Old Covenant vs New – A Message of Grace That Every Christian Needs to Hear, But Probably Hasn’t – Online Bible Lessons
“God, Where am “I” going wrong? I’m doing everything they say to do.”
“I’m getting out of my comfort zone. I’m tithing. I’m in church teaching and volunteering everywhere I can. I’m reading my bible and doing my best to keep all of your commandments. And yet I always feel like I’m distant from you. One day I feel like I’m doing good, and the next I feel like I let you down and I’ve broken our fellowship. Where am I going wrong?”
Those were my feelings, and I’m guessing that most of you know exactly what I’m talking about. On the surface you’re doing everything religion tells you to do, but inside it’s like a roller coaster. It seemed no matter hard I tried I could never be perfect and I have this emotional roller coaster of being far and near from God. But then God revealed something to me that would change my life and bring me joy unspeakable.
God showed me the New Covenant. Oh, I’d heard of it alright, but religion had me blinded and I was missing the one of most beautiful messages in all of Christianity. In fact I have come realize that most of church today is missing this incredible message that God has made so clear, but, in an effort to control our behavior, religion has distorted. This is true in most of the Baptist churches. Catholic. Pentecostal. You name it.
I’d been a bible believing Christian for most of my adult life and never understood the New Covenant. Partly because most every sermon I heard was about the OLD covenant, or it was mostly limited to a select few behavior verses in the in new covenant.
The word “Grace” was taught as nothing more than the idea that I was a dirty sinner deserving of hell and I should be lucky God doesn’t send me there. The message was that I was filthy even on my best day, not worthy, and by God’s grace I’d just barely escape the penalty of eternal damnation.
But then God used a man that that fully understood Gods grace to show me my true identity through the book of Hebrews to give me the correct understanding of what this the new covenant really means to us. What is this new ccovenant and why is it so important to our joy? Well Hebrews 8 helps us to understand this “old” verses the “new” covenant message.
In Hebrews 8:10 we read 10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
Now this is not the law of Moses written on our hearts. Scripture tells us we are no longer under the law. Not supervised by the law. Jesus is end of the law for all that believe. So why would God say all that only to turn around and write the law on our hearts?
Jesus tells us exactly what these laws are. In John13:34 Jesus says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you”. When Jesus said a “new” commandment He was saying I’m not talking about an old one. He says the same thing again in John 15:12.
1 John 5:3 tells us His commands are not burdensome. Jesus says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
So I began to understand that I’m not supposed to have the new covenant for salvation and still hold onto the old for godly living and instruction. I began to see that I was only under one covenant, and not both simultaneously, and in a moment you’ll discover it too and it will change how you see the grace of God forever. In fact, you’re also going to discover that like me, if you’re a gentile (that’s anyone who is not Jewish) then you never had the old covenant, and you were only invited to one. The new. Jesus.
Why is this important? Because there are churches everywhere preaching a message of law and grace to Christians. Old and new. In and out of fellowship. And as you’re about to see you’re only under the new and that’s a big deal when it comes to living the Christian life. You’ll never bathe in the joy of the Lord until you know who you are, according to God. If you believe you are under the law at any level you’re not experiencing God’s grace the way He intended.
Ephesians 2:12 which is written to Gentiles, tells us “ remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Romans 2:14 says “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,”
But thankfully now God has done something amazing and invited us to His new and better covenant.
In the new covenant we see a message that religion waters down. Hebrews 8:12 says “I will remember their sins no more”.
This is not just some misunderstood verse. It means that God has gracefully chosen to show His love and take all of our sins off the record book and as far as the east is form the west he has taken them away.
If we are going to rightfully divide the bible there is something so overwhelmingly important that every believer needs to know, but most don’t, and I think this, in part, is where legalism begins. A lack of understanding. When did this new covenant begin? In the bible was it at Matthew 1? No. Was it when Jesus was born? No. The new covenant begins with Jesus Christ nailed to a cross, shedding blood and dying. Don’t leave now, because you’re about to learn something so incredible, and so obvious that people totally miss it, and once you get this you’ll start understanding the bible in a whole new way.
I want you to imagine a man who walks up to his aging parents, and says “hey mom & dad, I was wondering if I could cash in on your will a little early”. Now mom & dad might give in, but the lawyers are not going to let that fly for second. Because in order for there to be an inheritance there has to be a death first. It’s interesting that the word testament, the word will, and the word covenant are all the same word in the original language. And what Herbrews tells us about a will, a testament, or a covenant is that it’s only in force when the one who made it has died, meaning while that person lives it’s not in effect. So this is important to understand as we read books like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John if we’re going to interpret them correctly.
Hebrews 9:17-18 reads “For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18 Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood.
Now why is this such a big deal? Why does misunderstanding this create a legalism gospel? Why does missing this steal our joy? I’ll tell you why. We know of Jesus as being full of love. Kindness. He cares for the poor, heals the sick and gives sight to the blind. But then He turns right around and suddenly His words don’t sound so easy any more. He’s starts telling people to cut off their hands, gouge out their eyes, and sell everything, or be thrown into hell. What is Jesus doing here? Jesus has two ministries going on at the same time. On one hand He is telling the people about a new covenant that is on its way any day now, and on the other hand He’s completely burring people under the condemnation of the law. Why would He bury people under the law? It’s because we could never see our need for His grace unless we knew the law would only condemn us.
Now remember, it’s the death of Jesus that brings in the new covenant, not His birth.
Jesus is taking the standard of law and raising it to its true measure. The religious elite think they have no problem being under the law, and Jesus says things to them like “you’ve heard it said that you shall not commit adultery but I tell you anyone that looks with lust has already committed adultery in his heart”. Ouch. “you’ve heard it said that you shall not murder, but I tell you anyone that is angry his brother is guilty before the court”. Again, a death sentence to anyone under the law. “And whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell”. The Law – in your face – showing you there’s no hope in it. Guilty, no matter who you are.
People are writing books and preaching on the sermon on the mount as if the entire message was for believers, and there telling us “you can do it”. Really? Can you really do it? Never been angry? Look with lust? Are you perfect just as God is perfect?
So what we are seeing here is Jesus simultaneously caring out two ministries. One is about love, truth, light, and forgiveness. Then the religious people that want nothing to do with Jesus are getting what they think they want. Except Jesus is giving them the true measure of the law, and it’s more like Moses on steroids. Jesus leaves the rich man sad and the Pharisees angry. Mission accomplished. The religious people a buried under the law, the very same thing they thought would bring them life, is bringing them death.
When Moses brought the 10 commandments down from Mount Sinai and read it to the people they said “we will do everything written in the law”. They promised they would obey it all!
Now if you’ve read your bible you know how the story goes. It is not a story of success. It’s a story of failure and recommitment over and over. God’s blessings, Gods curse. Rinse and repeat. There was problem with that covenant. Don’t get me wrong, the law is perfect. The law is holy. The problem is you, under the law. Hebrews 8:8 tells us “God found fault with the people” under the law. Of course God was not shocked about this. The law always had a purpose, and that was to lead us to Jesus. To lead us to the new covenant.
But under the old we see God’s blessings being poured out, then flip a few pages and God’s wrath is being dumped all over the Jewish people. They’d recommit and God would turn back to them only to turn away from them again. When God turns away from us we will experience wrath. But hear me on this, that is an old covenant problem and the new one is not like that.
We celebrate something new, different, and better.
Growing up mom always told us never to swear to God, but there’s one guy who did, and He kept His promise. God swore to God. In Hebrews 6:13 we read that “God made a promise to Abraham, and since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself”. Why is that important? You see the old covenant was promise that man made to God, and when man didn’t keep his side of deal things didn’t go so well. But the new covenant is NOT a promise that you make to God. Did you hear that? It’s not about you. This new covenant is a promise between God and God, and since God can’t lie we can trust this one to work.
So what’s your role? Your role is to wake and thank God for taking you out of the equation. Thank Him for his grace and kindness. Because if you were will in the equation we’d still see a lot old testament wrath on believers today. None of us are even coming close to perfectly keeping God’s holy law. Thank God it’s not about us. It’s about Jesus.
Hebrews 7:22 says “Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant”
So again, this covenant is not about you keeping up your end of the deal. It’s God promising God, and Jesus is the guarantor. How solid is that for a guarantee! But then another group is running around teaching that we can lose our salvation. Well who’s the guarantor if we are the ones that that break the covenant? God says I remember your sins no more, then religion says you might sin too much and lose your salvation. The true gospel message is that if you are saved then you’ll never out sin the grace of God. Not through adultery, not suicide, or even if you commit the same sin over and over. You are sealed to the day of redemption. Now I’m not saying we should go out and break records for sin. God’s not naïve and He has that covered too, and we will address that in moment.
In this covenant you are merely the beneficiary. You inherited it the moment you said yes to Jesus and put your faith in Him alone as your savior and as full propitiation for your sins. You didn’t start this covenant. You don’t sustain it. It’s a gift. It’s unlike any gift you will ever receive. Thank you Jesus.
Now let’s look at this new covenant. What does it really mean? For starters it means a new found freedom. Hebrews 7:18 says the former commandment is set aside. Why is it set aside? It says because it was weak and useless. Now those are some offensive words when you talk about the law to a legalist. And verse 19 continues and says there’s a better hope through which we draw near to God. That better hope is found in the new covenant, and the old no longer applies.
In fact Hebrews 8:13 says “when He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear”
So I have to ask the question, why is the church pushing an old covenant message on Christians when it’s obsolete to us and we have something much better?
Now there are still some Christians that say “okay I get it, we are free from the law, BUT, we still need the moral law”. Surely you’ve heard that teaching. So they’re saying “I’ll take Jesus for His blood paying for my sins, but not for His life giving spirit, to guide me to godly living. They are saying, I need the law for that. In other words they have diced up God’s law in order to get it to the way that they can measure up. So they toss out the dietary and ceremonial laws, and when they get to the big 10 they start to dice them up to. Suddenly the Sabbath doesn’t count. They mow their lawns, prepare meals, do laundry, or whatever, and they pretend like none of that violates the commandment. So now it’s the 9 commandments they are under. They look with lust, which Jesus calls adultery, and yet they pretend that’s not really adultery. They water down the standard of the adultery law, even though Jesus raised it to its true measure.
Now let’s be clear about this message. We are not pro murder. We are not pro adultery. What we are is pro Jesus. And He will never lead us into those things. But as the Apostle James said, “we all stumble in many ways”, but we can be thankful because under the new we have peace with God, even when stumble. Why? Because it’s not about you.
There are some that might say we are free from the law, but not from the ten commandments. But 2 Corinthians tells us this is not just the dietary or ceremonial law. 2 Corinthians 3:7 says “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones,” …. Note that ministry brought death, and it was engraved on stones. There is only one ministry that was engraved on stones, and that was the ten commandments. Do you see which part of the law is in focus here?
Flip over to Romans 7:8 and Paul gives us some insight on how to overcome sin. He says “apart from law sin is dead”. Paul was describing a struggle he had with coveting. What part of the law does that come from? It comes from to big 10. Do you see Paul’s point? He’s saying if you want freedom from coveting the you’ll only do it apart from the law and get yourself under the grace of God alone.
Now, again the legalists get real mad when we start talking about all this grace that God lavishes us with apart from law, but let’s be real honest here. Who truly respects the full standard of Gods law? Is it the guy that says he can be under the law and do just fine, or is it the guy that says “who can possibly flawlessly achieve this standard of perfection? No thank you, I’ll Jesus for my righteousness”.
Let’s talk about this guy that thinks it’s okay to be under the law, and just do your best. James tells us your best better be 100% perfect, or death. James 2:10 says “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”
Make no mistake, the law is an all or nothing proposition. There’s no such thing as a B+. It’s perfection or death. No thank you, I’ll take Jesus alone.
Galatians 3:10 tells us “ For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse”. Did you hear that? Under a curse. Why is it a curse? Because the verse concludes by saying “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do all things written in the book of the law”. The wages of sin is death.
Let’s pause for a second, because when we sit here talking about how you need to be free from the law you might misunderstand me. If you misunderstand me you think I am just saying we just ignore the entire old testament. That is not what we teach here at Jesus Without Religion. The message we are giving is that all of the bible is the inspired word God. And what I am saying here is it’s like watching a great movie. What we usually find is that the end of movie usually has some exciting twists in its conclusion, and if you turn the movie off in the last 30 minutes you’ll miss the most important part that unravels the mystery that was happening throughout the movie. The ending causes us to go back and see everything that happened in the beginning a lot differently. Well the bible is just like that. The ending with Jesus as Savior should cause us to go back and see the whole story in a different way. Instead of looking at the new covenant through old covenant glasses we need to be looking at the old covenant with new testament glasses.
You are dead to the law! No longer under the law! Free from law! Thank you God for the new! Thank you for Jesus.
Maybe you’re a person who understands you’re not under the law, but you still don’t trust the Holy Spirit, in you, to guide you to godly living, and you’re saying “I still need rules”. Well you’ll end up getting your rules from the law if this is you. We see an interesting description of what rules do when we trust them over the Spirit that lives in us. Paul knows that, though the evil still tempts us, we have been given new hearts and the old heart of stone was removed. So Paul says in Colossians 2:20-23 “20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Do you see it? Rules have an appearance of wisdom but lack any value at keeping you from sinning. It’s against the law to murder, but my guess is if that rule were lifted none of you would suddenly decide to go out and murder people. It’s not who you are, and the rule is not what’s keeping from doing it. The rule just offers a penalty. Death.
This is why some people are so obsessed with the idea that we still need to be under the 10 commandments. They look good and they seem right, but they don’t have any value in stopping us from breaking them. Just look in the old testament. But what they do, if you’re under them, is impose a very stiff eternal punishment. So you decide – All Law, or All Jesus?
The next thing we learn about a new covenant is that it also means a new kind of forgiveness. Did you know that the old testament priests were never really allowed to sit in the tabernacle? Their work for trying to make atonement for sin was never complete so they stood all day long. So we read in Hebrews 10:11 “ Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;” but happened when Jesus gave His sacrifice? Verse 12 tells us “but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God”.
Why is this important for the author of Hebrews to point that out? Why did Jesus sit down? He sat down because it worked. IT IS FINSISHED.
Now we also need to beware of the teaching that we are forgiven of sins, but just positionally. Others say just judicially. These are man-made theologies and you won’t find this teaching anywhere in the bible. Hebrews 10:14 makes it clear when it says “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
So here’s a question I get asked all the time. If we’re totally forgiven then what are you saying we should do when we sin? And I’ll give you the same answer I’d give them – STOP! That’s it. No words, or ceremonies. Just stop. The payment has already been made and God remembers your sin no more.
How many sins were forgiven? All. Big ones or just little ones? All. Ones you committed once, or ones you struggle with daily? All. Now there’s another popular teaching that quotes 1 John 1:9 and says your sins are not forgiven until you confess and repent. Now listen, I’m not anti confession and I’m certainly not anti repent, but this teaching is bologna. Your words or performance don’t have a thing to do with making propitiation for sins. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. For the sake of time we need to keep moving, but if you want more on this just go to our website and under the “Christian Messages tab click on the link that says “confession”.
Again, I am not conding a life of sin. We’re not made for sin. In Fact 1 John 2:1 says “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin”. But do you know what he says right after that? He says “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins;
That word propitiation means to satisfy a deity. He is enough.
Being right with God is called righteousness, and it is a free gift, through faith, less any of us boast as though we had something to do with it.
So let me ask you this. How big are your sins? Are they too big that the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough? They bible was written by people like Moses, David, and Paul. They took part in murder. I don’t know what your struggles are but if you’re a believer in Christ then you have no need tp fear, and no reason to expect punishment from God. The bible says perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. John 3:18 says “he who believes is not judged”. There’s no catch. By your faith your sins HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN on the account of His name. Past. Present. Future. Done.
Understand this, Jesus did not come to judge the world. He came to save it.
Then next we have the group of people that say okay, but I’m still trying to get my rewards in heaven. This again is a misunderstanding of scripture, and while you will find the word “reward”, singular, in the bible, you won’t find the word rewards.
So let’s finish with this. If we have all this forgiveness and righteousness apart from works apart from law then isn’t that just a license to sin or fire insurance? Again, that’s a typical legalist response for the grace message. Romans 5:20 says the law was brought in so that trespass might INCREASE. Titus 2:12 tells us the grace of God teaches us to say no to sin.
Do you know God’s not naïve and He actually has this license to sin issue covered to? We all know Jesus died on the cross and His blood paid for our sins. What we tend to miss is the second part of the gospel, and that’s His resurrection. When you put your faith in Jesus, just is he died so did to old you, and just as He rose you too rose and were given a new life, that came with a new heart and new desires.
Romans 6:4-7 says “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now I’m not saying we don’t still sin. We all do. But You’re dead to sin, however sin is still very much alive. But what you need to believe is this, the old you that looked for ways to sin more is dead, buried with Christ. The new you is here, and the new you is not an evil person trying to be good. The new you is holy and sanctified, and you’re new self is good and trying to battle sin. Your Spirit wages war against the law of you mind. You are new, but your mind still has some old thoughts and you need to let your mind believe what has really happened to you. For this reason Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
The take away. Yes, you still struggle with sins. Paul did. James did. We all do. But you’re not under law. Your sins are forgiven under a new and better covenant. Jesus is enough. Will you trust Him, and Him alone?
God bless you.