Have you ever simply opened your Bible to a random page and started reading on that page? I have had some great times with the Lord doing that! After reading what I planned on reading the other day, I decided to flip my Bible open to see what treasures I could find. Oh, what treasure I did find! The first verse that caught my eye was a glorious one.
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
We have discussed this verse in a previous devotion post, but today’s post is shooting with a wider lens. After flipping to Hosea 6, I flipped to a page in my Bible that simply reads: The New Testament. Once I read the title page of the New Testament, the connection clicked. I began to think about how thankful we should be for the New Testament. The last twenty-seven books in our Christian Bibles make up the New Testament, and those last twenty-seven books change everything.
To summarize what we have in the New Testament: God no longer wants our effort and our best shot at obeying rules. Instead, God simply wants our hearts. He wants us to place our hope, our trust, and our lives in what Christ has done for us. We are no longer measured by how or what we do. We are now, graciously, measured by what Christ has done. The cross of Jesus is our new judge and scale in the New Testament. God wants us instead of our sacrifices. We should never under sell that! We should never stop celebrating that!
After she recently read Hebrews 8, Makinze shared with me the glory that she found there. The writer of Hebrews explains this exact topic in chapter eight. He wants us to see the glory of the New Testament. He wants us to see the sufficiency of what Christ has done! The New Testament is good, better, sufficient, and final!
“But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.” (Hebrews 8:6-7, NLT)
The new covenant that we have in Christ, our salvation by grace through faith in Him, is far superior to the first covenant. The first covenant, doing our best to follow the Ten Commandments, was faulty enough that a new covenant was needed. The new covenant, according to the writer of Hebrews, is better and built on better promises. To take it further, obtaining these promises now has nothing to do with us! Our hope and our security are both found in Christ and what He has done for us. Amazing!
The cross of Jesus Christ is superior to the Ten Commandments. The old covenant was never final, as sacrifices needed to be made over and over since no one could ever keep the entire law and remain perfect. The new covenant is completely final, as we are made perfect forever through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14). This is why the writer of Hebrews says that Christ has obtained a better ministry and that it is built on better promises. If the first covenant would have been perfect, there would have been no need for Christ to die. However, the Ten Commandments were not able to save us, so God sent us something much better in His Son.
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
Think with me for a moment about your shortcomings. Think about those moments of sin that you are most ashamed of. Think about those strongholds that used to keep you down. In Christ, God remembers those sins no more. If you were living under the Ten Commandments, those sins and shortcomings would demand a sacrifice. If you are living under the grace of God through Jesus Christ, His sacrifice washes you clean. Amazing. There would be burdening guilt under the first covenant. Under the second covenant, faith in Jesus, you are free as God remembers your sins no more.
“In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13)
To put it in layman’s terms: stop living under the Ten Commandments. Makinze raised a great question the other day when she asked, “Why, then, do we still give so much consideration to the Ten Commandments?” That is a great question that I had not previously thought about. The Ten Commandments are a huge part of the history of our faith, but they are not the good news of our faith. The good news of our faith is that Jesus Christ has saved us from the Ten Commandments. Rules and laws were unable to save us.
Living by rules has been made obsolete by God’s gift of Jesus. That is such good news that we should be ready to let the Ten Commandments vanish away, as the writer of Hebrews says. They are no longer a much needed religious effort in trying to earn salvation. Instead, our obedience to the Ten Commandments is now a bi-product of our relationship with Jesus, built on His free grace. Grace empowers us, changes us, and ultimately causes us to live according to God’s design and law. God saves us freely and then empowers us to live differently. What a gospel!
I want to encourage you, if you are living under the unnecessary burden of religious rules, to run to the cross. There is a better way. There is a more sufficient gospel. Your guilt and shame can crumble. We should absolutely read the Old Testament and treasure what we find there. However, let us never again be strapped down by an old covenant of rules that is ready to vanish away. God has given us a new covenant that is better, more excellent, perfect, and built on better promises. Why would we hold onto a non-perfect, inferior covenant?
The cross of Jesus crushes the burdens of the Ten Commandments. Let us move on from rules. Let us move towards grace. We are now saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, period (Ephesians 2:8). That grace is going to work in you to live a godly life. This truth, dear friend, is great news. That is the glory that we find in the New Testament. God desires our hearts instead of our best efforts and sacrifices. Live in that glory. Amen!