If you missed out on our last connect session, never fear! You can find a quick summary of the key things we discussed at the last connect right here. Of course we can’t detail everything we discussed or we would be here forever! If you have questions, or remember something that was spoken about that you want more clarity on, feel free to email us or leave a comment on this page and we will get back to you!
Here’s a quick recap of what we canvassed at our last Imitate session on Monday night:
RECAP Monday 29 February 2016: Contracts, Covenants and The Law
What is a covenant? Is there a difference between a contract and a covenant?
- Genesis 15: 9-12; 17;18
- Abraham, God and Jesus made a covenant
- Jesus and God made the covenant while Abraham slept
- As it was an agreement between God it would not fail
- NB – law of contracts – the parties must be equal. Perhaps this is why these terms are used because having a covenant with God does not have the character of a contract between two equally footed parties but is more in the nature of a one-sided grant.
- Passing through the carcasses of the dead animals was symbolic of the deep seriousness of the agreement – it represented the fate of the party who breached the covenant – the penalty was death should they renege on their promise
The key covenants in the bible
1st Abrahamic covenant (faith based)
2nd The Sinai Covenant (performance based)
3rd The new covenant of Grace (faith based but required someone to fulfil the performance aspects)
The first covenant was based on faith. Abraham was seen as righteous because he believed what God said he would do for him. In fact the covenant was between God and Jesus but to benefit (be the beneficiary) of the covenant, all Abraham was required to do was believe – to have faith. Essentially, Abraham’s receipt of all the blessings had nothing to do with him but rather to do with the graciousness of God.
Until the time the Israelites’ came to Sinai and the 10 commandments were given, the Israelites lived under grace – all the blessings and provisions that they received were dependent on God’s goodness and not their obedience. They were beneficiaries of the covenant God had made earlier. They were dependent on God’s faithfulness to the terms of that agreement.
When the Israelites came out of Egypt, led by Moses, they were still under the first covenant. When they arrived at Sinai, they asked for a law to be given to them. If you read it carefully, there’s almost an arrogance in the way they spoke – they said they were capable of keeping the law, whatever it might be, even before they even knew what it was. It depicts boasting in their own abilities – self-pride.
Not knowing what the law of God even was, they thought they were good enough to keep it. So God let them have the law. It’s scary to think how seriously He honours our free will. They no longer wanted to simply be beneficiaries and just receive God’s blessing and favour; they wanted to be able to earn it themselves through their own works. That’s why the Sinai Covenant refers to “righteousness through works” – because it is performance based.
Question: Is the law a bad thing?
- The Law itself is not a bad thing – it is perfect in itself. The problem is with us – we cannot keep that standard of perfection and the law, being perfect, cannot bend or help us to meet its requirements.
- We are guaranteed to fail and when we fail, the law being righteous has to punish us. There is no space for grace in the law – if it bends for one, it is no longer perfect.
- Hebrews 8:7 says that God himself found fault with the old covenant: “For if the first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second”. So what was so grossly wrong with the old covenant that God considered it necessary to give up his one and only darling son to be brutally crucified on a cross in order that a second covenant could be cut? God knew it was absolutely impossible for any person to be made righteous by the law. In the 1500 years of Israel’s history of the law, not a single person was made righteous – the best tried but failed.
Law arouses the sinful nature; it stirs it up and makes you want to sin:
Romans 7:5 “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death”
Without the law, sin has no power to hold people captive
1 Corinthian 15:56 “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law”
Romans 7:9-11 “…when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died, and this commandment which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me, for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it, killed me”.
Ever notice how Satan never tempted Eve to murder her husband? There was no command/law not to murder. The only law/command that existed was not to eat from a particular tree and it was that which he used to tempt her.
Apart from the law of God there would be no sin
Romans 4:15 “for the law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there is also no violation”
Romans 5:13 “for until the law [came] sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed [applied; bears penalty] when there is no law”
Romans 7:7 -8 “…I would not have come to know sin except through the law, for I would not have known about coveting if the law had not said, ‘you shall not covet’. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind, for apart from the law, sin is dead”.
Question: What is the new covenant? Does the law have any relevance?
Jesus Christ is God’s grace (his unmerited favour). Jesus is the new covenant. The old one is destroyed, made obsolete, through the work of Jesus on the cross.
The Apostle Paul makes the purpose for the law very clear in the book of Galatians when he says: ‘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”. Notice Paul specifically says the law was to bring us to Christ. Think of the law almost as a mirror – it was only there to show us we couldn’t attain God’s standard of holiness. Its purpose was to:
- Prove the blessings of God can’t ever be earned through our own efforts because keeping God’s standard of holiness is completely beyond our ability. No one but God can keep to such a high standard.
- Lead us to believe in Jesus, who is God, as the only one who could perform to that level