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December 1, 2019

The New is not Like the Old

The New

I just returned from a trip to Thailand and Cambodia where I taught on the life changing truths of the new covenant. I grew up in a church that saw the new covenant as an extension of the old covenant. We viewed the New Testament as a revelation of a new and improved law.  The new law of Jesus was the Law of Moses 2.0. The same expectation to keep all the rules, only with better, improved rules. 

Whether we admit it or not, I think we are more comfortable thinking of our relationship with God as a list of rules and commands. That way we know what God expects of us; we know what is at stake. That is, of course, until we come to grips with the essential lesson of the Old Covenant. We will always fail to meet His expectations and keep his commands.

“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 . . .  But this covenant which I will make . . ., 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.”  Jeremiah 31:31-33

Nothing Like the Old

The truth is, the New Covenant is nothing like the Old Covenant!  The very nature of this new covenant is different.  Jeremiah prophesied as much, “. . . not like the covenant which I made with their fathers. . .”.  So many Christians fail to understand this fundamental revelation. In the new covenant, established and ratified by Jesus Christ, we are not asked to take on a list of expectations. Nor are we asked to do our best to meet a set of rules. Rather, we are asked to receive the very presence of Christ. We are asked to receive His Holy Spirit and cooperate with this indwelling presence. He will change and transform us from the inside out. 

The old covenant was based on an external understanding of the rules that led to behavioral effort to keep the rules.  The new covenant is based on an internal “writing the laws on our hearts”, done by the Holy Spirit. He then empowers us to change our thinking and ultimately our behavior to reflect the heart of God. 

I cannot describe the transformation in my life when I finally stopped focusing on trying to please God and instead started focusing on how to cooperate with what He was trying to do within me. My mind and my behavior changed much more quickly. The change was permanent and genuine. He was changing me from the inside out!  Less than two weeks ago I stood in Phnom Penh, Cambodia teaching this vital truth and witnessed believers in tears expressing gratitude for making this clear to them for the first time.  How freeing is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!!