Summary: Here Paul talks about the old and the new. Consider Paul’s words.
CONCERNING THE COVENANTS
INTRODUCTION: It’s L.A. Law versus Nancy Grace. Not really. This has nothing to do with a T.V. show. It has to do with the old and new covenants. It concerns law and grace.
Everyone has experienced the frustration of something wearing out. We also have experienced the thrill of something new (car, home, baby …). Here Paul talks about the old and the new. Consider Paul’s words.
I. The Sanction of the New Covenant (v.1-3)
Go back and look at 2:17. No sooner had the gospel of grace begun to spread than a counterfeit gospel appeared. The latter was a mixture of law and grace. It consisted of grace “plus” keeping the law.
Paul’s simple point in these verses is that a genuine ministry is demonstrated by changed lives. These lives have been changed by grace not by the law. The new covenant has been sanctioned by the spirit and grace of the living God. One can have a fat wallet (2:17), five recommendations (3:1) and Moses’ original copy of the Ten Commandments (3:3) and not be changed. It’s grace that changes the heart!
II. The Sufficiency of the New Covenant (v.4-6)
The “O.C.” (Old Covenant) was incomplete and inadequate to save. The New Covenant of grace could only provide that. Of this Paul was confident (v.4). He didn’t depend on his own works. He had tried that and found it totally inadequate. Don’t believe it? Then answer the question, “When was Paul’s heart change?” Was it not when he met Christ enroute to Damascus? Paul’s competence came from Christ and he gave Him the credit for it (v.5-6).
III. The Superiority of the New Covenant (v.6-11)
Was Paul suggesting that the O.T. law was unimportant? Of course not. The law had a purpose. It was like a schoolmaster. It shows how hopeless and lost we are without God’s grace. The law is “perfect”. The problem is we’re not. We are sinful (sin nature). We have broken the law and incapable of keeping the law. The law slays us. Grace saves us. It is through the God of grace we are pardoned and clothed in His righteousness.
IV. The Schooling of the New Covenant (v.12-18)
What does it teach us? It teaches us about confidence (12-14), conversion (15-16) and Christ likeness (17-18). We are saved, not when we turn to Moses and the law, but when we turn to Christ and His grace. At that moment He grants salvation and begins the work of transformation and it’s all for God’s glorification. It’s an “inside” job. Only the spirit can do this! The law can point us to Christ, but only grace can make us like Christ.
CONCLUSION: The lure of legalism is still with us. It consists of rules and regulations. Why not seek the love of the Lord? Which is it going to be – legalism or the Lord? Paul knew nothing of a “dual covenant” theology!