23 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF THE NEW COVENANT- PART 2
We have spoken about the New Covenant as God’s promise to do for His people what the Old Covenant could never do. We have looked at the purpose of the Old Covenant, to prepare His people for the coming of the Messiah who would be the New Covenant to Israel and through them, to fulfil God’s promise to Abraham to be a blessing to all the nations on earth.
Now it’s time for us to study the New Covenant in greater detail so that we can understand what it has done which the Old failed to do and how it can empower us to overcome our enemies and prepare us for our role in eternity as God’s sons and daughters.
Since a covenant is a legally binding contract between two consenting parties, and since it cannot be broken unless one or the other party fails to fulfil its terms, we need to understand why the New Covenant can never fail.
Let’s look at this important fact first. What makes the New Covenant infallible where the Old Covenant failed?
At Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with His people. He offered them a marriage contract with terms that they accepted.
“Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure (a marriage proposal in Hebrew culture) from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him. And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord .” Exodus 19:5-8 NLT
Israel’s history proved that they were incapable of keeping this covenant. They were guilty of spiritual adultery by their idolatry, and God eventually divorced them by sending both Israel and Judah into captivity in foreign lands.
“During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution.”
Jeremiah 3:6-8 NLT
But that’s not the end of the story. In His mercy, God promised restoration and, in the end, a new contract that could never be broken.
“In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.” Jeremiah 3:18 NLT
God knew that His people would fail to obey His covenant before the foundation of the world, so He planned a covenant that would never fail.
“The day is coming,” says the Lord , “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:31-32 NLT
Since His covenant had to be contracted between Himself and the human race, His plan was to send His Son into the world as a human being to represent the human race, just as Adam represented all mankind as the first human being He created.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” Romans 5:12 NLT
God’s New Covenant would stand or fall on the faithfulness of His Servant, Jesus.
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah 42:6-7 NIV
We know that God accepted Jesus’s death (blood) as the ratification of the New Covenant, (just as the Old Covenant was ratified (signed) in animal blood), because He raised Him from the dead.
“… and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:4 NLT
So, Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant by dying to pay the debt of the whole human race for disobeying God’s law. He is now the New Covenant, which He signed and sealed with His own blood.
“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the (new, some manuscripts) covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.” Mark 14:23-24 NIV
Since Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Old Covenant with its rules, regulations, and rituals, it has become obsolete. We are no longer obliged to keep its terms and conditions.
“If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it…. When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:7, 13 NLT
“The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4 NLT
THE TERMS IF THE NEW COVENANT
Since a covenant is contracted between two parties and, since the New Covenant was contracted between the Father and the Son, what are the terms of this New Covenant that make it different from the Old Covenant?
- All sin is forgiven and all remembrance of sin is removed.
“He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14 NLT
- Sin’s power over us is broken. We are no longer obligated to obey its demands because grace has replaced the law.
“Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” Romans 6:14 NLT
- Through faith in Jesus, we are no longer “in Adam” but “in Christ”.
“Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:19, 21 NLT
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
- All guilt, shame, and fear have been removed.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because, through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 NIV
- We have boldness to enter the Most Holy Place.
We have direct access to the Father through Jesus who is our eternal and heavenly High Priest.
“There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:23-25 NLT
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT
- We have received Christ’s Spirit, we have been adopted into God’s family, and have been made co-heirs with Christ of everything that belongs to Him.
“So, you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:15-17 NLT
“So, don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 NLT
- Our inheritance is the divine nature which God gives us through His promises.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT
- All of God’s promises become ours through simple agreement.
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT
Jesus has fulfilled all of God’s promises and now we are free to receive them by faith by speaking the “amen” – “let it be so” to the appropriate word. Our prayers become “thank you” in place of Old Covenant prayers which were “please” prayers.
- We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness…
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,” Colossians 1:13 NIV
- Set free from the yoke of bondage to the law…
“So, Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Galatians 5:1 NLT
- No longer under the curse of the law
‘But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” Galatians 3:10 NLT
- We are the body and bride of Christ
“For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.” Ephesians 5:23 NLT
“For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2 NLT
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE TO THE NEW COVENANT?
Unlike the Old Covenant which demanded perfect obedience to all its laws, the New Covenant has only one requirement – love.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NIV
According to John, we will maintain a good conscience if we obey the two commandments of the New Covenant.
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” 1 John 3:23 NLT
There are two important parts to this command.
- Believe in Jesus’ name
To believe means much more than to give intellectual assent to a fact or truth. Believing implies throwing your total weight on Jesus, accepting and acting on the truth of who He is and what He has said.
Jesus’ name is more than the way to distinguish Him from other people. In Hebrew thought, a name is a prophetic utterance of character. Everything that Jesus is is expressed in His name.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NIV
Therefore, to believe in the name of Jesus is throw one’s full weight of trust and obedience on Jesus because His name means Saviour and He saves His people from their sins.
- Love one another
We are not commanded to love Jesus in Scripture. Our love for Him and for our fellow believers flows from His love for us and is produced by the Holy Spirit as part of the package of salvation.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 NIV
Everything Jesus promised us comes from His love for us and everything He requires of us is our loving response to His love.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NIV
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21 NIV
What are Jesus’ commands?
“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” 1 John 3:21-23 NIV
TO SUM UP
Let me tell you the about the beauty of the New Covenant.
- Jesus has done all the work for us.
He has perfectly obeyed and fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Covenant.
He has died in our place to pay the debt of our sin.
He has reconciled us to the Father and restored us to God’s family as His sons and daughters.
He has unmasked and overcome the devil.
He has given us the Helper to live in us to provide the power to live a new life.
He has given us all the promises and the power we need to live a godly life.
- Our response is very simple.
Three words encompass everything that explains our part in the New Covenant.
DONE – Jesus has done it ALL… believe it.
REST – in the finished work of Jesus… believe it.
LET – allow the Holy Spirit to produce what is in you… believe it.
“Now we who have believed enter that rest,…” Hebrews 4:3 NIV
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13 NIV
“LET no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NIV
“LET the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
LET the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15-16 NIV
“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED FROM START TO FINISH BY FAITH. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Romans 1:16-17 NLT
And so, my brothers and sisters, we who now participate in the New Covenant have a new life and a new focus.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”Matthew 6:33 NLT
W e are no longer concerned with what happens to us because we live in a fallen world. We cannot escape, but we live above the trials and troubles that plague us all in this life. We don’t have to fight the devil and his demons.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 NLT
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT
All Scripture quotations in this series
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.