Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Welcome to the New: Hitching our faith to the New Covenant

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

  In our last study, we addressed the issue of Grace and the Old Covenant. This was in response to the volley of vitriol spewed forth toward a minister in America who dared suggest Christians should unhitch their faith from the Old Testament. Even more recently this minister has addressed his critics. He clarified his view. 

 He made it clear that the whole Bible is God's Word. It is inerrant and was given by inspiration of God. As Christians, we should rightly agree with that. Where contentions begin is the place that the Old Covenant has in the life of the Church. 

 The minister clarified that the Church is not to mix Law and Grace or blend the Covenants together. This should be a cause for rejoicing. More and more people are celebrating the New Covenant. Sadly, some in the Church are still debating the place of the Old in their lives.

 I believe in response to the clear message of Grace, the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, religious tradition is in a frenzied panic. Religion is about control. Grace removes control from men and puts the emphasis back on Jesus, the center of the Gospel. 

 Because Grace is uncontainable by man-made religion, it seeks to find ways to "balance" Grace. In this pursuit, many look to bring the Old Covenant into a blended mixture with the New. Many who years ago would've never said we look to the Law for righteousness, today often say we should follow the Ten Commandments or look to the Law to see what we define as sin.

  The stronghold of religion must be cast down from the thinking of believers. Rightly dividing the Word and renewing our mind to the understood Word brings this freedom. Knowing when the Old ends and the New begins is paramount.

 Tradition props this passage up and use it to suggest that the Church is still under portions of Law. Jesus words in Matthew 5  are interpreted to mean Christ desires us to continue in the Old and follow the Law. Some even suggest that when He expounds on the true nature of the Ten Commandments, such as adultery is defined as simply looking at a woman with lust, that Jesus is showing Grace has a much higher standard. 

 No, that isn't rightly dividing the Word. What Jesus did was show the Hebrews what the full weight of the Law's requirements really was. The religious leaders had diluted the Law and commandments so people could easily fulfill them in their own might. Again people aren't rightly dividing the Word. 

 First, when did the New Covenant begin? With the birth of Christ? No, the New Covenant began with the ascension of the resurrected Christ and the coming Holy Spirit and birth of the Church. When Jesus was born He was born under Law, not Grace. 

 Secondly, the fault with the Old Covenant was the truth that people couldn't meet the standards of a perfect and holy God. Religion had diluted the Law to such a place, the commandments were manageable in the people's strength. Jesus came and showed the full weight of the Law's requirements revealing the true purpose of Law. To stir up sinful desire and therefore reveal the need for a Savior.

Welcome to the New

 So let's look at the New and answer once again religion's objections to Grace along the way. 

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 
Hebrews 8:7, 10-12 NKJV

 This is the New Covenant. God lives within us and He gives us the guarantee that our sins and unrighteousness will He remember no more. This is where religion goes haywire. The idea that our sins and unrighteousness He remembers no more. That He makes us righteous apart from performance. That even when we fail He isn't accounting our sins against us. God repeats this good news in case some don't get it in Hebrews 10.

 Religion would still find an objection saying see it says He puts His law in our hearts. So they reason, we need to look to the Old Covenant for guidance and living. Listen, the laws written on our hearts are not the 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law. 

 When we make this bold proclamation religion gets angry and accuses of antinomianism. That is in their view that we are presenting a life of lawless, licentious living. What they don't understand is that Radical New Covenant Grace isn't lawless. We just aren't bound to that Old Covenant Law. What laws are written on our hearts then?

 Paul declared that the Laws "written in stone" are the ministry of death and condemnation. We don't have death and condemnation written upon our hearts. We have the Law of Christ, the royal law of love, the law of faith written on our hearts. We do have commandments under Grace. These Laws and commandments are so clearly summed up by John. 
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. 1 John 3:23 NKJV

 Grace isn't some "higher standard" than Mosaic Law that religious tradition wields over believers, creating commands that appeal to their particular traditions. The truth is Grace is a "better standard" than the Law. Not suggesting that Law is bad or faulty. Paul declared the Law is good and perfect.

 The problem was the Hebrews weren't perfect and the Law had no power to make them righteous. If Law couldn't empower Israel to keep its impossible standards what makes us think Law will make Christians righteous? The truth is Grace is a "better standard". Under Law it says don't commit adultery, don't even look at a woman with lust. 

 Grace brings a better way. Instead of just don't lust, it says do walk in love. Love your spouse. The Law doesn't say love your spouse. It just said don't cheat on them. Well, Grace says to love them. Put others before yourself. Be the bigger person and apologize first. Walk in love, don't return evil for evil. Instead of an eye for an eye its forgive others their wrongs against you and don't hold it against them. Paul sums this up nicely.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4 NKJV

 We don't look to Law for our standard of living we look to Grace and He shows us the better way. When we receive Christ, we become the righteousness of God in Him. We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. We love because we are loved. We forgive because we've been forgiven once for all time. We walk uprightly because He already sanctified us, making us holy by His blood. 

 Unhitch our faith from the Old? Absolutely. Though there is a great benefit in studying the Old, though the Old reveals characteristics about God, the plan of redemption concealed, the Lord Jesus seen in types and shadows, our faith is rooted in Jesus and His Finished Work. It is not rooted in the Sinai Covenant, a ministry of death. 

 Want to grow in Grace? Want to progress in your love walk? Want to walk in wisdom? Want to honor Christ in your daily life?  Hitch your faith to the New Covenant and study primarily on the Scriptures written and addressed to you. Focus on "in Him", "in Christ", "in Whom" passages and see who you are in Him and find your true identity. Its found in the New Covenant, in Christ Jesus.
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