Does the New Covenant negate God's law and do away with any need to obey the Ten Commandments and other laws of God? The belief that it does has long been a popular teaching in traditional Christianity.
Does the New Covenant negate God's law and do away with any need to obey the Ten Commandments?
Covenants Reveal God’s Promises
God had a specific goal in mind when He said:
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds" (Hebrews:10:16, New Revised Standard Version).
The final result of God’s plan is a divine family of sons and daughters who have developed the same righteous character that was evident in Jesus Christ when He was with mankind as a human being.
Thus, the Bible is organized around a series of divine covenants—what we might call contracts or agreements—that reveal and describe the relationship God would like to have with every human being. These covenants reveal God's promises. They also define the conditions that every person must meet to receive the blessings of those promises. God's covenants are the foundation of His divine plan to properly shape the way all people should think and behave.
A New Covenant for Transforming the Heart
"But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and ... He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises" (Hebrews:8:6, NRSV).
God planned from the beginning to transform the limited and temporary covenant He made with ancient Israel—with its abundance of symbolic sacrifices—into a far superior covenant commitment with a permanent sacrifice for sin open to all of mankind.
Paul said: "In him [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians:1:7-10, NRSV).
Therefore His "new" covenant is a "better covenant" that offers the "better promises" related to eternal life that were not included in the Sinai Covenant. God chose not to make those better promises—especially forgiveness of sin through Christ's sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit—available to everyone until after Jesus had been crucified.
A key objective of those better promises in the New Covenant is to set in motion the process of transforming the hearts and minds of those who respond to God's call to repent and accept Christ as their Redeemer. Through that process He offers to make them heirs of "the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews:9:15).
Why Is Divine Intervention Essential in Receiving That Change of Heart?
It's really very simple. We were created incomplete - there remains a missing dimension in our thinking, a dimension that needs to be added so we can properly control our thoughts and the actions they produce. The Bible reveals that God promises to give us the knowledge, understanding and the power of His Holy Spirit to rightly manage how we think, feel and behave—if we choose, willingly and sincerely, to give Him our full cooperation.
As He told the people of ancient Israel: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice" (Deuteronomy:30:19-20).
From the beginning God has wanted all human beings to walk the path that leads to eternal life. Yet only one person has ever heeded His voice completely and walked that path perfectly—Jesus Christ! All the rest of us have fallen short (Romans:3:23).
New Covenant Details God’s Plan of Salvation
At His crucifixion, Jesus, through His death, implemented the New Covenant. This is why, on the evening before He was crucified, Jesus "took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is [figuratively speaking] the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you'" (Luke 22 :20). In that New Covenant God gathers together all of the carefully planned details of His plan of salvation.
To benefit from that wonderful plan, it is essential that we correctly understand the meaning and purpose of the New Covenant that Christ implemented. Far too many people still misapply or distort what the Bible actually says about that New Covenant.
To unravel the misconceptions and dig into what the New Covenant contains and requires, read our free online Bible study booklet, “The New Covenant – Does it Abolish God’s Law? ”