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What is the New Covenant in the Bible?

Most Christians believe that the new covenant is fundamentally different from the old covenant and that they no longer have to obey God’s Commandments. But in fact, God’s demands on people have not changed. Sin is still an abomination to God, which results in death. The only thing that has changed with the new covenant is the way in which we receive it. While Moses speaks of discipline and punishment, the New Testament is all about the Holy Spirit and forgiveness. With the New Covenant, God approaches the people by forgiving their past sins and giving them a spirit that helps them to keep his commandments.

Thus, the widespread assumption that the new covenant suspended God’s Commandments and are therefore no longer binding is not valid. In the Bible are several statements about the new covenant that clearly refute these theories. One of them is:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

In the following text I will explain in detail what the New Covenant is all about based on biblical scripture.

In the Old Covenant, people had to be disciplined and punished to keep God’s Commandments

The Old Testament reports that in the time of Moses (i.e. in the Old Covenant), people should be stoned if they had transgressed the law. The stoning served primarily as a deterrent so that no one would break God’s covenant. It should also ensure that God’s chosen people remain clean from sin. The sentence “You shall put evil away from among you” can be found several times in the Old Testament of the Bible (cf. Deuteronomy 13: 6, 17: 7, 19:19, 21:21, 22:21, 22:24).

And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:21)

Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. (Jeremiah 10:11)

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that 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 that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-32)

So God had to force the Israelites to keep the Old Covenant because many of them refused to keep them on their own. But in spite of all the hardship, most of the Hebrews sinned so badly against God, that God ultimately wanted almost none of them to enter into the promised land. Only their children and those who were of a DIFFERENT SPIRIT were allowed to enter the promised land.

And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Numbers 14:20-24)

In the New Covenant, people WILLINGLY keep God’s Commandments

With the coming of Jesus we no longer keep the commandments of God through discipline, but with the help of the Holy Spirit. Whoever truly confesses to God, that he accepts Jesus and follows his example, receives the spirit of God and thereby becomes a new creature. The commandments of God are written in such a person’s heart and he obeys them of his own free will. In that way Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the new covenant that are written in the Bible. Paul says:

Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:15-17)

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith 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 continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

(Hebrews 8:7-13, (repetition of Jeremiah 31:31-34))

People who live in the New Covenant can be recognized by the fact that they OBEY God’s Commandments

So the new covenant consists of God granting us the grace to be his children. If God writes his commandments in our hearts through the new covenant, it is also natural that we obey them. It is absolutely inconceivable for God’s children not to obey His commandments.

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

A person who is truly born again and thus lives in the New Covenant can be recognized by the fact that he obeys God’s Commandments and acts according to His will; So basically he behaves the same way Jesus did. Jesus is the firstborn among God’s children and we are called to follow him.  There is clearly a reason why it is written several times in the Bible that we are destined to become conformed to his image.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1 John 2:6)

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:50)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:14-16)

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

Through the blood of Jesus our sins are forgiven

Many people do not understand what it means when Jesus tells us to drink his blood and eat his flesh. This is the New Covenant because Jesus is speaking of his spirit, the spirit of God that dwells in him. The Bible says that the soul is in the blood of a person (compare Genesis 9: 4). Therefore, we are to drink Jesus’ blood and eat his flesh so that we may kill the deeds of our flesh and sanctify our flesh with the Spirit of God.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:53-58)

Our sins can only be forgiven because Jesus sacrificed himself for the people. Since he has never sinned, his blood is perfectly pure, and only that pure blood can atone for all our sins. Whoever accepts Jesus and wants to follow him asks God for the forgiveness of his sins in Jesus name and thus receives the Spirit of God, which kills the old sinful flesh and makes us a new person.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

God’s Grace HELPS us to keep His Commandments and to stop sinning

So God’s grace is not that God simply forgives us for all past and future sins. Rather, it is about becoming a new creature and living and acting accordingly in a holy manner. Those who are born again are far from sin and want nothing more than to live and please God with their actions. So God gives us his spirit, which enables us to stop sinning. Those who have truly received the Spirit of God are not looking for excuses to justify their sins. Such a person keeps God’s commandments because the Spirit of God who dwells in him virtually does not allow us to transgress.

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:3-10)

The Bible even says that it is not difficult to keep God’s Commandments if you are born of God.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:3-4)

God’s Grace is NOT a justification to sin

So the real grace of God is in direct contradiction to what most Christians believe to be the the new covenant. Because many of them think that grace means that we can do whatever we want and still be saved. People simply rest on the assumption that God’s grace is infinite. But even this development was prophesied in the Bible.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

God’s grace is by no means a permission to sin. Rather, it enables us to become holy.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

For this reason Jesus said you should recognize them by their fruits. By fruits are meant the deeds of the people. Only those who keep God’s Commandments and act according to his will, produce good fruit.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)

Conclusion

Keeping God’s Commandments isn’t difficult if you really love Him. But the commandments are only principles. They are more or less the basics that God prescribes to the people. Eternal life and the entry into God’s kingdom are not obtained if you manage to keep the commandments, but if you are righteous. Anyone can reluctantly obey a commandment even if they would rather do something else. The New Covenant is about writing the righteousness in our hearts so that we become holy for God’s pleasure.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.  (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28-29)

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