31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. – Jeremiah 31:31-33
There are many teachings in the Church that are only the lesser truth of God’s Word (or no truth at all). Today, I want to talk about the “new covenant” doctrine. Some say that Christians are in the new covenant with God. I disagree! (Please read the whole article before jumping into conclusion)
What is (biblical) covenant?
It is the conditional promises made to Jews by God. God promised to bless, heal, protect… etc them, if they kept His law and faithful to Him.
It’s quite clear from our theme verse that the new covenant was God’s promise to the children of Israel alone, “…I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah…” Nowhere does the Bible ever suggest that Christians are in any covenant with God (Feel free to provide passages that suggest otherwise in the comment section below if you found any). In order for Christians to be in “new covenant” with God, they had to be in an old one with Him. But Christians never had covenant with God. Only the Jews did:
Exodus 34:27, “…the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant WITH THEE and WITH ISRAEL”.
Deuteronomy 5:2-3, “The LORD our God made a covenant with us (Israel) in Horeb. The LORD MADE NOT THIS COVENANT with our fathers, but WITH US (Israel), even US, WHO ARE ALL OF US ALIVE THIS DAY”
Amos 3:2 says, “YOU (Israelites) ONLY have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities”
Christians were born sons of God (John 1:12-13; Galatians 4:6); they weren’t required to do anything to be God’s sons, they were born that way. Children do not have covenant with their parents. They were born heirs; no wonder He said, we are His heirs and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Everything God says about a Christian is unconditional. He has blessed us unconditionally (Ephesians 1:3), He has given us all things unconditionally (1 Corinthians 3:21-22); He has healed us unconditionally (1 Peter 2:24); He has loved us unconditionally (Romans 5:8); He has saved us unconditionally (Ephesians 2:8-9)…
When Jesus came, He lived under the law, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). He came to fulfil the law. What does that mean? The Jews couldn’t obey the law, so His first assignment was to fulfil the law (old covenant) on behalf of the Jews; to redeem them from the curse of the law, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, TO REDEEM THEM THAT WERE UNDER THE LAW (Jews)…” (Galatians 4:4-5).
The significance of the length of days and nights of His temptation (40 days and 40 nights) is that, it was the same amount of days and nights Moses spent on the mount to receive the law from God (Exodus 24:18; 34:28). In other words, just like Moses was the carrier of the law from God to them, Jesus had to carry upon Himself the guilt of the children of Israel who couldn’t obey the law. Remember, Jesus wasn’t tempted for His own sake; He didn’t have to come at all. He came for the lost! Not for Himself. So everything He did was for the lost souls. He was tempted for the Jews and successfully overcame the temptation for them.
When they sinned against God, Moses interceded for them for another 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:25-26; 10:10); but the prayer of intercession wasn’t enough; they had to have a new covenant altogether because they’ll sin again. That’s where Jesus comes in; not to intercede but to blot out the old covenant (John 1:17).
Jesus, not only came to redeem them from the law but also to prove that He is indeed the perfect sacrifice to be offered for the new covenant, “14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your (Jews) conscience from dead works to serve the living God?…18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:14, 18-22).
Who was Paul talking to here? The Jews (Hebrews), not Christians! Jesus had to prove Himself to be the perfect, spotless sacrifice by keeping the law. He was sinless. The law couldn’t condemn Him of any guilt. He did this for the Jews. This is why, at the beginning of His ministry, He always said He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24) and only instructed His disciples to go and preach to the Jews (Matthew 10:5-6).
“11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15)
He said, “…the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…I lay down my life for the sheep”. Which sheep? The Jews! The new covenant was God’s promise to Israel, keep that in mind! In the old covenant, they were commended to obey the law but in the new covenant, they were told to believe in Jesus (John 6:28-29; 8:24; 1:17). Notice what I said, “to believe in Jesus”; not “to believe in His sacrificial death”. These are two different things. To believe in Him means to believe that He came to fulfil the law on their behalf. He obeyed the law for them:
John 6:28 – Then said they (Jews) unto him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them (Jews), this is the work of God that YE BELIEVE ON HIM whom he hath sent.
John 8:24 – I said therefore unto you (Jews) that ye (Jews) shall die in your sins: for IF YE BELIEVE NOT that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Notice, He didn’t say anything about His death in these passages. The reason for that is, they first had to be redeemed from the guilt or the curse of the law through His obedience. His blood was shed, only, to ratify the new covenant (Hebrews 9:22). In the old covenant, before they killed the sin sacrifice (lamb or bullock), the high priest first had to lay his hands on another sacrifice (goat) and confessed the sins of the people, and sent it in the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21). The same way, Jesus was first their scapegoat before being their sacrificial lamb. In other words, their guilt was first laid upon Jesus; this happened when John the Baptist laid his hand on Him at His baptism. And after that, the Bible records that Jesus was led into the wilderness and was tempted by the devil. That was the time when He put upon Himself to fulfil the law by not giving in on any temptation the devil threw at Him, for the Jews. So Jesus was both their scapegoat and sacrificial lamb.
However, the new covenant was not meant to be the replacement of the old covenant. There is something bigger than the covenant (testament) itself – It’s the fellowship, oneness with God (1 Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 5:30…)! The law couldn’t make this possible, not because it didn’t have the power to (Romans 7:14) but they couldn’t obey it. The law was perfect but they related to it as something they had to obey simply because God said so; rather than relating to it being the source of their life (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).
The new covenant was a promise, not the ultimate plan. When you’re born again, you’re not in covenant with God. You are His heir, there’s no more promises. He gave you everything you’ll ever need or want unconditionally.
Hebrews 8:6 – “…by how much also he (Jesus) is the mediator of a better covenant (new covenant), which was established upon better promises”.
Better promises? This is proof positive that the new covenant was not God’s main plan because eternal life is what God had in mind and it’s not a promise. 1 John 5:11, 13 says, “11…this is the record, that God HATH GIVEN to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son…13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
The new covenant is their doorway or passport, if you may, to eternal life, not the main thing. This is why Jesus said, “I AM THE DOOR: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” (John 10:9). Again, contextually, “any man” here refers to the Jews because He only talks about the Gentiles in verse 16 where He referred to them as the “other sheep”; and they didn’t need to go through the door. They were born in the city of God: “He came unto his own (Jews) and his own received him not. 12 But as many as (Gentiles) received him, TO THEM (Gentiles) GAVE HE POWER to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11:13). See? The Gentiles didn’t go through the door (using ‘the passport’, new covenant). They were born in Zion (Hebrews 12:22).
Jesus fulfilled (put to an end to) the law for them and Paul letting them know about this said, “1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Romans 10:1-4)
And, “25 For I would not, brethren (Jews), that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so ALL ISRAEL shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from JACOB: 27 For THIS IS MY COVENANT UNTO THEM (Israel), when I SHALL TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS” (Romans 11:25-27).
See? The (new) covenant is the “taking away their (Jews) sins”. How? By fulfilling the Law for them. All Israel shall be saved; meaning, as far as God is concerned what Jesus did for them had saved them all; but do they accept it? Without accepting Him as the Messiah, their Savior, they still aren’t saved:
John 8:22 – Then said the Jews…24 I said therefore unto you (Jews), that ye shall die in your sins: for IF YE BELIEVE NOT THAT I AM HE (the Messiah), ye shall die in your sins.
So, the new covenant was God’s promise to the Jews (Jeremiah 31:31-33); not to Christians or anyone else for that matter, and it’s not God’s ultimate plan for the Jews either, the gift of eternal life is. Eternal life is a gift (Romans 6:23) and it’s not a promise (1 John 5:11, 13). It’s not about what you did, do or will do but what has been done for you. It’s a free and unconditional gift!
The new covenant was only meant to be the doorway, path or passport to eternal life for the Jews who were under the old covenant. It’s a testament (document) that approves their redemption from the curse of the law (old covenant). With it, they can pass through the door (Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant) to enter into God’s presence without any guilt of the law because Jesus bore and paid for their guilt. It frees them from the curse of the law (the old covenant). That’s all what the new covenant is about and that’s the reason why they were the only people Jesus reached at the beginning of His ministry. Jesus only told His disciples to reach to the Gentiles after His resurrection (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15) because He promised to bring them in (other sheep – John 10:16). He didn’t say they’ll go through the door (way) either. (This is why I keep telling people, Jesus didn’t die for Christians.)
I know that Jesus said, “I am the way…no man come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Yes, you can use this to generalize everyone (Jews and Gentiles) but that’s the lesser truth. The greater truth is, contextually, He was referring to the Jews! Christians didn’t come to the Father; they were born of the Father. This is a problem with some Christians; they try to believe and apply everything they read in the Bible in their Christian walk, especially when it’s what they experience in life.
Christians are the fruits of His resurrection; they are not people He died for (2 Corinthians 5:17) since they have no past. Their life started at the new birth. The person He died for (Romans 5:8) is no more, the “old sinner you” doesn’t exist anymore (I really hope every Christian would be able to grasp this truth):
Romans 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that LIKE AS Christ was raised up from the dead BY THE GLORY of the Father, EVEN SO WE (Christians) ALSO should walk in NEWNESS OF LIFE. 5 For if WE HAVE BEEN PLANTED together IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH, WE SHALL BE ALSO IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION: 6 Knowing this, that our old man (our ‘unsaved’ soul) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is FREED FROM SIN. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin ONCE: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 LIKEWISE RECKON YE also yourselves TO BE DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN, BUT ALIVE UNTO GOD through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Simply put. Paul is saying, you are no more sinners. He said, just like Jesus died unto sin once; reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin once; in other words, sin is no longer a factor; you’ve been dead to it. You can’t kill a dead man, he doesn’t exist anymore (Please read Romans 6:14 and 1 John 3:9). Please meditate on this passage (Romans 6:4-11); let it sink into you. Read it over and over again until you understand what it really means. For more, please read this article.
Please click here if you aren’t yet born again. God bless you.
P.S: Most of the new covenant passages are in the book of Hebrews because it was a book Paul wrote to the Hebrews (Jews) reminding them of the promise of God that the Lord Jesus fulfilled.