Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The New Covenant P5 (06-02-21)
When you read the Old Testament, you get a better understanding and visual picture of why we need a New Covenant. In my growing up, the ten commandments were taught as something to live by and memorize. I am not sure what people still think about the ten commandments today, because in my state, the ten commandments were ordered to be taken down from the capitol grounds, and I would hear from church-going people that Roy Moore needs to stand down and obey the law of the land. But the point is, the ten commandments is something closely tied to the conscience that God has created in mankind as something that is holy, righteous and good. In Muslim countries, I have heard that if you steal gold out of a store, because they do not have such items locked up in a case, then you can get your hand chopped off. That is overly harsh punishment to me, but the point is they would not have such a law if they thought stealing was not wrong.
Many churches used to, and maybe still do, teach the ten commandments as holy, righteous and good. But churches also often teach it as a law to live by. So what do people do? They double up their efforts to try to perfect themselves by means of the law. That is also what the Jews did and was what hindered them from receiving what Jesus came to offer. They would say to Jesus, “We believe in Moses, the law giver.” But Jesus responded by saying, “if you believed Moses, you would believe in me, for he wrote about me.” What is it about mankind that we do not see what Jesus was trying to say to us when he walked on this earth?
Have you discovered that the more you try to obey the law, the law actually stirs up sin. The apostle Paul discovered that. At a time in his life he thought he could obey the law that says do not lust. But he found out the very opposite happened, that he lusted all the more. He came to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with him. Why can I not obey the law?
So have you looked closely at God’s word and simply asked the question, “What is the purpose of the law?” Have you asked, “Why can’t I keep it?” Have you thought incorrectly about God, thinking that He is a harsh task-master, telling us to obey this law, knowing we cannot keep it. What kind of God is that? That is a God of your own understanding or your own imagination. Have you looked more closely at the scriptures as to the purpose of the law? Was it ever given to make us righteous before God? No. It was designed, as the apostle Paul said, so that we might recognize our state of utter wretchedness and seek a Savior. Who did he say that Savior is? Jesus Christ. What did Jesus Christ come to do? What did He do that I should know Him? Now, you are asking the right questions. Now, your heart is being made ready to receive what God came to give you, His very life to be lived in you and through you, to do something for you that you could never do for yourself. Jesus said he did not come to condemn, for we are condemned already. He said He came to save, to give life to the dead.
We are continuing in chapter 2, The Reason for the New Covenant in A Closer Look at the New Covenant. We were talking about how God gave the law to the people. He gave an Old Covenant to the people, and it was a covenant that said, “Here it is, and you keep it.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.”
It is very interesting that He gave the law to Moses. Moses went down to tell the people what God had said to him with His law. The people responded, “We will do it, Lord. We will obey everything.” They were ready to obey. Moses goes back up to God to give the report as to how the people responded. While he was there giving his report to God of what all the people said, “We will obey”, the people were down there building a golden calf and violating the first commandment of the ten, that “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” That is how quick it took. Not a long time, just long enough to get up the mountain and back down the mountain.
1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
The people said Moses has been gone for a long time, so let us do something else. In other words, the hero we have been following is not around, so let us go do our thing. I think to a degree the same thing is true of people’s understanding of God. “I do not see Him so evidently He is not around. So let us go do our own thing. The reason is I do not know Him. There is no way to get to know Him.”
God looked at that covenant, which is “Here is my law, and you, man are in the equation. I am expecting a response from you, to do what you said you would do. I want you to obey these laws.” So He put man in the equation. As this went on, He had to come up with a new law, and the reason for that is He found fault, not with His covenant, but with us.
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
You look at that and say, “Did God make a covenant that there is something wrong with it?” No. Keep reading. If there was nothing wrong with the covenant, He would not have sought another.
8 But God found fault with the people and said:
“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.
He did not find fault with His covenant but with the people. The problem with the covenant is that the people cannot keep it. So He said, “a time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” This new covenant went into effect on the day of the death of Christ.
He equates that to a will. If you and I have a will, it will not go into effect until the day we die. The word covenant, will and testament are all interchangeable words. You have an Old Testament. You have a New Testament. The new has replaced the old.
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: 8 “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.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
People cannot get that into our heads. People are commingling law and grace. I was listening today to a preacher that is a very nice-appearing man, but he is hammering this tithing and co-mingling the old and the new like no one you have ever heard in your life. He has all these Old Testament passages as if people are under the Old Covenant. It makes you sick to your stomach, the confusion that these people are putting out into the pews today. People sitting there confused out of their socks, double-minded and unstable in all ways. He found fault with the people. When are people going to get a hold of that? So God says this.
18 The former regulation is set aside
because it was weak and useless
Why? Because we could not keep it.
19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
The law made nothing perfect. The law cannot make you and me complete. All it can do is to show us we are incomplete. That is all. A better hope is introduced by which we draw near to God.
We, therefore, see how God had to come up with a plan. And He had to come up with a plan that was going to enable us to walk in the newness of life, and to walk in a brand new way.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
There is a New Covenant and an Old Covenant. The old should disappear. When are we going to let it disappear? Why do we keep dragging over the old? Some people are wanting to live like the Jews. Why do we drag over that? “I do not eat meat. I do not eat pork, and no shrimp. I worship on Saturday.” Do we prefer being a Jew to that of being a child of God? Do we not have a clue that God has ushered in a New Covenant for us? It is a covenant of God’s grace.
In order for man to see the dynamic of the new, you have to see the result of the old. The book of Romans shows us what God says is our condition.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
It does not make any difference what we think about ourselves. We have gone through a political election in the United States, where to a degree, and it is not his fault, necessarily, but the people’s fault, where you almost think the Messiah has arrived. “Oh, what a wonderful guy”, and some think the opposite way. Every election that takes place, one group thinks he is wonderful and the other group thinks he is not. But then the mere fact that we think anybody is wonderful, but we know better if we are going to listen to God. We may think we are good people, but God does not say that. God says, “No, you have all sinned. You have all fallen short of the glory of God. There is none righteous. No, not one.”
23 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.
We say, “I do not believe that God. I do not think that is true. You come and watch my smoke. You have not hung around me long enough.” The Jews could not do it. But the Gentiles, for some reason or another, stepped into this equation and said, “You watch us do it.” Gentiles have been doing it ever since, as legalistic as the Jews ever thought of being. Maybe not taking things to the ultimate extreme as the orthodox Jew did, but pretty close to it.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
What does that reveal about mankind? That we have all sinned. If we have all fallen short of the glory of God that means no one is righteous, not one. When are we going to come to the grips of that? If that is the case, and indeed it is the case, then is there a solution to this? Of course, that is what the New Covenant is about, God’s solution to this problem. There is a problem.
The wages of sin is death.
There is sin and a consequence to sin. I have told people before, “In case you have not figured it out, the consequence is worse than the sin.” The sin is the cause of the consequence. But the consequence is the problem. What is the problem with sin? It causes death. Death is your problem.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins
Why would you need to be made alive unless you are dead? You are dead in your sins. You are born dead in your sins, and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature. That is a problem. We do not hear about that. We do not necessarily know how to identify that. But that is where we have to go to the one who said that, and that is the one who created us, and He says you are dead spiritually. In reality, we as human beings are even dead from the moment we are born. It has not taken place but our goal is death. That is ultimately where we are headed, is death.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
So, in essence, we are born to die. But this is talking about your spiritual condition, that when Adam sinned, the Spirit of God said, “You are going to be on your own. You have chosen to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You have chosen to make a decision that ‘I do not need you God to determine right from wrong and good from evil. I can do that on my own.’” I said to you, “have at it, and we will see how you do. And I separated from you.” From that day forth every person born is not born in the image of God. Adam was created in the image of God. This stuff that we are all God’s children is not true. We have not been born in the image of God. We are born in the image of Adam. We are told that in Genesis.
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
Adam was created in the image of God but when Seth was born, not created, he was born in the image of Adam. So you and I became at birth what Adam became in his death. We were born into this world, not alive spiritually, but dead spiritually. We get a contradiction of terms. People say, “I do not want to believe that a baby is born dead spiritually.” Then why do we have people christening children? Why would you do that if you are born alive? You are born dead. Because the bible does not speak explicitly to the question, “What happens to a baby or a child that is too young to understand the gospel, and they die, what happens to them?” Fear grips and grabs a hold of people. So, mankind has come up with christening. We will baptize them and that will ensure their salvation. That will preserve them until the day they can accept Christ on their own. We do that. We sit at the feet of churches that do that, and swear by that. So person says, “I would not think of having a child that has not been christened.”
But that is not true. That is not in the scripture. It is not in scripture to answer the question, “What about the person who has never heard?” I have an answer to that, but the true answer to any of those types of questions is this. You have to put that into the hands of a perfectly loving and perfectly just God, and He will have to make that decision. You cannot. He did not write to us to make that decision. That is never talked about. An important subject to talk about you would think. You think God would be thinking, “These people down here are going to be more interested in their babies, so I will write some instructions to them.” But He did not write a thing. He wrote that it is my decision. But He did write this to us, as reasoning adults.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
That is to an adult he is saying that. That is to you. “I am taking care of the child.” A lot of those questions come from those not understanding what the scripture says so people just go along with what their tradition says and thinks everything is okay.
But if God took a look at us and said, “Here is the law but the people I gave it to could not even keep it as long as it took to get up and down the mountain”, then what was the purpose of this law? Everything God gives us has a purpose. If I was a manufacturer of a hammer, I would probably have in my mind that I am going to manufacture this hammer in order that it could be sold to a carpenter who will build something productive with it. That would be in my mind. That is the purpose of this hammer. It has a purpose for it. That would be a great assumption. The hammer in the hands of a skilled carpenter can build you a beautiful home. But the hammer in the hands of a murderer can use that same hammer you use to build a house with, not to hit you in the head and kill you. It is not the fault of the hammer but in whose hands it is in. Who is using it in accordance with the purpose it was created to be used? A manufacturer did not manufacture a hammer for the purpose of putting it into a murderer’s hands. The purpose of the hammer is to build something constructive. The same is true with the law. God gave us the law to be used according to His purpose for us.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all?
It asked a question God is going to answer. Why did God give that law to us, knowing full well man could not obey it?
It was added because of transgressions [our sins] until
The “until” means there is a “before” and an “after”.
the Seed [Christ Jesus] to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Now we have a “before” and an “after”.
22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
We were held in custody under the law. The law was a prison. We were slaves, in other words. We were locked up, not free. When you are locked up, you are not free.
23 Before the coming of this faith,
Before Jesus arrived on the scene and before Jesus arrived on your scene, before you came to grips with who Jesus is and came to do.
locked up until the faith
In who? Until Jesus should be revealed.
that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
The law was to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. It does not say so you can be justified by the law. The law was put in charge to lead you to Christ. That is it’s purpose. That is the hammer that was manufactured to build a house with, not hitting you in the head with. We have taken this law that God gave us, and the purpose He gave it to us for, and ignored the purpose. We have used the law as a means of obtaining righteousness. Go out and not only have the ten but three hundred and more additional laws on top of that to obey. Ridiculous type of laws and we think we are doing okay. What do we base our religion on? Pure laws that we go to church on Saturday? Oh, whoopy do. The fact of the matter it does not matter where you worship but who you worship.
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Jesus does not say what day to worship on.
People say all kinds of things. “We do not do this. We do not drink, smoke and hang around girls that do. We are mighty people. We are law-abiding people.” Really? God, in essence, is saying, “Let me look inside your heart. Let me take a look at what is going on underneath the skin, sir, self-righteous one.” The law was not given to us as a means of righteousness. It was given to us to show us that we need Christ. All of these legalists out there, who are under the law, that law, if it was doing its work, if they were allowing the law to do that, what God meant for it to do, would be sitting there unable to wait to get to Jesus, because they see, “I cannot do it. I cannot do it.”
The apostle Paul, an interesting man, an educated man with the best of them, without equal as far as legalistic obedience, said in essence, that he was flawless. That is a tough statement to make. What conclusion did he come to? Here is a man desperately trying to live up to the law.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
The things I want to do I do not do. The things I do not want to do I do anyway. It is clear that if I continue to do what I do not want to do, then sin has me in its evil grasps.
He talks about how life is without hope under the law. This educated, self-righteous man, obedient in his mind to the law, coming to the end of his self-sufficiency. He ultimately sees that and cries out in utter desperation.
24 What a wretched man I am!
I think it is with tears in his eyes and a deep hurt in the heart, saying “What a wretched man that I am.”
Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
He recognized something. “I am under the law, and if I am under the law, I am under the death penalty. Who will free me from this bondage of sin and death? Who will free me from my state of spiritual death? Who will do that? Because there is no life in the law. I thought that the law was going to produce life, but instead I found it produced death. Here I am dead. Who will free me from the state of spiritual death?”
He cries out with this joy that can only come from God.
25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ my Lord. He has set me free.”
Then he goes on to explain something.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
There is now, although there was before, no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. Why?
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
The Law of Spirit of life set me from the law of sin and death. What is the condemnation of God for sin? Death. What have we been freed from? Death. What freed us from death? Life. Whose life? Jesus. What kind of life? Resurrection life. That is precisely why the apostle Paul said that without the resurrection we are to be pitied of all people and are still dead in our sins.
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.
The centrality of the message of the New Covenant, the centrality of the message of Christianity, is the resurrection. People have made it all about just the cross. The cross was preparatory, an absolute necessity to give eternal life, because of what caused spiritual death, sin. So unless the cause of death was eradicated forever, taken away, not covered, but taken away forever from the eyes of God, He could never have given us forever life. I have forever life. I have what is called eternal life. Why? Because my sins have been taken away eternally, taken away from the eyes of God eternally. How many times did He do that? Once. For how many? The whole world. For how long? Throughout eternity, back to Adam and forward to eternity. My sins and your sins are behind the back of God, never to see them again.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Do you think God said, “I am not going to answer that prayer, Jesus?” What do you think the Father did? He forgave them. He forgave them once and for all. This high priest does not have to go back over and over seeking forgiveness. He did it once and He did it for all. What did Christ cry from the cross?
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“It is finished.” or Tetelestai, means “Paid in full.” No more payments are to be made on it.
Now like our building, if you think I am going to send them money back to the bank, you are crazy as a hoot owl. There is nothing else for me to pay off. It is done. It is finished. Paid in full.
If that is true, and it is true, then how do we walk by faith, because it says this law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, and when we are led to Christ we can be justified by faith. Is it faith in the law? In my ability to obey the law? No. It is faith in Jesus who fulfilled the law. That is who our faith is in. But faith is not in ourselves to do. Our faith is in Jesus who did. There is a world of difference in the two.
Religion keeps hammering on what you need to do. In other words, people have developed this spiritual dyslexia, where God is a responder to us. I heard a minister on the air today, saying that He is obligated to us. That is nonsense. He is the initiator. He initiated salvation. He initiated creation. Everything is Him. He said, “All I want you to do is respond. You respond by faith in me, or you respond in denying me. Whether you live eternally in my presence or away from it is going to depend upon that decision.” That is the New Covenant. You and I are out of the equation. I keep saying that we are out of the equation. The law speaks to those who are under it. If you are under the law, you are under a curse. Get out from under that curse by coming to Christ today by faith.