The New Covenant

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The Old Covenant includes all of the laws, terms and conditions laid out in the Old Testament. Moses summed up the Old Covenant this way: “If we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness” (Deuteronomy 6:25).

The Old Covenant was all about what we do: if we obey all these commands, then we will be righteous (right with God). The Jews were also familiar with another kind of covenant before the law of Moses was given – the unconditional, one-sided covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. God promised to bless Abraham and make him into a great nation, and that all peoples of the earth would be blessed through him.

The New Covenant which God has made with us (all Christians) is the same kind of unconditional covenant. There is not a word about what we have to do; everything is done on God’s side. God keeps on saying “I will” when he describes his covenant with us:

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people ... For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

This New Covenant is unbreakable, because there is nothing we can do on our side to break it. Verse 32 says, “It will not not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers ... because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” It is not like the breakable law of Moses, because none of the terms and conditions refer to anything that we do. You cannot break the New Covenant by sinning, because it is eternal and unconditional.

The New Covenant is in every way a better covenant than the old one, because as Hebrews 8:6 says, “It is founded on better promises.” God has said, “I will accept you” and “I will change you” – so it is his work from beginning to end.

For reflection:

The good news is almost too good to be true. This is why it is called “good news”! It is so good that we would not even believe it if God had not made us able to:

“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12)

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