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Bible Correspondence Course - Lesson 17
Bible Correspondence Course - Lesson 17

Exactly what are the Old and New Covenants? And what do these covenants have to do with Spirit-begotten Christians today?

A COMMON belief today is that the Ten Commandments did not exist until Moses at Mt. Sinai and that they lasted only until Jesus

Christ's death.

According to this teaching, Jesus came to establish a New Covenant containing only grace and promises – but certainly no law.

Surprising as it may seem to many professing Christians, God's Law did not begin when God made the covenant at Mt. Sinai with ancient Israel. The law of God had been in full force and effect since before Adam!

God's Law Before Adam

To fully understand the truth about the Old and New Covenants, we need to be reminded of a very basic fact: God's law of love existed long before Adam and Eve!

We learned in a previous lesson that the way of life by which the two members of the God family have always lived is the way of love. God has always loved the Word and the Word has always loved God. The two have lived in perfect harmony from eternity (John 10:30). The love they have for each other – this way of life – is the attitude motivating all that the God family does.

The love of God is outflowing toward others. God is concerned about the welfare of all His created beings. God's love is the attitude of cooperation, serving, helping. It is the way of “give” instead of “get.”

The eternal God has ordained that we all learn to live His way of love. And how is God's love defined? “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3).

But to what commandments is the apostle John referring?

When the Word was the human Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago, someone asked Him a similar question. Christ answered, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 19:18-19). Jesus obviously was talking about the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments constitute a spiritual law that is inexorable and eternal – a law that is love and the fulfillment of which is love (Rom. 13:10). The essence of God's spiritual law is love toward God and love toward fellowman (Matt. 22:36-40). The first four of the Ten Commandments teach us how to love God. And the last six teach us how to love our fellowman.

Since God's very nature is love (I John 4:16), His law reflects His nature, describing His loving character. And since God's character will never change (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8), His spiritual law will never change or be done away! (Ps. 111:7-8.)

Results of Sin

Why don't we have universal peace, harmony and cooperation in the world today? Because of the transgression of God's law of love? Disobedience to the Ten Commandments has produced all the discord, unhappiness, suffering and death the world has experienced since Adam!

Our previous lessons revealed that the government of God was established on earth when God placed angels here to finish its creation. God's government, which is based on His law of love, regulated the angels' activities. It regulated their relationship with God and with each other.

There was peace, harmony, joy and accomplishment on earth – until the anointed cherub Lucifer rebelled against the government of God and sinned (II Peter 2:4). A third of the angels followed him in this rebellion. Paul said sin cannot be imputed if there is no law to transgress! (Rom. 5:13.) Since Lucifer and the angels sinned, there had to be a law they transgressed! That law was God's law of love. The faithful angels have continued to live by God's commandments (Ps. 103:20-21).

Much later, God created the first man and woman. He instructed them in His way. God revealed that living by His law of love would result in happiness, joy and material abundance. Thus God taught the Ten Commandments to Adam and Eve. He also revealed the results of disobeying that law.

After instructing the first man and woman in His way, God required them to make a choice. Adam, in order to receive God's Holy Spirit (symbolized by the “tree of life”) and restore the government of God to earth, would have to reject Satan's way of “get” and follow God's way of “give” – the way of His law of love. At that time the former Lucifer, now Satan the devil, was there in the garden of Eden to tempt the first humans.

Adam chose to reject God. He made this fateful decision for himself and the whole world, which has descended from him. God therefore drove our first parents out of the garden of Eden and shut mankind off from access to the Holy Spirit. From then on, God would reveal the true knowledge and understanding of His spiritual law and plan only to those of His choosing (John 6:44; I Peter 1:10-12). Man would not have free access to God's Holy Spirit and spiritual understanding again until Christ's return to put an end to Satan's reign (Rev. 20:1-3).

During the succeeding nearly six millennial “days” of Satan's rule, those relatively few whom God has called – His “firstfruits” – have indeed received His Holy Spirit and been begotten spiritually. They have the opportunity to enter into a special covenant relationship with God!

God's Covenants With Man

God has made a number of covenants with humans. There were the covenants with the patriarchs Noah and Abraham and with King David.

God also made a covenant with the ancient nation of Israel, which was later called the “Old Covenant.” But the most important covenant – the “New Covenant” – is yet to be made in the future!

Exactly what are the Old and New Covenants? What does the Bible say was the fault of the Old and why is the New necessary? How can we enter into a New Covenant relationship with God and when will the New Covenant be made?

Before you begin this study, be sure to get your Bible so you can turn to and read all the verses given in answer to the questions in this lesson. You will also find it very profitable to copy these verses in a notebook. This will not only enable you to easily review your studies at any time in the future, it will also help you to remember these important scriptures.

Now let's begin another fascinating study!