A friend of mine stressed the importance of intimacy with Jesus. Unfortunately she believed you have to earn it by abstention from sin. She is not Robinson Crusoe in this. Union with God is already ours. Christ’s intimacy with Father is our intimacy. If there is a key reality of the new testament age, it is that your sins cannot separate you from God. God has made us one with Himself. Unilaterally. This inheritance is forever ours and the means of our increasing into the fullness of Jesus.
In Jesus, God has ‘made the two one.’ He has united us with Himself in one powerful act of atonement (at-one-ment) that has completely neutralised the estrangement the Enemy contrived between humans and God.Not surprisingly the Thief and Robber uses any lie and religious deceit to undo this atonement so as to make it of limited effect. By the ruse of bad doctrine the incarnation can seemingly be side-stepped and a cunningly devised fable can be be introduced that insulates Believers from their life of intimacy with God. This betrays them into a mindset that neutralises the reality and power of Christ their life.
Any belief, no matter how subtle or seemingly inconsequential that places a layer of law and self-effort between people and Jesus, makes Him smaller than He is, undoes the power of the cross, stifles the Spirit in us and makes us far smaller than we are. It impedes the expansion of the new creation and unwittingly makes some the perpetrators of iniquity.
I had a dream a few years ago. It was in response to our seeking the Lord about what we needed to do to turn around our fading attendances. The dream showed people planting fruit trees in the ground with the polythene covering intact around the roots. Obviously even though the trees were young and new - they would not grow because they had no connection to the soil. Although placed in the ground they had no root.This was relevant to the group because it had come into the Spirit but never come out of the law.
The Lord’s solution was poignant because although many had come into the Spirit, it continued largely as a culture that maintained the old covenant and the life of Adam and Moses in a mixture. It was decidedly old covenant to the extent that many had no complete understanding of what the new covenant is - other than the vague concept that we may not have the law today but in the new covenant we love Jesus so much for what He did that we obey Him out of love. But that’s not it at all.
Such an idea is a fantasy that borders on religious myth. This is not the new covenant and if it was it would not work. It could not work because we are no more successful in doing things for God out of love than we are from doing things out of the law. Neither is the new covenant God telling us what to do through prophetic words and the still small voice of Holy Spirit. Of ourselves we would be unable to do these things even when He instructs us to do them.
The new covenant is incarnation. It is God Himself releasing Himself into our being from within. This is the only gospel that is the gospel of the kingdom. Any other is either a mixture of a sham.
The new covenant is not the gifts of the Spirit or the anointing. But it is the soil of them. It joins us to Father as sons so that we and Father are one. The new covenant is Christ our life. There is no list or description of what the new covenant is and what it covers because the new covenant is not an it. But it is the reality that is Christ and is in no way a means of maintaining the shadows of this Reality that formed old covenant living. It is a distinct break, a complete and dramatic change and a new and living way in which His life is our life.
The new covenant is a person. Not only is the covenant the person of Jesus. It is the persons of the trinity alive in us and we in them. The new covenant is union with God by unilateral decision of the trinity. We did nothing to earn it. It is ours entirely from the love of God and His decision to have us and share their life with us as was planned from the beginning.
The new covenant is the life and righteousness of God manifesting as you, courtesy of the Spirit of Christ in you.
A summary of the new covenant may be found in Galatians 2.20-21. Paul is not defining it here. He is simply telling us the result and operation of it. Similarly Jesus alludes to it when He says, ‘This is the new covenant in my blood.’ In other words as a result of His death we have His life. There is no law in the new testament age - other than the life of Jesus manifest in people by the Spirit. This is the source of spirit and life. It is what Paul calls the law of the Spirit of life - a person, namely Christ in you.
Jesus has already taught that He is the way, the truth and the life. He mentions it again when He talks of being ‘the bread that came down from heaven’ and declares that ‘those who eat His flesh will live because of Him. As distinct from iterations of the letter, His new covenant life is holistic in the ultimate sense. It is the life of God manifest in His people. You become the manifest presence of God as daughters and sons!
Jesus is also referring to His grace and the incarnation of God into our spirit, soul and body. Many need to understand that the Lord’s Table is less about His death and more about His life as our life. ‘Unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have no life in us’ - an oblique way of asserting that those who live from the law are not alive in the spirit. Not alive in the spirit, we lack life in soul and body. We are what Paul described as a body of death claiming life.
As the one new man who saves us from the body of death, Jesus has the Spirit without limit and so do we. Since Jesus and our Father are one and Jesus is our life we and Father are one. Because in Jesus we are truly sons of God we are His beloved sons in whom Father is well pleased. On account of the fact that Jesus is our grace, His life is our life, His position with Father our position and His authority our authority.
‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision [or any of that kind of thing] means anything; what counts is the new creation’ Gal 6.15 NIV.
To maintain the law and believe that Jesus lives to help us keep the law is to place a religious barrier of polythene between ourselves and God. This undoes the accomplishments of our Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Such a barrier dulls His life and maintains us in a body of death. In the law we have a faded and withering inheritance. In Jesus we are united to infinity, one with the Father and sons of God rather than sons of the slave woman. This is a spirit-life that does not fade but regenerates and enhances itself from glory to glory. Now we are trees of life directly rooted in Father - not in the law or the knowledge of good and evil but our roots are intertwined in God Himself. ‘Nothing can separate us from the life of God.’ Thus we are sons not nationally but in spirit and in truth. Here we are ever regenerating agents of new creation life.