Summary: Examines the OT Law and how a NT Christian is to relate to it, and to law-keeping in general

1. Title: What’s Wrong With Keeping The Law?

2. Text: Hebrews 8

3. Audience: Villa Heights Christian Church, AM crowd., August 20, 2006, in the series “Nothing Better Than The Best”

4. Objectives:

-for the people to understand why the Old Covenant has been superseded by the New, and what we are supposed to do now about keeping the Law, or any law for that matter

-for the people to feel comfortable in their understanding of where good works fit into this New Covenant; to feel eager to do good as a means of pleasing God, not of being saved

-for the people to pursue godliness, with joy, because success in this is pleasing to God; to seek to be holy, because God is holy; to cease to try being good enough; to develop a godly hatred for what is evil and to have an attitude toward sin that shows their deadness to it

5. When I finish my sermon I want my audience to understand where good works fit into the grace system of the New Covenant and to make holy living even more of a lifestyle than they would under the Old Covenant approach to God

6. Type: expository

7. Dominant Thought: God’s New Covenant is better, and it’s administered by the Superior Priest Jesus!

8. Outline:

Intro – Skit “Dot Matrix” - see below

(or, hold up a few outdated objects – speak about 68’s, 45’s, and LP’s – now, they’re outdated)

Every time something gets outdated, we have a decision to make. We can decide whether or not we’re going to try to accept that, or try to fight it. And, if we do accept it, we have another decision to make: what do we do with the outdated thing? Do you hang onto your wide ties and hope they’ll come back into style? Do you keep your 8-track tapes and hope to sell them one day to a collector? Do you keep your old typewriter as a decoration around the house? Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the old things and accept that something new is better. And, sometimes when the new thing doesn’t seem to work right, it’s easier to slide back over to the old thing.

What if that thing is your Church life?

What if, today, I was to tell you that the way you’ve been relating to God is outdated, it no longer works, and what you’ve been counting on to make you right with God needs to change? That’s hard to accept. You’d really need to be convinced that there’s a better way, wouldn’t you?

I need to tell you this morning that if your approach to God is legalism, it needs to change.

Understand that legalism doesn’t just mean keeping the Law. On your drive here, if you drove the speed limit, obeyed the traffic signals, and wore your seatbelt, does that make you a legalist? If you prayed before you ate your breakfast, read your Bible, and even confessed the sins you’ve committed so far today, does that make you a legalist? Not necessarily.

A legalist isn’t just someone who keeps God’s moral law. A legalist is someone who tries to use law-keeping as the way to gain heaven. This is what the Old Covenant was. God said, “keep this law, and you’ll live.” That was legalism. Break the Law, suffer the penalty. Keep the law, escape the penalty.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve picked up on a running theme through the NT letter we call Hebrews. It’s all about showing how what we have in Jesus is better than the Old Covenant. The chapter we’re in this morning shows how it’s better than being a legalist, and it even helps us understand what we’re supposed to do with that old, outdated law.

Here are some features of the New Covenant that make it better.

I. Heaven – Better From The Start

Hebrews 8:1-6

The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

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