Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant then the people of the Old Testament had. So why do so many Christians strive so hard to go back to the Old Testament laws, rituals, and ways of life or worship? Could it be that it is easier to teach religion then to teach someone else how to have a relationship with Christ?
Hebrews 8:6-9, 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.
For those Christians who continue to hold onto the Old Testament with its judgments and condemnations while claiming their belief in Christ as their Lord and Savior one must ask have they ever read these verses, much less the first ten chapters of Hebrews. The question that comes up from most Christians reading verse 6 is “what is the better covenant”? What are the better promises that this better covenant is established on?
In the original covenant through the Laws of Moses everyone had to be taught the laws from one person to another; God only spoke to Moses not to everyone. For the best comparison between the two covenants we must read the prophesy of Jeremiah of a better covenant and he also pointed to a better mediator. Keep in mind Hebrews was written to the Jews who understood the harshness and impossibility of any man on earth fulfilling this prophesy. However, they also had heard and believed that Jesus was their Messiah, the Son of God who fulfill all of the requirements of the first covenant and since He was without sin the grave could not hold Him. They knew Jesus was sitting at the right hand of God, but were having a difficult time letting go of their Old Covenant because that is all they had ever known. They knew of a better covenant as they had the Torah where Jeremiah’s writings were found and studied. But the Jews had difficulty realizing the depth of the gospel and its full impact on their lives.
The New Covenant can be read and understood through the prophesy of Jeremiah as found in chapter 31:31-34. Jeremiah 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—(SIDE NOTE to help the reader understand that by faith you are now a spiritual part of Israel and the promises here is what Paul wrote in Romans 9:6-9. - 6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.") Jeremiah 31:33-34 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
As you can see from Jeremiah 33 it is God who puts His laws in our hearts and minds. Ask yourself how God can do this unless there is a one-on-one communications between the believer and God. The first covenant was based on a men following another man who heard from God. Under the New Covenant that we live in today we have a direct connection with our God through our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Just in this verse alone we have a better covenant. Remember that the New Covenant is based on better promises. The promise of a son was to Sarah and she had to receive by “faith not actions”. This means that we must receive from God our Father by faith and not based on our actions. Under the Old Covenant all of the blessings came through “cause & affect”. Under the New Covenant everything we receive from, revelation of the word to natural blessings, comes through our faith and never based on our actions. It is our bad actions that will keep our minds from “believing” we deserve those blessings which are based on God’s promise. I have emphasized believing because without believing we can never receive. Remember that Abraham “believed” God and it was accounted to him as righteous, Romans 4:3.
In my opinion Satan has done an excellent job of keeping the Old Covenant alive in the minds of Christians through the preached misunderstanding of the gospel of Christ and mixing in the Old Covenant with the New. Remember what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”. Jesus was not talking about bread, He was talking about legalism. In Luke 12:1, Jesus added in Herod along with the Pharisees’ leaven indicating we should also not mix the natural ways of life in with the spiritual truth. Any kind of legalistic teaching mixed in with the Gospel of Jesus Christ will spoil the entire Gospel. Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9. “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”.
Legalism is not just following the Laws of the Old Testament either. Legalism is following a list of rules or doctrines of man in effort to be righteous or to receive from God. I hear Christians all the time who think they are walking by faith, talk about how they received a blessing from God “because they did something” to receive it. Here are some broad examples of legalism comments I have heard Christians use as if they are faith.
1. “I heard God challenge me to go preach the gospel in the street and I didn’t want to do it, but because I was obedient and did it anyway he opened this door for me”.
2. “God told me to do something a while back, but because I was timid and afraid to step out of my comfort zone when I needed a specific blessing He must have said no because of my disobedience”
3. “I was in a situation where I was heavily tempted and even told that I would be changed into a bad person over time, but because I held my faith God gave me the desires of my heart”
4. “If I read and speak all of the healing scriptures over me, God will eventually give me my healing”
5. “your obedience is required by God more than your faith”
I have heard well known TV preachers with entire teachings like “Seven things God wants from you to receive His blessings”, “Six things to do to receive your healing”, “Seven means complete in the bible, so here are the seven things you need to do to become complete in Him”. Anytime an action or list of actions are required before a blessing is to come are actually “cause and affect” legalisms and have nothing to do with faith. They put the hearer under such bondage that what little faith they may have is squelched and will feel rejected if they fail at any point. I have actually heard a preacher speak of his fear of flying to the point that as soon as the plane takes off until it lands, he is praying in tongues that the plane will not crash. That’s legalism; that’s bondage and has nothing to do with the New Covenant.
Hebrews 7-9 supports the truth of a New Covenant in that the first covenant was flawed because it all rested on mans actions and not on faith. The Old Covenant itself was flawless, but a covenant is only as good as the people on both sides of the covenant. God is perfect so His side of the covenant was upheld perfectly, but because of the imperfection of man he could never uphold his side of the covenant. Remember Hebrews 11:6, 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. To diligently seek God is where your reward will be, not in how good you are as a person.
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