August 1, 2014

Grace: Moving from the Old to New Covenant

Grace: Moving from the Old to the New CovenantGrace is amazing! When we can fully grasp the depth of God’s grace, it will tear down fear, anger, shame, addictions, and those things that hold us back in life.

To fully understand what grace is and what it can do in our lives, we need to understand the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. But first, what is a covenant? Webster’s defines covenant as: “a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.

A covenant is a binding agreement made between two parties, and Biblical covenants are typically sealed through the shedding of blood. Throughout the Bible, there are actually numerous covenants, not just the Old and New. The five most common Biblical covenants are:

  1. Noahic covenant
  2. Abrahamic covenant
  3. Mosaic covenant
  4. Davidic convenant
  5. New covenant

Modern bibles today group the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants into the Old Testament, and the New covenant into the New Testament. Under the Old convenant, the Law was a two-party agreement between God and humanity. There were blessings for obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) and curses for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). If you did what was right in God’s eyes, you were blessed. If you did what was wrong, you were cursed.

The New covenant is a very different two-party agreement. It is not between God and people–it is between God and Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and thereby fulfilled all the requirements of the law (Matthew 5:17). Then, he laid down his life has a sin offering (Hebrews 10:12-14). God accepted it and declared that those who are in Christ are now children of God (John 1:12).

Most believers today believe that the New covenant is between God and us. But, it’s not. It’s between God and Christ. Our only requirement for salvation is to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9). There is no law when we are “in Christ.” Jesus “takes away the first that He may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9).

Take a moment to think about what this implies:

  1. The burden to live a perfect life has been fulfilled in Christ. It’s no longer about us.
  2. The shame of our sin and mistakes is gone. Christ took it all upon himself.
  3. Instead of trying harder to live the Christian life, we can now just enjoy life in Christ.
  4. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Nothing.
  5. Since it’s no longer about us, we are holy, perfect, blameless and righteous in Christ.

There is so much more available to us when we believe this truth about what Christ has accomplished for us. When we can fully grasp that this New covenant is between God and Christ and not us, then the pressure to perform is wiped away. Then, we can finally stop living as slaves and start living as children of God.

Prayer: Father, open my eyes to this truth of grace. Show me that in Christ, you are pleased with me in every way.

About Russ Pond

For most of my life, I battled crippling anxiety and panic attacks. For the longest time, I had no hope. My world was closing in all around me. Today, I am free and living a life full of peace and abundance. Freedom is real. You can be totally set free for the bondage of fear.

  • Linda

    The five implies really help me to heal.

  • Christ only

    Thank you. To the point. How great is God and His mercy to us

  • Acts 17:11

    I just have to share that last night I was at a concert and I heard this idea about the new covenant not being between God and man, but between God and Jesus Christ, which caused me to “google” this because I have never heard this and I came upon your blog.

    While I agree with points 1, 2, 4, & 5 (I have some reservations about 3), I disagree, from a scriptural standpoint that the new covenant is somehow now between God and Jesus Christ. Why would Jesus need to have a covenant between he and his Father? He was not man, he was not a sinner, he did not need atonement to be in relationship with his Father, yet man is flesh, remains “fallen”, and is in need of atonement.

    Hebrews 8:7 says, “For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another …”

    Furthermore, Old Testament scriptures quoted in Hebrews 8 & 9 & 10 speak very clearly that the new covenant continued to be between the Lord and man:

    Heb 8:8 “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Judah.”

    Heb 8:10 “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel …”

    Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.

    The difference between the old and new was that in the old covenant, was the mediator … the priests made atonement for the people by sacrificing with the blood of an animal (the mediator) once a year while the new covenant replaces the “priests” with Christ and the “animal sacrifices” again with Christ, the high priest, through his once and for all sacrifice of death.

    Hebrews 9:11 But when Christ came as high priest …

    Hebrews 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves, but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

    Hebrews 9:15 For this reason Christ is the MEDIATOR of a new covenant, that those who are called may received the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

    MEDIATOR: a person who attempts to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement; a go-between.

    Heb 9:28 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.

    It sounds to me that maybe the point of your discussion is really in making the distinction between law and grace, which is accomplished without this idea that the new covenant is now between God and Christ … we (speaking of those who become Christians) are no longer bound by the law and having to keep the law in order to obtain salvation as in OT days, which so many people today miss. They think that by abiding by some perceived set of guidelines (maybe attending church every Sunday, tithing, not cursing, reciting enough Hail Mary’s, committing less “weightier” sins, etc., ad nauseum) that somehow that gets them salvation which remains works oriented, when in fact, Christ offered himself as our perfect and blamless offering to extend salvation through grace. Anyone who is trying to make it to heaven based on their own righteousness, good works, or “obeying” the law, misses the entire point of grace … we no longer have to “work” our way into Heaven and hope that we did enough goods to override the bads as it was in the OT; Christ’s sacrifice extends salvation to those who accept it as a free gift (a thing given willingly to someone without payment), and there is nothing we have done do to deserve it and there is nothing we can do to earn it.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

    Many blessings to you.

    • http://russpond.com Russ Pond

      Thanks for sharing, and you make some great points. And, I like the first few questions you asked. So, let me try to answer them to hopefully explain what I’m thinking about in this idea of a new covenant between God and Jesus.

      You wrote: Why would Jesus need to have a covenant between he and his Father? He was not man, he was not a sinner, he did not need atonement to be in relationship with his Father, yet man is flesh, remains “fallen”, and is in need of atonement.

      I’m not sure I agree with your statement that “he was not man, not a sinner.” He was fully born a human, lived a human life and faced human temptations. Interestingly, people called him the Son of God. He referred to himself as the Son of Man. He saw himself as a man.

      And, as for being a sinner, while he may not have sinned, God accounted all of our sin to him. So, he was a sinner, but only a sinner on our behalf. “For [God] made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God made Jesus a sinner, the ultimate sinner, a sinner of all mankind, and poured out his wrath on Jesus as a sinner, on our behalf. God’s wrath was satisfied and sin was paid for, in full. So, was Jesus a sinner? In God’s eyes, he was and paid the penalty for it. I believe he was a man, and in God’s eyes, a sinner.

      To answer your first question, “Why would Jesus need to have a covenant between he and his Father?” Because God imparted all of man’s sin to Christ, and Christ stood before God fully a sinner (by impartation, not actually sinning). So, representing all of mankind, Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice and a new covenant was cut between Jesus (standing the place of sinful man) and God.

      Looking at the big picture, man will always be unable to keep any type of covenant with God in his own strength. The Old Testament is story after story about how man failed to keep God’s covenant. We can try and strive and want to keep those covenant requirements, but as we live in the flesh, we’ll always fall short. Always. We’ll never be able to keep any requirements of any covenant with God. Jesus is the only one who could keep all of those covenantal requirements.

      And, honestly, if you don’t want to call it a covenant between God and Jesus, I’m okay with that. The key truth is that Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we can live life in him apart from having to “do” anything. We please God as we are in Christ. So, I completely agree with what you said: “Anyone who is trying to make it to heaven based on their own righteousness, good works, or obeying the law, misses the entire point of grace … we no longer have to work our way into Heaven and hope that we did enough goods to override the bads as it was in the OT; Christ’s sacrifice extends salvation to those who accept it as a free gift (a thing given willingly to someone without payment), and there is nothing we have done do to deserve it and there is nothing we can do to earn it.”

      To that, I say Amen!

      • Acts 17:11

        I appreciate your reply!

        I am in full agreement that Christ came to earth and lived as man.

        I am not sure that I am in agreement that Christ was viewed by God as a “sinner.” I have always viewed him via scriptures as the sacrificial lamb (1 Peter 1:19) without blemish or defect who willingly took on our sin, bore it for us, was the mediator (Hebrews), but I don’t see scriptures calling Christ a sinner. Romans 8:3 says ” … God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a SIN OFFERING” and you will note in the 2 Cor 5:21 verse there is a subnote that states in place of “sin” that it can also be read as “SIN OFFERING”, but there is not a subnote in Romans 8:3 that sin offering can also be read as sin.

        BUT, back to my main point, my statement about him not being a man or a sinner was purely in reference to whether the new covenant was changed from between God and man to between God and Christ. The latter just does not make sense, because God and Christ do not need a covenant; they were already one. John 1 states “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Since they are part of the same, no covenant is needed, but the new covenant, remaining an agreement between God and man (thus “new”) was fulfilled through Christ as you state, ‘The key truth is that Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we can live life in him apart from having to “do” anything.’ (Matthew 5:17), so I am wondering if this is more semantics than anything.
        Thank you for taking the time to share with me.

        • http://russpond.com Russ Pond

          That’s interesting about Romans 8:3. I did some research and this term “sin offering ” and it’s not in the actual Greek language. Many of the translations will italicize it because the translators added it later. Here’s that scripture in the Young’s literal translation, which translates each word in the Greek directly, “for what the law was not able to do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, His own Son having sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, did condemn the sin in the flesh”.

          I still think God had to see Jesus as “sinful flesh”. Going back to 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him sin, so that we could be righteous in him. I agree with you that Jesus was holy, perfect, and never sinned. That’s what made him the perfect sacrifice.

          I read a great quote yesterday about this divine exchange: “Jesus became sin at the cross apart from any sinful actions or deeds. You became righteous apart from anything good that you have done.”

          Love that!

          Thanks for the dialogue. It always sharpens me.

          • Acts 17:11

            Hmmm, I also find that interesting too because I looked it up in the Blue Letter Bible at the KJV and the Romans 8:3 scripture and the Greek says “peri hamartia”, peri being the preposition, and meaning “about, concerning, on account of, because of, around, near” in this verse. And interestingly, while 2 Cor. 5:21 does not use this “peri” in connection with hamartia, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says for this verse it means, “in the place of, since anything whether of an active or passive character which is undertaken on behalf of a person or thing is undertaken “on account of” that person or thing; of the impelling or moving cause; to procure (true) life for mankind.’
            Who can say!!??! It sounds like even the references may have different angles! :)
            I love that quote you shared too!!
            And regardless of how we look at, whether we believe exactly the same or we see something a little differently, I am reminded that I certainly don’t have the “corner” on wisdom or insight, and I am always pulled back to the fact that Christ did make us “righteous apart from anything we have done” and his grace is sufficient … grace that covers my shortcomings, my misunderstandings, my views! I always tell people I can just see the Christ telling us on the day of redemption that we had some of it right and some of it a little wrong, but welcoming us in spite of that!
            I appreciate the dialogue as well … as iron sharpens iron!
            God’s richest blessings over you!

          • http://russpond.com Russ Pond

            After sending my recent reply, I started thinking more about the sacrifices of the old testament, because they were always a picture of what Christ would be for us. They were a type and shadow of the reality to come (Col 2:17, Heb 10:1). So, how they performed their sacrifices can give us a picture of Christ’s sacrifice.

            The Law required that they find a “perfect lamb” and lay their hands on it to impart the sins of Israel, and then they would sacrifice it. Similarly, our sins were placed on Christ and he was sacrificed on our behalf. And to your defense, it was not a covenant with the lamb, but with the people. So, I’m rethinking my position.

            I’m going to re-read Hebrews and think about this. My position still stands that we can do nothing to please God, and I think you agree with that. Too many people thinking that keeping the Old Covenant rules makes them more pleasing to God, and it’s my desire is to help people try to get away from working to please God, and rest in the fact that we are already pleasing to God in Christ. And again, I’m sure you agree. In fact, I’ve started a new blog called Offensive Grace (http://offensivegrace.com) to start documenting my new grace journey.

            Thanks again. I appreciate the gentleness of your disagreeing with me. It’s got me thinking. :)

          • Acts 17:11

            Well, I certainly was not trying to be right! Just on a quest to find out more about what I heard at the concert, and your blog is where I landed. We have a mighty God and I am always amazed at how he brings us each what we need when we need it. Your new blog sounds awesome, and I couldn’t agree more about what you said, “Too many people thinking that keeping the Old Covenant rules makes them more pleasing to God, and it’s my desire is to help people try to get away from working to please God, and rest in the fact that we are already pleasing to God in Christ.”
            Amen in your sharing this Good News! It has been my heart’s desire to start a blog similar (I want to base if ott of “my ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts (Isaiah), but God has not opened those doors yet for me. I came from a church past where it was all about rules and regulations myself and I also have a heart for those who are “saved but still in bondage” to this kind of thinking!
            Again, blessings on your journey! :)

          • Acts 17:11

            And yes, I totally agree that we can do nothing to please God without the blood of Christ!