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Pointers along the way #111

The new deal from God
- Jacob Ninan

God made an arrangement with Israel over the ten commandments, saying that if they did certain things they would get a blessing, and if they didn't, they would be cursed (De.11:26-28). Now we call this the old testament (covenant), because this became obsolete and was replaced with a new testament (He.8:13). These old and new testaments are not names of two parts of the Bible, but they are really two arrangements God has made with people. The old one was replaced because it was ineffective and powerless to help anybody to become what God wants us to be - perfect, like Him (He.8:7;10:1). The old covenant, represented by the Law, could only tell people what they should and should not do, but gave them no power to obey.

Now it is the time of the new covenant which Jesus made with us through His death (Mt.26:28). We are no longer under the old covenant or the Law. This new arrangement has many differences from the old one, which are important for us to know if we are to understand and experience what all God has prepared for us now. The new arrangement is far better than the old in many ways (He.7:22).

The old testament was based on performance. People would receive blessings or curses depending on how they obeyed. The new testament is one of grace, where we are accepted and blessed freely, by grace, when we believe (Ep.2:8). The old testament was written on stone and the new one on our hearts (He.8:10). God now takes away our heart of stone and gives us one of flesh (Ez.36:26). Earlier Israel had to obey God because they feared Him, but now we obey God because we love Him.

The old covenant had commands concerning external behaviour, and the rewards were also material. Now God looks for obedience from the heart, coming out of love and a good attitude, and our reward is a crown of life, a tranformation into His likeness (Mt.5:22,28:Jas.1:12;Ro.8:29). Where holiness concerned places and things in the old covenent, now it is for our body, soul and spirit (1Th.5:23). Where one day in the week and one tenth of our earnings used to be for God - a part of the whole - now every part of our life belongs to God (Col.2:16,17;1Co.3:23). Where priests were a special class of people in the old testament, now all children of God are priests and kings (1Pe.2:9). Now we belong to the Body of Christ where every member has a special function (Ep.4:16). There are many other new things.

The aim of the new covenant is first of all to provide all of us - irrespective of any differences at the human level - direct access to God through faith without having to go through a priest, and then to transform our lives from the inside to become like Jesus (Col.3:11). Sanctification is a process which the Holy Spirit does in our heart that transforms our heart, attitude, desires, ambitions, etc., and makes us more and more like Jesus. Let us take pains to learn what Jesus has prepared for us, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us continually.