Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The New Covenant P6 (06-07-21)
Have you ever asked, “What is the purpose of the law?” If you turn to Galatians 3:19-24, you have your answer. Why is this important to know? Bob George uses several illustrations to help explain this. He used illustrations of a hammer and a mirror. And, if we know what our role is, as ministers of a New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6), not of an Old Covenant, then we have a sure foundation in truth. This presumes you understand the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant and that the New Covenant replaced the old one (Hebrews 8:7-9).
So a hammer is made for the purpose of building a house. In the hands of a carpenter then it can build something useful. But in the hands of a murderer, it can be used to beat someone in the head with. So there is nothing wrong with a hammer, but how it is used depends on whose hands it is in. So what do people do with the law? They use it as a means to obtain righteousness, or right standing, before God, and then use it to beat people in the head with, who they see are not conforming to the standards of the law. That is what hypocrisy is, for they are telling others to do what they themselves are not and cannot do. Yet the scripture tells us that the law was added to shut everybody up, so the whole world is held accountable to God, and in so doing, see their need and seek Christ for His righteousness.
The law can also be likened to a mirror. The function of the mirror is so you can see where the dirt is on your face. But if you use the mirror to try to remove the dirt, then you make a mess of it. That is what people do with the law. They make a mess, making double-minded people unstable in all ways, when they use the law to try to remove sin or make themselves holy. When you are trying to use the law to improve upon what God has already done for you through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are insulting what Jesus said is finished. You are insulting the Spirit of grace who says He has given you everything you need for life and godliness.
So what are ministers to teach today? Not the law, not the Old Covenant, but the New Covenant. So as a minister of grace, you would not be teaching tithing for today. Why not? That is in Malachi, and that was written to the descendants of Jacob, people under an Old Covenant system, and that system has now been replaced. Scriptures tell us specifically that we are ministers of a New Covenant. So then, let us learn what the New Covenant is and start teaching that. And let us not be commingling law and grace, for all that does is produce unstable, double-minded Christians, as Bob would refer to as drunk Christians, trying to walk on both sides of the street, both law and grace.
So why was the Old Covenant replaced. The law is holy, righteous and good. The problem is not with the law. The problem is that when it flows through me it kills me. I was born spiritually dead, without the Spirit of God living in me. So without the Spirit, I do not know the meaning of the law of love, not having the love of God poured in my heart. Therefore, when I think I can obey the law, I fail again and again, just as the entire Old Testament is a history of the repeated failures of the Jews to fulfill the law.
So the problem is with me, and that is that I am a sinner and that sin caused my spiritual death, being separated from the life of God. So Jesus came to give me new spiritual life. He came to do for us what we could never do under an Old Covenant system. That old system was only to last until Christ came to finish the work for us that we could never do and until faith should be revealed. The Law was like that mirror so I could recognize my need for a Savior and accept the new life God offers in His Son.
Jesus took away the cause of our death, which is sin, by dying on a cross in our place. That was a necessary preparation for life to be given. He did this so that being raised from the dead, we too can be raised to new life in Him. That way, the resurrected life, the love of God, God Himself, can be poured into us by His Spirit. That is the pure grace and mercy of God that we respond to. And we then love because He first loved us. We then learn to live in the new way of the Spirit, who is alive living us, and not by the letter of the law that kills. For love is the fulfillment of the law and we have the internally resurrected Christ in us to love in and through us, who guides us into all truth.
We are continuing in chapter 2, The Reason for the New Covenant in A Closer Look at the New Covenant. If I only had one message to give before I died, it would be this teaching on the New Covenant.
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said to the people:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
We are studying the purpose of the law. The Old Covenant was the old law that was given to Israel with the condition, “Here is My law. Now you keep it.” There was a problem with that, that there is nothing wrong with the law, but when it flowed through us it killed us. He found fault with the people. He did not find fault with His covenant. He found fault with the people. Why? We could not keep it.
We studied that by the time Moses came down from the mountain with the ten commandments, and presented it to his people, and they responded, “We will obey that. Do not worry about us, Lord. We will obey that.„ Moses, as if God did not know that they had said that, he went back up on the mountain to report to God what they said. It is not that God’s ear was a little short on that one. As Moses reported what God had said about the ten commandments, they built a golden calf. It did not take long, a trip up and down the mountain, for the people to realize they could not keep what God gave to them. (Refer to Exodus 19:7-8, Exodus 24:3,7 and Exodus 32:1-9.) (So also with us today. We cannot keep the ten commandments either.)
We talked about how a manufacturer can build a hammer for the purpose of building a house. You put that hammer in a skilled carpenter and he will build something beautiful. You put that same hammer in the hands of a murderer and he will hit you over the head with it. It is not the fault of the hammer but whose hands it is in.
The same thing is true with the ten commandments, the law. God gave us the law and it had a purpose. We are told in Galatians 3:19 what the purpose of the Law is.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed [Jesus] to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.
Galatians further tells us that the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith.
22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
So what was the purpose of the Law? To show us our sinfulness, that under the law, there is a consequence to sin called death, and that we are all born into this world spiritually dead. No baby comes out of his mother’s womb saying “Praise Jesus.” We are born spiritually dead. What is death? The absence of life. We are born without the life of God living in us. We are on our own.
1 Corinthians 15:22
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
The same thing that God told Adam. You want to go eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, right from wrong, on your own, you are on your own. I will let you do it. And we will see the consequences of that, spelled out in human history.
16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat from it you will certainly die.”
So in the heart of God, that plan, (the Old Covenant), was put into effect until He had a conclusion on that, (the New Covenant). Mankind can look at his actions and say, “I cannot live up to what God gave us, and therefore I need a Savior.” The law was given to us to show us our sinfulness. We took that law, that hammer, and used it as a means to righteousness, and beat people over the head with it and killed people with it ever since instead of using it a a mirror.
What is the purpose of a mirror? To show you your face is dirty. The mirror is not there to wash your face. A mirror is not there to scrub with. A mirror is there to reveal to you the condition of your face or your body, whoever is standing in front of it. Once that mirror has done that, that mirror has done its job. You can take that mirror off of the wall and scrub it down with some soap, and try to wash yourself with it, if you want to, but you are not using a mirror as it was designed for. And if you do so, you will make a mess of things.
That is what man has done. He has made a mess of things, and he has misused what God gave us. The Law is good and holy, but the only problem is that when it flows through me it kills me. We misused the law. The law was added to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
Then we are told in Romans 3 what the law says to those who are under the law.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law
How come? This is a powerful statement.
so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
To shut your mouth, in essence, is what he said. The Law holds the whole world accountable to God. It says to those under the law, if you are under the law, you are accountable to God and you ought to keep your mouth shut because you have nothing to brag upon. Even though you are bragging about the law, you are not keeping what you are bragging about. You are a hypocrite. Someone under the law declaring the law, as if he is keeping it, is nothing but a spiritual hypocrite. Any legalist listening, you are a hypocrite because you cannot do what you are trying to require others to do. That is according to God. That is not according to me. Do not get mad at me. Get mad at God. But if you are mad at God, it is because you are agreeing with what He is saying.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
What is the “Therefore” there for? Because every mouth is silenced and held accountable to God, if you are under the law, and then know that you will not be declared righteous by observing the law. You can wear robes, wear collars on backwards to show you are walking in the wrong direction, you can dress up, you can speak loudly, forcefully and powerfully and act like you are so righteous, and people look at you saying, “Oh, what a righteous man”, but in the sight of God, no one is righteous. No one will ever be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law.
We can try to impress others with all of our garb and all of our actions, tucking our bible under our arms and tilting our head to one side, and kind of walking quietly along so everybody can say, “Oh, what a righteous dude you are”, but in the sight of God, he says your heart is wicked, deceitful above all things, and who can know it.
Jeremiah 17:9 (NASB)
9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
The Law cannot make you righteous by observing the law, but rather it is through the Law we become conscious of sin. What was the purpose of the mirror? To make you conscious of your condition.
Again, what is the condition of man? Under the law, born under the law? Dead. Dead spiritually. The life of God is not living in us. They are dead. Two things we can talk about in regard to this marvelous thing called salvation. You have the cross that was a necessity. I said this so many times. It is interesting to me that Jesus died on the Jewish holiday of the Day of Preparation.
42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
What is the significance of that? That is what the cross was for. It was preparatory. The cross in and of itself does not save anyone. The cross is what prepares you for salvation. It is preparatory. Apart from the cross, you could not have eternal life. But the cross, in and of itself, cannot produce eternal life. That is why it talks about the death, burial and the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
That is precisely why the emphasis of the New Testament teaching and the New Testament preaching is on the resurrection. When talking about New Testament preaching, I am talking about the early apostles, those people right out of the chute, right out of the mouth of God. Their preaching was an emphasis on the resurrection, to the point of Paul saying, “without the resurrection, we are to be pitied of all people, and are still dead in our sins.” He said that knowing full well that a cross had occurred where Jesus died, suffered, bled, and was torchered for our sin.
1 Corinthians 15:16-19
16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Jesus entered into our death with us. That was His death, His torture, for our sins, paying a price for our sins. But the ultimate price for our sin was His death. He had to enter into that. Jesus had to die. He had to die a death like ours so we can experience a resurrection like His. Why? Because salvation is being saved from what? The wages of sin, which is death.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How are you saved? By the gift of God, which is life. Forgiveness does not produce life. Forgiveness produces forgiveness. Resurrected life produces life. When you negate that or forget that, or do not put the emphasis on the right place, and all you teach is salvation is the cross, then you have missed the dynamic of life. That is why many, many people are walking aisles, taught in our zealous evangelism, that your only problem is that you sin. I got news for you. That sin is not your problem. Your problem is the consequence to that sin called death. Never mentioned. What you hear is, “Come forward and get your sins forgiven. Salvation is getting your sins forgiven.”
We were over in Kiev, Russia and we met with ministers there. We spent a lot of time with one minister and his wife and family. We were there for three days, preaching this. On the way to the airport, what was said by the wife and the husband? “We know you are saved by getting your sins forgiven.” They did not hear a word. I might as well teach in Swahili. For some reason they did not hear what was being said. That is why Jesus said, “If you have ears to hear, listen.”
15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
We have ears, but we do not listen. We have this preconceived notion that this salvation was Jesus dying on a cross. We see the movies that were just made by Mel Gibson. Marvelous movie about the cross, but it ended there. It ended there as if that is it. That is not it. That was preparatory to it. Without the resurrection, there is no meaning to the cross, for then that forgiveness provided has no place to be received. What was provided for us then is received in His resurrected life.
The sin issue certainly had to be taken care of and thank God for it. You cannot have one without the other but do not mistake one for the other or exclude one over the other. It takes both to make salvation, but again taking both, realizing the cross does not produce it. It prepares you. It is through the resurrected life of Christ Jesus that we are saved. We are saved from the consequence of sin called death. That means I do not have God’s life living in me. That means I am not functioning on all the cylinders. Something is missing. What is missing is life, the life of God living in me. I do not have wisdom living in me when I am lost. I do not have salvation living in me. I do not have eternal life living in me. I do not have anything. I do not have what I need for life and godliness living in me until the day I accept Christ Jesus.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I am not being narrow-minded at all. It is not saying that one religion is better than another. Quite frankly, God did not come to form a religion. He came to form a relationship. There is one person available to you, not a Christian religion or a Buddhist religion. There is one person who came to save you. That is the person who is capable of taking away the sins of the world at the cross in order that by His resurrection from the dead, He can give you eternal life. It is one person. It is not a religion. It is a person.
What is interesting to me is that in 2 Corinthians 3:6-9, we have a passage written to us, as ministers. Inasmuch as we have all been called to minister to one another, it is applicable to all of us. This is especially pertinent to ministers.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant
Why does he not say that he has made us competent as ministers of both covenants? Why did he not say the word of God is the word of God and you are supposed to preach all of it? And the Old Testament is applicable today as the New Testament is applicable today? Why did he not say that? Because it is not true. So why are people not teaching what truth is? Why are people bringing the Old Testament into the New Testament? People teach tithing. Where is tithing? In Malachi. What are you doing over there? You are supposed to be free from that.
6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them.
You are not living under the Old Covenant. You are not living under the Old Testament. If the Old Testament could have brought salvation to you, he should have stayed home, if the Old Testament would get you where you need to go. It is not our method of living. He said that did not work. It showed you it did not work. But it did not work. That is why He had to usher in the New Covenant.
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
Why did Jesus have to suffer and die for all of us eggheads down here, who will not get a hold of the truth that you are under a New Covenant? What are you doing over there in Malachi? Why don’t you bring in bulls and goats? Why don’t you quit eating shrimp? Why don’t you quit eating pork chops? Why don’t you quit eating your bacon in the morning? All of those are in the Old Testament. Why are you nit-picking what you want to nit-pick instead of doing what scripture says, and that is to die to the old and come alive in the new?
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
What is the purpose of the old? There are stories in there of man’s failure, of man’s self effort and failure under self effort. There are also stories of God’s mercy and kindness. But the ultimate mercy was given to us in Christ Jesus.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
It is so clear as the nose on our face. He made us competent as ministers of a New Covenant.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Not of the law. We are not there to be competent as ministers of the law but ministers of this New Covenant, of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills but the Spirit gives life. That is what we are to be ministering. Why are we commingling all of this stuff?
2 Corinthians 3:7
7 Now if the ministry that brought death
This is really a passage that annihilates these ideas. “Come on Bob. I know we are dead to dietary laws but not the ten commandments.” I got news for you. It seems to me what he is describing here is the ten commandments. He did not bring dietary laws down on stone.
2 Corinthians 3:7
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone,
That is the ten commandments. What did it bring? Death. That is what Paul said, “I thought it would bring life but I found out it brought death.”
9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
Here is where in the New Testament, in Corinthians, they go back to an Old Testament story in order to show you truth. Remember in the Old Testament of Moses coming down the mountain, and the Shakani glory was so great they could not look at the face of Moses, although it was fading. Moses tried to hide the fact it was fading, but he knew it was faded. But if it fades, they will not know what to do with it. Sure enough, they did not know what to do with it. This is talking about the ten commandments. It is not talking about dietary laws. That is included. But this is specifically about the ten commandments. Those ten commandments were there as a mirror to show me I could not live up to it.
2 Corinthians 3:9
9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
What ministry is that? The ministry of the New Covenant. The ministry of life. The ministry that Jesus said, “I came that you might have life.” The ministry that if you have the Son, you have life. If you do not have the Son you do not have life. The ministry of Jesus saying He is the resurrection and the life.
40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
1 John 5:11-12
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
That is the ministry that we have been called to be proclaiming. Not the comingling of law and grace as in Galatians 3 where Paul says “You foolish Galatians“, or what I would say as, “moronic, idiotic Galatians”. “Have you gone completely mad?” That is quite a statement! “Are you crazy? You used to see the meaning of Christ’s death.” They used to know the meaning, not the fact of it. We all know the fact of it. “The meaning was clear as if I had waved a placard, a picture of it, in front of you.”
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
He said, “Have you gone mad? After beginning in the Spirit”, for the answer to that is I received the Holy Spirit by believing what I heard. “Why are you now trying to perfect yourself by human effort?” There is the key.
3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Anyone out there trying to perfect yourself by human effort? Are you trying to improve on what Jesus did? God made you holy. Are you trying to improve on that? Are you taking the painting of the Mona Lisa that you bought and trying to improve on it? Are you picking up a paint brush to add to the work, putting a mustache on it? In so doing, you are insulting the work of the master.
10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
For that is exactly what we are doing when we are trying to add to what Jesus said is finished when the Lord Jesus said He has made you holy. The Lord Jesus said He has made you complete. He says, “I have given you everything you need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord Jesus said, “I have given you an eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15). The Lord Jesus said “I have given you eternal life.” The Lord Jesus said, “No one will ever snatch you out of my hands.” The Lord Jesus said, “I love you eternally and I will always love you eternally.”(1 John 4:9-12)
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
What is there, my friends, to rebel against Jesus, if you know who Jesus is? I know a lot of people who have rebelled against religion and I say, “Praise God. You ought to be rebelling against religion. So did Jesus and so did Paul rebel against religion.” But there is nothing about the person of Christ to rebel against the person who said, “I so loved you that I gave myself to you and I demonstrated my love for you that while you were still a sinner I came to die for you so raised from the dead I can come and live in you.”
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
That is the message we have been called to be proclaiming instead of this comingling of law and grace. What so many ministers are doing is creating double-minded people that are unstable in all ways. They walk down both sides of the street at the same time. The only person I have seen do that is a drunk. That is what the Christian world has become, drunk Christians, one foot in the law and one foot in grace. If you are in that position, will you get out of that today? Will you step out of that law and grab a hold of the grace of God and say, “From this day forth, Jesus, I will thank you for my forgiveness. I will thank you that I have been given eternal life and I had nothing to do with it and I do not have anything to do with keeping it. But I will try to grow in your grace until the day that I see you face to face.”