Better Promises under Grace
In every way, the new covenant of grace is a better covenant than the old covenant of law. "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant." We have considered some of the better aspects of living under grace: a better High Priest to minister to us, a better sacrifice for sins, a greater intimacy with God, and spiritual substance instead of mere shadows. Another better aspect of grace is that it "was established on better promises." To this excellent reality, we will now give continuing attention over many days.
Under the old covenant of law, a basic promise is stated repeatedly. It is present in the first giving of the law, when the children of Israel were delivered from bondage in Egypt. "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them" (Leviticus 18:5). It was present when the law was given again to Israel, as they were preparing to enter the promised land. "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth" (Deuteronomy 28:1). At this time, a corollary promise of warning was made. "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you" (Deuteronomy 28:15).
The basic promises of the law can be summarized as "do this, and you will live." The promises under the law are contingent upon the performance of man. If man is able to keep the law, the promises of life and blessing will be fulfilled. Ultimately, the children of Israel demonstrated the inability of man to live up to the standards of God's holy law. "Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them'" (Ezekiel 20:21).
The promises under grace are immeasurably better than those under law, because they do not depend upon man's performance. "I will make a new covenant… I will put My law in their minds…I will be their God…I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34).