In the last two blogs, we’ve discussed the old covenant priesthood and how it was abolished to make way for a new covenant with Jesus as the only High Priest.
In this blog, we shine the light on the role of the Abrahamic covenant in our transformation process. How can we turn into people who can keep the salvation covenant?
Only faith for salvation?
Some people assume that before Jesus, we had the law. After Jesus came, that changed, and now by faith we have salvation.
This is not true. Neither the Levitical law nor faith can provide salvation by itself. Keep in mind that before Abraham obeyed God He had faith in God. Before we were given the Book of the Covenant we were given the Abrahamic Covenant.
James 2:24 says: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
Without faith we would never obey God’s salvation covenant unless we were forced to by men.
Both the Levitical law and faith were designed to help us keep the salvation covenant.
The Israelites did not have enough faith to listen to God and to keep the salvation covenant.
As we can read for ourselves in Hebrews 4:2: “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
For this reason, they were given the Levitical priesthood and the Levitical Law and thereby forced to keep the salvation covenant.
The addition of the Levitical Law
Galatians 3: 17-19 explains:
“What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator” (NIV).
We can see here that the Levitical Law could not invalidate a blood ratified covenant. The blood confirmed covenants are our salvation covenants.
The Levitical Law was added ‘because of transgressions.’ We need to understand that the Levitical Law was never designed to be a means of salvation. It was designed to help us keep the salvation covenant.
The salvation covenant is still the same today.
How can we keep His covenant and be His people?
Galatians 3:23-25 tells us:
“But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Obedience to the salvation covenant first, under a tutor (under the old priesthood) and now by faith under Jesus as our high priest.
Under the old covenant of the Levitical priesthood and its accompanying Levitical Law, the Israelites were under a tutor because they would not keep the salvation covenant on their own by faith. They would rather listen to men.
Under the new covenant of Jesus as High Priest, we enter the salvation covenant through faith. True faith says:
“Yes, I want to hear you, God. I want to be yours; part of your people, and I want to keep your salvation covenant.”
Paul sums up the old covenant very nicely in Galatians 4:8-9:
“However, at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods [listening to men as the authority].
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”
This is the old covenant of listening to men.
The difference between the covenants
The old covenant (the Levitical priesthood and the Levitical Law) required that we listen to men and follow of a set of requirements under the direction of men according to their ways.
The new covenant (with Jesus as high priest) says that we must listen to God through His word and follow His salvation covenant according to His ways, to be His people. Our faith plus His salvation covenant is what transforms us. We are born again into His people in His image.
Paul sums up the two covenants nicely in Galatians 5.
Under the old covenant, the following is evident (Galatians 5:19-21):
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
These are the things of men.
But things are different under the new covenant (Galatians 5:22-24):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
If we belong to Christ, we don’t think of only ourselves as first anymore. We decide to serve Him and those around us above ourselves. These are the things of God.
Still living under the old covenant.
Most Christians today are still living under the old covenant.
They listen to men (most of whom are completely corrupt to the core) who tell them how or how not to keep whatever requirement they might deem important and completely ignore what God says about keeping His blood ratified salvation covenants. They follow the ways of men and the not the ways of God.
If we are to be priests under the new covenant, we must stop listening to other men as gods or authorities.
We must allow God to work in us. He will give us insight and challenge us to interpret His word under the guidance of His Holy Spirit.
The new covenant is about establishing a relationship directly between man and His God with no intercessors standing in between.
“But I don’t have time to study God’s Word.”
This is just an excuse. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the one thing that differentiates a faithful follower of His from the rest of the world who are pursuing their own ways.
People often say: ‘My pastor is great! I trust him to bring me the correct word from God.’ These people’s faith is in their pastor and not in God.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t go to church or shut yourself off from everyone else, but that you must study and verify for yourself.
We must know God individually for ourselves.
I am saying that we must verify what we hear for ourselves. We must study God’s Word, we must trust what His word tells us, and then we must directly apply it to our lives.
We must begin to trust our own personal interpretations as given to us through the Holy Spirit. We can listen to others and still allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our understanding. We seek to understand His word in the proper context and in line with what the rest of God’s Word is telling us but according to our own unique ability to grasp and process that knowledge.
We can see that our individual comprehension is important to God under the new covenant with Jesus as our high priest in Colossians 2:16 no one is to dictate our relationship with God any longer. Our relationship is to be a unique and individual expression of our understanding and faith in Him and His word “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day….”
For things we are to follow God’s word only and not the traditions and doctrines of men.
“But what if I don’t understand?”
God is faithful. He will never let you turn away empty-handed.
If you don’t understand something that you are reading, reread it. And reread it again.
Ask God to open your ears and your heart. Ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you. This is all part of developing our intimate relationship with God Himself. Learning to seek Him, His word, and His guidance. Soon, what you are reading will start to make sense and we will have a vigor about us because we will understand that it was God Himself interacting with us to get us His word.
This is faith. Faith is not about going to church on a Sunday.
It is about figuring out what God is saying telling us through His word. It might be hard. It might take a long time. But, faith is about perseverance and trust – He will come through for you.
My challenge to you
As priests under Jesus in our new covenant, we need to challenge one another to follow God’s word and to hold each other accountable.
Faith leads us to God. It causes us to keep His salvation covenant. It allows Him to transform us into His people in His image.
Faith plus His salvation covenant is what allows us to be transformed into His image.
Ephesians 5:22-24 says:
“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
It is not faith alone that causes us to be saved. We must allow ourselves to be transformed. Jesus said so himself. He said if we are not born again, we will not see the Kingdom of God.
That is why we were given the Abrahamic covenant and then the Book of the Covenant.
We enter the Abrahamic covenant by faith which leads us to the Book of the Covenant, which transforms us into His people.
It is Jesus’ sacrifice that fulfills the requirements of the salvation covenant by erasing our past violations and completing our shortcomings. When our faith meets His instructions we become transformed, and we are saved. What a joyous message!