Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The New Covenant P16 (06-29-21)
I cannot emphasize this enough! If you do not get a handle on the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant you will be confused the rest of your life in regard to biblical interpretation. You have no framework in which to interpret scriptures. It would be like putting scriptures in a hat, and pulling them out one by one and trying to make sense of it with no surrounding context. You read an Old Testament scripture that says if you do not forgive your brother from your heart neither will I forgive you. So, without understanding that was written in the context of a Jew under an Old Covenant agreement still in existence then in contrast to a New Covenant we live under today, you think you have to get your sins forgiven, or keep yourself forgiven through continually confessing your sins to God. You put yourself right back under the law that God says in a New Covenant that you are no longer under, that you have been set free from because you are now led internally by the Spirit of God who lives in you.
Do you know the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? Can you write a chart of all the differences between the two? Which Testament has the better sacrifice? Can the blood of bulls and goats ever take away sins? Why does an Old Testament Levite priest always stand, year after year, shedding the blood of bulls and goats? Such sacrifices are repeated, required under an Old Covenant, but never pleasing to God, because such sacrifices can only cover sin, but never take them away. It could never make anyone perfect, or complete, before God because the work is never finished. The work of such a priest is never finished. That is why he is always standing.
Now, with a change in the priesthood, there is a change in the law. There were demands under the Old Covenant law that man could never keep. The law was holy, righteous and good but we could not pull it off. We were the problem, being born without the Spirit of God, born spiritually dead. The only hope for man is a better sacrifice, a sacrifice that is once and for all, that can take away forever the sins of man from the eyes of God. The blood of bulls and goats could not do it. It had to be someone like us, but without sin. It had to be someone with an indestructible life, someone who is God Himself, an eternal being, to take upon all sins eternally, back to Adam and forward to the person yet to be born. Only one person fits that description. That person is known for the empty tomb. He died, was buried, but rose again.
Not only was a better sacrifice needed. It had better promises, of a life to be put back in man, and where God can always live to intercede for man before God, under a system of pure grace, where man will never be condemned and is free to choose to live under the grace of God, to allow God to live His life through him. So who was that once and for all sacrifice for man to make this all possible?
That person is God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. He came from heaven and put on flesh and blood. Jesus laid down his life for us only to be raised again to give His life to us so He can live His life through us. We do not have a life to live, being devoid of the Spirit of life in us. We have to have that life put in us, and that has to be received as a gift. Mankind cannot die for his own sins, having sin of his own. Man cannot make himself acceptable to God by obeying the law, for he fails every time. Man cannot raise himself from the dead because death has a hold on him because of sin and he has no power to give life to the dead. He had to have someone do it all for him. That person is Jesus, who ushered in a New Covenant that demands nothing from man, but simply for man to receive by faith, a gift that man, when he receives such an amazing gift says, “Thank You.”
Do you see how the New Covenant was all possible by a better sacrifice? Jesus sacrificed Himself once, not two or three times, but once, to take away the sins of the world and by that sacrifice we have been perfect, or complete, by God. When you are made, you are something new, not what you used to be. You have been made a child of God, a new creation. You are made as righteous as Jesus. There is no more righteousness to seek. There is no more holiness to seek. You have been given everything you need for life and godliness by Him who lives in you, who guides you into all truth, and you can access by the new mind He has given you.
There is also no more forgiveness to be asked for. He already forgave the sins of the world before you were even born. You are not saved by His death, but His death, His once and for all sacrifice, made it possible for God to give you what you really needed, and that is new life, His life, the Spirit of God alive living in you, a relationship with the living God. You have been transferred from the law of sin and death to a new law of liberty in Christ Jesus. You are no longer enslaved to an impossible system that could never make you perfect before God, where you continually had to sacrifice bulls and goats to be reconciled to God. Sacrifices for sin are over. There are no more sacrifices for sin.
Why then do people preach that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for sin? Well, sadly our bibles are poorly translated into English. Some bibles properly translate into English the word “propitiation”, a total satisfaction of the wrath of God against sin requiring no further and no other sacrifice. But if you use the word atoning or atonement in regard to Jesus’ shed blood on a cross, then your mind goes back to the Old Testament sacrificial system, where the work is never finished.
So this goes back to understanding what all Jesus did, back to the foundation of what Jesus accomplished by His death, burial and resurrection. Without understanding that one gospel, verses like 1 John 1:9 are twisted out of context and put people under a sacrificial system, of confessing your sins to God to keep in fellowship, to keep short accounts with God. By doing so, you reject the clear instruction that Jesus is not counting sins today. In Hebrews, where you have the best and more thorough explanation of the New Covenant, we read that God will remember our sins no more. He is not counting sins against us any more. The only sin attributable to man is the sin of unbelief in what Jesus alone accomplished for us. You have been reconciled. Now be reconciled to God. Accept His gift of new life in Christ Jesus.
It is not faith to keep asking God for what in Him you already have. What do you have? Redemption and the forgiveness of sins. What else? His righteousness imputed to you, His Holy Spirit given to you who will never leave you nor forsake you. So why ask for more of the Holy Spirit in your life? Sadly, that sounds like a song sung in many churches. Why ask for Him to forgive you when you sin? That is insulting the Spirit of grace, making a mockery of the shed blood of Jesus, and making that sacrifice on the same par as that of bulls and goats. Sadly, that is what people do when they quote 1 John 1:9 so as to keep in fellowship with God, as they incorrectly think. Or others do when they go to a confessional booth to get their sins forgiven. Or the Jews did by going back to the day of atonement. Do not be double-minded. Jesus did it all. He said it is finished. Do you believe Him? The Greek word there is tetelestai, and if you go into a Jewish store they will stamp a purchased item with tetelestai, meaning paid in full. No more payment for sin is needed, and it is an insult to God who said I did it for you. “All I am asking is that you believe me and accept the gift of My Son. I just want to hear your words, ‘Thank You’, and that is enough for me. Jesus did it all for you. Accept what My Son did for you. Rest in me. I love you. You cannot do it, never could, so I did it for you. I love you that much.”
This is one of the most important subjects in the Christian world. I know this personally that if you do not get a handle on the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant you will be confused the rest of your life in regard to biblical interpretation.
As a matter of review, before we continue on with our lesson on Chapter 5: A Better Sacrifice, we are talking about the new compared to the old. The reason for the New Covenant is because the old did not work. It is not because there was anything wrong with the covenant but when it flowed through me the law killed me. The only thing the law can do is show us our condition of spiritual death, which is what equipped us for the cross. The Old Testament is preparatory. The entire Old Testament was preparing mankind for the coming of the Messiah. If the Old could have done it for us, Jesus could have stayed home.
No man under the Old Covenant, no man could ever be declared righteous in the sight of God through obedience to the law. We tried. It did not work. Paul said the things I want to do I do not do, and the things I did not want to do I do anyway. That is Paul, not too bad of Christian. So how do you think we are going to pull it off? We can’t.
That is the basis for the New Covenant where God looked down on us in mercy, and looked down on our fallen condition that we were born into in Adam. So let us make a plan of salvation for these people in which they are out of the equation. If we put one speck in the equation, they will blow it. The New Covenant was ushered in, covenant of grace whereby their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more and where these have been, not will be, forgiven, there is no more sacrifice for sin.
For the Jew, the day of atonement was set aside. No more sacrifice for sin. Today, to the Catholic, He would be saying no more confessional booths. To the Protestant, He is saying no more of your 1 John 1:9. That is not what it is written for. It is over. It is finished. If you are going to walk by faith, whether Catholic, Protestant or Jew, if you are going to walk by faith, you are going to have to walk by faith in what He did and not in what you are doing.
So this New Covenant was based upon better promises. It is a promise of what God did for you rather than something that we are going to do for God. In God’s economy, there are no promise keepers. Only Him. He is the only promise keeper there is.
We talked about a new priesthood. When there is a change in the law, there must also be a change in priesthood. When there is a change in the priesthood, there must also be a change in the law. We are no longer under the Levitical priesthood. Jesus Christ is our high priest, one who lives forever, continually forever interceding on our behalf.
Now we are talking about a better sacrifice. This is the sacrifice that no longer covers sins, such as the day of atonement, but this is a sacrifice that took away sin, called propitiation. John the Baptist identified Jesus in that way.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
He said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”, not cover it, but take it away. The law, we are told, is only a shadow of the good things coming, not the reality themselves. People today are worshiping a shadow. It reminds me of the person pointing his finger to the dog, to go over there to get your food. The dog comes up and sniffs your finger. It is the same thing. The law was pointing us toward Jesus. Instead of us going to the one he is pointing us to, we go up and sniff the finger of the law and worship part of the law. People are still trying to obey the pointer instead of the person who saved us from the pointer. The law is not a reality.
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect [or complete] those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, yet Jesus was identified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. So we are contrasting the old sacrifice, an animal sacrifice, called atonement, with the new sacrifice, which is the blood of Christ Jesus Himself, called propitiation, the taking away of the sins of the world from the eyes of God. That is what God did for you and for me.
Atonement, therefore, covered sin. Jesus did not atone for sin. People still use the word. It is not biblical to do so. Atonement was the covering of sins by shedding the blood of a bull and a goat. To put Christ’s blood on the same par as the blood of a bull and a goat is unthinkable and a disgraceful thing to do for the Lord Jesus. He did not come to atone for sin, but to take them away, something far greater. Because we still use that word, and when you hear the word atonement, you cannot help but go back to the blood of bulls and goats. It has absolutely hindered the Christian world, very subtly, from understanding that there is a contrast between covering sin and taking it away. Therefore the taking away never gets preached. We are still preaching atonement. So maybe it is proper to use the word, because that is what we are teaching. We are not teaching that he is taking away the sins of the world from the eyes of God, otherwise we would not be teaching to be begging for Him what in Him we already have. Because we continually use the word and practice the word identically the way it was in the Old Testament outside of the fact there is no more blood of bulls and goats.
You say, “Where is your sacrifice, you who are continually asking for forgiveness, where is your sacrifice?” You are either going to be asking for what you already have or you are going to be thanking Him for what you already have. You are going to ask for what you already have, which is not faith, or thanking Him for what you already have, which is faith. I am asking you who are listening today, which one are you in? Are you walking by faith or walking by presumption, and in essence, making a mockery of the grace of God that sanctifies you, sets you apart from the rest of the world. We now know the difference between atonement and taking away.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”[Psalm 40:6-8]
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” – though they were offered in accordance with the law.
God was not pleased with those sacrifices because they could not make you complete. It just covered you for a while. It is the same thing as killing a bull and a goat to get your sins forgiven, but knowing that you will be going back to do it again. The same thing. I am asking God to forgive me for my sin, and in three or four minutes, I will be asking Him again. It satisfied the soul temporarily, but not permanently. It cannot work because it is not complete. It is not absolute. We need absolute truth to have an absolute faith. God wants us to have an absolute faith.
So He says He was not pleased with it. “The law required it but I am not pleased with it.” Then we read further in verse 9 in chapter 10 of Hebrews.
9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
If you had more than one will in your life, and most people have, when you finalize the new will, you set aside the old will. You set aside the first in order to establish the second. Both of them are wills. Both of them are testaments. But one has replaced the other. By this will, this new covenant, this new testament, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus once and for all. You could not be made holy through the sacrifice of a bull and goat once and for all in the Old Testament. Something better had to take place, a better sacrifice, a final sacrifice, a sacrifice that you spend the rest of your life thanking Jesus instead of begging for what in Him you already have.
21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Mark your bible at verse 22, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Without the forfeiture of life, a sacrifice, there is no forgiveness.
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
What does he mean to do away with sins? Does that mean people are not going to sin anymore? That certainly cannot be the meaning. We have sinned quite well over thousands of years. To do away with sin means I, Jesus, took away the sins from the eyes of God. I dealt with it. It was certainly there. I did not blink at it or ignore it. A sacrifice had to be made for all of our sins. I am going to make that sacrifice. My own blood. Jesus Christ Himself. The quality of that blood was such that it was able and capable of taking away the sins of the world from the eyes of God, back to Adam and forward to eternity.
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
What did His blood sacrifice do? Not cover, but take away sins.
When He cried out from the cross, if that did not mean it is finished, how could this statement be made? If He did not finish His work, then when He comes back then He is going to have to finish it when He comes back. You could not make this statement that when He comes back the second time, not to bear sins, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him, because He finished His work. It is over. It is finished. It is paid in full.
I used an illustration of our building being paid off. When we burnt that mortgage, how foolish would it be to be going into the bank tomorrow to pay my mortgage? The banker would think I lost my mind. It was paid for, Bob. It was paid in full. It is called Tetellestai, paid in full. That is what Christ cried out at the cross, “paid in full”. It is finished. It is over.
If you went to Israel and bought it in the store, they would stamp it with Tetellestai, “paid in full”. How foolish would it be after leaving the store, I think this is a nice piece, so I believe I got a bargain for it. Let me go back in and pay a little more. They would say you are out of your mind.
Why do you think we are not out of our mind when we are continually asking God for forgiveness when He says it is already finished. We should be thanking Him. Someone says, “Oh, you are talking light on this.” No. My thanks is what God is looking for. He is looking for a merciful, thankful heart, thanking Him for what He did instead of thinking my confession will cause God to forgive me. We have got it reversed. We are absolutely in spiritual dyslexia. We think I initiate my confession to God and He is obligated to forgive me. He has already forgiven you. He must think we are dumb as sheep down here, going through our confessional booths, through our 1 John 1:9, thinking that will produce forgiveness for us, to Martin Luther climbing up and down stairs until his knees are raw. He must be looking down on us and saying, “Have these people gotten out of their minds? When are they going to walk by faith in the simple truth that I have done it all, and there is nothing they can do to add to my work.” It is finished. When He is coming back He is not coming to deal with sin. Why? He has done it. It is finished. When are you going to finish the work? When are you going to come to a point of saying, “Lord Jesus, I did not deserve this. I did not and cannot earn this. This is what you did, exclusive of me. You left me out of the equation. Thank you Lord Jesus for doing that, leaving me out, for if you left me in I would have blown it already. Thank you that I can spend the rest of my life thanking you for my sins having been taken away at the cross over 2000 years ago. Thank you Lord.” That is what faith is. The rest of it is religious presumption. The only judgment for sins has already been done. When you go to the judgment seat, to the appraisal of your works, at the end times, the book of life is opened up, a judgment but really opening up to determine who is there and who isn’t. If you are in Christ Jesus, you are there.
Will our sins ever separate us from God again? If it is taken away it will not.
11 Day after day every priest stands
Why does the priest stand? Did the priest in the Old Testament, doing his religious duties, stand? A chair was a prohibited piece of furniture in the temple. Why did he stand?
and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
In other words, his work is never complete. He is provided no chair to sit down and rest. His work is never complete. What he is doing can never take away the sins of the world. Cover sins temporarily? Yes. Take them away? No.
Now, look at the contrast.
12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
For all time, including today, and not two times or three times, but one time. It says one sacrifice and then he sat down. Why did he sit down? His work was over. It was finished. The Old Testament priests could not sit down. They did not have a chair to sit upon. Why? Their work was never over. But when He offered one sacrifice for all time, He sat down. Since that time, to this very day, he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. Why? Because by one sacrifice, not two or three or four, but one sacrifice, of His own life, He has made perfect forever those who are the holy ones.
Hebrews 10:14 [NET Bible]
14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.
Where are we in here? The one being made. He made me perfect forever. He made me holy forever. I am not holy because I walk around with my head tilted to one side, and my bible tucked under my arm, and acting holy. I have been made, set apart, by my relationship with the living God. He made me that way. I had nothing to do with it except sit back and get made. He made me perfect forever. That means complete.
When you have been made complete there is nothing else to make. When the artist puts his name on a picture and puts it in a frame, there is no more dabbling. It is finished. It is over. When the car manufacturer completes the making of a car, having it shined and everyone looks at it and inspects it, they say it is finished. Go out and sell it. When you cook a meal and you take it out of the pot and put it on a plate, there is no more cooking going on. It is over.
We have to understand there is one sacrifice. He made me complete. He made you listeners complete forever, all of you whom He made holy. Is that good news? “ Yes, but I do not have anything to do with that.” “I know you don’t because if you did you would blow it.” “But it makes me feel so good to think I can do something to make myself holy.” “You are making yourself obnoxious. That is what you are making yourself into when you are trying to improve on what Christ Jesus has done. He made you what you could not make yourself. Why are you trying to do what you cannot accomplish? You cannot make yourself complete. You cannot make yourself perfect. You cannot make yourself holy. Why are you trying, self righteous one? Why don’t you relax and come to the conclusion that I cannot but He can and He did. Walk in that Sabbath rest that God has called us to.”
How perfect are you? As perfect as the one who made you? Christ Jesus. How holy are you? As holy as the one who made me holy, who is Christ Jesus. How righteous are you? As righteous as the one who made me righteous. It is mind-blowing but it is truth. There is nothing for me to add to it. There is a problem. Religion says, “How am I ever going to make myself feel better about myself than you? How am I ever going to be able to walk around bragging about how holy I am if I believe this stuff? How am I going to be able to wear my collars and to walk around in my robes and to walk around in my $10,000 suits or bouffant hairdos and act like I am one holy dude in comparison to you if I believe this story?” If I believe what is being taught in this book, then I am on the same level with everybody else. I am saved by grace and by grace alone. There is nothing to brag about. It is just coming to understand the truth that everything that I have is given to me by the Lord Jesus Christ.
So He adds to all of this. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more and where these have been forgiven there is no more sacrifice for sins.