The Gospels – old or new covenant?

When did the new covenant start? Was it when Jesus was born, when He died on the cross, when He rose from the dead or another time? Why is it important you ask – because we need to be able to correctly divide scripture between the two covenants and understand which covenant was in force at the time.

God gave us a pattern when He established the old covenant and He followed the same pattern with the New Covenant.

God gave the Ten Commandments (the old covenant) on the very first day of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover. God did the same thing when He gave the New Covenant. It was 50 days after the celebration of Passover, on the day of Pentecost in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came to live permanently in Christians.

When the old covenant was given, 3000 people died. When God gave the new covenant in the upper room, 3000 people got life. There are so many signs but we have to be teachable. We must be ready to let the scriptures change the way we think.

When you stop and think about it Jesus did not speak to any Christians in the gospels because He had not died on the cross yet and the Holy Spirit had not been sent. There weren’t any Christians yet. The gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John; are all before Jesus died on the cross to fulfil the law which means they are still old covenant. The law was still in force. Jesus was born under the law.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,” (Ga 4:4 NKJV)

The religious leaders at the time had watered down the old covenant to something that could be kept. Jesus came to fulfil the law but He had to restore it before He fulfilled it. This is explained in the post “difficult sayings of Jesus”.

Before fulfilling the law on the cross, Jesus restored the law. He made sure that people knew they could not keep it no matter how hard they tried. Keeping the law does not make us right with God.

“”I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”” (Ga 2:21 NKJV)

Nobody can get to heaven by following the law. That was not the purpose of the law. The law was our school master to lead us to Christ. So how did Jesus restore the law?

  • If you look at a woman with lust in your eye you have committed adultery.
  • If you call your brother fool you are in danger of hell fire.
  • If you do not hate your father, mother, wife and children you cannot be my disciple.
  • If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
  • If you right hand causes you to sin, chop it off.

In each of these sayings Jesus restored the law to being impossible to keep. He restored the law before He fulfilled it.

Jesus said that when He goes He will send a helper. The helper is the Holy Spirit. He was sent in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. This is when the new covenant started, so the gospels are old covenant, even though they are in the New Testament.

The Purpose of the law

Some would say the law is a guide for life. The bible says that the Holy Spirit is the guide for believers, so what is the purpose of the law?

The scripture says that Jesus fulfilled the law when He died on the cross. So what was the purpose of the law? Why did God give the Ten Commandments?

There are at least five different reasons and they all present part of the puzzle. Individually they do not seem to make sense but there is an ultimate reason. Most people who I have asked about the scriptures are not able to accept them and will openly change the scripture. We don’t change the scripture, the scripture changes us.

Let me cut to the answer. God wanted to remove pride.

Let me give you an example of the prideful professor. The professor claims to be the smartest person in the world, able to solve any math question. But he is not humble, he is proud and looks down on people. He claims to be so much smarter than you.

Most people will have one of two responses. Either they just want to punch him in the face, or they want to give him a very difficult maths question to bring him down to size. So let’s run with the second option.

If you were to give him a really simple maths question he will get it right and you will not have achieved your purpose. All you will do is increase his pride. You must give him a challenge. To reduce pride you must give him a question that he cannot solve. The impossible question is the only one that will work. You want him to fail. You want him to be aware of his failure. You want him to try really hard and still fail. You want to confine him to failure. You want to empower failure. Ultimately you want him to try as much as hard as possible and still fail. It is the only way to reduce pride.

God is exactly the same. God gives us the impossible question in the form of the Ten Commandments. Look at the scriptures which say the same thing. I have used the word fail and sin interchangeably for simplicity.

 “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Ro 3:19 NKJV) to make them become guilty – to fail.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Ro 3:20 NKJV) to make them aware of their failure.
“Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” (Ro 5:20 NKJV) to increase failure.
“But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (Ga 3:22 NKJV)  to confine them to failure / sin.
“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” (1Co 15:56 NKJV)  to give failure/sin power.

God gave the law, the Ten Commandments, so that we would fail, and hence reduce our pride. But the Ten Commandments cannot remove pride. The only way to remove pride is to have someone else do all the work. Do you see where this is leading? Jesus is the one who has done it all and deserves all of the glory. God has removed pride (referred to as boasting in scripture). But He did not achieve it by the Ten Commandments, the law of works, because that can only reduce pride. The only way to remove pride is to remove all of our own efforts. This is done when we rely on faith in Jesus.

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.” (Ro 3:27 NKJV)

 “Where then is there room for your boasting? It is for ever shut out. On what principle? On the ground of merit? No, but on the ground of faith.” (Ro 3:27 Wey)

Christ fulfilled the law

 “”Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.” (Mt 5:17a NKJV)

 People will argue that Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but they are misquoting the scripture. The actual scripture says:

 “”Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17 NKJV)

 If they were to read the next verse God explains himself.

“”For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Mt 5:18 NKJV)

Nothing will change in the law until it is fulfilled. Once it is fulfilled the law will change. Jesus Himself said it. And Jesus fulfilled the law on the cross when he wiped out the handwriting which was against us. The handwriting is God’s handwriting of the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone.

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14 NKJV)

Jesus brought in the new covenant to replace the old covenant. The old covenant was the Ten Commandments. They were never meant to be the way to heaven, they were just our school master to lead us to Jesus. When a non believer realises that they are a sinner and cannot earn their way to heaven they are led to Jesus. Faith in Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. If we could be holy enough to keep the law then there was no reason for Jesus to come and die on the cross.

“”I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”” (Ga 2:21 NKJV)

How do I live to God?

It sounds like a simple question but the answer may amaze.

Just live a holy life. Pray, seek God. Be holy. All are good answers but it is not what the scripture says. If you really want to live to God you must die to the Ten Commandments:

“”For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” (Ga 2:19 NKJV)

 What does it mean to die to the law? Fortunately God explains it in the bible.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.” (Ro 7:4 NKJV)

When you become dead to the law you may be married to Jesus and bear fruit. We all want to bear fruit but we don’t know how. The scripture paints the picture of a person who is married. Their spouse must die before they can marry another person. But in this case it says that we must die to our ex husband and then we can be married to Jesus. Here the ex husband is the law. It may be easier to think of a police man as Mr Law. We die to the police man so that we can be married to another, Jesus.

Going back to the law is like two timing Jesus. Think about it. If you go back to the Ten Commandments after believing in Jesus, then Jesus has become estranged from to you.

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Ga 5:4 NKJV)

4-estranged-from-christ

When we are told to die to the law it means we are not to have anything to do with it. Just like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam was told not to eat of it. We don’t try and break the law and we don’t try and keep the law. We have absolutely nothing to do with it. We keep our focus on the Holy Spirit as our guide for life.

The beginning

I had been in church for 35 years of my life but this is the first time I had ever heard anyone say that the Ten Commandments were not part of Christianity.

I was a doubter but this person used scripture to back himself.

After hearing him speak for 45 minutes I was amazed. How could I have missed this. I had done bible school, I had read the bible from cover to cover 5 times. But I had never picked up that Jesus had fulfilled the law, including the Ten Commandments and that they were not part of the Christian walk.

I would need convincing. Apparently the Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant and Jesus brought in the New Covenant. I had to admit I had not even heard of the New Covenant. It was the start of my research into the bible. It consumed me for hours every day. I bought bible software and studied the original Greek and Hebrew meanings.

I had an open mind and was willing to be taught. Not by men, but by the bible. There seemed to be something behind it but I was not about to just throw out years of bible study, fasting, prayer, confession and church tradition just because it was different to what the bible actually said. After all, many good people had taught me my beliefs.

The only way to learn the truth was to unlearn the errors and start again. But how do I know which ones were errors? After all they were all in the bible. Let me explain. I am not saying their are errors in the bible, I am saying that parts of it do not apply to Christians and parts do.

This is referred to as the old covenant and the new covenant. Whilst it sounds simple the application is much harder.

But as this is the first post, let me present you with scripture that got me thinking that there is a divide, that something happened as a result of Jesus.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil.” (Mat 5:17)

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all if fulfilled.” (Mat 5:18)

“The law and the prophets were until John” (Luk 16:16a)

 “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;” (Gal 3:19a)

It seems that Jesus is saying something will happen to the law. That it is only until John the Baptist. That he will fulfil it. That it served a purpose until Jesus came.

Please don’t hear me as saying to go and break the law. I am not. I am just planting the seed that the law is not part of Christianity. I want you to allow the scriptures to speak to your spirit and open the possibility of being led by the Holy Spirit which means not being led by the law.

I will build on this in the next post.

The law was our Schoolmaster

I am not looking for an excuse to go and break the law.

Far from it. I struggled with the guilt, shame and condemnation that it brings, trying to be a real Christian and forever asking for God to forgive me and to change me. I was attending church, praying, fasting, worshiping, studying the bible, attending men’s groups, participating with church leadership but I had a daily struggle with sin. I was trapped. There was no way out except to beg for forgiveness and try harder next time. Something was wrong.

Could it be that I had not been taught correctly? They were such lovely people and had my best interests at heart. The trouble was it did not work. I struggled for ten years. I loved the bible and diligently went to bible school and tried to learn as much as I could about God and how it all worked.

Finally I heard some teaching that could not be denied.

“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.” (Ga 3:19 NKJV)

The scripture says that the law was until the Seed (Jesus) should come. The law kept guard over us until faith came. I studied the words over and over.  And then it finally sunk in. After faith came there would be a change. There it was in scriptures.

 “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Ga 3:23-25 NKJV)

But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Did I read it correctly? Does it really say that once I believe in Jesus I am no longer under the law? This was different, new and I was unsure.  I checked different bible verses and went back to the original Greek. It was correct. After faith came, I was no longer under the law.

Now I had opened a can of worms. I was out on my own. The bible software did not lie. It clearly stated that I was not under the law when I believe in Jesus. And I believe in Jesus as the Son of God who has paid for my sin. But what does it really mean? What law is it talking about? Do I just go and break the law on purpose?

I quickly looked up the cross references and found this gem.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Ro 6:14 NKJV)

This was the answer I was after. I did not want sin to have dominion over me, but how does it work. I am not under law but under grace.

 “”For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” (Ga 2:19 NKJV)

I want to live to God but I don’t know how. All I know is that the scriptures were telling me that I need to die to the law. It is my way out of sin. It will be a journey but I can’t share it with anyone because it is different to what I am being taught in church. All I know is that this is the start of my freedom and it will take me months to relearn the scriptures based on what Jesus has done and not the law. I have to relearn everything and trust that God will teach me.

My journey has begun. I am not sure where it will lead but the bible has said sin will not have dominion over me so I am in. Now I need to find out what law I am not under, but that is for the next post.

What Law

If I am not under law, which law is it referring to?

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Ro 6:14 NKJV)

I understand that the scripture says that I am not under the law, but what law is it talking about. I have heard people explain that it is the ceremonial law, others say it is all laws except the moral law. The problem is there is no moral law in the bible. It is a man made concept. Others say it is all laws except the Ten Commandments. The problem is listening to people rather than listening to God. The only way to really know is to have the bible explain the bible. This way God can explain himself.

There are clear scriptures which tell us whether or not the Ten Commandments are included in the law that believers are not under. In the book of Romans, when Paul is writing about the law, he specifically mentions the law about covetousness.

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”  (Ro 7:7 NKJV)

The law which states you shall not covet is found in the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:17.

“”You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”” (Ex 20:17 NKJV)

But let’s not create a doctrine based on just one verse. There are other places where Paul mentions the law.

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,” (2Co 3:5-7 NKJV)

Paul explains in 2 Corinthians that God has made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones. The only thing written and engraved on stones is the Ten Commandments.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”” (Ex 24:12 NKJV)

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These scriptures clearly show that the law that Paul is writing about in Romans and 2 Corinthians includes the Ten Commandments. So when the scripture says that sin will not have dominion over me because I am not under law but under grace it is saying I am not under the Ten Commandments. People who fight to be under the Ten Commandments do not realise that Jesus has brought in a new way of living. The New Covenant. No longer is the Ten Commandments used as a rule for life but there is a new rule for life, the Holy Spirit.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Ga 5:18 NKJV)

We have to decide to believe the scriptures or not. We must chose to correctly divide the word between the old and new covenants. The old covenant is the Ten Commandments and the New Covenant is what Jesus died to bring in. I think we need to prayerfully consider how to honour Jesus and give him all he glory for what He has done and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, which means we are not led by the law.

“”For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.” (Ga 2:19 NKJV)

The next post will look at how we are to die to the law so that we can live to God.

Difficult sayings of Jesus

There are many sayings of Jesus that are difficult to understand, however if we correctly divide the covenants and understand the reason why Jesus said them, they make a lot more sense.

It is important to note that Jesus was born under the law and that the new covenant did not come into effect until after the Holy Spirit came in the upper room. This means that Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were actually part of the old covenant. In fact, Jesus did not speak to any Christians in the gospels because He had not paid for their sins yet.

Jesus was sent to fulfil the law and to bring in the new covenant. But before he could fulfil the law he needed to restore it to it’s perfect holy place. The following scripture shows how Jesus is restoring the old covenant.

… ‘ You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Mat 5:21b-22 [NKJV]

The Pharisees had reduced the law to something that could be kept, which was not God’s plan. The law was meant to show us that we are sinners and need a saviour. Jesus is brilliant in his restoration of the law. Look at the following verse.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Mat 5:27-28 [NKJV]

So once Jesus has restored the law to being impossible He takes it another step.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Mat 5:29 [NKJV]

Jesus wanted the listeners to know that their self efforts will not get them to heaven. They were meant to give up and say it is too hard. It is only when we give up that Jesus takes over. It is only by faith in Jesus that anyone is saved, not by law keeping. Jesus captures this extremely well.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Mat 10:37 [NKJV]

This scripture dovetails well into the summary of the old covenant law.

‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  31  “And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Even though Jesus quoted it he is still quoting the law, it is not part of the new covenant. Jesus wants us to know that getting to heaven by following the law is impossible.

I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal 2:21 

Think again about repentance

Most people will be surprised when they find out what repentance really means. To start it is important to know what it is not.

  1. It is not saying sorry.
  2. It is not asking for forgiveness.
  3. It is not confessing sin.

These are the three main definitions hat people would expect but the actual biblical meaning of repent in the new testament is to change your mind. Nothing more and nothing less. It means to change the way you think. Notice that there is no guilt, shame or condemnation when you repent.

It is a lot easier to ask someone to consider changing their mind, or to look at something differently. When the bible says repent and be saved it is asking the hearer to change what they think about Jesus.

In the Old Testament repent means to turn around or turn away from. But it is a completely different word in the New Testament. How much easier would it be if we were to actually follow what the bible says and simply change the way we think?