“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Heb 8:6-7).
I am grieved most times I ponder on organised Christianity today. I am grieved, because most believers remind me too much of the Galatians Paul rebuked in his day. I am grieved because it appears that many do not truly understand the better covenant that we have been called to. So, they have shackled themselves again to the Law, when Christ has set them free. In seeking to be justified by the Law, they put themselves again under condemnation, as Paul wrote:
“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal 5:3-4)
I don’t know where the origin of the error is from, but it seems to be strongly connected to the belief that the Bible is the infallible word of God, and so equal weight is given to all that is written, whether it be found in Numbers, or Matthew, or Revelation. They do not seem to understand the purpose of the Law and the Prophets, which Paul spoke about as the guardian that was put in place until Christ was revealed (Gal 3:24-25). They do not understand the meaning of Christ’s statement, being:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt 5:17).
The Law and the Prophets, being guardians, prepared the foundation for Christ’s coming. They are part of His revelation. But when the fullness is come, we look to the full and not the incomplete for guidance. For like Paul said in the passage quoted above, if the first covenant was flawless, there would not be need for the second. John also expressed it this way:
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
It is also written: “the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Tim 1:9). The Law was needful for those under the old covenant, who did not have the Spirit of Truth indwelling in their hearts. It was needful for a hard-hearted flock, for their training in wisdom. But we, who are under the new covenant, have the promise of the Spirit, and what is more, God has declared concerning us that:
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Eze 36:26-27).
We also know that concerning all these statutes and judgments, as many as were recorded in the Old Testament, being the Law and the Prophets, Jesus said all were fulfilled in two commands – to love God with all of your being and to love your neighbour as yourself (Matt 22:37-40), which are the first and second of the ten commandments given to Moses. But Jesus uttered a new commandment, that was like the first two, but He called it NEW for good reason. This is the commandment:
“That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
What is new about it? It is the addition of AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. Christ showed us an even more excellent way to love than was revealed in the Law. We see that also in His ministration in the famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). We also know that the commandment was given to His disciples, to love themselves with brotherly love. It is only Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ, that can obey this commandment, because they are the only ones who truly know the love of God, and appreciate it as revealed in Jesus.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
How did Christ show His love for us? By laying down His life. By forsaking His pride. By forgiving both past and future transgressions. Even while we were yet unworthy, He gave us grace (Rom 5:8). Are we loving our brethren like that? Are we even loving our spouses like that? This is the LAW of the NEW and BETTER COVENANT. If we do this, we will also fulfil the two greatest laws of the Old Covenant, which Christ already summed up for us.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8-9).
The language of love is simple, even the deaf hear it, and the blind can see when one is loving. The world knows and responds to love and it is the language that God has chosen to pass across His message to us. It is the language of the Gospel of Peace. It is even easier for us to comprehend love and walk in it, when we have the Spirit indwelling in us, such that if we cannot or do not show love, we evidently do not have the Spirit of God. We also know that:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14).
The message of the Gospel is simple, but many complicate it with various burdens, doing as the Pharisees and Scribes did before them, concerning the Law that was given to the Israelites. We are not called to be concerned about such things as holy days, clean and unclean food, tithes and offerings, circumcision or uncircumcision and other practices and rituals that religious people feel they must do to be holy. These strain at gnats while swallowing camels, as the Lord says (Matt 23:24).
“For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20).
Paul also made us know that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). How so? Because of the self-righteousness that is borne from such inward speculation. But if we seek to model our Redeemer, and look to Him continually, we will know that love has no formula… It requires impersonation…and God helps us by His Spirit, and we grow by abiding in Him (John 15:4).
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).
I wish you would know the better covenant you have been called to, which is not of the letter, but of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:6). I wish you would enter the glorious liberty that is found in Christ Jesus (John 8:32). I wish you would submit to the Spirit, that you may be pruned, and bear the fruit of righteousness, being “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
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This post is part of a two-part series. Read PART TWO.
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