He takes away the first [agreement] in order to establish the second.
What were some limitations of the old covenant? The old covenant could not relieve guilt. Hebrews 10:2 says, “Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?” If the old covenant had been effective, the people would not have had a continued consciousness of their sin. Under the old covenant, sacrifices provided a temporary covering for sin but never relieved the guilt of sin. David said it this way: “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). Some of you feel that way. You go through religious ritual, but you still feel guilty inside. The reason we feel guilty is because we are guilty. Religious rituals will never take away that guilt.
The old covenant could not perfect the sinner. Hebrews 10:1 says the Law “can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” The Law could temporarily cover sin, but it didn’t eliminate the desire to sin. Have you ever seen a sign that says, “Stay off the grass”? What do you want to do? Something about that sign makes us want to sin. It is the same way with the Law. The Law couldn’t make you perfect. If anything, it stirred up your desire to do wrong. But the new covenant actually changes our desires.
Having pointed out the limitations of the old covenant, the writer of Hebrews described the advantages of the new covenant. Hebrews 10:5-7 records Jesus the Son’s final words to His Father before He left Heaven and came to earth. Have you ever wondered what that goodbye was like? Here are the words: “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.’ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.’” Jesus was saying to His Heavenly Father, “God, You do not desire animal sacrifices. What You desire is a body, and You have prepared that body for Me so that I can accomplish Your purpose.” Jesus understood that God’s plan had always been to offer His Son as the permanent sacrifice for our sins.
Hebrews 10:9 says, “He takes away the first [agreement] in order to establish the second.” You cannot live under two agreements. You have to choose how you want to try to please God. You can either try to please God through your works, or you can try to please Him through God’s grace. It is one or the other. If you try to enter into Heaven based on your works, then you will be severely disappointed on Judgment Day when God says, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.” The only other choice is to live under grace and say, “God, I have no righteousness, but Jesus has plenty of righteousness and I want to depend on what He did for me in dying for my sins to enter into Your presence.” That is the difference between the first and second covenant.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why The Old Way Is The Wrong Way To God” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.