The new covenant was a mystery to the Jews prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. There was much written about it in the law and prophets but it was not understood and revealed in its fullness until Christ came to fulfill the prophecies and to explain the new covenant.
One of the great mysteries of the new covenant is revealed in this section of scripture. But to this day it is still not well understood. And it is because of this particular mystery that many both in the days of Jesus and the disciples right down to today have stumbled over the stumbling stone.
To understand this mystery, indeed all of the mysteries of the new covenant requires faith. And even among some who claim to see this matter, it is evident that they still do not understand it. Their words deny their stated beliefs and as such they do not receive all the promises of the Lord available under the new covenant which rest upon faith. Why is it so?
First let us consider the mystery revealed in this section of scripture. The very last words of this section are quoted from the old prophets where they define the new covenant. It says in verse 27,
27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
This new covenant provides the means by which your sins will be taken away. Read that again…YOUR SINS WILL BE TAKEN AWAY.
This is not just forgiveness. It is complete and utter and total removal of your sins. Under this new covenant they are…gone! Past, present or future sins are taken away, removed and gone.
Most Christians say these words, that they are set free from sin, but it is clear they do not yet understand the fullness of that statement or the truth of the covenant as revealed here. John the Baptist recognized it for he speaks of Jesus saying in John 1:29,
Behold, the lamb of God. Who takes away the sin of the world.
So how is it that I can say that although many Christians say and know these words, they do not yet understand it. Quite simply, many of them say they are still sinners. They say they continue to sin and often walk in self-condemnation when they fall down, which only makes their situation worse because not only do they make the mistake, they walk in judgment of themselves and condemn themselves for being weak.
Why do they do this? Because they believe they have broken God's law or one of the Ten Commandments and thus are sinners. But let us look at that for a moment.
We are taught also under this new covenant that we are set free from the law, that we are no longer under law but under grace. We serve God now under a new priesthood and under the new priesthood the law changes. That is, the old law was in effect under the priesthood of the Levites, but now we worship under the new priesthood of Melchizadek from which Jesus comes and as we are told in Hebrews 7:12 which tells us,
For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
The priesthood of Levi administered the law of Moses. The priesthood of Melchizadek with Jesus as high priest administer under grace. That is why Paul says we are not under law but under grace.
Furthermore Paul shows how we are set free from the law through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Romans 7.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:4-6)
Now, we serve not under the written code of the law because we are dead to the law and have been released from the law through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is another of the mysteries of the new covenant.
So we are set free from sin, which is the breaking of the law, and also we have been set free from and are dead to the law through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.
So how can we still be sinners? Why do some Christians, actually most Christians, still call themselves sinners when God has taken away and removed our sins AND has removed the law which is what condemns us of sin? Why is it that Christians do not see this?
It is because their minds are veiled. Just as you cannot see clearly when there is a veil over your eyes, you similarly cannot see spiritually clearly while there is a veil over your mind. And that veil that sits over the minds of Christians, just as it did with the Jews, is the law.
The veil of the law
Whenever a Christian admits that they are a sinner, they are saying that they have broken the law, which is an admission that they are still under the law even though they know and God has told them in the new covenant that you are set free from sin and set free from the law.
Many Christians also believe that they are compelled to keep the Ten Commandments, which is true of course, but they do not understand that living by the moral requirements of the law is not the same as being under the law. Yes we keep the moral requirements of the law because it is right to do so. But we are not enslaved under the law since Jesus has died to set us free.
When we say we are a sinner and that we have broken the law we are negating the power of Jesus' sacrifice and blood that was shed to set us free. We inadvertantly are saying His sacrifice was not good enough. And that is wrong.
The scripture tells us that the law is a veil that blinds us from seeing the truth of the new covenant and prevents the Holy Spirit from doing the work of transformation that will bring us into the image of Jesus Christ. Note well these words from 2 Corinthians 3.
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
Whenever we focus on the old covenant, which is the law of Moses, we pull down the veil that separates us from Jesus Christ and the grace that the Father provides in the New Covenant. Whenever we say we are under law or if we call ourselves sinners after Jesus has set us free from sin and the law, we pull down that veil and stop the Holy Spirit from doing the work of transformation that is necessary in each of us.
Paul also showed us in Galatians 5:4 that,
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
The law separates you from Jesus Christ and the grace of God. If you call yourself a sinner you are effectively saying that you are under law and by failing to keep the law you have sinned. You are trying to be justified by the law if that is what you are doing and in so doing you are separated from the grace of God and the path of the true righteousness that only comes by faith and comes from God.
These are the mysteries of the new covenant that lead us to the kingdom of God. A sinner cannot enter the kingdom of God, only one who is righteous and you can never be righteous if you are seeking to be justified under law. It is by grace we have been saved through faith and it is by faith we must stand in Jesus Christ if we are to enter the kingdom of God.
(Image sourced from freeimages.com provided by Ilker)
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