Sometimes, we just hold onto things from the past for too long. I kept using a feature phone for a long time, before finally getting a smartphone (which has proved to be a useful tool…and sometimes a distraction). I had my first car parked at the top of the driveway for months, with a burned-out clutch, until my wife pointed out that my emotional attachment to it was the only reason we were keeping it around (at which point, we donated it to the local school district’s auto shop).
Now, to be fair, new doesn’t always mean better, and there are some time-tested solutions that don’t need to be changed. However, when a better idea comes along, and the older options are truly inferior, there’s usually no good reason – other than emotional attachment – not to upgrade (as long as our resources permit). Trying to watch the evening news on a TV with an antenna and an analog tuner isn’t going to accomplish much if the broadcast signal is all-digital.
When talking about the new covenant, having just quoted from the book of Jeremiah (see Hebrews 8:7-12), the author of Hebrews makes this statement:
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
Hebrews 8:13 NIV
The new covenant [agreement, promise, contract] that God established through Jesus provides for our sins to be forgiven, at a more thorough level than the old covenant. (See Hebrews 9:13-15.) Once our sins – past, present, and future – were completely paid for, individual sacrifices and certain ceremonial practices weren’t required any more. The first-century Jewish priests still continued to facilitate sacrifices in the Temple (for a while), after Jesus died to supersede both the sacrifices and the need for priests to intercede between human beings and God. However, when you think about it, these practices weren’t really necessary, anymore, once Jesus voluntarily gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin.
In a world that promotes self-sufficiency, it is easy to fall back into a lifestyle of “dos and don’ts”, and try to earn God’s favor, or perhaps attempt to prove our worthiness to be in God’s family through what we do. That process – meeting God’s standard of righteousness by keeping the Law – isn’t just unattainable, though, it’s obsolete!
How many of us (myself included), have wasted time, energy, and thought on whether or not we’re “good enough” to be considered a part of the Kingdom of God? How many times have we let a sin in our lives derail us to the point where we focus on it, rather than on moving forward and doing good? How often do we try to “check the box” on a mental list of good deeds, and find ourselves in bondage to that list, rather than living in the freedom of just enjoying our life?
Once we have accepted God’s new covenant and started our journey of faith, we have the freedom to live in the power of God, walk with Jesus, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When experiencing the joy of that relationship, righteousness will naturally follow – rather than trying to make it work the other way around (i.e., trying really hard on our own power to do good things, so that we’ll be happy).
I’m not here to condemn anyone for getting stuck in a legalistic or works-based mentality of following Jesus. This has been one of my greatest personal challenges in life, and I still have to be reminded of God’s promises and grace, to help me get off of the self-focused path. I pray that you will find the freedom of enjoying God’s latest and greatest plan for rescuing humanity, and not stick with the obsolete version that doesn’t work1.
So, read through Romans and learn about the new covenant, then enjoy life under the latest “model”. It will never need replacing, until Jesus comes back and brings us home!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- To be clear, the first plan had its purpose, and it was valuable – both in its day, and as a reference point for us to look back upon. God had designed for it to be replaced, though, in perhaps the first instance of “planned obsolescence”. The good news is that the upgrade to the new covenant doesn’t cost any money! ↩