The Old Covenant gave us commandments written on tables of stone that were good, righteous, and holy. They revealed, in shadow, the nature of God. They were not given to be kept, however, insofar as God knew man lacked the power to keep them. They were given to reveal to man his fallen, sinful nature and need of Salvation (Gal 3:19-27, Rom 7:7).
When Christ was born, the New Covenant was born. Through His life, His teaching, and His death, Christ revealed to us, not just in shadow, the true nature of God. He was and is the express image of the invisible God (Heb 1:3, John 14:6-10). Christ taught us, by example and by doctrine, that the true nature of God is love. The nature of love Christ revealed to us went far beyond superficial emotions. Love is who He was and is. Every thought, every motive, every intent of His heart, and every action He took were all for the good of others first.
When He died, He abolished the Old Covenant and established a better, superseding covenant with a higher moral standard (Heb 10:9, Gal 2:19). The standard under the Old Covenant stopped at outward obedience to a list of rules that were a mere shadow of the moral perfection God seeks in His people. The moral standard under the New Covenant is Christ Himself. Perfect love is what God seeks from His people under the New Covenant. Under this covenant, outward forms of godliness won’t do. God seeks a people who worship Him in spirit and in truth. In other words, He seeks a people who love Him, and love others, by nature.
Where the Old Covenant laid down a moral standard but gave no power to keep it, the New Covenant lays down an even higher standard and simultaneously gives the power to keep it. Under the New Covenant, God writes His laws on our hearts and minds. In other words, He puts His Son, with His nature, into our hearts. This is what it means that the love of God was shed abroad in our hearts. It means we became partakers of the divine nature. The nature of God, defined by love and revealed in Christ, came to dwell in us. God Himself, the Spirit of Holiness, became one with our spirit and began a good work in us, that work being regeneration and the beginning of conforming us into the image of Christ.
This nature of Christ, imparted by and through the Spirit of Christ in us, is the new wine Jesus spoke of in parables. The Old Covenant, and the Old Covenant way of doing things, is the old wineskin that can’t hold the new wine. Only the New Covenant, the Covenant of GRACE, can hold the new wine.
At Salvation, the Divine Nature is imparted to us in fullness. However, we are to be continually filled with Him. This refers not to our position of righteousness or our possession of the Spirit. Instead, it refers to our walk “in the Spirit” and the degree to which we allow the Divine Nature to become the Source of our daily life and living.
The level of new wine we can hold is directly related to the extent to which we learn to operate in a New Covenant economy. The Old Covenant, or the Law, was a performance-based system. Self was the power source and effort the means of performing. “Look at those rules written on stone and do your best to keep them,” was the gist of it. Because of the weakness of the flesh, the result was condemnation and death.
The New Covenant system is a system of grace. The only currency that spends in this economy is the blood of Jesus. Under grace, we can freely receive what we didn’t earn, what we didn’t work for, and what we don’t deserve. The Spirit of Life giving us experiential freedom from the law of sin and death through the quickening of our mortal body is the prime thing we are to receive, and the precious blood of Jesus is the price that was paid that we might receive it as a free gift. Faith in Jesus, who He is and what He’s done, is the one and only means of receiving this gift initially, and the one and only means of experiencing it daily.
The degree to which we walk in the New Covenant economy is the degree to which we are walking in the Spirit and the degree to which the Divine Nature will be the Source of our living and thereby find its expression in our lives. The extent to which our faith comes to rest exclusively, narrowly, and singularly in Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the degree to which the Life of Christ will flow out of us and bear fruit in our daily living. The extent to which we continue to have our faith in anything, and I mean anything, else is the extent to which we are continuing to rely on self (a container incapable of holding new wine). If our faith isn’t in Christ and His finished work exclusively, our faith is in man, whether it be systems and methods of man or self-dependence, there is no other place for our faith to be if it’s not exclusively in the cross. Saved or not, God doesn’t work in systems of man or bless the self-glorifying efforts of man. He only works in His covenant of grace, which is based on faith in Christ and His finished work, not man and His feeble efforts.
Jesus Christ is the Source of the Divine Nature. The Covenant of Grace, established at Calvary, is the means by which it is offered. Faith in Christ is the only means through which it is received, not just initially, but on a daily basis.
Walking in the Spirit isn’t just, “Do what the Holy Spirit says.” Walking in the Spirit is about walking in grace, learning to lay down the old wineskin and carry the new, so that you can be continually filled with new wine. As we walk by grace through faith, and not by self-reliance and works, the Holy Spirit does a whole lot more than tell us what to do. Instead, He works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure by enjoining our nature with the nature of Christ (Phi 2:13, Heb 13:21, 2 Pet 1:4, Rom 8:11). The result is a natural outflow of obedience motivated not by legal obligation, but by a nature that loves God and loves people. The more that we live dead to the law (the old covenant economy) and live by grace and faith, the more it will be no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us through the Spirit. It won’t just be Christ living in us in the sense of hanging out with us, though. It will be Christ living in us in the sense of His nature being imparted to us, becoming part our moral image, and thereby expressing itself through us. The result, or fruit, of such is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Against such, there is no law because there need not be. The love of God, written on our hearts, produces the kind of obedience, and relationship, God is looking for.
The law written on tables of stone, glorious as it was, was a ministry of condemnation. The Gospel of the grace of God, however, through which the nature of Christ is written on our hearts, is far more glorious. Through the gospel of grace, we are reconciled to God, and the righteous requirement of the law (to love as Christ loves) is fulfilled in us. As we behold the glory of the Lamb of God, we are changed into the same image by the agency of Christ in us, THE HOPE OF GLORY!!!
I wish I had somewhere to preach that right now! Written words just can’t do justice to how much I feel that! Let us go Church! Let us GO into all the world and PREACH the GLORIOUS Gospel of the Grace of God!!! Let us tell the world of the Savior and His love!!! Let the voice of the Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, reach every corner of this dark world with the Light of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! It is finished!!! It is finished!!! Whosoever will make come and take the water of life freely! Come, weary sinner. Come, backslidden saint. Lay down your old wineskin and come. Come to the True Vine. Let Him give you rest. Let Him give you Himself. Let Him fill your cup with new wine. To skip the social media algorithms and be notified when new content like this is published, subscribe to our email list by completing the form below.
NOTE: This is a summary of the meaning of the New Covenant based on SEVERAL Scriptures, even whole books and chapters. If you would like a Scripture reference for a specific point, just ask and I will give it. In the meantime, here is a list of Scriptures this post is generally based on:
- Galatians as a whole - Galatians 2:19-3:3 - Galatians 5, specifically 5:1-6,16-25 - Hebrews 8:10/10:16, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Jeremiah 31:33, Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:20-21, 2 Peter 1:4 - Romans 6-8 generally - Romans 6:14, 7:1-6, 8:2-11 - Matthew 9:17, Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37-38 - Romans 2:29, Philippians 3:3, Romans 7:6, 2 Cor 3:6, John 4:23-24 - Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14, Mark 12:28-31, Romans 8:3, Matthew 5:17-28 - Colossians 2:6-15 - Colossians 3:9-10, Ephesians 4:22-24