What is the New Covenant? What changes are made in the New Covenant? How did it replace the Old Covenant? Most importantly, what does the New Covenant mean to you? Learn the answers by reading this post!
A lot of people are claiming that Christians are now under the New Covenant. That is correct. There’s no arguing about that.
The problem is, only a few really have the right understanding of what the New Covenant really is.
In this chapter, let us take a look at the key terms and conditions of the New Covenant.
The New Covenant in three sentences
The “New Covenant” was made possible through the life and sacrifice of our Master and Savior, Yahshua the Messiah or popularly known as Jesus Christ. The spiritual Israel, which is the Church or assembly of God, is under the New Covenant. This New Covenant brings better promises and a change in how we should have a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Removal of the sacrificial law in the New Covenant
One of the main features of the New Covenant is the abolition of the sacrificial rituals and ceremonies done by the physical nation of Israel.
We all know that the penalty of sin is death:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” ( Romans 6:23).
In the Old Covenant, Yahshua wasn’t sacrificed yet. So, as a temporary replacement, Israel had to kill animals and shed their blood as a symbol and reminder that there is a much better and greater sacrifice that will be done in the future.
The problem with sacrificing animals was that they are NOT enough to take away our sins. Notice what Hebrews 10:4 tells us:
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
The animal sacrificial system of the Old Covenant was never meant to last forever. They were temporary.
Yahshua came to take “away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Because He is God in the flesh and through Him, everything was created, including us, human beings, His death is more than ENOUGH to become the ultimate sacrifice to blot out the sin of the entire humanity.
Hebrews 9:13-14 tells us:
“For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Essentially, Yahshua died in our place. Remember, the penalty of sin is death and we can’t escape that penalty unless someone dies for us and that is exactly what Yahshua did for every single human being who has ever lived and will still live in the future.
The sacrifice of Yahshua abolished the ritualistic animal sacrifices of the Old Covenant. His sacrifice is the ULTIMATE sacrifice and was done once for all.
This is what we read in Hebrews 10:9-10:
Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The result of Christ’s sacrifice is clear. We don’t need to make animal sacrifices anymore because they are only symbols and the death of Christ became the ultimate fulfillment of those symbols.
In the New Covenant, we accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice through genuine repentance and baptism.
New Covenant change in the priesthood
Under the Old Covenant, the high priest enters the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle once every year during the Day of Atonement. The high priest offered a sacrifice before the mercy seat which represented the throne of God.
Today, under the New Covenant, the high priest is no longer a man, but a divine Being. That Being is no other than Yahshua.
Christ didn’t simply become the sacrifice for our sins, but He also filled the role of the high priest.
We read in Hebrews 7:20-28:
And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:
“The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek’ ”),
22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, APPOINTS the Son who has been perfected forever.
New Covenant change in temple worship
The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70. This has essentially stopped the temple sacrifices that were made before. However, animal sacrifices were no longer necessary because of the death of Christ.
As a result, Christians today don’t need to perform the rituals associated with the physical tabernacle, temple, and Levitical priesthood.
Hebrews 9:9-10 clearly tells us:
It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
Basically, what these verses are saying is that physical rituals which include the food and drink offerings, ceremonial washings, and flesh ordinances, which include animal sacrifices, are only kept until the TIME OF REFORMATION.
This time of reformation was ushered in by our new High Priest, Yahshua.
The gift of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant
In ancient times, the Holy Spirit was only given to a handful of people whom God chose to work with personally. It was only limited to the true servants of God.
We read in 1 Peter 1:10-11:
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
The Holy Spirit is the transforming power of God. Without it, we are not able to fully follow God. This is the reason why the ancient Israelites were not able to fully change their stubborn hearts.
However, don’t forget, the Israelites had the ability to follow the letter of the law, BUT even with this, they failed to do so.
Remember, the Israelites were only obedient simply because they were afraid to get punished by God. The source of their motivation is external. It didn’t guarantee the right behavior.
Through the life and death of Christ, the Holy Spirit has now been made available to those who truly seek God.
On the day of Pentest, God’s Spirit was made available. The Holy Spirit enables Christians today to follow Him from the heart.
This leads us to the following point.
A change of heart in the New Covenant
In Jeremiah 31:31-34, we read:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Instead of the law being written in tablets of stones, the law would then be written on the hearts of men.
New Covenant better promises
As discussed in the earlier chapters, the Old Covenant’s promises were primarily directed at physical benefits. We read in Leviticus 26:3-13 and Deuteronomy 7:12-15; 28:1-14 how God will bless Israel for their obedience.
Today, in the New Covenant, because of Yahshua, eternal life is now offered to those who submit themselves to God. Though we have not lived perfectly, Christ’s sacrifice provided us an opportunity to gain eternal life.
Hebrews 9:15 talks about the eternal inheritance given to us in the New Covenant:
“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
Titus 3:7 adds because we have been “justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Salvation offered to non-Israelites
One of the best changes made in the New Covenant is that salvation is not only limited to the physical Israelites anymore, but it is now available to anyone, regardless of their ancestry, as long as they are willing to accept God’s will and purpose for them.
We read in Ephesians 2:11-13:
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were WITHOUT Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off HAVE BEEN BROUGHT NEAR BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.
Galatians 3:29 explains how Christians today have become the spiritual Israel:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The New Covenant Improving the Old Covenant
As you read what the New Covenant is all about, you will see how it improved the Old Covenant.
However, there’s one thing you will never see in the New Covenant that many Christians adamantly believed.
What is it?
The Abolition of God’s Laws.
Yes, the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant. However, you will never see in the Bible that the change in the New Covenant removed God’s Laws.
Instead, what we see is an improvement, magnification, and amplification of the terms and conditions of the Old Testament!
That’s why we see:
- Instead of sacrificing animals, Christ served as the ultimate sacrifice once and for all.
- Instead of the Levitical priesthood, we see Yahshua serving as the High Priest.
- Instead of the law written in tablets of stones, it is now written in our hearts.
- Instead of the physical temple, we have become a temple of God (I Corinthians 3:16).
- Instead of overcoming sins by ourselves, we have the Holy Spirit as our helper (John 16:7).
- Instead of only the physical Israelites, all peoples from all nations are given the chance to salvation.
- Instead of just physical blessings, we now have the promise of eternal life.
With this in mind, I hope you have a better understanding of what the New Covenant is, what is “new” about the New Covenant, and how the changes made in it incredibly signifies God’s love for us!