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The Old And The New
There is much teaching and preaching on radio and television today about the presence of God, but unfortunately much of it is done from the position of us being under the Old Covenant. Let me explain further what I mean by this; under the Old Covenant the people went to meet God at the temple. They had no idea what it meant for God to live in them vitally united as one by His Spirit, and the tragedy of this today is that many born-again have no idea of what it means either. Just listen to the sermons as well as the songs that we hear, and note how most believers usually talk of “God coming to bless them,” “His Spirit or presence showing up,” and “God visiting their church services or coming by to help them.” If this is what most born again believers believe, then we must conclude that the most regular “visitor” in their church services on Sundays and Wednesday nights is God.
Can you see that this type of thinking is from the same position as the people under the Old Covenant? Although we say that we believe Christ lives in us, we unconsciously believe that God is somewhere other than united vitally with us.
I have often heard Christians talk of coming into God’s presence especially during praise and worship service, but have you read anywhere in the New Testament after Jesus was raised from the dead about believers coming or going into the presence of God? The reason that you don’t is because every born-again believer is already in the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. As it is written in Colossians 1:27; “Christ in you the hope of glory,” and in I John, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” I have noticed that born-again believers who do not see that they are one with Christ Jesus tend to have an Old Covenant mentality. Although they are in the New Covenant, they still think and act as if Jesus had not come, and thus negating the reality that He is now living in them through the Holy Spirit.
The cross of Calvary distinctly divides the Old Covenant from the New Covenant, but if we are ignorant about what God has done for us in Christ, we will not be able to distinguish between the two. As glorious as the law and the prophets and were, they merely pointed to the New Covenant where all is fulfilled in Christ.
There is an infinite amount of difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. For starters, the Old Covenant with its sacrifices and offerings was a type or shadow of the New Covenant, and only covered the sins of man, but did nothing about the sin nature in him. The New Covenant was ratified with the precious blood of the Son of God forever-putting away man’s sins and transgressions, and thus ushering in a new and living way. This way being that Christ himself would be man’s righteousness, and thus living and expressing His love nature in and through us. The early rabbis (under the Old Covenant) knew that an animal sacrifice could never take away the sin of mankind, but they had no idea what the final sacrifice would be. God’s word tell us; “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
The Old Covenant depended on what man could do, but the New Covenant rests on what Jesus has done, and thus opening a new and living way for God to work in us to will and to do all that He requires of us. Paul calls the Old Covenant an administration of death, but calls the New Covenant an administration of the Spirit. He writes; “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?” (II Corinthians 3:4-8).
God in infinite love sent His Son to redeem us, and through His death established the New Covenant making it possible for all of human-kind to receive the love of God through Christ Jesus. When a person believes on the Lord Jesus, he/she is baptized into Christ and made one with Him. Therefore God’s word tells us; “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (I Corinthians 6:17). He/she is made so one with Him (Jesus) that we are said to be born of God and in fact, sons of God.
Under the Old Covenant, the people visited Yahweh at the temple, but only the high priest actually entered His presence behind the veil in the most holy place and that only once a year. There was a separation between the people of Israel and God. You could say that, “the people were here, and God was over there behind the veil in the most holy place in the temple.”
Although it may not be acknowledged, this same idea permeates our churches today. It is echoed in our preaching, teaching, as well as the songs that most of us sing. Stop for one moment and think of the number of songs that you know that directly or indirectly infer that that God is somewhere other than living in us, and we being joined to Him in vital union right now.
Many of us have been taught that we go to church to meet God, or that He shows up in our services and meets with us. We also have been taught that the church (building along with it’s furnishing) is holy, and little if any emphasis is put on the fact that we (the believers) are the holy church because of our union with the Holy One (Christ) who Himself dwells in us (see 1Corinthians 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 6:16). For these Christians, salvation or deliverance is always, “soon,” or “one of these days,” but never now. When we think with this Old Testament mind-set, we put ourselves in the same position as Israel under the Old Covenant. They (Israel) lived in hope and anticipation of the coming Messiah, which meant their salvation was somewhere in the future and not in the present. But the gospel that heralds the New Covenant proclaims that Jesus has come and now lives and reigns in the heart of every believer.
I believe the reason why believers live as if God is somewhere other that within them is because they ignorantly think that they are independent – self managed persons (This we shall discus in greater detail in another chapter).
Listen carefully to the sermons that you hear in most of our churches, and you will notice how much is either directed towards the past or the future, that is to say what has happened, or what will happen. But what God has done for us through Christ is the foundation of what He is doing in us now. Why is there so little is taught on Christians living in the power of the Holy Spirit now? Yes God worked in the lives of the early saints, and yes heaven is a glorious reality to embrace in hope but God’s word tells us that; “[…. for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (Philippians 2:13 AMP).
This is right now living! This is the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us. Dear reader stop pushing your life off into the past and into the future (where God is not), and take the step of faith and embrace the loving Father who is right now the eternal I Am who loves you, and delights in you!
The main reason that we worry and doubt is that we do not see the reality of Jesus being one with us now. Note that this spiritual dilemma can not be solved by just studying the bible or intellectual will power. Until we see the revelation of God’s covenant love for us and accept it, we will not be able to live in the reality of His ever-abiding presence. Read this aloud to yourself; “I am in God’s presence because the Holy Spirit placed me into Christ, and now Christ lives in me.”
If you are a born-again Christians this is a fact. But you may say, “It does not seem as if He (Christ) is here with me.” No my friend, not just with you, but in you one with you, and that what makes you a Christian. Listen to what the Holy Spirit who says to you; “.. if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of “His” (Romans 8:9). Therefore all that is necessary for this fact to be a reality to you is that you see it, and accept it. But again you may ask, “How can one see whose eyes are blind? The answer is not found within man but in God. It is as simple as asking him to open your blinded eyes to behold the wondrous reality of the risen Christ in you.
This is exactly what the apostle Paul asked God on behalf of the church at Ephesus that He; “..May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” (Ephesians 3:14-19 AMP).
When the eyes of our understanding are open, we can clearly see that there is no separation between believers and God today as there was for the people under the Old Covenant. God lives in our hearts right now, and we are one through the Holy Spirit. If we don’t accept this truth as the Holy Spirit reveals it, as a consequence we will be left with a mind-set of being separate or independent from Christ, which as we shall see in a later chapter is in essence “the flesh.”
God’s word tells us in the book of Romans that we are not in flesh, but in the Spirit if Christ dwells in us. This means that as long as we are conscious of the reality of our union with Christ, realizing that it is no longer “I” who lives but Christ, we are free to allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in us without resistance from us. Romans 8:1 tell us that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” As long as we have a right estimation of ourselves – knowing who we are, we can be who God created us to be through the Holy Spirit.
The mind of the flesh views life within the limitations of “self.” It sees us managing our lives rather that God. Therefore when circumstances are beyond our control we become worried and frustrated. As long as we see ourselves separated or apart from our union with Christ, we will see and understand God’s word from the perspective of the Old Covenant writers instead of that which is revealed by the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant.
Many well-meaning preachers and teachers mix scriptures from the Old Testament with New Covenant truths without seeing the dividing line between them. When we read the Old Testament, we must be careful to pay attention to all scriptures to see if they are applicable to us under the New Covenant. The reason being is that all the scriptures from Genesis to the death of Christ were pointing to Jesus and the redemption of man through Him which was to bring man back into right relationship with God.
Since man (after the fall) was spiritually dead (separated from God), God could only deal with him from an outward position rather than from within. Now that we are born again after having received Christ through the Holy Spirit, we have a new heart through which God expresses His life and nature. Therefore it is a costly mistake for Christians to read and interpret all scripture from the viewpoint of the Old Covenant writers. We must recognize that all that the people under the Old Covenant hoped for was fulfilled in Christ who now lives in the heart of every born again Christian.
The Old Covenant believers looked forward to the coming messiah to usher in a new kingdom. They understood that at His coming, He would bring joy and restoration to the nation of Israel. The prophet Ezekiel tells of a day in which God would put His Spirit and laws within man (kind) and give us a new heart so that we can walk in His ways. My friend that day has come! In fact it came over two thousand years ago, and as many as receive Him (Jesus), to them He gives the privilege and power to become the very sons of God. It is therefore from the position of knowing that the Holy Ghost has united us in union with Christ, and He (Jesus) being our all – our wisdom, righteous, sanctification and redemption, that we read and study the scriptures.
As a young Christian, I often wished that I could be like some of the patriarch of the Old Covenant like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and especially David because these men seemed to have it all together when it came to the things of God. And what charismatic believer has not wanted the prosperity of Abraham?
We hear a lot of preaching today about Abraham’s blessings, and there are countless Christians who are doing all that they can to get in on them. My Christian friends, no disrespect to Abraham, but he was just a man like as we are and needed a savior just like we do today. He placed his trust in God who revealed Himself to Him, and God counted him as righteous. For all that God did for Abraham was not because of what he could do for God, but rather because of what God desired to do for all of mankind. The covenant that God made with Abraham was not for him alone; that is to say to make him prosperous (although God abundantly blessed him with material possessions). This covenant was really a means through which Jesus Christ the Messiah would be ushered into the world and all nations blessed through Him. For this is evident Genesis 26:4B when God said to Abram, “..and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Scripture further states in Galatians 3:16; “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ (Amplified).” We can see from this verse that the promises were not made to everybody but only to Christ, which means that they are ours only by faith in Him. Therefore we don’t have to wish and hope for the blessings of Abraham because we have received Christ who is the fulfillment all blessings, and surpasses all that Abraham could ever hope for and imagine.
God’s word tells us that; “Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified); To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit” (Amplified).
Sad to say, but our modern day conception of Abraham’s blessing is limited to physical prosperity (nothing against that), but in the epistle to the Galatians, God tells us that the promise is in actuality the Holy Spirit. God himself is in reality the blessing! This scripture is a witness to what God had told Abram in Genesis 15:1B that, “…I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Can you see that the real blessing is not just what we possess, but rather He who possesses us?
When I read or heard preaching about Moses, I wished that I had the favor of God as he did. I read the scripture concerning him that said; that there was no one like Moses and how he talked with God face to face, and not to mention that he was the meekest man on earth. Our position today is much greater than that of Moses because all that we are and possess (including meekness) is through Christ. For it is written concerning Christ; “Yet Jesus has been considered worthy of much greater honor and glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house [itself].For [of course] every house is built and furnished by someone, but the Builder of all things and the Furnisher [of the entire equipment of all things] is God” (Hebrews 3:3-4 Amplified).
I almost drooled (so to speak) over the power of Elijah. The main talk of most Christians that I knew (as a young Christian) was about the anointing or mantle of Elijah, and how a double portion of the spirit on him fell upon his servant Elisha. I can still remember being in the prayer lines, at the altar, to receive a double portion. The truth about the whole matter is that every believer has been joined to Christ and made one with Him. For it is written of Jesus, “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John 3:34 KJV). We are one with Christ – united vitally with Him as the branch is with the vine, “for he that is joined to the lord is one spirit,” this is infinitely far greater than a double portion on (outside) us.
Then last but not least there was David. It was my heart’s desire continually to have a heart like David’s, because it was said of Him that he was a man after God’s own heart. In Ezekiel 36:26 God’s word tells us; “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” This scripture tells me that I don’t have to wish for the heart of David I have a new heart, and this new heart is Christ, which means that I have the heart of God through the Holy Spirit.
The point that I am making about these Old Covenant patriarchs is this; in all that God did through them, not one of them was born-again, or joined vitally in union with God (through Christ), or filled with the life and nature of God, or possessed the heart of God. None of the Old Covenant believers were sons of God, and thus heirs of God; joint heirs with Christ in all things. I hope you see by now that believers in Christ today are infinitely far above in position than any of the kings and the prophets under the Old Covenant ever were, but because of our ignorance, we are wishing that we were as they were. They looked forward to our day, and therefore their writings were from that position, but unfortunately we often read and interpret scripture from that same position as though Jesus has not yet come.
The writers under the Old Covenant wrote about an age when God’s peace, joy, and prosperity would abound; that day is to day – now! The messiah has come! “Behold today is the day of salvation and now is the accepted time.” All of these precious facts and promises are fulfilled in Christ, and He is in us, and as God’s word tells in I Corinthians 1; “All things are yours,” Bless God!
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