Covenants are critical to the Lord. The dictionary describes ‘covenant’ as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement. Once they are made, they are considered binding. Galatians 3:15 explains:
‘Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. ‘
D219 - God is faithful to the covenants that he establishes with men
The Greek word for ‘covenant’ is diatheke and it represents a will/ testament/ agreement between two or more parties.
Generally, a covenant is made under oath between two equal parties whereby both parties are to carry out their assigned roles.
God does not need to make covenants with men, as being the Creator, he is the superior party. But God chooses to abide by and honor the covenants by swearing by himself (Heb 6:13).
God made a few covenants including the following:
- Adamic Covenant – Gen 2:16-17. The commandment was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the consequence would be death. Death is the direct result of what Adam and Eve did,
- Noahic Covenant – Gen 9:11 – Where the Lord promised never to flood the earth again. The covenant included a sign of the rainbow to demonstrate God’s faithfulness. Of course, we are yet to see the earth enveloped in water except in movies,
- Abrahamic Covenant – Gen 12:1-3 Where the Lord promised blessings to Abraham and to make his name great. Circumcision was the sign of Abraham’s faith in God (Rom 4:11). Even now, Abraham’s name continues to be prominent in the world,
- Mosaic Covenant – Deut 11 – Where the Lord promised blessings to Israel for obedience and curses if they disobeyed. We can see the history of Israel and it is the direct result of the Mosaic Covenant. The Israelites had suffered tremendously whether in the distant past at the sacking of Jerusalem in AD 70 or in the recent holocaust during the Second World War. Their disobedience had costed them heavily,
- Davidic Covenant – 2 Sam 7:12-13 – Where the Lord promised David that he would have a descendant to rule the forever kingdom and that was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ (Please see D27 – Jesus came from the bloodline of David for more details),
- New Covenant – where the Lord promised forgiveness of sin and an unbroken relationship with his people (Jer 31:31-34).
God has proven that he is a God of his words. He has shown himself to be faithful to his covenants and promises.
For more information on why God is a God of promises, please read D4 – God does not lie.
D220 - The Mosaic Covenant revealed sins and showed our need for Christ
‘Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women …’
The Law enables all of us to know what sins are because they are spelled out succinctly, especially in the Ten Commandments although there are even more requirements if we examine the Torah (First five books of Moses) more thoroughly.
Rom 3:20 says,
‘for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin’
and through the Law, it shows that
‘there is none righteous, not even one’ (Rom 3:10).
Again, it is through the law that it shows ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23) and it is through the same law that we discover our need for a perfect offering to God to wipe away our sins.
- D173 – Sin requires blood sacrifice and
- D30 – Jesus became our perfect sacrifice (passover lamb)
D221 - A New Covenant was promised and had been fulfilled by Jesus
In Jer 31:31-34, the Lord promised that there would be ‘a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah’ and it would ‘not (be) like the covenant that I (God) made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.’
In the New Covenant, the Lord –
‘will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’
That New Covenant was made with the Davidic Covenant in the background. In that promise, David was told that an eternal king would come from the line of David (2 Sam 7:16).
It was also linked to the Abrahamic Covenant when Gen 15:6 says,
‘Abram (the old name of Abraham) believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness’
The Hebrew word for ‘believe’ is aman and it means to confirm/ support/ believe/ put your trust.
Heb 8:13 announces that the Mosaic Covenant has become obsolete since the implementation of the New Covenant. While the law came through Moses, ‘grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17).
Jesus became the originator of the New Covenant when he implemented the Holy Communion. In Matt 26:28, Jesus said,
‘This is my blood of the (new) covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’
The birth of Jesus thus fulfilled the promise made in the Davidic Covenant as well as the requirements seen in the Abrahamic Covenant;
Rom 10:4 (NIV) says that
‘Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.’
Indeed, it is fair for Heb 7:22 to declare that Jesus is ‘the guarantor of a better covenant’, a covenant of faith rather than works.
D222 - The New Covenant made the Mosaic (Old) Covenant obsolete
Heb 8:13 unequivocally announces that the Mosaic Covenant has become obsolete since the arrival of the New Covenant. It became obsolete on the day when Jesus took over from John the Baptist –
‘The Law and the Prophets were until John (the Baptist)’ (Luke 16:16).
Deut 4:2 in the Torah says,
‘You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.’
Yet, Jesus broke and violated a few.
Lev 19:18 reads, ‘Love your neighbors as yourself.’ But by law, Jews were not even to eat with Gentiles. That was why Paul castigated Peter for avoiding to eat with the Gentiles when a group of Jewish Christians arrived to Galatia from Jerusalem (Gal 2:11-12). However, Jesus said in John 13:24,
‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another (Jews and Gentiles): just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.’
In Matt 5, during his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus quoted two of the Ten Commandments as well as others from the rest of the Torah as follows:
- Matthew 5:21 = Exodus 20:13
- Matthew 5:27 = Exodus 20:14
- Matthew 5:31 = Deut. 24:1
- Matthew 5:38 = Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20
- Matthew 5:43 = Lev. 19:18
Yet, Jesus ADDED TO THEM with these words, ‘But I tell you ….‘
Jesus was not only breaking the commandments of the Old Covenant but replacing them with something better.
In addition, the Mosaic Covenant was solely given to the nation of Israel (Not to Gentiles or non-Jews). In Ps 147:19-20, David explained:
‘He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules.’
The Mosaic Covenant had, nonetheless, become irrelevant, and Jesus informed us that his arrival fulfilled the Law (Matt 5:17-18).
That flows in neatly with D30 – Jesus became our perfect sacrifice (passover lamb); he became our sacrifice in order to fulfill the requirements of the Law.
We are no more ‘justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ’ (Gal 2:16).
Note: Thank you to Margie Littell of Tennessee, USA (8 June 2020)
D223 - Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant
Heb 9:15 clearly articulates that ‘Christ is the mediator of a new covenant’ and also that he had become the perfect sacrifice.
Jesus is the perfect mediator because –
D224 - Jesus is Grace and Truth
This is by far the most important doctrine of the New Testament as it is the story of the New Testament.
John 1:17 says,
‘For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.’
Firstly, Jesus was/ is Truth. He spoke Truth. See D32 – Jesus is the Truth.
But Jesus is Grace too. The Greek word is charis and it means favor/ gratitude. It is defined as ‘unmerited favor’ by Christian scholars.
Grace allows for forgiveness and acceptance despite our faults. It stands next to Truth.
Unlike people of the (Mosaic) Law, Jesus did not start by condemning. Like the case of the woman caught in adultery, when challenged by the religious elites, he refused to judge her. Instead, he waited until everyone had disappeared and then told the woman,
‘Neither do I (condemn you). Go and sin no more’ – John 8:11. Truth judges.
Grace forgives despite breaking of the law.
Grace and Truth were best seen on the cross.
- Truth judges (the Law that shows up our sins is true) and demands that our sins have to be redeemed with blood sacrifice.
- Grace came in the form of Jesus Christ who became our perfect blood sacrifice on the cross.
Question: How can we apply the concept of ‘grace and truth’ in our day-to-day lives (judging yet choosing to forgive)?
Go here to read more.
D225 - The Communion establishes the New Covenant
1 Cor 11:25 says,
‘This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.’
The communion, consisting of eating the bread and drinking the (red) wine from a cup, is the symbolic proclamation of the New Covenant until the Lord returns.
In Luke 22:19-20, Jesus said –
‘This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. ….. This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.’
Jesus instituted the communion at the Lord’s last supper. He did not want us to remember his birth but rather his death. His whole purpose on earth is wrapped around his death and resurrection.
D226 - Expectations of the New Covenant maybe more stringent than the Law
The Law made unacceptable behaviors explicit so that people know what they ought not to do. The New Covenant is not so obvious although Jesus did say that he came to fulfill the Law and not to destroy it – Matt 5:17.
Nonetheless, the www.gosinnomore.com has attempted to consolidate such ‘unacceptable behaviors’ of the New Testament under the category of ‘sins’ – Please go to www.gosinnomore.com/sins/ for more information.
The standards of the New Covenant may be higher than the old. For instance,
- In Matt 5:21-22, Jesus set a higher expectation than ‘you shall not commit murder’ when he equated anger to murder.
- In Matt 5:27, he raised the bar regarding sexual sin. The Law stated that a person shall not commit adultery. Jesus said that ’everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ In other words, lust was adultery.
- Again, he mentioned about not making false vows in Matt 5:33. The standard for the New Covenant had been raised so that our statement should either be yes or no and we are expected to fulfill whatever we have promised, even verbal ones.
Hence, do not conveniently disregard the Law.
D227 - All believers can know God
“And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
The Greek word for know is ginosko or taking in knowledge/ come to know/ learn/ ascertained/ realized.
There is no longer a need for an intermediary to know God because we have the Holy Spirit in us to teach us. Rom 8:11, for example, says that
‘the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you (us).’
Like Abraham, we can gain access and have a relationship with God directly.
D228 - Believers' love for God compels them to keep his commandments
Our reward is based on our relationship with Jesus but within here, believers choose to keep the commandments of God. Jesus said in John 14:15,
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’
Jesus repeated that in John 14:21-24,
‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.’
We all have choices. Paul made that clear in 1 Cor 10:23. Our love for God compels us to keep his commandments.
D229 - Believers do not sin so that grace could abound
In Rom 6:1, the Apostle Paul asked an obvious question,
‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?’
‘Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.’
Please also see D185 – Repentance is the first part of the two-part salvation package.
D230 - Believers are guided by love and compassion, and not the Law
By definition of a ‘bastard’, Jesus was one; he was born out of wedlock. Matt 1:18-19 says …
‘Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.’
Joseph actually disregarded the Law for, in Deut 22:20-21, the punishment for being a non-virgin when one was already betrothed was death by stoning. Mary, by all intents and purposes, deserved to be stoned to death. Yet, Joseph chose compassion over the legalistic interpretation of the Law.
Again, in Luke 13:10-17, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on a Sabbath when ‘a woman, who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit’ (resulting in her not being able to straighten up), got hold of his attention. He laid his hands on her and healed her. For that, he upset the religious elites as he committed a crime of work (Healing being considered ‘work’).
Instead of demonstrating compassion on the woman, they chose to take the legalistic interpretation of what should happen on a Sabbath.
Jesus confronted them with these words,
‘You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him?’
The religious elites showed more compassion to an animal than a human being.
PS: Even this is happening in our days when we show more compassion to animals than pre-born babies.
Today, we are no more under the (Mosaic) Law but we are all under the laws of our land. If it is between the laws of our land and compassion, believers must be guided by love and compassion without rejecting the Law (or laws).
Be careful of being legalistic whether it is in church or otherwise. Love is what distinguishes us as Christians. Jesus said in John 13:34 –
‘A new commandment I give to you that you love one another, just as I have loved you.’
- D182 – Christians are not under the law of Moses,
- D224 – Jesus is Grace and Truth,
- B22 – Love one another fervently,
- B117 – Love our neighbor as ourselves,
- B118 – Show love to the person we come in contact with.