There was a problem with the first covenant. If there hadn’t been, says the writer to the Hebrews, there would have been no need for a second. And that problem, according to the Spirit, wasn’t with the old covenant, it was with the material it had to work with (Heb. 8:7-8a).
It was an if/then covenant. If you obey, then you will be blessed. If you don’t obey, then you will end up on the receiving end of curses. “You” was the weak link in the old covenant. Thus, when he’s moved of God to quote the prophet, the writer to the Hebrews removes “you” and, along with it, the ifs, ands, and buts.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
(Hebrews 8:10-12 ESV)
Jeremiah prophesied of a new covenant with Israel — a promise, I believe, yet to be fully realized. Yet the dynamics of this new spiritual economy were introduced at Pentecost and are now at play within the church, those redeemed through the blood of Christ by faith. In a sense, you could say the church is the “prototype” of what it looks like when men and women who are made in the image of God are regenerated, indwelt, and formed into the likeness of the Son of God by the Spirit of God.
And the power of this new covenant? “You” is removed. Replaced with “I will,” says God Most High –the sovereign, omnipotent God of heaven and earth.
No ifs. No quid pro quo. Not dependent on my works. Not relying on my righteousness. My obedience shifted from a requisite for blessing to a response to blessing. Having been born again through the cross, I purpose, by His enabling, to live in its shadow. Having been loved with an unfailing, steadfast love by God, I desire to love God in return with the love He has poured into my heart. Having been brought into relationship with the Savior, I long to abide with the Savior as a branch grafted into the Vine. Having been given the Spirit, I want to be led by the Spirit even as I’m empowered to walk in the Spirit.
No ands. The work of the cross is finished. The way into the holy of holies complete. I can bring nothing to the table to make me any more redeemed. It’s “Jesus + Nothing” or it’s not worth anything. By grace alone through faith alone or, I’m left to my own devices alone.
No buts. While the grace of God is not so I might presume upon God, it is the reality that keeps me secure when I stumble in my walk for God. My weak flesh unable to weaken His love for me. My defeats before the enemy giving Him no thought to abandon me. My propensity to wander into the world never leading to the point where He has lost His grip on me. Even when I don’t, He will. That’s the power of the new covenant. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Not my will but Your will be done.
By Your grace. For Your glory.
Thank you, Lord.