time when most people no longer understand blood covenants, but the disciples fully knew what the Lord meant and they understood the solemnity of that moment.
Blood covenants were common in Bible days. Also in the old days, most African peoples practiced blood covenants and some still do. However, so much has changed that most born again Christians in African know nothing about blood covenants and so they struggle to grasp what Jesus really meant when He talked of His blood being the blood of the New Testament (Mathew 26:28).
The blood covenant is the most powerful of all covenants. People didn’t enter into this covenant flippantly because the consequences of breaking it were very grave indeed. When people entered this covenant, animals were killed and their blood became the sacrificial blood of the covenant. This blood served several purposes, one of which was that it ratified or put into force the covenant. Once the animals were killed, their blood became the evidence that the covenant was now in force. Second, the animals’ blood acted as a warning to the parties to the covenant that should they ever violate the terms of the covenant, they would have to pay for it with their lives i.e. they would be killed, their blood poured out on the earth and their bodies dismembered as had happened to the animals. You thus didn’t play games where blood covenant was concerned.
The blood of Jesus ratified the New Testament
In the Old Testament, God had promised that a time would come when He would make a New Covenant with His people, to replace and fulfill the one He had made with the children of Israel:
‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord …’ (Jeremiah 31:31-32)
The disciples present at the Lord’s Supper knew this prophecy well, being all grown male Jews. When the Lord said, ‘This is my blood of the New Testament’ (Mathew 26:28), they understood that Jesus was establishing with them the promised New Covenant, and that His own blood was to ratify it. While the Old Covenant had been ratified with the blood of animals (Hebrews 9:18-21), the more superior New Covenant had to be ratified with the precious, spotless blood of the Son of God Himself.
The New Covenant has now been established and the shed blood of Jesus is the evidence that it is now in force (Hebrews 9:15-17). Many Christians do not live their everyday lives in the consciousness of the New Covenant. They try to relate with God as though the Old Mosaic Covenant is still in force. As a result, they are not benefiting fully from the New Covenant’s provisions. While there are many powerful truths we learn from the Old Testament (Romans 15:4), God is no longer dealing with us on the bases of the terms and conditions of the Old Covenant. That is the message communicated in the letter to the Hebrews.
Papa God’s covenant commitment to us
In Genesis 15, God cut a blood covenant with Abraham. God had promised Abraham a child and that Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. In verse 8, Abraham asked the Lord, ‘Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?’ To demonstrate His total commitment to carry out His promise, God cut a blood covenant with the man (Genesis 15:9-11, 17-18). Through this blood covenant, Abraham understood that God was absolutely committed to making him a father of many nations. There would be no going back on this promise. In Psalms 89:34, the Lord has said, ‘My covenant will I not break nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips’.
In this dispensation, Papa God has established a blood covenant with us as well through His Son. Jesus is the Maker, the Mediator (Hebrews 9:15) and the sacrificial Lamb of this New Covenant. He has staked His all to this covenant. This salvation isn’t a causal relationship, brother!
I find it very comforting that I have a blood covenant with God, because I know that He is totally committed to what He has promised me in His Word. For example, I know that Jesus is a million times more committed to saving me, blessing me, preserving me, etc, than I will ever be. That has brought a lot of rest in my heart. I know that I can totally take God at His Word. The Bible is a blood covenant book. The Man shed His blood to ensure that His Words come to pass! He ratified His covenant promises with His blood to give me full assurance of how much He is committed to Himself, to me and to His Word. And all He is asking me to do is to believe Him!
Sin wasn’t removed under the Old Testament
Practically all the covenants God has made with mankind since the fall have been blood covenants. Apart from the two purposes I have already cited for shedding blood during the blood covenant making process, another reason the Lord has always required that blood be part of His covenant with man is because blood is the God-ordained instrument that removes man’s sin.
‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul’ (Leviticus 17:11)
‘…and without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22)
Man is naturally a sinner and God is holy. Therefore, for a holy God and sinful man to enter into a covenant relationship, man’s sin has first to be removed, and since it is blood that provides forgiveness, blood has to be shed during any covenant making between God and man.
According to Mathew 26:28, the Lord Jesus said, ‘For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’. The word ‘remission’ means to ‘blot out’, to ‘completely remove’.
Under the Old Testament, people’s sins were not remitted. People were required to offer the blood of animals for their sins, but according to Hebrews 10:1-6, animal blood didn’t really take away sins. They only provided a cover over sins for a time, and after a while, God remembered the sins and more blood had to be offered or else He poured out His wrath on the people. Despite the constant shedding of the blood of animals, sin was never really removed and the people remained with a sin-consciousness in their hearts. The fact that no man could freely enter into the holy of holies and fellowship with God was a constant reminder to the people that their sins separated them from God (Hebrews 9:7-8).
Jesus’ one sacrifice took away sin and its penalty forever
You see, the animal blood offered under the Old Testament was only a temporary measure to deal with sin, and merely a pointer to the blood of Jesus which was to be the true and permanent solution to sin. Jesus’ blood doesn’t just cover sin for a while; it removes it, blots it out, remits it permanently, and that is why no more blood now has to be shed for the forgiveness of a believer’s sins and even the world’s sins (1 John 2:2). Jesus’ one sacrifice deals with all our sins forever - past, present and future (Hebrews 9:23-28; 10:10-14). That is awesome! Amazing! Beyond human understanding, but thank God, it is the truth!
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’. (Hebrews 10:16-18)
Under the New Testament, God no longer remembers our sins. At the time we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, Papa God remits all of our sins, past, present and future, and He never ever remembers them. The reason He doesn’t remember our sins is that He has accepted the one-time offering of Jesus’ blood as sufficient to take care of all the sins of His people for eternity. There isn’t going to be, neither is it necessary, for anything else to be done by anybody to take away sin. Jesus’ blood is that powerful!
Many believers continue to live under guilt and condemnation because they have not understood the remitting power of the blood of Jesus. Making reference to Old Testament Scriptures like Isaiah 59:1-2, they talk about how their sins still separate them from God, and how they have to do all sorts of things to move God to forgive them. They try to pay for their sins by endless confessions, feeling unworthy for days and weeks, etc. In effect, they put more faith in their ability to remember and confess every sin (which is impossible) than simply trusting in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus to cleanse them for all time.
The cross of Jesus satisfied the justice of God
At the cross, Jesus took all our sin upon Himself and suffered the full wrath of God that we deserved. Papa God Himself laid on Jesus our sins and their due punishment (Isaiah 53:6, 10). God forsook His own Son because He was full of our sin. Our Lord drank the full dregs of the wrath of God on our behalf, so that we wouldn’t have to. After it all, Isaiah 53:11 says that God saw the suffering of His Son (not our suffering, or penance, or whatever) and was satisfied that Jesus had paid the full penalty of man’s sin, meeting the full demand of God’s justice. That is why if you believe in Jesus, your sin can no longer separate you from God because God honors the death of His Son a million times more than your sin, praise God! Your sin is not greater than the blood of Jesus. It is an insult to Jesus to keep parading your sin before Him as that powerful force that still keeps Him away, even after He has promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). The reason He doesn’t forsake you isn’t because of anything you do or don’t do but because of what He did at the cross!
Free from sin-consciousness
The book of Hebrews teaches that once the blood of Jesus has purged us from sin at the new birth, we are to have no more consciousness of sins (Hebrews 9: 12-14; 10:2). Instead, we should be conscious of the righteousness that the blood of Jesus provides to the believer (Romans 5:9). The Old Testament was designed to make people conscious of their sins (Romans 3:19-20) and of the wrath of God which is the due penalty for sin (Romans 4:15) but the New Testament came in to usher in the gift of the righteousness of God (Romans 5:17) through the blood of Christ.
We are to be more conscious of the truth that in Christ, ‘we have redemption through the blood of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace’ (Ephesians 1:7). Note that we have (present tense) not shall have (future tense) the forgiveness of sins, and it is according to the riches of His grace, not according to our performance. Thank God that in Christ, we have forgiveness of sins. We have it. We are not looking for it to happen in the future. We have been sanctified and perfected forever through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14) and we have obtained an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
It is not true that every time you feel condemned, it is God doing it. 1 John 3:20 says our heart (or conscience) can condemn us when God isn’t involved at all. ‘For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things’. The number one problem we have with sin is not sin itself; it is unbelief. Many Christians don’t believe what God’s Word says Christ has done to sin. They go by what their senses tell them instead of simply believing the Word, and as a result sin dominates them.
The more conscious you are of sin, of its power and ability to hinder you, the more likely you will commit sin! Understanding that sin has been defeated by Jesus will cause you to live holy, because you will begin to despise and demean sin’s ability to dominate you. Just try meditating only on how Jesus has defeated sin for one week and you will see what will happen to the sins that might be dominating you so much now. They will lose their hold on you. The more you think and talk about sin, the more you commit sin. The more you focus on Jesus and His victory over sin, the holier you become! As a man meditates in his heart, so is he! (Proverbs 27:3). This is a law. Your experiences always follow your dominant thoughts.
Boldness to enter God’s presence
Hebrews 10:19-22 teaches that faith in the blood of Jesus is what gives us boldness to enter into God’s presence – the holy of holies.
‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience …’
Unless you put your faith firmly in the blood of Jesus, you will always feel like you are not worthy to enjoy God’s presence. I used to believe that we have to go through a long process of doing all sorts of things before we can become worthy to access God’s presence. Basically, I was walking by sight, waiting until I felt some emotion and then I believed that finally I was in the Presence. Since I always didn’t have this emotion in prayer, I thought I did not gain access into God’s presence on the days I felt ‘dry’. But now I live in God’s presence because of the knowledge I have that we enjoy the presence of God only by faith in the blood! Whether or not I feel anything doesn’t matter.
On the day our Lord died on the cross, the curtain in the temple that symbolized man’s sin was ripped from top to bottom (Mathew 27:51), thereby providing access into God’s presence to whoever would believe in Jesus. I remember the day the Lord whispered in my heart that as a believer in Jesus, there is no sin I can ever commit that can re-seal that curtain. Oh, halleluiah! What freedom!
I have only barely scratched the surface of the powerful truths revealed in the Word about the power of the blood of Jesus, the blood of the everlasting covenant. I encourage you to take time to study out the Scriptures I have given here and may the Holy Spirit guide you into all the truths of what the blood of Jesus has done for you. And as He does, may you be set totally free to be all that Papa God has designed you to be in Christ. Amen!