Well, it’s Monday once again and I am EXCITED because I have a small group Bible study that meets on Monday evenings. We are walking through the Precept Upon Precept course entitled “Covenant”. If I could only teach one study for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. It is so eye opening and the explanation of Christianity becomes so clear. The Old and New Testaments tie together beautifully. I get excited just thinking about it.
Last week we covered Lesson 1, learning that the idea of covenant originated with God. We also learned that there are two types of covenant, ones between God and man and ones between man and man. The covenants between man and man are always extremely conditional. The weaker comes to the stronger and sets the conditions. The benefactor is the one who sets the conditions, the weaker. The covenants between God and man are much different. In these covenants, the stronger comes to the weaker. The stronger sets the conditions for the benefit of the weaker. It only makes sense to enter into covenant with God. There are few conditions and many benefits. Yet, we tend to want to make agreements with people instead, even though there are many conditions and very few actual benefits. Many people do not want to enter into covenant with God because they do not know the Truth about who God is and what He wants.
Are you in covenant with God? How do you know? What is the sign that you are in covenant with God? Can you be in covenant with God and remain as you were before entering into covenant with Him? I hope these questions have made you think and now have created a desire to find the answers in the Scriptures!
I. The covenant between Jonathan and David
In order to understand this topic, we need to turn to the Old Testament example of Jonathan and David. Everything written in the Old Testament is a shadow of something to be fulfilled in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ. Many times, in the Old Testament, the examples that we see are psychical examples of a New Testament spiritual truth. This is what we see in the covenant between Jonathan and David. Their covenant can be found in I Samuel 18. The covenant is based on love, Biblical love, not some homosexual abomination. Their souls were knit together because they both walked with God. Covenant love is pure love, not some perverted version of love that our society promotes. In verse 3, in order to seal their dedication to each other, they cut covenant with each other. They had a bloody sacrifice, binding themselves to each other in the solemn agreement of covenant. While making this covenant, one of the things that they did was to exchange their robes. During ancient times, people were known by their clothes, specifically by their robes. When Jonathan and David exchanged robes, in essence, they exchanged identities. Jonathan took on David and David took on Jonathan. This is a custom of covenant. The son of the king takes on the identity of a shepherd boy and a lowly shepherd boy takes on the identity of the son of the king. This is a beautiful picture of what is to come in the New Covenant. Jonathan now lives for David and David now lives for Jonathan. Let’s take a look at the spiritual implications of this exchanging of robes.
II. The New Covenant
When we enter into the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ, a changing of robes takes place. The Scriptures teach us that our old-self is taken off and a new-self is put on us. Let’s take a look at this. Think about what we just learned about Jonathan and David. A lowly shepherd boy takes on the identity of the son of the king. In the New Covenant, lowly sinners exchange their old, sinful selves for the identity of the Son of the King. In I Samuel, the son of the king took on the identity of the lowly shepherd boy. In the New Covenant, Jesus takes our old-self and takes it to the cross.
According to Romans 13:12, the old-self is made up of the deeds of darkness and needs to be set aside. In Ephesians 4:22, we discover that the old-self is corrupted by lust and is very deceitful to us and to the people around us. Again, it needs to be set aside. A more detailed explanation of the old-self is found in Ephesians 4:31.
- Bitterness (piercing thoughts that irritate you) – when you dwell on something negative that someone else said or did, it just makes you madder and madder.
- Wrath – boiling over from those piercing thoughts. You are now mad as a wet hen, as the saying goes and you cannot wait to let off some steam on that person who said or did whatever to you.
- Anger – to act out of that bitterness and wrath
- Clamor – to yell at someone out of your bitterness and wrath
- Slander – to talk bad about the person to others, specifically saying things that are not true
- Malice – cause injury to another at any cost. You do not care what you have to do, there are no limits to what you will do in order to harm another either mentally, physically, verbally, psychologically etc.
The previous list is not exhaustive. Our old-self is much, much worse. There are other passages in the New Testament that deal with our old-self. One of those passages is Colossians 3:5-9. The old-self is made up of evil deeds. Here they are:
- immorality – the is the word which we get our word “pornography” from. It means any form of sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage, both physical and mental.
- impurity – we are defiled by our thoughts and actions
- passions – uncontrollable instincts, like animals in heat, our old-self throws reason and self-control out the window
- evil desires – because the old-self is so selfish and self-centered, it will gladly hurt others to make itself look better or have its passions satisfied
- greed – the old-self is never satisfied. It always wants more and more and more, no matter what it is. This is why we are all predisposed to addictions.
This is very bad news for all of us. We are all lowly sinners because of our old-self which we inherited from our parents. The good news is that God has acted to take care of the old-self. According to Romans 6, when Jesus Christ became human flesh, He took our sin to the cross with Him when He paid the price for all of our sins as the perfect sacrifice. The power of the old-self has been broken. Jesus took our robe (old-self) and He offers the new-self to us. What does the new-self look like?
According to Galatians 3:27, the new-self is Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul teaches us that when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we are baptized into Christ and receive the new-self. The word baptism here is not the word for being immersed in water. The word used for baptized here means to be united with, which means when we are baptized into Christ, we are united with Him. The new-self is described in Romans 13:12 as light and a direct contrast to the old-self. A more detailed description of the new-self is found in Ephesians 4:24, The new-self is the likeness of Christ which manifests itself in righteousness, holiness, and truth. In relation to God, we live the way that we were created to live. His characteristics become our characteristics. We become holy, set apart from the way that we used to live as the old-self. The Truth now shines in us and through us. In Colossians 3:10, we discover that the new-self is constantly being renewed as we gain more and more knowledge of the Truth of the Word of God. The new-self constantly becomes more and more like our Creator.
The verb tenses for the put off and put on commands in these texts are in the aorist tense, which basically means a completed action in the past with present consequences/results. At one particular point in time, when we choose to enter into covenant with God, we take off the old-self and put on the new-self. The voice of the verbs are middle, which means that I have to act but I cannot do it without God’s help in the matter. In order to be able to take off and put on, I have to bow my knee to God and accept His help. What does living according to the new-self consist of on a daily basis? What are its characteristics?
III. Characteristics of the new-self
There are some things that I must do on a daily basis in order to let the new-self manifest through me moment by moment on a daily basis. In Romans 13:4, once I have put on the new-self, I must make no provision for the flesh. I must not leave the smallest crack in the door or I will set myself up to revive the old-self and give myself over to it once again. I must constantly be aware that there are things around that seek to stir up my old-self and I must choose to avoid them and run away from them. If I am browsing the internet and an image catches my attention leading me to think impure thoughts, I must immediately close the door and not allow anything or I will open the door for the old-self to be revived. In Ephesians 4, I must not be controlled by anger because if I allow anger to control me, I open the door for my old-self to be revived. The Holy Spirit will warn me each and every time. My job is to listen to the Holy Spirit. If I ignore the Holy Spirit’s warnings, I begin to grieve the Holy Spirit and set myself up to revive my old-self again. Here are some of the positive things that the new-self does:
- Speaks the Truth
- Edifies others with words
- Gives grace to others when speaking
- Kind to others
According to Colosians 3, the new-self sets its mind on heavenly things and that is manifested through:
The new-self considers itself dead to:
- evil desires
- abusive speech
What about you, my dear friend, have you entered into the New Covenant? What is the proof that you have taken off the old-self and put on the new-self? Do you realize that you have to choose between corruption and renewal? When people interact with you, do they see the new-self or the old-self? Are you sharing this transformation with others? This is a radical transformation that can only take place by entering into the New Covenant with Jesus Christ. Has that radical transformation taken place in your life? If your life has never been radically transformed like what we have just seen, what does that say about you and your relationship with God? May today, God is calling you to enter into the New Covenant with Him and be radically transformed, what will you do with that invitation?