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The new covenant and surrender
- Jacob Ninan
The new covenant between God and man, which Jesus ratified with His blood (Lk.22:20), is far superior to the old covenant which God had brought earlier to Israel (He.8:6). In fact, the old covenant has become obsolete since it has now been replaced with the new (He.8:13). The old covenant was based on God's commandments which man was to keep, and it failed because nobody could manage to get right with God that way (Ro.3:20), because of the weakness of our flesh (Ro.8:3). The new covenant was in God's heart from eternity (Ep.1:4,5), and He announced its coming when Israel had failed the old covenant miserably (Je.31:31).
The new covenant replaces the 'You shall' of the old covenant concerning man with 'I will' from God's side. When we come to God as helpless sinners and place our trust in Jesus as God's sacrifice in our place, we receive forgiveness from God freely--as an unmerited gift of grace from God. He accepts us as His children and makes us heirs of every blessing that is available (Ep.1:3).
The Bible describes the new covenant as a fulfillment of the full implication the old covenant (Ro.8:4). In other words, if the old covenant was a shadow, the new covenant is the body that cast that shadow (Co.2:17). The law of the old covenant was like a guardian who was to prepare his ward until he became mature enough to take on full responsibility (Ga.3:24). But now that Christ has come with the new, perfect covenant, we are no longer under that guardian (v.25), and we have a direct relationship with God as His sons.
The old covenant laws were only indicators of the full requirements that were in the heart of God. For example, Jesus explained that commandments against physical murder and adultery actually pointed to the time when even unholy anger and lustful looks were recognised as being practically the same as those (Mt.5:21,22,27,28). Offering animal sacrifices became unnecessary when Jesus made the supreme and all-sufficient sacrifice of Himself for us (He.9:12). Symbolic requirements such as keeping one day in seven as being holy to God and giving a tenth of the income to God get fulfilled when we realise that every day of our life is to be kept holy to God (Co.2:16,17), and we are to be stewards of all our wealth before God (Lk.16:11,12). Holy places and clean foods gave way to an inwardly holy life.
The new covenant works on the basis of grace from God's side and faith (trust) on our side. The only way we can experience more of His grace is by trusting God more. The mark of our trust in God is in believing His word and obeying Him in everything--surrender to God. We hand over the ownership of our lives and all that we have to God and His will. Then we don't just give Him a part of our life (as in the old covenant) and live our own lives otherwise. It is when people are unwilling to make this wholehearted surrender to God that they prefer to live under the old covenant even now. But then they will also miss out on the full blessings of the new covenant.