Before we proceed with our discussion today I want to define a term we all should know. That term is covenant. A covenant is a contract made with the heart instead of just the head. A covenant also remains in effect even when one of the parties who entered into it fails to follow through on their promises. Both parties usually exchange something of value when making a covenant. And a covenant often lasts for the lifetime of those who enter into such an agreement. Which brings us to Paul’s message regarding the Law v grace. In today’s reading he makes a masterful point.
Paul has been trying to get across the point that salvation doesn’t come through the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ. He has pointed out that the Law only identifies what sin is, but in doing so, it entices us to partake in further sin. He has also reminded the reader that God began His work with the nation of Israel before the Law was given but not before faith was exercised. He very stringently points out Abraham’s faith and how it was separate from the Law but God counted it as righteousness for Abraham. Now he brings the reader’s full attention to a clause that is present in every covenant, or should be anyway.
This clause pertains to when one party to the covenant dies. In this event, the covenant is rendered complete or null and void regardless of where the parties’ progress was at the point of one party’s death. The Law God gave the Jews carried this clause. It was stated “as long as you shall live…” That sounds pretty final and the Jews took it to be so.
But Jesus’ work on the cross brought that covenant to a close. Through His death, He died for ALL completing the covenant for all. When we accept Jesus’ death, through faith, for our own salvation we too die with Him. The symbolic representation of this is seen in baptism. We are buried with Christ and raised again into a new life.
In this new life we enter into a different covenant with Jesus. A covenant based on faith and filled with grace. Forgiveness for sin is a major part of this covenant but it is not a “party like it was 1994” clause. Because Jesus made us sinless through His washing us we can now sin less. I’ll guarantee we will never be perfect but we will begin walking in ways that mirror the heart of the old covenant, IF we have His Spirit living in us. That is a major part of the new covenant; the Holy Spirit residing in our heart.
That was the main thing lacking in the old covenant. Because of sin the Holy Spirit, as part of God, could not reside permanently in man. Man was limited to his own will when it came to adherence to the Law and with a dead spirit the results were failure for every man. The Holy Spirit had influence on many men throughout history, including the prophets and Jesus’ own disciples, but He was limited until Jesus paid the price for sin and completed the covenant through His death.
Father God, thank You for the Law which shows us Your standards. Thank You also that Jesus fulfilled it perfectly for me and I am not bound by the written letter of it. My heart though is bound through love to its precepts. I love You and I want to please You so I attempt to follow the standards of love Jesus set out; the new commandment. The commandment to love You with everything that is in me and to love my neighbor as myself. That is the heart of Your will and what I want to follow every day of my life.
Father, I know I’m going to miss the mark many times in my life. Thank You for Your grace and mercy when I do. Thank You Jesus for purchasing my forgiveness, freedom and salvation. Thank You Holy Spirit for drawing me closer every day to You. Thank You for placing in me the desire to grow and to know You better every day. Someday this new covenant will be complete with my physical death. I pray that when an account is made of how I used the hours of my life that that account will be pleasing unto You.