As a young boy, I grew up watching the TV show Lost in Space and as most youngsters of that era, I was absolutely enthralled with the show. Anyone who remembers watching that show will also remember the robot shouting out “Danger Will Robinson, Danger,” and sure enough a moment later some space creature would appear to try and do Will or the family harm.
I often think of the robot’s warning of danger when I read Paul’s letter to the Galatians and how he had heard that they were now mixing law with grace. He was so upset that they were compromising or substituting their faith in Christ by trying to serve God through the law and trusting in their own works instead of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for them.
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:1–3
In our house, we have a smoke detector and at the slightest wisp of smoke it will go off with a highly annoying and ear piercing sound that cannot be ignored. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a robot or detector that would pre-warn us to the dangers of legalism so we wouldn’t make the same mistakes the Galatians made. “Danger, Ed Elliott, Danger; legalism is approaching”! The truth is, we actually have something much better and a lot less annoying. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us, to teach us and guide us. If we listen to Him, He is our early warning system of impending danger. Danger that can harm our faith and relationship with our heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit hates legalism because it disconnects a person from experiencing God’s love in their heart and replaces humility with pride and arrogance.
I have listed here a few examples about why the Old Covenant is drastically different from the New Covenant that we as believers live under today. I think pointing these differences out will help keep your heart free from mixing law with grace as the Galatians did.
Under the Old Covenant, people were required to keep God’s laws. In the New Covenant, we discover there is a new set of laws that keep us.
What the Old Covenant required, the New Covenant provides.
In the Old Covenant a person was required to love God 24/7. The New Covenant declares that God loves us 24/7.
The Old Covenant demanded obedience but the New Covenant provides faith.
The Old Covenant insisted on repentance to experience God’s goodness. The New Covenant reveals God’s goodness freely and that leads a person to repentance.
Under the Old Covenant, they lived under condemnation but in the New Covenant there is no condemnation.
The Old Covenant could not provide peace where the New Covenant is all about knowing and experiencing God’s peace.
The Old Covenant made righteousness something people had to earn but in the New Covenant, righteousness is a free gift.
Under the Old Covenant, God’s presence was found in the Holy of Holies. In the New Covenant, His presence lives in believers and makes them holy.
Under the Old Covenant, sins were just covered but in the New Covenant our sins have been forgiven and taken away forever. Under the Old Covenant, a person had to keep the whole law but in the New Covenant, His love for us has fulfilled the law.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the New Covenant today is that it isn’t a covenant like any of the previous covenants we see in the Old Testament. Those covenants were made between God and a man. The New Covenant is between Jesus and His father. We enter into the New Covenant by faith in the Son and our identity comes from being in Him. Neither the Father or Son, will ever break the New Covenant and that should give you peace that your sins, failures, etc. will not alter or change what the New Covenant is all about.
You can “try” and keep Old Covenant laws or you can put your trust in the New Covenant that keeps you!
Matt 22:37, 1 John 4:19, Duet 28:1, Rom 10:17, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Rom 2:4, 2 Cor 3:9, Rom 8:1, Gal 3:11, Phil 4:7, Gal 2:16, Rom 5:17, Lev 16:2, Heb 10:19–20, Heb 10:11, Heb 10:12, John 1:29, Rom 10:4, Gal 5:14, Rom 13:8–10
~ Ed Elliott
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