Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The New Covenant P28 (07-27-21)
What was Wrong With the Old Covenant?
Since we have a New Covenant that replaced the Old Covenant, what was wrong with the Old Covenant? We read that the law was holy, righteous and good (Romans 7:12), so the problem was not really with the law, or the Old Covenant. The problem is with us, the people. No one can keep the law. As Paul recognized in his own life and described for us in Romans 7, that the things I want to do I do not do and the things I hate to do I do anyways. He once thought he could obey the law and described his life as far as legalistic righteousness is concerned, faultless (Philippians 3:4-6). At one time Paul thought he could keep the law, that in his mind, the law was intended to bring life. He discovered that when the law said, “Do not covet”, instead of not coveting, he coveted all the more.
He came to understand that the power of sin is in the law, that there is something wrong with him. The law put him to death so he died to the law. We know that through human experience that the only thing you have to do to get a young child to put his finger in a fire is to tell him not to put his finger in the fire. There is something in us that rebels against the law, whether God’s law or man’s law. We have a tendency to rebel. There is something wrong with us.
That is exactly what Hebrews 8:8 says as to the reason God had to set aside the Old Covenant, because no man could keep it. He found fault with the people. So He came to fulfill the requirements of the law for us, and then became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), upholding the demands of the law for us, that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). James 2:10 succinctly says that if any man stumbles at just one point in breaking the law, he has broken all of it. Since the wages of sin is death, until mankind is out from under that law of sin and death, he has no hope for eternal life.
So the Old Covenant was a preparation for the hearts of men to recognize they are a sinner. For until that occurs, man does not appreciate the cross. What do I need a cross for if I do not recognize I am a sinner, in need of my sins forgiven, to be taken away? So the law will never go away for the sinner until the sinner, the lost person, recognizes his need of a Savior. The law cannot make anyone righteous because it is through the law we are made conscious of sin (Romans 3:20). The law can only condemn, to testify against you that you are a sinner. Scripture says that the law is a ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3:7). So die to the law so you can be made alive in Christ Jesus (Romans 7:4, Galatians 2:19). The purpose of the law is for you to recognize your wretched state and seek a Savior in Christ Jesus (Romans 7:7-11).
If I also do not recognize that there is a consequence to sin called death, that I am born dead spiritually, then why would I appreciate the resurrection? For it is only by the resurrected life of Christ Jesus that life, not temporal life, but eternal life, can be offered to men, to be received as a gift from God (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). It is by coming to faith in what Christ alone did for me that I can receive this life, the Holy Spirit of God placed in me so I can discern the things of God, in order to have a dynamic relationship with the living God. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-4) and we can boldly go to the throne of grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16). That is the New Covenant that replaced the old.
The death of Christ made it possible for life to be given, for if Jesus had not taken away the cause of our death, which is sin, then the next time we sinned we would die again. The shed blood of Jesus, the blood of God Himself, is of such value that it eternally took away the sins of the entire world from the eyes of God (1 John 2:2 NASB), all the sins back to Adam and forward to eternity. The cross is the reason we can have eternal life, but it is in Him, in the resurrected life of Christ Jesus, that we have eternal life. What was provided then, 2000 years ago at a cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins, is received in Him (Ephesians 1:7).
To further understand how the law was designed for man to recognize his wretched state, look at what Jesus said on the sermon of the mount in Matthew 5. If you think obeying the ten commandments is hard, try obeying the sermon on the mount. As you think about Matthew 5, why was Jesus saying the things he did? First of all, Jesus was living when the New Covenant had not been ushered in yet because he had not yet gone to the cross nor rose from the empty tomb yet. He was speaking to the Jews who were still under the Old Covenant system, which included all the laws of Moses, as you read about in Leviticus and Deuteronomy; the ceremonial laws, the dietary laws and all the rest. He tells them that you heard it said under the law of Moses that you should not murder, but I tell you if you have anger in your heart you have already committed murder. The law says “Do not commit adultery”, but I tell you that if you look lustfully at a woman in your heart you already committed adultery. And about stealing Jesus says, “if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
What is Jesus saying here? He is getting under the skin where we live, just as Paul was when he chose to talk about coveting, the internal thoughts of men. He is saying to go beyond thinking about what you are doing but about what you are thinking. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). So, if man thinks about his internal attitudes of heart, he will come to understand how wretched he is.
That is why the disciples responded to Jesus and asked, “Who then can be saved?” That is why Jesus replied, “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” In essence, Jesus was saying to them in their day, “Follow me to the cross and then to the empty tomb.” and “Wait for me to ascend to My Father, then put your trust in Me, and I will send the promised Holy Spirit to you, to live in you and be with you forever and where I am you will be with me also.” It was like Jesus was making the law more difficult and burying people under the law. For until men see their utter wretchedness under the law, their hearts are not ready to receive a Savior. If it is not sufficient for you to understand that when the commandment came that says “Do not covet”, sin sprang to life and I died, then try the sermon on the mount for size.
I thought I was doing great but I found out I was not. I found out the commandment that was intended to bring life to me brought death. Now you are ready for salvation. That is what the old was there for. It prepared us for the new. But if we are trying to comingle the old and the new, you will never get out of the old. You have to die to the law in order to come alive to the living Holy Spirit who lives in you and guides you and directs you into all truth.
Place your faith in Jesus, God in the flesh, who took away all your sins on the cross and receive Him for eternal life today!