The End-Time Significance Of The Two Covenants

Flesh-Born Religion Versus Spirit-Born Religion

In Isaiah 24:5, 6, the prophet Isaiah tells us that the curse will devour the earth for 3 reasons:

  • the inhabitants have transgressed the laws
  • they have changed the ordinance
  • the ultimate reason – they have broken the everlasting covenant!

In Isaiah 24:1-6 and 19, 20 the prophet is in fact describing the terrible onslaught of the 7 last plagues. But the Revelator in Revelation 14:10 and 15:1 and 13:11-18 informs us that the curse, the wrath, the seven last plagues will be the direct end-result of enforcing the image and mark of the beast. Therefore we conclude, without fear of contradiction, that the mark of the beast will be the ultimate breaking of the everlasting covenant and since it will be enforced by religious zealots it will be the ultimate expression of the Old Covenant. But this should not surprise us because Paul enlightens us in Galatians 4:29 that flesh-born religion will persecute spirit-born religion. The final crisis will be nothing less than the final persecution of the New Covenant by the Old!

The shaking

Therefore the shaking in the Christian religion in general and Adventism in particular is a shaking which will see professed believers being fixed either in the old covenant or the new covenant! And remember the OLD persecutes the NEW.

Multiple forms of old covenant deception

The old covenant is a spiritual cancer, which can turn up in more than one form. For example, the form of the old covenant with which Satan sought to deceive the Galatians was a more deceptive and deadly form than that with which he ensnared Israel at Sinai. Israel at Sinai knew only the birth of the flesh and without ever knowing the birth of the Spirit they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, sought to establish their own righteousness by their own promises and their own efforts to obey the law of God. The immediate result was the golden-calf idolatry, which included sexual immorality of the most disgusting type and indeed transgression of all Ten Commandments.

The long-term results were failure to enter the Promised Land and a 40-year death-march in the wilderness. On the other hand the Galatians, like the Corinthians, were gentiles who had neither any previous knowledge of God nor His laws (moral, ceremonial or health). Paul preached to them Christ crucified and risen.

Paul explained to them that by His perfect faith, perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the world, had more than satisfied all the conditions and requirements of God for mankind, and moreover, by His infinite sacrifice, had atoned for and taken away all their sins, all because of God’s unconditional love for them!

Furthermore Paul told them that this great salvation was the fulfillment of a promise God made to Abraham, 15 centuries before, that in him, through his Seed, all nations of the earth would be blessed.

The Galatians believed the gospel! They put all their trust and confidence in Christ alone for salvation. There was nothing else they could depend on, they had not obeyed any laws or made any reforms, just as they were they truly believed in Jesus and Paul told them that they were justified, saved and had received the Holy Spirit all by faith in Christ.

And, amazingly, as they now studied the word of God and the teachings, the life and death of their Saviour they grew in grace and the righteousness of God was manifested in their lives. They were so overwhelmed with love and joy and gratitude for the free gift of eternal life and righteousness and the forgiveness of all their sins that they surrendered their lives fully to Jesus in genuine faith which worked to transform their lives while all the time their focus was not on their performance but on the Cross of Christ.

This was too much for Satan; he knows only too well that the soul that depends entirely and only on Christ in simple child-like faith is absolutely secure and safe in God’s salvation.

And so Satan moved upon the Pharisees who “believed” in Christ to go down to Galatia and to tell the Galatians that it is alright to believe on the Lord Jesus to be justified and to be born of the Spirit, but now having begun in the Spirit, they were to be perfected by strict adherence to the rules, regulations and ceremonies of the Torah (law).

Therefore in Chapter 3 of his letter Paul not only deals with the problem directly but also makes it clear that the salvation of gentiles was provided for in the Abrahamic or NEW Covenant, not in the Sinaitic or Old Covenant! Let us read Gal. 3:1-9. We see therefore that the form of the Old Covenant with which Satan deceived Israel at Sinai was that they could have begun or could have initiated their salvation in and by the flesh.

But the form he infiltrated into Galatia was that Christian growth is begun in the Spirit by faith but matured and perfected by obedience to law (i.e. by the flesh).

And yet another form is to cause those who have started in the Spirit and are being sanctified by the Spirit to believe they can attain to a higher level of righteousness before God by meticulous adherence to man-made regulations regarding standards of Christian living, such as dress and diet. Others pay tithe, attend church, sing, preach, keep the seventh day or the first day and do all the right things under the delusion that they thereby earn merit in the sight of God. But we are saved entirely by the righteousness and sacrifice of Christ!

Opposition to the new

In the Christian era the reason for the opposition to the New Covenant truth has been consistently uniform. There is the argument, the fear, that standards will be lowered, that the law will be ignored, that the previous looseness of “gentile” living will spoil the high “standards” of the “Jews.”

And ultimately to make the world a better place, to raise the standard of morals and to bring back God’s blessings to the earth modern religious zealots will enforce Sunday sacredness by legislation to ensure that the masses go to church on Sunday. Sabbath keepers will not be tolerated. And worse still, these end-time Sunday-law zealots will declare themselves to be under the New Covenant! But the truth is that “the spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic Covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.” (Y.I. 1892-09-22)

Righteousness by works can’t work

Paul gives another masterful analysis of the difference between New and Old Covenants in Romans 9:30-33. Old Covenant Israel tried to keep the law by trying to keep the law and did not keep the law. Why? They sought for righteousness by works of law, and not by faith in the Promise.

Whereas the Gentiles who never tried keeping the law received genuine righteousness by faith in Christ and lived out the principles of the moral law in their spirit-filled and spirit-led lives by the word of God.

In the new covenant faith works by love

The written code of the moral law demands “THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.” The genuine New Covenant person believes, claims and receives genuine HONESTY and BENOVOLENCE in Christ and His righteousness and rather than steal, he gives and shares his time, his means, his resources, because Agape love works his faith in righteousness.

The Christian standard in dress demands MODESTY. The genuine New Covenant child of God believes and claims and receives the promise of meekness, lowliness of heart, humility and crucifixion of the ego in and with Christ and therefore will neither expose her flesh nor wear the ornaments of idolatry. 1 Peter 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:9.

The written code demands, “thou shalt not kill.” In the New Covenant the reign of Agape love produces a spirit of forgiveness and love even for our enemies! Matthew 5; Romans 12:17-21; 1 Cor. 13.

The formula for reaching the highest standards of Christian living is written down in 2 Cor. 7:1 and 2 Cor. 5:17. If in a congregation the God-given (not man-made) standards are falling, then after using the law to point out sin the only sure remedy is to preach Christ, His righteousness and His Cross ever more fully.

If a congregation is constantly pounded with laws, regulations and standards it may settle down into the Old Covenant syndrome of promising —> failing —> “repenting,” promising again, failing again, “repenting” again. Or, even more deceptively, it may settle down into outward conformity devoid of living righteousness.

Appeal

Only the New Covenant has the divine power to separate the genuine believer from the flesh, the world and the devil!

Faith in God’s promises brings the eternal righteousness, eternal life and eternal inheritance into the believer’s soul thereby producing genuine transformation of character.

In contrast, the law, rules and regulations worketh wrath. The law cannot give life or righteousness. The law must be used correctly to point out sin and bring the sinner to Christ. But the secret of victory over sin is abiding in Christ through faith in God’s promises.

Young man, young woman you are consistently listening to and enjoying Satan’s music, the pleasures of the world, the dress of the world. What you need is to be in Christ, to be born of the Spirit. You are lost with either no covenant or the Old Covenant. You need a New Covenant experience. God gives the faith and it is your privilege to exercise that faith, to trust God, believe His promises and surrender your will-power to be controlled by His Agape love, truth, righteousness and life.

Conclusion

Let us read Hebrews 13:20, 21. The new covenant is the only one that will produce genuine holiness. And the secret of the new covenant success is faith in God’s promises which are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ!

“The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented, for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken. If Satan can control minds so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall compose the experience of those who claim to be children of God, he can overcome them with temptation. The simple faith that takes God at his word should be encouraged. God’s people must have that faith which will lay hold of divine power. ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.’ Those who believe that God for Christ’s sake has forgiven their sins should not, through temptation, fail to press on to fight the good fight of faith. Their faith should grow stronger until their Christian life, as well as their words, shall declare, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Faith is trusting God, believing that he loves us, and knows best what is for our own good. Thus instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness; His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges his ownership and accepts its blessing. Truth, uprightness, and purity have been pointed out as secrets of life’s success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these principles. Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency. ” (R.H 1908-12-24).

Elder E. O. Douglin 2002-08-17