12/10/17The God of the Bible is a God of covenant. Right from the time that God created mankind, He has always dealt with us on the basis of covenant. The Bible speaks of covenants God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, the Israelites, David, etc. In these last days as well, God has made a covenant with His people, the Church. This is the New Covenant or Testament, and it is the one now in force. In Hebrews 8:6, this New Covenant is described as being a better covenant established upon better promises, with the Lord Jesus as High Priest and Mediator:
But now hath he (Jesus) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he (Jesus) is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. (Brackets mine)
The Old Covenant’s weakness
The entire Letter to the Hebrews is basically a comparison between the New and Old Covenants, showing how the New is the superior one. The Old Covenant refers to the Covenant God made with the children of Israel on Mt. Sinai, after He delivered them from Egypt.
‘For if that first (i.e Old) covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when 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 when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord’ (Hebrews 8:7-9)
Have you ever asked why God had to establish the New Covenant when the Old was already in existence? It was because the Old had faults. The Old Covenant is also referred to as the Law.
In Romans 7:12, it is stated that ‘….the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good’. The weakness of the Law, therefore, wasn’t to do with its contents per se. Rather, the fault was in that the people failed to keep its terms and conditions.
Note that Hebrews 8:8 states that God ‘finding fault with them (the people), not with it (the Law). So God promised that He would have to come up with another covenant that people would be able to keep (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
God’s ultimate purpose of redemption
The book of Genesis reveals that God created mankind because He wanted a Family to love and to share His life with. The phrase ‘in our image, after our likeness’ used to describe man in Genesis 1:26, is also used to describe a son in Genesis 5:3: ‘And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth’. Therefore, when God created mankind in His own image and likeness, He created children. He created Family.
We know, however, that the fall messed things up and Father’s plan to have a family was disrupted. From being child of God, man became child of the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10). Man became subject to God’s condemnation and wrath just as much as the devil is (Ephesians 2:3). Man was separated from the Creator; lost from the Father’s house (Luke 19:10).
But Papa God didn’t give up on His love-dream of having a Family. And so He started on a journey to redeem mankind back to the Family. Everything God has been doing ever since the fall has been to achieve the ultimate purpose of getting man back to the place of being God’s beloved child. Romans 8:28-29 brings this out well:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
We talk of God having a specific purpose for each of us to accomplish on earth. That is true. But above this, there is one ultimate purpose why God is involved in our lives right now – why He sent Christ to die for us; why He has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us; why He has established the Church; why He calls people into ministries; why He is going to rapture the Church, etc. That purpose is to get each of one us conformed to the image of His Son Jesus i.e. to become children to Him just like Christ is, so that at the end of it all, Papa God will have a large Family of children, with Christ as the First Born.
We needed a Saviour
But man had sinned, and had been legally and justly separated from God. The Creator had made it clear that ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Hebrews 18:3). ‘The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Man had sinned and therefore man must die, or else God would be unjust.
God is Love (1 John 4:7) but He is also just. In His justice, God had to punish man; but in His love, He longed so intensely to make a way for His lost children to be able to come back to the Family. As it turned out, the only way to satisfy both His justice and His love was to provide a sinless Saviour for man. This Saviour would bear the penalty of man’s sin – condemnation and death - thereby paving a way for man to be able to get back to Papa God’s Family.
Proper use of the Law
But before the Saviour could come, man needed to recognize his need of being saved, otherwise man would never reach out for the Saviour’s help. The way God did this was to bring in the Old Covenant.
Many people think that God gave the Law so that by observing it, we can be saved. Not at all. Galatians 3:24 summarises the true purpose of the Law: ‘Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith’.
The Old Covenant was given to prepare us to receive Christ by showing us our need of the Saviour. The Law does this by revealing to us how totally sinful we are, and how guilty and condemned we are before God.
Romans 3:19-20 says,
‘Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin’.
Before the Law came, people didn’t really know how so far removed from God’s standards they were. They didn’t understand that their very nature was all wrong. They were engaging in all kinds of evil but since there was no written Law spelling out what was wrong, they thought they were doing okay (Romans 5:13).
God gave the Law knowing very well that man was not going to be able to keep it. But man didn’t know this. When the Law came, man broke it from day one, and in that way, the Law proved that man was guilty, helplessly bound by sin, and only deserving of death. The Law was given to strengthen sin’s dominion over man (1 Corinthians 15:56) by revealing how inherently wicked man is.
Christians who try to relate with God on the basis of the Old Covenant are perpetually sin-conscious. They feel guilty and condemned all the time, because that is what the Law was designed to do. The Law shows you that you are a guilty sinner, but it does nothing to free you from sin’s penalty and power. The Law Is like a mirror that reveals to you that you have acne on your face, but the mirror has no ability to remove the acne.
Sin problem was solved by the shed blood of Jesus
But once the Law had served its purpose according to God’s calendar, the Saviour came and the New Covenant was established. This better Covenant now, the Lord Jesus became the atoning sacrifice that takes away man’s sin, thereby removing the bottleneck to man getting back to the place of a child to God. ‘… but now once in the end of the world hath He (Jesus) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26b)
The Lord Jesus took our sin upon Himself, and thus our guilt and condemnation. And His sacrifice fully satisfied God’s justice (Isaiah 53:11). Now, anyone who believes that Jesus took their punishment no longer stands condemned before God (Romans 8:1). The New Covenant has made possible what the Old Covenant couldn’t:
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3)
Sin is no longer God’s problem
Old Covenant-minded Christians like to emphasize their sin; how God is still angry with them; how sin separates them from God, etc. They talk of how unworthy they are to pray or to be used by God or to be blessed. These Christians have no revelation of what the provisions of the Better Covenant.
Sin is no longer the problem it used to be. Under the Law, sin was big. But that was because Jesus had not yet come and paid sin’s penalty. When the Lord Jesus Christ cried out ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30), He made an eternal declaration that sin is no longer a barrier between God and man. The Old Testament way of doing things has been finished with. God has defeated sin. It is no longer His problem
Blessings of the Better Covenant
The Better Covenant is here and it cannot fail, because it is between the Father and the Son, both of whom are faithful; not between God and man, as was the case with the Old. The old failed because though God was faithful, man was not. In the better Covenant, success is 100% guaranteed because it is between God the Father and God the Son, as man’s representative! Folks, we have a better deal. All we have to do is believe in our Covenant Representative and we get to enjoy the blessings that belong this covenant.
The New Covenant avails to us blessings that Old Covenant people only longed for (1 Peter 1:10-12). It provides access into intimacy with the Father, not by our goodness nor hard work but by the precious blood of the Lamb (Hebrews 10:19). The New Covenant ushers in the righteousness of God, giving man the right and ability to stand before God without any sense of guilt, condemnation or fear of being rejected, etc. God gives the born again believer Christ’s own righteous nature right at the time of the new birth (Ephesians 4:24). That is why a believer need not continue to beg God for righteousness.
The New Covenant ushers in the new creation, a new species of mankind (2 Corinthians 5:17). These are people who by virtue of faith in Christ have experienced a re-creation of the human spirit, in which the sin-nature is destroyed and buried (Romans 6:3-4) and a new nature acceptable to God is brought forth (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Eternal life, the God-kind of life, the resurrected life of Christ is imparted to the spirit of man, making the born again person’s spirit is as much a child of God as Christ is (John 1:12). Under the Old Covenant, no one was born again. So they prayed such prophetic prayers as ‘Create in me a new heart, and re-new a right spirit in me’ (Psalm 51:10). A New Testament believer need not continue to pray such prayers because these things have been done in them by the Spirit of God.
Many Christians continue to live with a sin-consciousness, endlessly crying over how unworthy they are to stand in God’s presence. They have no revelation of how totally Christ has conquered sin’s penalty and power. The Law magnifies sin and its power to damn you, but the Better Covenant shows us that Christ has come and totally defeated sin.
God is no longer at war with mankind over sin (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Sin has been deprived of its terror. All that is required of us is to believe the good news of what Christ has done for us. The reason people remain separated from God and some even go to hell isn’t because God is angry with them over their sins, but because they reject Jesus who is the payment for their sin.
It is a new day. Christ has come and has accomplished the work of redemption. As a born again Christian, It is wrong to continue believing and acting as though Jesus has not yet come. He has come. He has died. He has risen from the dead, becoming the First born (Colossians 1:18) in God’s redeemed family of new creations. Believe these truths and go on to live the fabulous life set aside for the saints! Live in the realities of the better covenant.