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 saw Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant simply didn’t work. Not because there was something wrong with the covenant itself, but because there was something wrong with God’s people. They just could not uphold their end of the bargain. Why? Because of sin. Plain and simple indwelling sin. But in spite of the failure of the Old Covenant – humanity’s fault, not God’s – he didn’t quit on us. Instead, he made a promise to transfer his people out from under the covenant of law, to a covenant of grace. A better covenant with better promises. A covenant where God says “I will,” instead of “you must.” A covenant full of real hope in a real salvation.
But what are these promises? Or even better yet WHO is this promise?
Let’s look at each of the promises of the New Covenant and consider how our union with Christ accomplishes each of them.
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.
Union with Christ literally changes us from the inside – out. Heart felt obedience has always been what God has asked of his people. God 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. And that is the promise of the New Covenant accomplished through Christ in us – a new heart that finally desires to obey God’s law of love. In Christ the love of God is being poured into our hearts by the Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Now, 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.
Union with Christ joins us in a personal and possessive relationship with God. We are his, and he is ours. This promise of the New Covenant is not new. These same exact words were used by God in the Old Covenant. God’s desire for a relationship with us has never changed. But now by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, it is finally possible. God in us. Us in God. Christ in us. Us in Christ.
they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest
In Christ each believer has an intimate knowledge of God. Knowing God goes way beyond memorizing a list of facts, or being able to pass a theology exam. Knowing God is about intimacy with him, 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 world.
Because of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, each Christian has a precious and personal experience of God that is uniquely empowering them. But it is empowering them into a communal knowledge of God (from the least to the greatest). In Christ, there are no rankings. We all share the same experience of grace and love through the Spirit that unifies us in our common salvation. At the same time, in Christ, we are all different and we are all the same. And this makes for a beautiful community of grace and love.
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 nature 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?
Playlist: No More Sin
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