The New Covenant

By: Åge M. Åleskjær
From: October 2008
Found in: The old versus the new covenant
Everything is new, different and better in the new covenant.

It is important to focus on the fact that we now are living in a new covenant, we are new creations, and we have a new commandment.

The new covenant is established on better promises! We have a better high priest and a perfect tabernacle. “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Heb. 8:6)

The old covenant was filled with many good promises, including promises about healing, health, a long life, financial prosperity, and victory over all the enemies. It had promises concerning God’s protection and angels to watch over them, and about prayer and prayer answers. (Examples: Ex. 15:26, Ex. 23:25-26, Deut. 7:14-15, Ps. 91, Deut. 8, and Mal. 3:10.)

All of these promises are now yes in Christ Jesus! (2 Cor. 1:19-20)

The huge difference is this: now God has honored the promises – they are yes in Him. And now they are more than promises, they are a fact! Everything that was promised is already given in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 1:3) We no longer have to wait – the acceptable time is here. It is now! (2 Cor. 6:2)

Now we do not only have promises about healing, because by His stripes we have already received healing. Now we do not only have promises about getting blessed, we are already blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, and we have become rich through His poverty. (Eph. 1:3, 2 Cor. 8:9)

We do not only have promises about victory, we are placed with Him in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Our faith is the victory that has overcome the world.

The Significance of the Blood

We have to understand the significance of the blood of Jesus. The reason why the way to the presence of God was not open was that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. But now He has entered the Most Holy Place with His own blood once for all! “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:4)

When Jesus said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant” (Matt. 26:28), he talked about the new covenant. The testament could not be in force before Calvary, because the blood had to testify to the death of the testator.

“For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives” (Heb. 9:17). Indeed the blood had to prove His death for the testament to be effective.

The blood is the foundation of the new covenant. The resurrection, which is the new birth and marks the beginning of the New Man, came as a result of the acceptance of the blood as the perfect sacrifice. Heb. 13:20 says: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant…

Again: the resurrection took place because of the blood! When the blood had been shed, and God’s requirement for righteousness had been met, the resurrection could take place. This is why justification was not a fact before the resurrection: “[He] who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Rom 4:25)
“And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:17) But now Christ is risen!

Everything is New and Different

The entire letter to the Hebrews is about the difference between the old and the new covenants. In chapter 8 the Bible teaches us that the new covenant is different from the old, because it says that it is not according to the old. It is better, and it has replaced the old.

The old covenant contained ten outward commandments; the new covenant is written in the heart.

In the old covenant it was the prophet who knew the Lord; in the new covenant “they all shall know Me.”

In the old covenant there was constantly a reminder of sin. In the new covenant the Lord will be merciful, and “their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Because we are cleansed “once for all,” “we have no more consciousness of sins.” (Heb. 10:1-2)

In the old covenant the high priest was a man who needed to be replaced after his death. There were priests who carried out the service, and it was done in a tabernacle made with hands.

In the new covenant we have a High Priest who serves in the order of Melchizedek, and who lives forever. He is a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord erected. Here on earth all believers are priests to our God. We are ourselves a temple of the Spirit of God, and together with all the others we are being built, being joined together, and are growing into a holy temple in the Lord when we get together in the Name of Jesus.

It is not the Prophets who lead us any longer. It is the Spirit of God who guides all the children of God. (Rom. 8:14-16)

No Holy Buildings, No Rituals

In the new covenant there are no longer any holy buildings, because we are His house. (Heb. 3:6) We are His temple. He no longer lives in buildings made with hands. All systems with liturgies for the service, holy church buildings, priests, gowns, altars, holy places and special days are things that belonged to the old covenant. The new covenant started with the Redemption on Calvary. When Jesus was offered as our Paschal Lamb, it put an end to the old.

When some refer to Jesus clearing the temple as a defense for holy buildings, they have not understood what happened when Jesus shouted, “It is finished!” That is the time when the veil of the temple was torn apart from the top to the bottom. God moved out of stone buildings to live in His people, and we are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:20-22) Now the dedicated temple is us! Even your body is a temple of the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 6:19) God announces, “I have moved!”

For Christians living under the new covenant it is important to understand that the holy festivals belong in the old covenant. The holy festivals are fulfilled! It was Catholicism that brought back the celebration of certain days, and introduced worship of the Virgin Mary. Passover was a picture of the redemption. When Jesus came, he offered himself once for all. He does not have to die again every year.

Do not misunderstand me: I celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. But I know that I have been given Easter the whole year through - God is a reconciled God! And I have Pentecost the whole year through - the Spirit is here! It has become more to me than a week in the calendar; these are spiritual realities.

The New Creation

In the new covenant it is the new creation that counts. The new creation is faith and love. It is no longer about commandments and ordinances. Let us read from Col. 2:16-23: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

Here Paul is saying that when becoming religious you can easily become fleshly. He says that it will gratify the flesh to become religious and say that certain things are forbidden, some things are good— do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, keep the Sabbath, keep the holy festivals, etc. But a Christian is freed from all this. We are living under a new covenant.

Exhortations With the New Creation as an Argument

The Apostle Paul has given a lot of exhortations to the believers, both about conduct of life and worship. He is radical against sin among Christians, and says that you should not even eat together with Christians who live in evident sin.
But all the time he is referring to the New Creation. We are a temple of the Holy Spirit. This is why we should not lie or steal, etc. It is by the power of the New Creation that we are able to live a holy life. Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10-11, Eph. 2:8-10, and Col. 2:6-10 are examples of this. Man cannot save himself, and certainly not sanctify himself! But the one who is born again and filled with the Spirit, can live a life on a level that is impossible for a man living in his own strength.

What a privilege to live in the new covenant, after Calvary, and after Pentecost!

By: Åge M. Åleskjær

Former Senior Pastor at Oslo Christian Center, now spending most of his time ministering all over Norway and internationally.

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