Well, it is hard for me to believe that we are on lesson 11 of Covenant, the final lesson of the manual. This has been such a rewarding study for me and for all of those who have taken the class. I am a little sad that it is almost over, but, at the same time, I am excited to begin Titus in January. If you have been with us from the beginning, here is a little reminder of our previous lessons.
- Covenant Lesson 1
- Covenant Lesson 2
- Covenant Lesson 3
- Covenant Lesson 4
- Covenant Lesson 5
- Covenant Lesson 6
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- Covenant Lesson 8
- Covenant Lesson 9
- Covenant Lesson 10
This lesson is critical to understanding what daily life is like under the New Covenant. We have already discovered that many people have mixed the Old and New Covenants together. That has been happening from the very beginning of the New Covenant. This lesson works to clarify the difference between being under the New Covenant and living by the Old and being under the New Covenant and living accordingly.
In our previous lesson, we discovered that the difference between a person living under the Old Covenant and a person living under the New Covenant is the fact that people under the Old, they knew what God wanted, they had a desire to obey what God wanted but they could not overcome the gap between desire and actual obedience, because of their sin nature. People under the New Covenant are born again and their characters are changed. They know what God wants and also have a desire to obey. The difference is that under the New Covenant, we are able to obey because God is in us. Under the New Covenant, we are able to overcome our sin nature because of Christ. We surrender to Him and His leadership and He empowers us. If you are a slave to your sin nature then you are not living under the New Covenant. If you are a slave to obedience then you have entered the New Covenant.
In this article, I would like to examine the servants of the Lord under the Old and New Covenants, the role of faith in the Old and New Covenants, and our relationship to freedom under the Old and New Covenants.
In order to learn about the servants under each Covenant, let’s examine the Apostle Paul’s writings on the two in II Corinthians 3. He covers this very topic, how to live under the New Covenant.
Servants under the Old Covenant – In verse 6, we discover that under the Old Covenant, the servants are not made adequate. Why? Because the Law (Old Covenant) cannot change a person from the inside out. The servants can attempt to use the Law to try and change themselves from the outside in, but, because of sin nature, that is impossible. As people born enslaved to our sin nature, we cannot overcome that nature to be able to fulfill the requirements of the Law. The Law condemns them and in turn, they end up condemning the people whom they serve, using that same Law, as verse 9 teaches. Verse 7 tells us that these servants have glory yet their glory is fading. It cannot be maintained because the glory of the Law is gone. The Law was and is meant to be a tool to point to the New Covenant. The hearts and the minds of these servants are hard (stiff necked as God says about the Israelites in the Old Testament). Their eyes are veiled from the Truth of the Gospel, the fact that the Law was supposed to be a tutor, leading them to Christ. The servants are condemned and they spread that condemnation to others. They do not offer hope to the people around them. As Jesus taught, they are blind and they are leading the blind as they both head toward a pit.
Servants under the New Covenant – In verse 6, we see that these servants are made adequate. God has to make them adequate for service and He does so by changing the heart and mind and giving freedom from sin nature’s power. The difference under the New Covenant is that now, the servants have the Spirit of God in them. Like Abraham in Genesis 17, these servants receive the character of God in their lives. The ministry for these servants is also very different. They are not condemned and they do not offer condemnation to others. These servants offer hope because they offer life instead of condemnation. These servants also have glory but their glory does not fade. They teach people the righteousness of God, being made right with God by His power. These servants see the Truth of the message of the Gospel. The Law has led them to the New Covenant via faith in Jesus Christ. They have experienced true liberty, freedom from slavery to their own sin nature. Verse 18 tells us that these servants have been transformed by God, yet, they are continuing to be transformed by God and molded into the image of Jesus Christ. This is something that only God can do and it is only possible under the New Covenant.
So my dear friend, I have to ask, are you trying to change yourself from the outside in or, have you bowed your will to God and allowed Him to change you from the inside out? As you minister the Gospel to others, are you trying to change them or, are you introducing them to a relationship with God via the New Covenant so that He can change them from the inside out? Is God constantly changing you or, are you stiff necked and content to remain as you are?
Where does faith fit into the equation under the Old and New Covenants? Is there a difference? In order to answer these questions, we need to turn to Galatians 3. This epistle is another of the Apostle Paul’s writings. Again, he must deal with the differences between the Old and New Covenants.
Faith in the Old Covenant – There really is no faith under the Law. There is a list of rules and regulations that YOU attempt to perform. Faith was revealed to Abraham, faith in the Promised One who was to come. The Law was to keep people focused on the Promised One, helping people keep their focus on faith and not works. If you shift your focus from faith to the works of the Law then you actually come under a curse because you cannot keep the Law. The Law actually ends up condemning you as you are still under the bondage of your sin nature. The Law is not bad. The heart of those under the Law are bad. The Law just exposes what is already there. What does faith look like under the New Covenant?
Faith in the New Covenant – The same faith that Abraham had under the Abrahamic is the same faith required to enter into the New Covenant. Once under the New Covenant, we are to walk in that faith each and every moment of each and every day. Abraham hear the promises of God and he believed in the Promised One. Under the New Covenant, we hear the promises of God in the Gospel and we believe in the Promised One, Jesus Christ. God changes us by faith and He works in our lives by that same faith. We do not try to accomplish the works of the Law. We allow God to do the works of the Law through us. We become righteous by faith. Righteousness is given to us by faith. We walk in that righteousness daily also by faith. Under the New Covenant, we become the children of Abraham. Under the New Covenant, we are no longer cursed, instead, we are now blessed. Once in the New Covenant, we are adopted into the family of God and we become His children. So, as Ephesians teaches, we are saved by faith and we walk by that same faith. We are not saved by faith and then matured by the Law. We are saved by faith and we walk by faith, which produces spiritual maturity, or as Paul explains in Galatians, righteousness.
Under the Old Covenant, there is no freedom and there never was supposed to be. The purpose of the Law was to keep us bound up so that we would not spiral out of control until the New Covenant came. The Law is a tutor to lead us to the New Covenant in Christ, a Covenant that does offer freedom from our greatest enemy, ourselves. The reason that those who live under the Law are in bondage is that, under the Old Covenant, the person’s sin nature is not dealt with and it still dominates the person’s life. The worst part about this is that those under the Law are upset with those who are under the New Covenant and they actually end up persecuting those who are not under the Law. Instead of seeing what is happening with those under the New Covenant and running to it, they try to stop it, so that they can feel better about themselves. Those under the Law will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Under the New Covenant, there is nothing but freedom. They are set free from the burden of the Law. They are set free from the power of their sin nature. God is the One who sets them free. He does it through the Promised One, Jesus Christ. Not only are they set free by faith, they also live moment by moment, day by day, by this same faith. They have the Spirit of God which uses the Word of God to encourage to live out God’s character. What does it look like to live in freedom? The Apostle Paul teaches in Galatians 5 that the fruit of the Spirit is love. He then goes on to explain what love looks like lived out daily
- Joy – Instead of anger and hate, I know produce joy. I have the joy of the Lord and I am not longer looking for satisfaction in idols. I am not worried about circumstances that are in God’s hands so I stay away from sorcery.
- Peace – With the lack of anger and hatred that leads to conflicts, I am able to have peace in every circumstance of life. I am content with God and no longer need idols.
- Patience – Now that I have the Lord’s patience, I no longer lose my cool with the people around me, getting angry at them and lashing out causing fights and divisions.
- Kindness – I am now able to act kindly toward others, even when they do not deserve it.
- Goodness – I become useful to the people around me because I know longer live by my own selfish desires. I seek to love and serve those who are around me, for their good.
So my dear friend, based on all that we have learned in the lesson, are you trying to live under the Old or New Covenant? What kind of servant are you? What are you offering to others, condemnation or freedom? Do you live by faith in the Promised One, Jesus Christ, or, do you live by faith in yourself to accomplish the works of the Law? Do you live out love on a daily basis, as explained in the fruit of the Spirit? May the Lord help us come to Him and accept His gift of salvation, under the New Covenant, living a righteous lifestyle by the power of the Holy Spirit!!!