Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Mark Maulding | IOM Staff Writer
The New Covenant Is Superior to the Old Covenant
To completely let go of the Old Covenant, it’s essential that you understand the New Covenant. While this entire book is an explanation of the New Covenant, let’s focus on what I mentioned briefly in chapter 2. Scripture teaches us about three pillars, and first and foremost, Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which each of these three pillars rests.
Ironically, an Old Testament prophecy which is repeated in Hebrews 10:16-17 gives the most succinct description of the New Covenant. In Jeremiah 31:31–34, we read,
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart, I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (NASB)
This was written to God’s Jewish people many years after the Old Covenant was instituted. No one knew this prophecy would include the Gentiles—non-Jews. God tells us in verse 32 that the New Covenant would not be like the Old Covenant; it would be quite different. The big takeaway from that is that the Old Covenant was temporary and external and didn’t work. The New Covenant is eternal and internal and does work.
Here are the three pillars from Jeremiah 31:
1. Who we are in Christ.
Verse 33 says God is going to write his law on our hearts. In the Old Covenant, God’s law was written on two stone slabs of rock. In the New Covenant, God writes his law on our hearts meaning his character is placed in our hearts. This is our new heart in Christ. It is why we are as righteous as Jesus. It’s why we are saints and much more. It’s why we don’t need the external law of the Old Covenant. It’s why we’re no longer dead but are alive in Christ!
2. Who Christ is in us.
The next verse, 34, says we will not have to tell Christians to know the Lord because everyone of us will know him. The Hebrew word for “know” here means union, just as it does in Genesis 4:1: “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the LORD’” (NKJV). What God is saying to us is that in the Old Covenant, the Jewish people were constant telling people to do something impossible – to have a close intimate relationship with God. When the High Priest represented them in the Holy of Holies, that is as close to God as they could ever get. In the New Covenant God changed this by spiritually uniting himself to us. This union means we are always close to God and can never get any closer. We may feel closer to God at times, but we can’t get closer. It also means we can enjoy intimacy with him 24/7.
3. Our eternal, complete forgiveness.
Verse 34 also gives us the great news that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our sins are so forgiven that God doesn’t remember them—ever. This means he never holds them against us because we are forgiven for every sin—past, present, and future—from the moment of our salvation. That is such a dramatic contrast with Old Covenant forgiveness. All of those sacrifices each year were never enough to forgive their past sins and certainly not their future sins.
Read those verses one more time while you ask yourself one question: what is God’s part in the New Covenant and what is your part?
You didn’t find your part because it’s not there. God does his part, and he does your part! God made a covenant with himself, and we are the beneficiaries. In the Old Covenant, God did his part, and the Jews were to do their part. God was faithful to keep his part, but the Jews were most often unfaithful because they were sinners in their hearts. The external law of God couldn’t change that. The New Covenant, however, took care of our problem internally by giving us a new heart in Christ.
We are to “do” only one thing in the New Covenant: simply believe. Just as the obedience was the condition in the Old Covenant, faith is the condition in the New Covenant. In other words, we are to believe for our salvation and then we are to live by faith from then on, relying on Christ in us.
Great blessings are in the New Covenant. Ephesians 1:3 says we already have them just because we are Christians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (NASB).
Where are these blessings? They are in Christ, which is where you are today. The blessings, however, will not do you a lot of good in daily life if you don’t believe. For example, as a Christian, we saw God unconditionally accepts you as one of those blessings. Yet you can enjoy this only if you believe it is true every day. That is why it is so important to tell God you believe these blessings are true for you. Why don’t you start right now by praying, “Father, I believe by faith that you unconditionally accept me today.”
Obedience to God is still important. But as Christians living under the New Covenant, we obey God by faith.