Jeremiah 31:33-34. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
In yesterday’s reading we looked at Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant. In spite of the failure of the Old Covenant (our fault, not God’s) he didn’t quit on us. Rather he transferred his people from a covenant of law to a covenant of grace. One where God says “I will,” instead of “you must.” A covenant full of real hope through better promises.
But what are these promises? Or better yet WHO is this promise?
Each of the following promises is only made possible by our union with Christ. God’s “I will” is accomplished IN CHRIST.
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.
Heart felt obedience has always been what God has asked of his people. He never wanted robots who simply obey mechanically like pre-programmed computers. He wants our desire. Our will. Our emotions. Our whole heart. He wants us to love him before we obey him.
The “new” here isn’t what God wants, but how it will happen. God himself is changing our very nature, from the inside out, by the life and love of Christ poured into us by the Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Through God’s spiritual heart surgery, ours will be a new impulse of faithful love and obedience. We love God’s law and respond to it instinctively. Our hearts are no longer “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), they are desperately devoted.
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Again, this promise is actually not new at all. These words are straight from the Old Covenant. Yes, God is enacting a new covenant with us, but the ultimate goal of God has never changed. God still wants what he’s always wanted, a personal, possessive relationship with us.
And now, in Christ, it’s possible. God in us. Us in God. God possesses us. We possess God.
they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest
Knowing God goes way beyond memorizing a list of facts, or being able to pass a theology exam. It’s about intimacy with God, relating to him in love and faithfulness. To know God is to live out the justice and mercy that he requires of us in his community and in the world.
This is possible now because, in Christ, each individual Christian has this knowledge of God (they shall all know me). Each Christian has a precious and personal experience of God through the Spirit that is uniquely empowering them. But it is empowering them into a communal knowledge (from the least to the greatest) of God. In Christ, we all share the same experience of grace and love through the Spirit that unifies us in our common salvation.
I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
None of what we’ve said so far is even remotely possible without this truth. What prevents our love for God? What keeps us from an intimate relationship with him? Guilt and shame. Our objective guilt and our subjective shame. We are actually guilty before God legally for the crimes against his love that we have committed. As a result, we feel naked and ashamed relationally as we stand before God, hiding from him rather than running toward him.
But in Christ the Judge of the universe has declared “case dismissed” in his cosmic courtroom. Your judgment is complete in the cross. Every sin, past, present, and future, has been stricken from the record. God will remember your sin no more. Praise God!
“To live is Christ” is to live within each of these amazing New Covenant promises. Promises fulfilled by the self-giving love of Jesus Christ. God’s great I will has been accomplished in us. Now, there is nothing left for you to do but to enjoy your new reality. To trust God as you allow his indwelling life to flow naturally from your new heart in worship, love, and praise.
Do you desire to know God? To love him? Are you living in guilt or shame?
You in Christ
In Christ all the New Covenant promises are yours. How does this encourage you today?
Christ in you
How does knowing the New Covenant promises practically change how you live today?
New Heart playlist