Entering God’s New Covenant
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(Total reading time: 4 minutes. All scripture quotations are from the NIV 1984 Bible.)
Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, making the whole world a prisoner of sin (Rom. 5:12; Gal. 3:22). It made us God’s enemies and separated us from him (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21). In response, he began using covenants to reconcile people to himself as we see in the Old Testament. The most important one was his first covenant with national Israel, which included the Law of Moses. As we’ll see later in this series, two of the main purposes of the Law were to define sin and reveal man’s inability to please God by human effort.
That first covenant with Israel excluded Gentiles (Exod. 19:3-6). It even specified how they were to treat foreigners differently than their fellow Israelites, which created an ethnic barrier between them (Deut. 14:21; 15:3; 17:15; 23:20). Excluded from Israel and the covenant God made with them, Gentiles remained separated from God (Eph. 2:11-12). The Bible calls that the old covenant.
God promised to make a new covenant with Israel, unlike the first one the people couldn’t keep (Jer. 31:31-32). The new one would be different and even include the Gentiles. God sent his Son to earth to mediate that covenant between God and all humanity.
Through his death on the cross, Jesus destroyed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles — abolishing the Law of Moses with its commandments and regulations — and reconciled them both to God (Eph. 2:14-16). That was a radical departure from the old covenant and the first believers or Jewish Christians didn’t believe Gentiles could enter the covenant (see Acts 10:1-11:18). Today, Gentile Christians far outnumber Jewish believers, or Messianic Jews.
In other words, by dying for the sin of the whole world, Jesus removed what separated us from God and made it possible for anyone to enter covenant with him (1 John 2:2). Gentiles may now enter the new covenant God made with Israel, and he uses that to make the Jews envious (Rom. 11:11).
Now let’s consider how God made this covenant and how we enter it.
God Made Covenant With Jesus
The Son of God became Jesus, the Son of Man, born under the Law of Moses (Gal. 4:4). His mother was a virgin who became pregnant through the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18). Unlike every other human born after Adam, Jesus was born without sin. How was that possible? “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6). That is, Mary gave birth to Jesus’ body, but in his case the Holy Spirit gave birth to his spirit. A person’s sinful human spirit must be born again, spiritually regenerated to become righteous before God (John 3:5). Since the Holy Spirit formed Jesus’ spirit, he was born free of sin. As he matured and grew, he faced all the temptations and tests we do, but remained sinless (Heb. 4:15).
Jesus came to earth as mediator of the new covenant between God and humanity (Heb. 9:15), and represented humanity as the Son of Man. Jesus, the only sinless human since Adam’s fall, entered covenant with God, as shown by God’s statement, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” (Heb. 1:5; 5:5). Becoming a child of God is a covenant benefit Jesus the man experienced. Because he was sinless, nothing separated him from God so he could enter the covenant without an atonement for his sin. As a human, he represented humanity when he entered the new covenant and he died for the sins of the whole world, making it possible for others to enter the covenant (1 John 2:2).
We Enter God’s Covenant
Jesus’ blood sealed the covenant, because it served as a sacrifice for sin and reconciled us to God (Matt. 26:28). The key for us is believing Jesus died for our sin, and receiving him as Savior (1 John 5:1). When we do, we immediately reconcile with God (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20), enter the covenant and become his children (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2).
This covenant defines our relationship with God. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and no one can enter this covenant relationship except through him (John 14:6). If any other way were possible, making him die for our sin would be cruel.
Jesus came to earth as mediator of the new covenant between God and humanity. Through the Holy Spirit, he was born free of sin and he resisted every temptation in life. Because he was sinless, he was qualified to die for the sins of the whole world. Now it’s possible for anyone to reconcile with God by acknowledging his death for their sin and accepting him as Savior. This is the only way we can enter covenant relationship with God.