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Gracie and I recently bought a new car.
However, the car is not new.

It is new to us, but it is not new.

It is a newer model than the one we got rid of, but it is not new.

You see, the word “new” has two different meanings and usages.

For a new car straight from the factory, we add the word ‘brand’ and say that we have a brand new car.

When it is just new to us, we leave off the word ‘brand.’

This is true for anything you buy, even if it comes from a flea market or second-hand store.

It will be new to you even though it is not new.

This distinction is necessary to make when looking at some of the new things mentioned in the Bible.

One of those is found in our scripture lesson from Jeremiah.

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
Jer 31:31

We could go into the Hebrew or Greek words that are used in this passage to show that this is the “new, never been seen before” type of new, but that is not necessary this time.

Jeremiah gives us that explanation in the following verse.

not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt,
my covenant that they broke,
though I was their husband, declares the LORD.
Jer 31:32

What is a covenant?

A covenant is a relationship between two partners who make binding promises to each other and work together to reach a common goal.

They’re often accompanied by oaths, signs, and ceremonies.

Covenants define obligations and commitments, but they are different from a contract because they are relational and personal.

The Lord says that the covenant He is about to make with them is not like this kind of covenant.

It is not like the covenant He made when they left Egypt.

When the Israelites left Egypt, the covenant of the Law of Moses was made.

It was more like a contract where both parties to the covenant had expectations placed upon them for the fulfillment of the contract.

If one of the parties failed in their end of the agreement, the contract was null and void with any benefits being forfeited.

The new covenant that the Lord has made is not like that.

It does not have any obligations on the other party.

In fact, this new covenant guarantees that this covenant God makes will be honored.

There is no longer the chance that it will be violated.

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.
Jer 31:33

Prior to this, the law was written on tablets of stone.

For us, we have believed for a long time that God’s law is written in the Bible.

I am not denying that fact.

God’s law can indeed be found in the Bible.

However, as long as things are external to us as something that we should read, there is the possibility that it won’t sink in so as to change our life.

James talks about this in his letter.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
Jas 1:23-24

When the words of the law are only external to us, we run the risk of not hearing with clarity, not understanding, and for sure doing that which is in our heart regardless of what the law says.

But James offers an alternative to that, something that guarantees our obedience.

But the one who looks into the perfect law,
the law of liberty,
and perseveres,
being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts,
he will be blessed in his doing.
Jas 1:25

Taking this verse alone, by itself, might indicate that there is still pressure upon us to perform.

James calls it the perfect law.

He says the perfect law is not made up of rules and regulations, but of a release from that kind of bondage and fear.

He says it is the law of liberty.

Liberty means freedom.

Often, when the word freedom is used, people think of freedom FROM something.

But there is also the idea of being free FOR something.

When we begin to see the law of liberty and focus on it, we become free to love without compromise, without restrictions.

This is the promise of the new covenant as Jeremiah continues to open it up for us to understand.

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.
Jer 31:33

God’s law, His requirements is no longer something that we must learn, or read, or memorize.

He has now put it into our DNA.

It is a part of who we are.

We were taught otherwise, I know, and we believed and acted like it.

However, the Lord is now bringing these things to light that have always been there, but were obscured by our desire to do it on our own by our own efforts.

How did that work out for you?

While we believed that way, we discovered the reality of what the apostle Paul said was his experience while under that form of teaching.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me,
that is, in my flesh.
For I have the desire to do what is right,
but not the ability to carry it out.
Rom 7:18

By ourselves we do not have the ability to fulfill God’s commands.

Paul was working his way through the logic of looking at ourselves and how useless that was all the way to looking at Jesus and how freeing that is.

That is exactly what Jeremiah was presenting to us.

God’s original way of dealing with mankind was to tell us what He wanted.

But, as Jeremiah had declared earlier

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
Jer 17:9

There was no way we were able to keep God’s law in ourselves without help; without the grace we needed to be able to serve the Lord.

Jeremiah had been building up to this awesome promise in more than one place.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?
Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
Jer 13:23

The impossibility of measuring up to God’s standard is the theme of the entire Old Testament as we have it in our Bible.

We are absolutely incapable of keeping God’s law.

I know that some of us may pride ourselves in our ability to be good and not be like “those other people.”

Remember, that is the way the pharisee prayed about the sinner standing next to him.

“Thank you, Lord, that I am not like this guy.”

Many folks feel that as they compare themselves to those who are worse sinners, then they must themselves be good.

But, we are also told that if we break a single point of the law, we have broken the whole law.

For whoever keeps the whole law
but fails in one point
has become guilty of all of it.
Jas 2:10

Based on that verse alone, we are all law-breakers.

None of us were or are perfect yet.

But, God has taken all that into consideration.

He knows that we are but flesh.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Psa 103:14

God has provided a new and different covenant.

A covenant that only requires His faithfulness.

Our faithfulness has nothing to do with it.

He has provided all that we need.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
2Pe 1:3

Jeremiah reminds us of what we have seen before of God’s mercy toward us.

As he concludes this explanation of the new covenant which has no requirement for us to fulfill, he says also that all of our former guilt is removed.

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.”
Jer 31:34

and I will remember their sin
no more.

Our sins have been forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ.

Any guilt we might feel or carry is a lie from the deceiver.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.

That is a line from a familiar hymn, which we are only beginning to comprehend the depth of its truth.

He paid it all.

There is nothing left for us to do but to realize and accept that truth.


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