Life under the New Covenant
Some Christians believe in Jesus for salvation but later on, trust in their own performance – mixing both the old and new covenants at the same time.
I did this for many years and suffered painfully in legalism, confusion, depression, and feeling distant from God not knowing His grace – until I realized His great unconditional love through the Gospel of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, I am not writing this lightly. It comes after 20 years of experience studying the Bible and applying it to my own life with a lot of ups and downs.
Under the Old Covenant, the Law was not given to save/transform people but to show that they are sinners and make them despair for salvation (Romans 3:19-20, Romans 7:7-9,24-25). The law demanded perfection for salvation: (Galatians 3:11-12).
The one who obeyed perfectly was righteous while the one who broke even one commandment was a sinner. Therefore, all were sinners because nobody is perfect.
The law was about the righteousness of works but Christ fulfilled the law so that we can become righteous by faith and not by works (Romans 10:5-17). The law cannot save anyone because man is imperfect in behavior (Hebrews 7:18-19). We are perfect by faith in Christ’s finished work (Hebrews 10:1-14).
The condition of the new covenant is faith in Christ’s finished work!
Jesus Christ alone never sinned and is perfectly righteous.
He died for our sins and rose from the dead to make us righteous apart from works.
The believer is perfectly righteous by faith while the unbeliever is a sinner.
Therefore, a Christian cannot live by trusting in the law but lives in Christ by faith.
How do we live the Christian life?
Colossians 2:6-7 “As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving.”
We received Christ by grace through faith in His love and not by our works!
So, then we also live the Christian life the same way – not by depending on our works but by trusting in Christ and His love for us on the cross overflowing with thankfulness.
This means that we need to constantly be filling our hearts with the knowledge of His love for us rather than the knowledge of our works/sins.
Galatians 2:19-21 “For I, through the law, died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. I don’t reject the grace of God. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”
When we believed in Jesus, we stopped trusting in our works (we died to the law, crucified with Christ). We are now alive by faith in Christ who lives in us. We don’t trust in our works but rely on Jesus for salvation and for our daily walk.
Holiness manifests when the Holy Spirit does His work in us!
That is why it is called the “fruit of the Spirit”.
He bears fruit in us when we trust more in Christ’s unconditional love.
Our salvation and holiness are 100% by grace and not our works.
It is not 50% Grace and 50% of our efforts. It should be 100% of Christ in me.
Does that mean we do nothing? No, we don’t become lazy or rebellious.
We should do good works from the assurance and confidence that we are already holy by Christ’s finished work. The Christian life is completely by grace through faith and not based on our performance. We trust in Christ as our Righteousness for salvation but also trust in Him as our Holiness/Sanctification in daily living (1st Corinthians 1:30-31).
Christ is not only our Righteousness in heaven but He is also our Holiness in this life.
He will also redeem our bodies from the curse of Adam by giving us eternal life in heaven. That is how we can truly boast in Christ and not our performance!
The Christian only boasts in Christ alone and not in our performance.
Many believers think that God is unhappy with their performance as an employer.
But God’s smiling face is found in Jesus Christ our Lord in the New Covenant.
Psalm 67:1-2 “May God be merciful to us, bless us, and cause his face to shine on us. Selah. That your way may be known on earth, and your salvation among all nations,”
People who trust in their works are in darkness because they cannot see the grace of God. Their eyes are blinded by their own performance until they see the glory of God in Christ’s face of love and grace by faith. The Ten Commandments had a fading glory but the glory of Christ in the New Covenant is far greater.
2nd Corinthians 3:6-18 and 4:3-6 “who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face, which was passing away, won’t service of the Spirit be with much more glory? For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses. For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn’t look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away. But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away. But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit
… Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who are dying, in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake, seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.“
The Ten Commandments written on stone could only give a temporary glory but it eventually brought condemnation and death because nobody could obey it perfectly. The law was a mirror convicting them of sins bringing condemnation & death (3000 died on the day the ten commandments were given in Exodus 32). But the New Covenant brought the free gift of Righteousness and everlasting glory by faith in Christ (3000 were saved when the Holy Spirit was received by faith in Christ in Acts 2).
A person who trusts in his own works has a veil on his eyes and cannot see the face of God revealed in Jesus Christ. But when we trust in Jesus and not in our performance then we receive the free gift of Righteousness by His obedience alone.
We see God’s loving face by faith in Christ with full assurance.
Under the law, the Israelites meditated day and night on the commandments.
Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.’
But now in the New Covenant, we focus on Jesus Christ who saves and transforms us.
1st Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Ephesians 1:17 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him,”
Our works are completely done by God from beginning to end in our Christian life when we keep trusting in Jesus.
Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.”
We have nothing to boast or strive for because it is God who gives us both the willpower and does the actual work! It is God’s grace (Jesus) who works within me.
1st Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was given to me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet NOT I, but the GRACE of GOD which was WITH ME.”
Ephesians 2:8-10 “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.”
We are God’s workmanship – not our own efforts. If there is anything we can boast in our works, then we know it is not from Christ. But when Christ is working in us then we will only boast in Christ and not ourselves. We should do good works as believers.
The works we do are not to attain salvation or earthly blessings. He who has Christ has eternal life that is not just about heaven but the grace-filled life on earth as well.
1st John 5:11-12 “The testimony is this, that God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has the life. He who doesn’t have God’s Son doesn’t have the life.”
2nd Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ constrains us…”
Christ does the good works within us because He alone is our Righteousness and Holiness, and not ourselves. We should love others and do good works because we are convinced that He loves us. The more we trust in Christ’s unconditional love for us apart from our works the more His Spirit works in us! This is life in the New Covenant.