'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
What is the difference between the OT and the NT of the Bible? This question has disturbed many over the years, and underminded the faith for some. Under the Old Covenant provisions, all lived under the “administration of death.” It is referred to in this way because it would ultimately result in death because every person sins. The result of disobedience (sin) was (and is), death (1 John 3:4). The result of sin is the death penalty (Romans 6:23). All have sinned (Romans 5:12)), therefore all of us have lived with the penalty of death hanging over our heads because there is no human who has not, or will not, sin. There was no escape.
Throughout the history of Israel they were unable to consistently be faithful to God, except for a few whom God dealt with for special callings, and even they were far from perfect. All progress proved to be only sporadic and temporary. They had God’s perfect Law, which was often the envy of surrounding nations - envy to the point of hatred and jealousy. Not only because of the Law, but because of the bad example of the people of God around them. They were called to be an rightous example to all those nations among whom they dwelt. Also, many laws, ordinances, and events were “shadows” of things to come, some of which became reality in the New Testament, and some to become reality in the future. The Law is perfect, and inherently spiritual, but they were not.
Notice the impossible quandary - we have a perfect Law that cannot be broken without the sentence of death, and a creation (mankind) which has proven over the ages that it is impossible to keep it. A fleshly and carnal creation interacting with the spiritual. Here we have a basic key to the meaning and purpose of the Old Testament (Covenant). Among the many of lessons to be learned from this part of the Bible, there is one obvious reality: Mankind cannot obey His Creator in his own strength (Hebrews 7:18-19). This is, as a general and very broad statement, what the “Old Testament” is about...
There was therefore the imperative for a "better covenant". Not a better one in terms of required obedience, but one with better enablements, and better promises (Hebrews 8:5-8). The problem was not with the Covenant, which embodied the nature, character, and will of God, but with human inability to keep it. The "law is spiritual". Spiritual things are eternal. Therefore, the law is eternal (Romans 7:14). But as part of His plan, God has gone to the ultimate to extend to us every opportunity to cooperate with Him in His purpose, to bring us into glory with Him. He knows that it is difficult for the created to identify with the Creator. For the finite to enter the mind of the infinite. Therefore, He is long suffering, and very patient - even to the point of becoming just like that which He created, so that the created might understand, and choose the Way. This then, is what the “New Testament” is about...
In the future, God will restore His nation Israel because it will accept the Messiah, receive His grace. Israel once again will have preeminence as the special heritage of God, after the “times of the Gentiles” are completed. (Luke 21:24). As Paul explains, until then partial disbelief in Jesus as the Messiah has occurred (Romans 11:7,21-32). Since Jesus’ sacrifice, we are living within a new administration, the administration of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). The same Law of God is now being written on the fleshly tables of our heart, through the Word of God, by the Holy Spirit. The Old Covenant was ineffective, not because the Law failed, but because of the weakness of the flesh. Therefore, because it could not be kept permanently and perfectly, all fell under its condemnation - “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Somehow, perhaps because of the pre-programmed conscience, mankind as with Israel, is inclined to reject spiritual truth. There is a built-in danger in spiritual truth. Rejecting spiritual truth does two things: first, it cuts us off from additional truth. Second, it exposes us to additional deception. The interaction of the two accounts for there being so little genuine spiritual growth today. Many in Christ remain babes after years and years of church going (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Often truth is not heard, either because it is not presented, or that which is heard is too uncomfortable for a very comfortable Christianity. They have need of nothing (Revelation 3:15-18). They have subsisted on milk for so long, meat is repulsive and unappetizing (Hebrews 5:12-14). There is a time for the basics for everyone. But there is a time to move on, to more truth. Its time to grow (Hebrews 6:1-6; 2 Peter 3:18)).
There is no escape now, any more than under the Old Covenant, unless or until we turn in acceptance of the payment for our sin through Jesus Christ, we remain as “good as dead”. Those who have not believed in the sacrifice of the Son of God, are, plainly speaking, the walking dead - unless they accept the substitution of their penalty by belief and trust in Him. By virtue of original creation, God has the right to give, and the right to take life - it is all His to begin with (Romans 9:8-20). We have nothing but that which has been first given by a loving Creator (1 Corinthians 4:7). Strictly speaking then, we do not have and have never had since creation, what we call “rights” - except those which are granted by God. In short, God makes the rules. We can either accept them, or not accept them, but that does not change the rules.
These truths seem harsh and unfair to a lost and blinded world. It is past time for the truth and plain speaking. It is indeed time for the whole council of God. There will be a time for vengeance by a perfect and just God. He is not only a God grace, but also of perfect justice (Galatians 6:7). Judgment will come for our world, as well as for times past. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
What then, is real the difference between and the OT and the NT?
In one sense, there is no difference at all. Obedience remains the requirement, only now it is being written on something different, in a different place - on the heart as well as the head. The heart enables us now to do what ancient Israel could not do (Jeremiah 33:31). The distance between the head and the heart has been, and can be, a very long trip, for nations, and for individuals. Israel crossed over the Jordan safely under the Old Covenant. We do not need to worry about our crossing under the New - if we are in God’s hands. He has our itinerary planned to perfection. Jesus Himself went the distance - He knows the way. Because He is the Way.
He is the "bridge over troubled waters" of the past - for Israel, for the world, and for you and me (John 14:6).
I pray that you are crossing with Him...
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts. Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” - 2 Corinthians 3:2-6 (NET)
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