"THE NEW COVENANT."
Intro. The purpose of a covenant was to establish the terms of a relationship.
A. The promises of the covenant.
1. They would receive seasonal rains that would cause their crops to flourish.
2. They would have an abundance and would dwell in the land in safety.
3. They would live in peace and without fear.
4. God would rid the wild beasts out of the land.
5. They would have victory over their enemies.
6. They would be fruitful and multiply.
7. He would walk among them and be their God and they would be His people.
8. What wonderful promises!
B. This covenant was conditioned on their obedience to His law.
1. God prefaced all of these promises with the words of Lev. 26:3
, "If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments and do them."
2. The Ten Commandments spelled out God's conditions for enjoying the benefits of living in fellowship with Him.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's.
3. In Deuteronomy, God said to the people,
Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:
And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe [and] to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
C. A wonderful covenant full of rich and precious promises but conditioned on their faithfulness and obedience to God.
D. As wonderful and rich as it was, it failed, because the people failed to keep their end of the bargain.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.
E. The Lord commanded Jeremiah
Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, [neither] ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.
II. GOD HAS ESTABLISHED A NEW COVENANT.
A. In verse 8, the writer quotes from Jeremiah 31:31
, where God said, "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."
B. The new covenant will not be like the covenant that he made with their fathers.
1. It would not be a covenant engraved in the tables of stone.
a. God was faithful to that covenant, but the people were not.
b. Over and over as we have noted, they broke that covenant.
2. The new covenant would be written in our hearts.
C. I understand this to mean that God will change us from within. God said through the prophet Ezekiel,
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.
D. To Jeremiah God said,
And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
E. This new covenant was established with man through Jesus Christ.
1. Jesus said to His disciples, "This cup is a new covenant in My blood, which is shed for the remission of sin."
F. In this new covenant, God gives me a new heart, a new life.
1. In Corinthians we read,
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2. To the Colossians Paul wrote,
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
3. Paul wrote to the Philippians,
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
4. Many hesitate to enter into the Christian life, for they say, "I can't live up to the standards that are required to be a Christian."
a. Some say, "I would like to be a Christian, but I can't give up my booze."
b. Others say they can't give up their illicit sex.
c. Still others feel they can't give up the excitment they experience through pornography.
d. It is true that you can't give these things up, but once you are born again and become a new creature in Christ, they just fall off. "Old things are passed away, and behold all things become new."
e. It is not a matter of driving the darkness out of your life, it is a matter of turning on the light and the darkness automatically disappears.
f. It is a matter of replacement. He fills you so full of His life, love and joy, there is just not room in your life anymore for that junk that was destroying you.
g. People are so often worried about what they will have to give up to follow Jesus Christ. It is not a matter of giving up, it is a matter of gaining so much, there is just not room any more for the evil things that once were so important to you.
h. You can be sure that God will not require you to give up one decent thing.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
1. That does not mean that He will give you your heart's desire.
2. I understand that to mean, that He will put His desires in your heart.
3. That is, He will write His desires in the fleshly tablets of your heart so that your strong desires become a revelation of His will.
4. He will make His will known by placing in your heart the strong longings and desires.
5. You will be able to say as did the psalmist,
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.
H. The first covenant that failed, was imposing the law from the outside in, the new covenant is putting the law within.
1. The old covenant was coming from the outside in.
2. The new is coming from the inside out.
III. WHY THE NEW COVENANT IS SUPERIOR AND WILL STAND.
A. It is established on better promises.
B. It is established on better principles.
1. The first covenant depended on the faithfulness of man to keep the commandments of God.
2. The new covenant is dependant on the faithfulness of God to keep His promises to us.
C. The new covenant begins when you are born again by the Spirit of God.
1. This takes place when you decide to allow Jesus to become the Lord of your life.
2. You turn the reins over to Him that He might lead and guide you in His ways.
3. He then comes and begins to dwell within you, and by His indwelling presence, He begins to change your life. Old things of the flesh begin to pass away, and everything becomes new.
4. If you are a true child of God, you can no longer live in sin, you may on occasion fall in the mud, but you don't lie there.
5. John tells us that He that is begotten of God keeps him, and the wicked one touches him not.
6. Jude wrote,
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.