Living in the New Covenant

freedom

As our church has just concluded 2 Corinthians 3, I have been delightfully educated and encouraged regarding the greatness of the New Covenant. While all of God’s covenants are good, our Lord saved the best one for last. I’m convinced that we as Christians need to understand and regularly contemplate the wonderful blessings of dwelling within the era of the New Covenant for victorious Christ-exalting living!

1. While there was some degree of the Spirit’s influence on believers in the Old Covenant, there is no doubt a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those in the New Covenant (Jn. 14:17). Through the prophet, Ezekiel, God promised that He would “put My Spirit within you” and “cause you to walk in My statues.” And the goal of this? That we “will be careful to observe [His] ordinances” (Eze. 36:27). The law revealed God’s good expectations, but it provided no power to obey them. In the New Covenant we have “liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17) to be released from our slavery to sin because we are now empowered by the Holy Spirit in this “ministry of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:8).

Is there evidence that I have the Holy Spirit by a desire and ability to overcome sin?

2. While the Old Covenant believers promised to keep God’s law, they failed miserably. Frequently they are chastised as having “stiff” (Dt. 10:16) and “stubborn” (Dt. 9:6, 13) and “obstinate” (Ex. 33:3, 5) hearts.  The law was good (Rom. 7:12) as was the God who gave the law. The problem was the hard hearts of the people. However in the New Covenant, God takes the “heart of stone” and provides for His children a “heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:26).

Is my heart soft, ready to receive God’s Word and correction for my life?

3. Paul made it clear in Romans that not all of Israel were truly Israel (Rom. 9:6). What that means is that within the Old Covenant there were both the unredeemed and the redeemed. Yet in the New Covenant God says, “They will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:34). All believers in the New Covenant have the assurance that they belong to God and God belongs to them (Jer. 31:33; Eze. 36:28) from the moment of salvation into all of eternity. What incredible “hope” (2 Cor. 3:12)!

Is there praise and thanksgiving that God will never leave me or forsake me?

4. In 2 Corinthians 3 we read that the Old Covenant was a ministry of “death” (3:7) and “condemnation” (3:9). That is because it held out hope for joy and blessings, but often delivered undesired consequences because of the people’s inability to follow their end of the agreement.  Moses said in the closing of his farewell address, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse” (Dt. 30:19). And despite the people’s claim, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (Ex. 24:7), they failed and brought upon themselves the curses.  However the New Covenant is based upon the righteousness of Christ. It is a “ministry of righteousness” (2 Cor. 3:9). God accepts us unconditionally because He sees nothing but the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been imputed to our account (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 10:10, 14) and “therefore there is now no condemnation for those who in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Is my righteousness before God totally dependent on the work of Jesus Christ?

5. Even though salvation was always by faith, because of their hard hearts, the Old Covenant was only a “reminder of sins year by year” (Heb. 10:3). The Old Covenant was broken by the Israelites (Jer. 31:32) and replaced by a New Covenant that would arrive with greater “glory” (2 Cor. 3:7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Therefore the Old Covenant is “obsolete” and has “disappear[ed]” (Heb. 8:13), being rendered inoperative (2 Cor. 3:11). Believers have now been “released from the Law…so that we serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). The New Covenant is the culmination of all of God’s promises summed up in Christ (2 Cor. 1:19-20) and is never to be supplanted or surpassed. God promises to “forgive [our] iniquity, and [our] sin [He] will remember no more” (Jer. 31:34).

Is my life centered of giving Jesus Christ first place in everything in grateful response to His wonderful sacrifice?

6. Those living under the Old Covenant both desired and loved the law (Psm. 119:97). Sadly they couldn’t obey it because it came only “engraved on stones” (2 Cor. 3:7). Yet speaking of the New Covenant God said, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it” (Jer. 31:33). “The letter kills” but God’s law written on our heart and empowered by the Spirit “gives life” (2 Cor. 3:3, 6).

Is there proof that I know God’s law, love God’s law and obey God’s law?

7. When Moses returned from the mountain after having received the law from God a second time, the Bible tells us “his face shone because of his speaking with [God]” (Ex. 34:29). The glory of God reflected off the face of Moses to the point where the Israelites were terrified and “afraid to come near him.” (Ex. 34:30). Therefore Moses, as an act of mercy, would cover his face when he spoke to the people (Ex. 34:35; 2 Cor. 3:7, 13). So while the people could not even approach God through Moses in the Old Covenant, we in the New Covenant can approach this God who is still a “consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29) confidently as we enter directly into His presence (Heb. 4:16; 10:19-22) as a result of the work of Christ without fear of being judged and consumed.

Is there confirmation that I am confidently and joyfully living in God’s direct presence?

8. Almost all of the community was barred from God’s direct presence in the Old Covenant. Yet in the New Covenant we have direct access to His presence and now delight in His holy presence.  As we “behold…the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18) it results in progressive moral transformation. We show ourselves to be “new creatures” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) when we become conformed to Christ’s image. We are progressively sanctified as we move from “glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18) as a response of continually beholding His holy presence with “unveiled face[s]” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Is there evidence that I am becoming more like Jesus Christ?

Brothers and sisters, take some time and do it frequently to meditate on these wonderful truths we are privileged to enjoy in the New Convent!

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