The Two Covenants of God

We cannot have a relationship with God without a covenant. God is holy and requires a covenant for intimacy with Him. The word “intimacy” may seem strange in context with God however He refers to the church very often as His bride. God desires to make us His Tabernacle and dwell inside us. That’s pretty intimate.  The covenant of marriage between a man and a woman has been established by God to reflect His relation with the church. People today enter intimate relationships all the time without a covenant and it is considered by God unholy and wicked. To enter an intimate relationship with God we have to enter covenant with Him. The bible teaches us that God loves order and peace and a covenant is a way to avoid confusion and to affirm commitment. We don’t determine the conditions of the covenant. The conditions have already been laid out by God. All the terms and conditions are spelled out in the volumes of the Holy Bible. There have been two main covenants during the history of the world that govern God’s relationship with man. They are the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. The condition for not having a covenant or not fulfilling the covenants of God is condemnation to death and separation from God. Jesus Christ came to earth and fulfilled the requirements of the Mosaic covenant since it was impossible for man to do it. Jesus also made provision for us to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant so that we could enter the promises rewarded by God to all that fulfilled the covenant. The Mosaic covenant was made with the children of Israel at Mount Sinai which included following, to the letter, a long list of rules and ordinances. The bible tells us plainly that the Mosaic covenant was instituted because men were wicked and obstinate after the disobedience of Adam. After Adam was compromised in the Garden man inherited a slant toward rebellion and selfishness that created an incongruity between man and God. This incongruity caused the mind of man to be alienated from the mind of God thus creating a condition where no long term relationship could be maintained without provocation. The selfish and rebellious nature, now dominant in man, would always surface and pull man away from the ways of God into immorality.  The Mosaic Law was a list of ordinances that laid out conditions for a rudimentary relationship with God which entailed the bare minimum of what God’s holiness could endure. Even at this base level man could not keep even the lowest tenants of God’s moral law in order to fulfill the Mosaic covenant. Therefore in the Mosaic Covenant every man was condemned to death and separation from God.

Fortunately the Mosaic Covenant did not disannul the Abrahamic Covenant which was 430 years before the Mosaic Covenant. Under the Abrahamic Covenant God promised that the children of Abraham would be as plentiful as the stars in heaven and would be justified by God through their faith and trust in Him just as Abraham had faith and trusted in God. God promised that these blessed descendants would come from the union of Abraham and Sarah his wife. Abraham being imperfect gave into the pleading of Sarah his wife who doubted the promise of God and compelled Abraham to give her a son from her bondmaid Hagar. From the union of Abraham and Hagar came Ishmael. Later, just as God promised, Sarah gave birth to the son of the covenant, Isaac. Ishmael and Isaac symbolize the two covenants of God. Ishmael being born out of doubt from Hagar in bondage symbolizes the Mosaic covenant. Isaac, born out of faith to Sarah the free woman symbolizes the Abrahamic covenant. The lineage of Jesus Christ through Joseph can be traced all the way back to Isaac the child of promise so that man would know that Jesus Christ is the door way to the covenant of Abraham which provides for justification through faith.

Though God has provided salvation through the Abrahamic covenant in Jesus Christ, Jews reject Jesus as the Savior promised through scripture. The Jews lack of faith in Jesus Christ leaves them condemned under Mosaic Law. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ are considered by God to have fulfilled both covenants. The sacrificed life of Jesus fulfills the conditions of the Mosaic covenant and the faith in Jesus fulfills the conditions of the Abrahamic covenant.

How does faith in Jesus enable wicked man to have a lasting relationship with God? Man finally convinced of his wickedness through being unable to keep the lowest of God’s moral law cries out to God and surrenders his attempts to self govern his own life. He accepts the love offering of Jesus Christ and shows this by taking up the cross of Christ every day in surrender of his life, trusting and having faith that regardless of how things may appear, he has been accepted into the family of God and with every day that he lives his Father God is saving him through a transformation of his life. Redeemed man believes that the Jesus, the Lamb of God, gives him access to God the father enabling him to know God intimately. This intimacy with God will allow man through the power of a born again spirit to understand the perfect intent of the law even the mind of God so that man can live righteously and holy. The Mosaic Law was never intended to do this nor could it. Taken from the Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible this quote expresses what I am saying very well, “No literal precepts could fully comprehend the wide range of holiness which LOVE, the work of the Holy Spirit, under the Gospel, suggests to the believer’s heart instinctively from the word understood in its deep spirituality.” This quote speaks of the excellency of the spirit through Christ and the Holy Spirit in the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant also called the New Covenant in comparison to the administration of the law under Mosaic Covenant.

There are those that believe that the law under the Mosaic covenant, even after being shown to be inferior to life in the spirit, still has a place under the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant. This influence comes from the promotion of Judaism by Jews who have not embraced the fullness of the grace provided through the Savior Jesus Christ. As it was in the days of the early church, so is it today. We see this in the obstinate minds of the Scribes and Pharisees as they tried to condemn the spirituality of Jesus Christ by accusing His actions that appeared to them to violate the Mosaic Law. We also see this conflict between the liberty of the spirit and the bondage of Mosaic Law in the ministry of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus.  Jesus taught that ALL the law and the prophets hung on LOVE as in Matthew 22:34-40,

“But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Paul was trying to reinforce the same truth to the Galatians after he found that they had been persuaded to take up the Mosaic Law by those in his day promoting Judaism in a confusing mix with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this in Galatians 5:1-6,

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”

This is huge. You who are attempting to keep Mosaic Law remember that you are a debtor to do it ALL. If you ascribe any merit to your standing with God due to your being circumcised, abstaining from meats, or observance of a day, then Christ is of no profit to you.  Paul says, you frustrate the grace given you by Christ. A little leaven ruins the whole loaf.

Here is a list of chapters out of the bible that deal specifically with the subject I have posted here. Put on your spiritual ears and hear the message of liberty and holiness that the spirit is teaching through these texts.

2 Corinthians 3

The Book of Galatians

Romans chapter 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8

1 John chapter 4

Genesis  chapter 15, 16, 17, and 18

I am including a link to the site where you can read all of these texts. The link is to Bible Gateway one of my favorite sites on the web.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/

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One Step At A Time

I have met men who believed that the right woman could cure them from lust and infidelity. I have also met women that believed if they could be all that a man wanted then he would be faithful and not desire other women. I have known men that adored their wife, cherished their children and were gainfully employed yet their wives had affairs. So what is really going on here? Plenty, but let’s keep it simple. My prognosis, these are symptoms of people out of balance. People that are out of balance stumble. Again, I am going to keep this really simple. There are many dynamics that lead to people being off center and not properly grounded. Like things from the past, anxieties about the future, as well as current circumstances. Most often the imbalance surfaces in the form of an inordinate appetite. The most common inordinate appetites are for food, sex, and leisure (escape).

The problem is that people become fixated on the appetite not realizing that the appetite is the symptom of a much deeper problem. The appetite can never be quenched through feeding it. Many people have become slaves to appetites that are bottomless. Some of the common excessive practices include whoredom, gluttony, drug abuse, excessive TV time, excessive video gaming, and pornography. Thank God that there is a simple fix. All we have to do is take up the cross of Christ daily and concentrate on walking through each day one step at a time. I said the fix was simple not easy. Though the task is not easy God gives us strength sufficient for each day and each step. Let me explain what I mean by taking up the cross of Christ. Taking up your cross daily refers to surrendering the outcome of each day to God through seeking His direction in life’s decisions versus trying to force your own outcome through your own methods. We were never meant to live independent from God. God desires to shepherd us through life.

It is impossible surrender your life unless you are assured of Gods steadfast love for you. He has already offered this assurance in the sacrifice at Calvary. Now you have to exercise your faith in His love by trusting Him with your life. Surrender. Surrender the issues of your past. Surrender the outcome of your tomorrows. Lay aside the weights that are throwing you off balance and causing you to stumble. Now pick up that cross as your balancing pole and walk through your life taking one step at a time. As the piece of God grows in your heart you will find that the bonds of the inordinate appetites have been broken and you will experience true freedom.

I am living what I am writing about. I have been out of work for several months and facing difficult financial times but my soul rest in God’s care. My ability to compose this post is evidence of God’s ability to keep me sober minded and balanced through circumstances that has ripped families apart. Here are some scriptures that are foundational to what I have been sharing. I pray that they increase your faith and empower you to liberty and peace.

Proverbs 3:19-24

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew. My son, let them not depart from your eyes Keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 37:4-6

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Luke 12:22-32

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things[a] shall be added to you. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Unconditional Love

I recently searched for the word “unconditional” in several versions of the Holy Bible and you know what…I couldn’t find it. So, where does a person get the idea that God’s love is unconditional? My guess is the same place as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I realize that this is a bubble buster for some readers but it shouldn’t be. Think for a minute, have you ever seen anything last that had no order, system, guidelines, or rhythm. I think not. Anything sustainable has to have order. Specific conditions are implicit to order. Love is realized through relationship. A condition of relationship is communication. Communication requires certain conditions to be effective. So where am I going with this. The flesh loathes the restraint required by conditions and will resist it even to its own hurt. So let me encourage you to read this to completion even though your flesh may already be rejecting it. The thought of unconditional love soothes the flesh. Unconditional love removes any consequences from our actions in relationship to God’s acceptance and approval. Where there are no consequences there is no need for restraint and this makes the flesh happy. Though the absence of restraint pleases the flesh it really grieves the spirit. The spirit loves order and judgment. The flesh and the spirit are opposed.

Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Love is of the spirit because God is love and He is spirit.

John 4:22-24 reads, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

These are all conditions for having a relationship with God. God is seeking those who don’t have issues with restraint.

Here is what Jesus informed everyone in Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

The cross is where our flesh meets the conditions of God. The desire for unconditional love is the flesh trying to circumvent the cross. I am not saying that God withholds love from us until we meet His conditions. Gods knows unless He gives us the seeds of love in the first place we want have anything to offer back to him. God is a just God and it would not be just of Him to require something of us that He has not made sure we have the means to fulfill. It is because God has given us abundant love that He requires love of us, unto Him and our fellowman. The idea of unconditional love implies that God expects nothing of us and this is not true.

John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

God requires us to love, and not just in any old way we choose but He requires us to love even as He has loved. Unconditional love is love without standards and without standards there is no assurance of reliability. In order for us to have the abundant life that Jesus promised we have to follow His recipe.

Free Yourself

I find that people in general spend far too much time in consideration of what others think of them and what can be done to influence that perception. One of the most frustrating but liberating things you can understand is that people see you based on their own internal needs. I say frustrating because we all want to be seen as we are and not according to stereotypes or generalities. I say liberating because all the effort spent to influence another’s opinion of you can be redirected more constructively. Early pioneers needed to see all Native Americans as savages because it justified their robbing, pillaging, and killing of them. Around the founding of our country the majority of white Americans needed to see blacks as inferior because it justified the oppression and exploitation that made their own lives more comfortable. Just like these examples but on a far less diabolical scale people often see you in everything other than the light of truth. A more important concern for the individual is how one sees them self and how one arrives at that opinion of them self. See, it is not others that have us bound, it is our own view of our selves. If we derive an opinion of ourselves based primarily on social feedback then we are guaranteed to have self-esteem issues and a host of other complexes.  Social feedback can be important when it comes from the right sources. Unfortunately society at large has the tendency to be swayed by popular opinion which is manipulated through propaganda from those that would make merchandise of all people. The right sources would be those people or groups that have their values based on the universal needs of all people instead of merely self or a select few. The right source is those that walk in love, to be more specific, those who live in unity with God for He is Love. Ultimately we should derive our sense of self from God; after all, we are created in His image.  God is neither white nor black nor yellow nor brown nor red. God is spirit and we have to learn to see ourselves as spiritual beings though we have physical bodies. We can’t allow the carnal and temporal things of this physical realm to dictate who we are or how we live. We have to transcend through the door of Jesus Christ to inherit the life we were meant to live and to become the people we were meant to be.  Once you learn to see yourself in the true light of God’s spirit you will know real freedom.

Roman 12:1-3,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

True Intimacy

Intimacy is derived from unity. You could say the building blocks for intimacy are made from unity. The more unity there is, the deeper the intimacy will be. To build intimacy, you first have to build unity. Pride and selfishness are the biggest enemies to unity, therefore they are the biggest enemies to intimacy. Spiritual unity produces the deepest and most fulfilling intimacy.

Psalms 51 from the bible basically says men are formed and conceived in iniquity. This refers to the sin nature that all men inherited from Adam’s compromise in the garden. Pride and selfishness make up the sin nature. Unless a person is born again, they are bound to this sin nature. The prideful and selfish orientation of the unregenerate keeps them captive from the humble and sacrificial ways that lead to spiritual unity. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the unregenerate to experience the deepest and most fulfilling form of intimacy. As a man trying to fly by leaping from the ground yet being overcome by gravity, so it is with those who have not been born again that attempt to live spiritually united, yet are repeatedly overcome by the divisive nature of sin.

Only love can break the power of sin. God is love and we must be born of God if we are to experience true unity and true intimacy. A prerequisite for experiencing true intimacy in any relationship is surrendering to the love of God. Many people have been deceived into believing that they receive the love of God and that they love God in return. To the degree that you trust and believe in God, that is the same degree that you receive his love. To the degree that you obey his commands or walk in His spirit, to that same degree you love him. How can you receive love from someone you do not trust? You can’t. How can you love someone while intentionally doing things they hate and despise? You can’t. We don’t grow until we are willing to face and accept the facts of life and become responsible and accountable.

The first true love is the love of the truth. The love of the truth is what unifies and binds us together because there is only one truth. The singularity of the truth is what unites us. Doctrines that support the belief that everyone has their own truth is a ploy from the powers of darkness to keep us divided and unfulfilled. God’s plan for us is not that we merely coexist but that we become one in love through truth. As we humbly except the truth of God, we become of one mind and one heart and one spirit. As we become one, we experience intimacy. Yeshua is the Word and the Word is truth. When we surrender our prideful self-life in exchange for the life that is in Yeshua, we gain the ability to fulfill the humble and unselfish prerequisites of true unity. The reward is blissful intimacy with God and with those who are born of His spirit.

Knowing The Potter

God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery, followed by imprisonment for over 2 years before delivering him and exalting him to an office only second to Pharaoh. The three Hebrew boys chose to honor God at the risk of being cast into a fire pit and instead of preventing their sentence the Lord met them in the flames before delivering them unharmed. God allowed Daniel to spend the night in a den of lions for defying a king’s ordinance forbidding him to pray; of course no harm came upon him. Given those examples and many others in the bible, what do we learn about our deliverer? There are times when God’s children have to hope and hold on to the very last to see their deliverance come. God promises that he will never leave you nor forsake you and that he will never let you suffer beyond what you can handle. There are no formulas or methods for predicting how or exactly when God will move on your behalf. There is just the assurance that He is with you in the midst of whatever you are going through, very conscience of your pain and discomfort, also the assurance that the outcome is one that He has calculated with your very best interest at heart and you will undoubtedly be better for it if you hold on and not turn from Him in fear, doubt, or unbelief. Notice, I did not say do not have fear, doubt, or unbelief…if it is there it is there; just don’t let it cause you to draw back from God. Talk to your heavenly Father about your fear, your doubt or your unbelief. The key is to stay engaged with Him and I guarantee He will give you what you need to make it another day. If you stay the course until the appointed end, you will find that the path He took you on is justified by the destination arrived at.

The Potter knows the right amount of pressure and heat needed to make vessels of glory for His purposes. We have to settle it within ourselves to endure and persevere because Jesus forewarned us that we enter the kingdom through much tribulation. Anything of worth comes with a cost, the greater the worth the greater the cost. I am grateful that the cost for entering the kingdom is subsidized by God.  We also need to realize that when we veer off course it causes us to incur extra expense. Know that the Lord is the Good Shepherd and His straight and narrow way is the path that cost us the least. What makes the journey almost impossible is when we do not share God’s values and feel that the cost is not worth it. The world we live in mostly does not share God’s values and its influence can cause uncertainty. This is exactly why Jesus says those that would follow him have to take up their crosses daily, meaning we have to die daily to the influences of this world so that our pursuit of Him is uninterrupted.  Be encouraged, everyone being perfected is going through something. The key word is through. There is an appointed end and there will be feasting and joy!

No Strain No Gain

There is a principle in body building that says if you want to continue to develop you have to avoid plateau. Plateau is basically what it sounds like, it is where you level out and you are neither going up nor going down. If we look at God as our trainer with a goal of bringing us up to His level of spiritual fitness it becomes clear that we need to avoid plateau. We need constant growth. Most people will be quick to tell you that they are a work in progress however there is no progress at plateau. To be truthful, most people are working hard to reach plateau. The goal of most people is to reach and maintain a comfortable living. Comfort implies no strain. If we live to avoid strain consequently we will adopt a life style that stunts our spiritual growth. Jesus teaches that we enter the kingdom through much tribulation. Our trainer is just being straight forward with us. He is saying if you want the gold it’s going to cost you. I’m sure any gold medalist can share a lot about the tribulation experienced on the path to the podium. A Christian seeking a life style of comfort will often find life to be very disruptive. How many times have you heard people say, “If it’s not one thing it’s another”?

Potential is measured by work. If we want to discover our true potential then we have to be prepared to work it out. Rest is a vital part of development but we have to rest knowing it is only to recover for the next set of circumstances. We have to also trust that our trainer knows how much we can bear. If He says one more set, be confident you can get through it. I have not always lived with this perspective but I am quickly coming to terms with it. After walking with the Lord for many years I am yet finding deeper levels of surrender to the direction of His spirit. The more in sync I live with God, the less I feel my life is being disrupted and the less I feel that God moves in mysterious ways. I have come to terms with the fact that there will always be a growth factor in my life challenging me to leave my comfort zone and stretching me beyond the reaches of my perceived limits.

There are so many planning guides that tell you to set realistic goals for your life but realistic according to whose ability. I am willing to bet there is a huge difference between the goals we often set and what we can really achieve through faith in God. I am learning to choose not based on the level of difficulty but according to the true yearnings of my heart. God has promised that He would give me the desires of my heart; this means He will also give me the ability to do what is necessary to obtain them. Complacency comes from being motivated by self-satisfaction however when we live to please God we will push through plateau to reach that higher ground. God says we need to be either hot or cold because he will reject us if we are warm. That warm place is plateau.  I have begun to garner a whole new appreciation for the refining fires that purify me and bring me closer to my heart’s desires. We must live courageously in order to please God and reach the fulfillment that lies beyond the plateau.