I suspect that most people do not know that there is an old and a new covenant. This was not known in the church of my birth and it is not grasped very well by many who consider themselves ‘not under the law,’ yet living from the moralism that is a diluted form of the law. This does not mean that living a whole and holy life is not God’s plan for all. It means that such well-being comes to us because Christ is in us and becomes us by the Spirit.
THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IS CHRIST
‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’
Rom 8.1-4 NIV. What does it mean to live according to the Spirit? It means to agree with Christ that He is your life. Our entry to intimacy with Christ and to eternal life does not depend on overcoming all known sins. It depends on our agreeing the Christ that He is our life in every way. We are graced with His life.
Jesus never gave rants against sin. He presented Himself as Forgiveness and Life. ‘There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He offers Himself as wholeness and holiness.*
Michael Kepler observes that, “Knowing the first covenant is not like the second will bring this clear distinction between the two covenants: The old way depended upon the people to dedicate and commit their lives towards fulfilling the commands. The new way depends upon the One who already fulfilled the commands and has committed his life to us.” (1) This may be put this way. If the old covenant was ‘obey and live’ the new covenant is ‘I have obeyed so you can live.’
Our new covenant inheritance never was rubbing Holy Spirit oil into the old covenant. It’s the completely new and living way of Christ for you and Christ as you. The new covenant cannot be contained in the old wineskin as Jesus said. It’s a new entity altogether founded on incarnation.
Thomas Torrance in explaining Christ our life writes, “It is only on the ground of the reconciliation with God effected through the cross that the Holy Spirit is mediated to us, and it is only as Christ Himself is mediated to us through the presence of the Spirit that we may be united to Christ in his vicarious humanity and participate in the fruit of his saving and redeeming work.” The fruit of this saving work is His life as our life.
Recently I listed to an excellent description of the reasons for the Babylonian confusion that currently afflicts the world. He presented detailed humanistic solutions – all of which had merit but most of which can never be attained by human culture that has not seen the need to be healed by the indwelling Christ. How could they when many of the churches promote religion as salvation and entirely overlook the fabric of the Kingdom of God among us – the Christ incarnated in individuals and in society.
To live incarnated is to be fully human and fully alive. It is to live as sons and daughters in a state of being – not just notionally or definitionally. But in spirit and in truth. . this is to say as you as a manifestation of a son/daughter of God.
* Believers can attempt to create their own grace. They connect to denominational icons and Christian practises that give the illusion that they are obedient. If only wearing a hijab or keeping a Sabbath could make one holy! Christ our life makes us holy.