Summary: Part One of Symbols of the Covenants Series. A look at what it means to be under the old and new covenants based on Galations 4:21-31.
Flesh vs Spirit
I. This morning I want to begin sharing with you some thoughts on the Covenants, Symbols of the Covenants. Often people come to us and say you Adventists, don’t you realize we are under the new covenant now. The old covenant was for the Jews. In our history we have had an interesting dialogue with our Christian brothers and sisters over the covenants. I have come to the conclusion that, maybe we haven’t understood the covenants as well as we should. So I want to begin this morning by looking at one of the symbols Paul gives to describe the covenants.
What are the old and new covenants? One of the most important reasons for looking at this is to ask ourselves are we participating in the old or new covenant. It is important to be participants of the New Covenant. We have often heard and said that the old covenant is the ceremonial law. But I want to say today that it is a lot easier to be under the old covenant than we may think.
II. Galatians 4:21-24a these are the two covenants. Paul is saying the two covenants are symbolized by the experience of Abraham with Sarah and Abraham with Hagar. But before we go any further I think it is important that we go back, review and get a little more background on this story.
III. Gen. 15:1-6 Here Abraham is worried and when people start to get worried they start to do things they shouldn’t. He is not trusting God. But when God confronts him. He does believe and have faith in God it is counted to him for righteousness. Keep note of that.
IV. Gen. 16:1 Here we find that Sarah doesn’t trust that God will give her children either. In fact she goes a step further and blames God. vs. 2b-3 Abraham consents to the plan, big mistake. He had trusted God and then he began to doubt.
V. Gen. 17:1 God still has a plan to make his covenant. Abraham had skirted and started to take his own approach. But God is still on track. Vs. 15-17a. We often criticize Sarah because she laughed. But here we see that Abraham laughed first. vs. 17b How can you believe God when he says such drastic, extreme things. It is easier to see a way that is more realistic by human terms. Vs 18-19 Here Abraham pleads, "Lord accept my plan, it is so much easier and realistic." But God still has his plan and his plan is still on track and Abraham’s plan is disregarded.
VI. Gen. 21:1 God always does as he says, his word never fails. We can trust. We don’t have to get worried and start our own process to bring things into our lives. We can trust him that is the everlasting covenant we can trust God. Vs. 2-7 It’s hard to believe even after it happens it is hard to believe. We laugh and we are amazed when what God says comes to pass. We are amazed when the things God says come to pass, because we don’t really believe or faith is weak.
VII. We go about our lives trying make God’s plans for our lives work out our own way as deeds of the flesh. You came to church this morning either as a deed of the flesh or a deed of the spirit. These are the two covenants. You know you can even do good things from the flesh.
VIII. Now go back to the Galatians 4:22-23a It was a religious act that Abraham did. He was trying to work out God’s will in his life. It was a religeous act but it was disregarded because it was a deed of the flesh. Vs. 23b-24a Now this week I want you to begin to look at the two covenants maybe a different way, we in our history we often said old covenant is ceremonial system and the new covenant is the moral law in the heart. Of course were not involved in the Ceremonial system so we are in the new covenant.
IX. Romans 8:1 Paul contrasts the deeds of the spirit and the deeds of the flesh a great deal. Vs. 2-4 How have you been living your life? Are your religious deeds done as deeds of the flesh or are they done as deeds of the Spirit. Vs. 5-7
X. That’s where Abraham was he was at cross purposes with God’s plan. He was trying to work it out in his life but it was an act of the flesh. God totally ignored his plan and kept saying my plan is going to go through your plan has nothing to do with my plan. Those in the end of time will say “but Lord we have done all these good things.” “Yes but you were not in my spirit.” Vs. 8-11 Isaacs birth was nothing less then a resurrection from the Dead. If God does not give life to us through his spirit all of our deeds through the flesh are worthless.