But now hath he [Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. —Hebrews 8:6
It is a wonderful privilege to live in this dispensation of grace and truth. Jesus Christ, the mediator of the New Testament, established with mankind a better covenant with better promises. The old covenant had promises of secular good and earthly, national security. The new covenant promised both spiritual and eternal blessings.
My burden this quarter is on the two covenants that God established with mankind. It is an important subject and lays a foundation upon which we will build in future issues dealing with the subjects of tithing vs. giving, Sabbath-keeping, and fleshly worship vs. spiritual worship.
People often wonder if there is relevancy to the Old Testament since we live under a new covenant. The answer is a resounding yes. The Old Testament is the story of God and His relationship with man. We learn in the Old Testament about the holy nature of God and the sinful nature of man. It is a book rich in spiritual lessons, encouragement, history, and prophecy of the coming Messiah. The apostles and Christ Himself quoted from the Old Testament.
The old covenant is now passed away and we do not follow the Law of Moses nor are we bound to it. We do observe that many of the truths contained therein as the moral code from God did not change and were restated in the New Testament. While Old Testament scriptures are still very relevant for our understanding, one must not use the Old Testament in a standalone capacity upon which to build a doctrine in this day of grace. Some people pick and choose what they will practice from the Old Testament. They keep the Sabbath and use musical instruments, and yet they do not burn incense during prayer nor do they offer sacrifices. It is imperative that people understand the entire old covenant was replaced with another, better covenant.
Many of the patriarchs were examples of courage, faith, and devotion. We must keep perspective that they were under the law without the grace of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Hence, it is improper to model everything they did in worship or behavior as an example today.
Outward observances of righteousness do not justify the heart. It is never compromise to enjoy the freedom from the law; but, living under grace truly brings us into a closer relationship with God. The standard of holiness now starts with the inward man.
Michael W. Smith