Yes, I’m making an obvious play off FDR’s “New Deal” which never was really new at all, but just the same old thing dressed up in new clothes. Now, I’m not concerned with arguing politics, for you may disagree with my assessment and that’s okay. What I’d rather turn your attention to is whether or not you have bought into the Deceiver’s version of the New Covenant – for the stakes are much higher. It would be shame for you to be living in spiritual poverty when the provisions of Christ’s New Covenant contain riches beyond your wildest imaginations!
‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My Law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord”, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’ — Jeremiah 31:31-34
Long before Jesus spoke of a new commandment He was the very Word which moved Jeremiah. He was not the ink on the page, but He was the Word which went forth out of the mouth of God performing that which His Father desired. Here is the new agreement of God promised way in advance. The Word not only issued forth the promise, but He became flesh to fulfill it. In doing so, He became the promise. Without understanding what the old covenant is and why it didn’t work, and why a new covenant was needed we will eventually gravitate back to the old but still use the terminology (wording) of the new. Here is Jeremiah’s comparison/contrast:
The Old Covenant versus the New Covenant
|THE OLD COVENANT||THE NEW COVENANT|
|Law on stones||Law on the heart|
|Taken by the hand||Led from within|
|Covenant Broken||Covenant Kept|
|A broken relation||Unbroken Relation|
|Man’s teaching||No need for teaching|
|No knowledge of God||All Know Him|
|No true forgiveness||All sins forgiven|
|Constant reminder of sin||Sin forgotten|
The New Covenant is NOT like the Old!
Have you ever driven through a paper mill town? It stinks … to the visitor. You see, those who live there don’t smell it anymore. The senses still work, but the brain kinda tunes it out. It’s called getting used to it. And this is exactly what happens to those who are inundated with certain words and phrases, they become so familiar that the words lose their distinctiveness. In the case of the old and new covenants, both the bondage of the one and the miraculousness of the other have bled together to become unrecognizable to the hearers.
We are now part of the New Covenant. We are not left in the dark, for the Bible, which being inspired by God, is our authority, our owner’s manual; for in it we have explicit instructions as to what is required of us. It is important to know that we are not under the Law of Moses, but instead we have in the New Testament the guidelines of Christian conduct. And because we have the written word of God in it’s completed form we can now understand much more about the things of God…for God has preserved the Bible so that we could know Him. In this, we should consider ourselves blessed by God; but we need to understand that to whom much is given much is expected, for God requires us to be students of His Word. But as God is gracious, He did not leave us on our own, but gave us gifted pastors and teachers; and by their teaching we can know the God of the Bible. But remember this, God does not expect perfection, for He knows that we will sin and break His laws…after all, Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. But as we mature in Christ we will become better, and not break His laws as often. And the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin so that we will know that we are offending Him. What God requires is that we trust and obey, living our lives knowing that we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where our deeds will be judged by God. Keeping our thoughts on this judgment produce in the believer the balanced fear of the Lord to help us stay sober in this world. We need not worry about losing our salvation, for it is by grace through faith, but our sins will be replayed as on a movie screen and we will suffer loss of reward. Though we have been forgiven in the judicial sense, we still need forgiveness in the parental sense as children who continue to offend their Father. But as long as we are not flippant about our sins, but instead continually confess them, then God will forgive us and keep us in fellowship.
Shovel … what are you saying???
Please, tell me you didn’t read all the way through that blather and find yourself agreeing with it. It would be incredibly heartening for me to know that your nose was wrinkling from the stench, as a visitor from another place passing through an open graveyard of death. For though it forms the better part of many Statements of Faith, I wrote it based on the list under The Old Covenant. That’s right…the above paragraph – all of it – is a restating of the Old Covenant using New Covenant jargon!
Forget asking if we’re on the same page, I want to know if we’re reading from the same book!
Just look what we’ve done with the miraculously preserved, written word of God. We unify by it, we divide with it, we subdivide it, we conquer by it, we argue over it, we judge by it, we systematize it, we try to live by it, we justify ourselves by it, we get puffed up by our knowledge of it, we put others down by it, we are in bondage to it, we memorize it, we quote it, we attack with it, we compare ourselves to each other by our understanding of it, we are condemned by it, we pump ourselves up by it, we study it, we fear it, we worship it. We use it to justify our hate and prejudice … we have even used it to kill those who don’t agree.
I have no problem with the Bible, it is the fleshly mind-set I am at odds with!
When you say, It’s in the New Testament, aren’t you referring to the second part of the Bible? Yeah, I say the same thing. Sure, we open our Bibles and that’s how it’s written:
Granted, it is easier to maneuver with these divisions, but the plain truth is that Testament means Covenant and vice versa. I’m not just talking about semantics here, for our enemy takes great pleasure in seeing how close he can get without being detected! Can’t you see how easy an applied meaning (a collection of books) can overshadow the real one (the new agreement)? And I’m telling you right now that every Christ-centered phrase has a counterfeit alternative meaning.
When the Bible speaks of the written word of God it refers to…
the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms — Luke 24:44
The phrase, “It is written”, has a specific tie to the Old Covenant, for it was written in stone and every word was binding. Jesus said that He…
…did not come to abolish (the Law), but to fulfill — Matthew 5:17
…and He did it! We have a far too shallow concept of what happened when Jesus said,
It is finished! — John 19:30
That which was written has already been fulfilled in Christ; we get confused because from a temporal point of view (that which is natural to man) it doesn’t appear so! How should we view Scripture, then? It’s really very simple. The Old writings are about Christ and the promise of His coming. Underlying all of the laws and prophecies and historical accounts and songs, He is there … and so is our desperate need of Him. This is that which God…
spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways — Hebrews 1:1
Then the promise came! John and the others beheld His glory and wrote down what they saw. Paul wrote letters to churches speaking of the Life that is Christ, the fulfillment of all that was written. For they all testified,
in these last days (God) has spoken to us in His Son — Hebrews 1:2
The writings of the New are a declaration of the fulfillment of the Old. But what religion has done, through unbelief, is to classify these writings as, It Is Written, Part 2 … but nothing could be further from the truth!
This is what we have done, and this perspective has dominated Christian truth for centuries! The viewpoint is so pervasive that it causes us to misread what is written. We have allowed the Bible to replace the Holy Spirit. We have been taught that the understanding of God is found in the written word … but the Spirit, not the Bible, was sent…
that we might know the things freely given to us by God — 1 Corinthians 2:12
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not contain…
everything pertaining to life and godliness — 2 Peter 1:3
…. but it declares Christ ! And by this declaration of Christ we are brought into faith by which we have become partakers of the divine nature! And it is in Him that we find everything necessary for life and godliness. The difference is infinite, and yet we have become so hide-bound1 we have difficulty seeing it as anything other than splitting hairs!
I’m not trying to discourage you from studying any portion of the Bible, nor am I suggesting that it is not a miracle given to us from God, Himself. But I’m telling you that the New Testament writings are not the principles by which the Christian lives. And I don’t care if you divide it dispensationally and hold to Paul’s writings only or if you start with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John … as long as you are looking for a chapter and verse to tell you what you need to do as a Christian you are living no differently than Israel under the Law!
By The Nose
“LEADING” can be one of the weirdest concepts to observe in human behavior – Christian or not. People get together and talk about being led by the Lord and they assume they are connecting because the other person says, Yeah, I know what you mean. Yo! Christian! What makes you think that leading operates on a different premise than that of the New Covenant? Then consider that the world relates to the format of the Old Covenant and has no insight whatever into the freedom of the New.
Do you see how God says in Jeremiah 31, He…
…took them by the hand
That might sound real intimate, but not when put together with Paul’s description of Israel in Galatians 3 & 4 where He likens Israel to a child who is no different from a slave who needs a tutor (or child-conductor) till Christ came to rescue them. The Law took them by the hand and kept them in custody, or bondage, till by faith they could be brought into the freedom of Christ.
Led by the hand takes on a totally new meaning, doesn’t it? This is what Israel needed and is how God delivered them out of Egypt. This was good, not bad. But now that Christ has come and fulfilled the Law, going back to it is not good! An old testament description of how the prophets taught the people,
And your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it’ whenever (they turned) to the right or to the left.Isaiah 30:21
Being “led by the Spirit” is nothing that men (or women, for that matter) can teach you. But in order to recognize this leading from within, you need to know that the old thinking desires to stay alive by disguising itself. Stop thinking that this is difficult, for the whole thing is supernatural. But realize this, the flesh prefers the taken-by-the-hand kind of leading, because it feels a sense of control.
Think about it: If we’re holding hands I’m holding yours as much as you’re holding mine. Also, if I let go of your hand my existence still revolves around the relationship because I’m living in the consciousness of the hand that waits for me, and my actions more times than not are motivated by doing the things that you disagree with. The “taken by the hand” leading is looking for an absolute to give direction to it’s circumstantial mindset. It wants to know that it is doing the right thing, or in reality, it wants the thing that it is doing to be the right thing. In other words, it is seeking justification by works! That’s why most of the time you hear someone tell you that God lead them to do this, that or the other it sounds just like the thing you have heard them lusting after for quite a while … it just has religious clothing on it! And you are being told that it is not to be questioned in any way because it has the stamp of divine approval!
There’s another thing to notice in the Jeremiah passage. They were led by the hand and brought “out of the land of Egypt”. Pay close attention to the unspoken significance. Did it say that they were brought into the promised land? No, because they all died in the wilderness. They were only brought out of Egypt and even that was only the physical, for their hearts had been left behind. Every time they found themselves between a rock and a hard place they despaired for the life they had left behind in Egypt – and their memory of their former prison began to sound like paradise lost. And if you don’t think this unspoken reality was like a splinter in their shoe that pierced with each step, then you you need to re-read the whole account of Israel’s history in the wilderness! I’m telling you, this leading has the appearance of freedom, for though the flesh may be removed from the world, if the world is not removed from the heart it does no good!
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.Romans 8:14
Why is it that when we read these words we automatically associate the leading with specific places God wants us to go or things He wants us to do? Let me ask you, does this inspire confidence in you or bring out your fears that maybe since you really don’t hear the voice of God then maybe you’re not really His child? Maybe we’re straining so hard to hear that “still, small voice” we imagine that we hear Him!
Why do we fall into conformity with this world on issues of leading? Yes! I mean, conformity with this world! Those who do not have the Spirit have been seeking guidance in “spiritual” issues for millenia! Our leading is a true leading and it is not based on guesswork! It is not issue centered. It is not our own personal law. It flows freely and it is always there! That which conforms to the world is riddled with doubts and uncertainty because it is based on our fickle interpretations and lack of knowledge. Methods and formulas have nothing to do with the leading of the Spirit of God … neither does guilt and shame!
Is it possible that we are listening for something that is part of the old covenant? We have read about the new covenant in Jeremiah, but the writing of His law on our hearts just doesn’t seem to rate compared to being given real direction.
Listen! Being led by the Spirit, from within, is not like having the Law take us by the hand. Can you remember growing up as a young child? You had to be told what to do (and how to do it) and what not to do; where to go and not go … it was real specific direction! But you were not being raised to remain in that kind of relationship (at least, I hope not). Maturity meant that you no longer had to be led that way … it became part of you and you began to make your own decisions that amazingly resembled dad’s. The illustration pales in comparison to what has taken place in the life of the believer, for the life of God is within us and that life of the risen Lord Jesus has become our life. And yet we still want the hand to lead us along because we cannot trust His life in us. I know that what I’m telling you is radical for I am telling you to be free! You are not being led by the Spirit of God because you think you hear Him telling you something … you are led by Him because He has taken up full-time residency within you.
It’s happening right now! And when the truth of the good news is stirring faith in you, you get a whiff of it … and you better be glad that it doesn’t need your awareness of it in order for it to be there. Don’t waste your time looking for the leading, live your life free in Him with the knowledge that He is leading you right now. Don’t worry, if He wants to get your attention on a specific person, place or thing He’ll do it. And when it happens don’t look the gift horse in the mouth! But don’t use the occasional “God lead me to do it” incident to define the non-stop leading of the Spirit.
Just in case you get the strange idea that the people under the old covenant were saved by the old covenant, think again! They lived their whole lives waiting for the promise, having in the Law a shadow of the fulfillment to come. We should really have no problem understanding the position they were left in, for it is a good description of how most of us live even now! If we were to shake off our own bondage (an illegitimate one) we would see what bondage it was. Since “the Law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12)”, their believing in the promise of the Old, which is the New, was a miracle not found of the Old, but of the New!
Did you get that? Friends, this puzzle makes no sense without the missing piece: our miraculous God! The Law produced no faith (saving, living, whatever), but it did testify to it. Those who believed testified to a righteousness apart from the very Law they lived under!
Do you see in the passage where it speaks of “My covenant which they broke”? This we understand all too well, for we laugh and say, Rules were meant to be broken.! God knew that men could not keep the Law, but did He give His rules just so that they would be broken? That is a purely human perspective, for though He knew that we could not do what He said, we have to be convinced of it over and over again!
“My covenant which they broke”. There is a taco restaurant chain called Taco Viva (I thought it was defunct, but I saw one recently) and they had a slogan which went, “When you say Taco, say Viva!”. Well, in the same way, when you say Old Covenant, say, broken, for it is a given. You may not think so, but God says that’s the way it is! In Deuteronomy 31:16, the Lord had told Moses that after he died the people would “forsake Me and break My Covenant”. He wasn’t guessing … He knew!
Law + Man = Broken
The new covenant is not like the old one.
Think this through … it is not difficult. Broken is not a concept that is linked with the new covenant, instead, that is why a new one had to be made, since the old covenant could not be kept by man. The new covenant is a totally different kind of covenant … by it, God’s Law is kept … it can’t be anything like the old. By the new covenant, God’s Law is put within the heart. And if you are trying to imagine a little, bitty copy of the Ten Commandments somehow inscribed on the walls of our heart, then you just don’t get it!! For this Law that is put within us is none other than God, Himself!
The written Law is only a faint shadow of the reality from which it came forth. Who has to tell God to do right? Well … ? This is the Life that is now inside us! This is the only reason that this covenant is kept. And yeah, this should make your flesh scream out, Blasphemy!
God says He “was a Husband to them”. And what kind of a relationship would you have called it? The lady was a tramp! It was an adulterous one, and God is said to have…
put (Israel) away and given her a bill of divorce.Jeremiah 3:8
This is the marriage relationship pictured by the old covenant. The new covenant speaks of a different bride than the unfaithful one of the old:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blamelessEphesians 5: 25-27
So … who ruined the marriage under the old covenant? Israel did. Who performed the work that produces the “holy and blameless” bride of the new? Well? What kind of a relationship do we see ourselves having with God? Isn’t it more like the adulterous one of the old? We picture ourselves coming and going … in and out of it. We view ourselves as if we were the Bride of Christ who sleeps around, but will be forgiven in the end because of the grace of God. But the image is totally wrong! Our relationship with God is found outside of what we were (which is, for the most part, what we think we still are). The reality is not different than the promise, but as the New is not like the Old, our thoughts need to be focused “above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:1)”. If we are not a virgin being presented to Christ, no attempt to turn from our sins, clean up our act, confess our infidelity, rededicate our lives, be sorry for our sins, etc., etc. will ever, ever reverse our intercourse with the world!!! But everything has been made new … the old has passed away!!
As those who have been made new we have no option under the old covenant. God did not take the whore and restore her to her former virginity … He killed her, and raised up a new creation, pure and blameless in His sight! I ask you, do you still desire the former relationship? If not, then stop thinking and living as if God puts the responsibility on you to determine if you’re in or out … for there is no in under the old … and there is no out under the new!!!
If you are disturbed by what I have been telling you, then I want you to do something for me. No, no, I’m not talking about writing me a scathing letter, it’s something else. Take that feeling and use it to give yourself a better understanding of the many situations where people were disturbed by what Jesus had to say. I don’t say this in a belittling way at all, for I have gained much insight by capitalizing on how I felt which caused me to realize how much I can relate to the self-righteous. And through this, I believe you can gain a much better understanding of WHY Jesus said what He said which gives you better comprehension of WHAT He said. After all, how did you think those Bible scholars and teachers felt when Jesus told them (in front of their pupils) that they did not understand the word at all? How do you think Peter reacted when Paul (a “Johnny-come-lately”) rebuked him in front of the whole group?
The error would be to overlook your feelings and to write me off as a confrontational heretic! For the reality is that our feelings are indicators of what we think and believe. So, please don’t do the self-righteous, stoic thing by stuffing your feelings and justifying your position! I know, I’m very well acquainted with the process. And so my question to you is this: while your head is filled with offended feelings and the desire to make yourself appear better, do you sense the undercurrent within you that you may actually be fighting against who you truly are?
Know de Lawd?
When do you usually hear someone say, “He really needs to know the Lord!”? Isn’t it after the person’s sin has been exposed? Under the old covenant the prophets and priests would admonish the people in view of their sins. If someone broke the Law (which was always) then the attempt was made to instruct them in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. Human nature has no problem with this as long as it is on the giving side; for when someone screws up, somebody will be there to give their righteous advice on the right course of action! Because the formula of the old covenant is: Man + Law = Broken. The need for the admonition to “Know the Lord” through the teaching of the Law was constant – it perpetuated itself!
Once again, the new covenant is not like the old in that there is no need to teach someone to “Know the Lord” since they already know Him! Because God has written the Law on our hearts, by the indwelling of the Spirit, the admonition is counterproductive, for it asks us to assume that we do not truly know Him. Do you also catch the significance of the relation to sin in someone who has no need to be taught to know God? There is none!! If you will notice the last sentence in the passage, it claims that this absence of saying, “Know the Lord,” is directly connected to forgiveness and no remembrance of sins!
Sin is not an issue in the new covenant because all those who are part of it already have the knowledge of God, because God lives in them. And it is from this perspective, that teaching has value; we speak truth, we speak the word of God to those who hear it And the hearing should prove to us to be a miracle of God, for the natural mind does not receive the things of God.
Sin is an issue apart from the cross, and there is no true knowledge of God found in pursuing the Law, as the history of Israel makes very clear. If you are trying to get to know the Lord by any of your efforts you are on a dead-end road where God becomes farther and farther away and sin becomes your focus. If you are trying to know the Lord better by studying His attributes, then you will learn His attributes and become convinced that He is far above you and your understanding of His life in you will become more and more doctrinal and less and less real!
What a shame to be thirsty while swimming in an ocean of fresh water!
Do we really believe that we are forgiven? Do we really understand that God holds nothing against us? Or do we keep looking for Bible verses and doctrines to convince us that forgiveness is not absolute? Does our human reasoning guide us in our denial of the basic premise of the cross? Oh, yeah, we understand the old covenant all too well, for within it’s confines there was no true forgiveness because the payment was only a shadow of the real one to come. Let me ask you: when we deny absolute forgiveness what is it that is being denied? The real payment. That’s right, we are questioning both the One who made the payment and the One who accepted the payment!!! There could be no true forgiveness, no true reason for withholding judgment, on account of our sins under the old covenant. How much like our day to day living that is, isn’t it?
But remember, the new covenant is not like the old covenant. It will never make sense to our human reasoning to truly forgive. So why do we constantly insist on having it make sense? Why do we always compare one sin to another as if one was better or worse than the next? How do we rationalize the ease at which we forgive the little sins? If, according to God, all sin is basically the same (Rom 2:1), why do we have a harder time forgiving the really bad sins? Isn’t it because we can overlook the stuff that doesn’t seem to affect us? But then, can that truly be considered forgiveness at all? Forgiveness is the refusal to hold offenses against those who have injured us in very real ways. Remember that only God can forgive sins,then consider that He asks you to do the same! I hope you get the connection, and when you do it should shake your religious mentality to the core!!!
Let me repeat the premise that there was no true forgiveness in the old covenant. How could there be? The continual animal sacrifices are proof enough that it was never really taken care of. Does that mean that no one living during that time was ever forgiven? Yes, if you are referring to the forgiveness found in the shadow; NO, if you realize that there was true forgiveness found in that which the sacrifice was testifying to! For it declared a passing over of sins on the basis of the sacrifice to come, which was that of the perfect Lamb. Remember, it was a forgiveness that was found in the passing over of sins that was not brought in until Christ died on the cross and truly satisfied His Father. And keep this in mind, through the cross, God was being justified in having passed over the sins of His people during the time before a legitimate sacrifice was made! See Romans 3:21-26
Ball and Chain
Have you ever reminded somebody that you forgave them? Has it been done to you? Who are we kidding? Can’t you see that this is just one more way the natural mind brings up sin again and again? Isn’t it amazing how “gracious” we are? Under the old covenant, sins were highlighted and focused on. The laws drew attention to every aspect of wrongs committed by the people; and every drop of blood from every animal killed on their behalf never let them forget that sin was a very real issue. And every slaughter was followed by another and then another – year after year – from their earliest memory to the day they died. How could their consciences ever be removed from the realm of sin?
But the new covenant is not like the old … (is this getting through?) :)
In Jeremiah, God declared that He will remember their sins “no more”. Can He do that? I mean really? Can the almighty, righteous God just decide to not remember all the wrong stuff that we did? Is that what happened between the Old and New Testaments?
But we really do know, don’t we? We know that it was the very blood of His Son that satisfied all the offenses against all the meticulous little rules that are broken every day, don’t we? So, why are we always remembering them? Why do we make sure that we let others know that we are remembering their past sins? Why do we feel it is necessary … no, preferable to live in view of our bad choices and deeds and thoughts, etc., etc.? He doesn’t remember, but we don’t seem to want to forget!! I’m sure we could find some verses to support our habit of “sin-consciousness”, but why not just believe what God says?
Is God Senile?
If He really doesn’t remember, maybe we shouldn’t remind Him!
Did the omniscient (all-knowing) God of the universe develop a case of amnesia? For that is something we could relate to. But instead it is infinitely better. The word remember means call to mind; this means God is fully aware of what has taken place, but will never, never, never, remember it against you! You see, you are not free from condemnation because God has forgotten, as one who has grown senile, but because He has accepted once and forever the perfect sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, Jesus!!
So, don’t hold back when you speak to your Father, as if maybe He will be mad at what you confess to Him, but instead, be BOLD as you approach Him, not in the arrogance of one who thinks that his worth is found in his doings, but in the true humility of one who knows the sacrifice was forever satisfied!
- 1. A prisoner of ancient written documents bound in leather