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Now we will look at the New Covenant in more detail. We should all thank God today that by His grace we are a part of this New and Better Covenant. Here is the full description of the promised New Covenant, taken from Hebrews 8 as it quotes Jeremiah 31. Let us see what these verses say about the New Covenant:
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 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— 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 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. 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. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
A New Covenant with Israel
God promised in the Book of Jeremiah that He would make a New Covenant with Israel. The Old Covenant had faults, in that the people could not keep their end of the covenant requirements. So the Old Covenant has been done away with. It is obsolete and has passed away and has been replaced by the New Covenant in the shed blood of Christ. He keeps the covenant requirements for us.
We notice first of all that this is a New Covenant. It is not like the Old Covenant. It is not like the Mosaic Covenant. It is new. There are better promises and a better sacrifice in this New Covenant.
It is also new in that in the New Testament we have a distinct definition given to explain who this covenant is made with. You see, the Old Covenant was made with physical Israel – all the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who formed the nation of Israel. However, in this New Covenant, the parameters for defining God’s people are specific. Galatians 3 tells us that the promises of this New Covenant have been made with the Seed, not seeds (plural), but the Seed (singular) of Abraham. So this is not the physical lineage, but speaks about Christ. He is the Seed. So those who are in Christ by faith are part of the Seed – the true descendents of Abraham.
Our lineage is not physical, but spiritual. Not by flesh, but by spirit. In this New Covenant we do not have a heritage that is passed from father to son by birthright. No, now we have a spiritual inheritance by faith as we partake of all that belongs to Christ.
God’s Law and God’s People
In this New Covenant God will put His Law in the covenant members minds and write it on their hearts. He will instruct us. As a new creation in Christ we will be aware of right and wrong by the convicting power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He will make sure that we grow in grace and in understanding His Word.
Further, we will be His people and He will be our God. This is a personal relationship. We are His and He is ours. We belong to each other. We submit humbly to His authority and He protects and provides for us. In this New Covenant, we have His Law written in our hearts and minds and we are His.
Also in this New Covenant, those who are members of this covenant – those who are the true Israel, the true people of God and who have His law written in their minds and on their hearts – know God. From the least to the greatest, to be in this covenant is to know God.
This of course speaks of salvation. We are His people, walking by faith, knowing God. We trust Him because we know Him. Therefore, there cannot be anyone in this New Covenant who does not know God. In fact, when some at the judgment claim to be His children, Jesus declares to them, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” He did not know them and they did not really know Him. They were not in the New Covenant.
As we have learned, God knows those who trust Him, and those who go out from us and forsake their faith prove that they were never of us in the first place. We do not have to be taught to trust Him once we are His, because to be His is to trust Him and know Him.
Sins, Iniquities, and Wickedness
Another distinct quality of the New Covenant is that everyone in this Covenant has had their sins forgiven. There are no inadequate sacrifices or unpaid sin debts. Jesus has paid it all for us. He bore the penalty for our sin on the cross. That is why we are shown in the Lord’s Supper that “this cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you.”This is so amazing it takes a while to grasp. To be in the New Covenant is to have all of your sins atoned for. It is to be forgiven! God forgets our sin. It is covered by the blood of Christ.
So we see that while the Old Covenant provided a shadow and type of the New and pointed to the Way to Christ, it is the New Covenant that was ratified by the life and death and resurrection of Christ. To be in Him is to have our sins forgiven. Then we can truly understand Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” No condemnation. No penalty. No guilt. Our sins have been paid for, in full. Jesus cried from the cross, “It is finished.” Our debt was paid and dismissed.