Good morning my friends. I do not mean to get heavy in the teaching this morning but there is something I think we need to remember. We can sometimes move through our day with very little thought about the serious nature of our relationship with God. Certainly we appreciate all his blessings and all that he does for us and sometimes we ask ourselves why he would do it but I don't think we give the "why" part enough consideration.
It is important for us to understand the serious nature of our covenant with God. A covenant is a promise or pledge between two parties that has conditions attached to it. In our school we have contracts with parents, which we consider to be a form of a covenant. We pledge or promise to educate their children in all the disciplines from a Biblical, Christ-centered perspective. They in turn pledge or promise to support the school financially so that we are equipped to carry out our part. If we fail to do what we have promised then we have broken the covenant. If the parents fail to do what they have promised then they have broken the covenant. So a covenant is conditional. This is the same with the covenant that God made with Israel and now the new covenant he has made with the Church, of which Israel is part. (read Romans)
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus has become the High Priest of this New Covenant that we are included in. He quotes from Jeremiah to remind us that God was serious in setting up this New Covenant:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah...
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:8, 10-12)
The Apostle Paul goes into great detail in his letter to the Romans explaining how Israel was rejected because of their hard hearts and we were grafted in as a result. The Church has become the "nation that was not a nation" and a "people who were not a people". As God had formed Israel from Moses, he has formed a new nation through Jesus. This New Covenant is based on the blood of Jesus. The conditions are the same as the conditions before, obedience. The big difference is that those who enter into this covenant with God must do so only through Jesus Christ and in doing this are covered by the blood of his sacrifice. This means that all sins are forgiven and no further sacrifice is necessary.
People attempt to add things to this covenant through great acts of repentance. This is actually their attempt to enter the covenant or to repair the covenant through other means than Jesus Christ. God will only accept one sacrifice and that is the cross. Nothing you do for repentance will have any affect. Only the sacrifice of Jesus matters and our acceptance of it is the only means of forgiveness. It is so much less complicated than all the former sacrifices, but make it clear in your mind and heart, there is no sacrifice that you can offer that would be acceptable. Only the blood of Jesus' sacrfice can save you, and this is the New Covenant.
Just remember as you move through your day the serious nature of this covenant. It is a great covenant with many promises but it is a covenant with conditions. The blessings of this covenant cannot be yours outside of obedience. We are called to a life of dedication and obedience under this covenant and if we do not keep our part then God will not keep his. Thankfully his covenant is a thing of grace and Jesus is our High Priest so when we fail in our obedience it is a matter of having a repentant heart and forgiveness flows. But where there is no repentance there is no forgiveness and the covenant remains broken. So, be careful my friends to always keep Jesus fixed in our vision. In this manner we will always know when we have become disobedient and are able to seek forgiveness and keep the covenant intact. This is how we keep the blessings of God flowing in our lives.