A New Covenant of Holiness

A New Covenant of Holiness

 

Jeremiah 31:31-33 (ESV) ~ “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

 

Luke 22:20 (ESV) ~ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

 

2 Corinthians 3:3, 5-6 (ESV) ~ And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

 

The verses we just read follows a thread that takes us from the Old Testament through the New Testament. The focus begins on the law of God – the old covenant – which Israel failed to keep, and as a result Israel was forced to leave the Promised Land and live in exile. During this time, the prophet Jeremiahs wrote of a new covenant, that would NOT be written on stone tablets, but would be written on the minds and hearts of His people.

 

Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension made the new way and the new covenant possible. His shed blood – the giving of His life – was the seal of this new covenant relationship. Under the new covenant, we are no longer forced to try to conform to an outward set of rules, instead we are being transformed from within as our minds and hearts are being conformed to the will of God and our external behaviors are as well.

 

The desire for holiness is a good thing. It is evidence of what we were created to be. But, just as we are saved by grace through faith, we only become holy by grace through faith. It is a work of the Spirit of God changing our hearts and mind, resulting in great love for God and others. It will never be a result of our own willpower.

 

It is dangerous to pursue holiness by conforming to external moral standards. It is self-deception that can lead to pride and despair. Pride when we fool ourselves into thinking we have accomplished something that we really have not, and despair when we come to realize the impossibility of what we are attempting to do.
 
Pastor Andy Lambert

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