A Christian’s Responsibilities Under the New Covenant
Do believers have any responsibilities under the New Covenant? I recently wrote about the Differences Between the Old and New Covenants. The major difference is the Old Covenant was a contract between God and man, which man failed or could not live up to. The New Covenant was a contract between God the Father and God the Son and both lived up to their side of the contract. What are our responsibilities under the New Covenant?
Jeremiah foretold of this New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34. This prophecy of Jeremiah is quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16-17. Just before and after referring to this New Covenant the writer says, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14 NASB). “Where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18 NASB). “He has perfected (us) for all time.” “There is no longer any offering for sin.”
Praise the Lord! Jesus did it all. It’s all about Him. He made the way for us. He made provision under the New Covenant where we failed under the Old Covenant. So do we have any responsibilities under the New Covenant? Just following discussing the New Covenant the writer says “Let Us” three times in verses 22, 23 and 25. With these two words he is challenging and exhorting us as to our responsibility under the New Covenant.
We must draw near. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22 NASB). Our first and foremost responsibility is to spend time drawing near to God. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8 NASB). How do we draw near? Here are a few ways we can draw near to God.
- The blood of Jesus. The context is always imperative. “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God” (Hebrews 10:19-21 NASB). When Jesus died on the cross the veil of the temple was ripped apart from top to bottom by God the Father. The veil was eighteen inches thick and interwoven. It was what kept mankind out of the the Holy of Holies – God’s presence. The veil was ripped apart signifying man’s sin was atoned for and that nothing could keep us from God’s presence as long as we came through the blood of Jesus. Let’s draw near God with all boldness by the blood of Jesus. Read also: Proverbs 28:1; Hebrews 4:16; 10:14; Romans 3:25-26; 4:4-5; 5:1-2; 1 John 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
- Submission to God. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8 NASB). Submission to the Lord is a special way of drawing near to God. When a believer submits to God they are choosing to draw close to Him in obedience and full surrender as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. We are in essence making Him not just Saviour but Lord of our lives.
- Personal time alone with God. Whenever we set apart time to spend alone with God we are purposely drawing near to God. Jesus made this a priority in His life as our example. “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35 KJV). This should be a daily practice of every born again believer. “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6 NASB). Let’s spend daily time drawing near to Him!
- Practicing His presence. We draw near to God by constantly practicing God’s presence. “He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU” (Hebrews 13:5 NASB). Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NASB). His promise is that He will always be with us. It is incumbent upon us to constantly acknowledge and conscientiously dwell on His presence. In doing so we are drawing near Him.
- Fellowship. “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20 NASB). When we gather together with those of like precious faith, He is there with us. We know He is always with us but His presence is in our midst in a special way when we gather in His name. John wrote, “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us” (1 John 4:12 NASB). If God resides in every believer, it stands to reason His presence would be magnified the more of us are assembled as one in His name.
- Praise and worship. Worship (both personally and corporately) ushers in His presence in one of the most profound and powerful ways we can imagine. The Bible says, “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing….Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Psalms 100:2-3 and 4 NASB). And again, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of (your people) Israel” (Psalms 22:3 KJV).I have noticed, the more intensely I am involved in worship the more I sense His presence. Let’s worship our Lord with all we have within us. The Psalmist said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalms 103:1 KJV).
- Faith. We must approach Him “In full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22 NASB). Jesus made the way for us to come to God without fear having become sin for us and making us the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).Our hearts and consciences have been cleansed. Guilt can keep us from and hinder us from drawing near God. We must draw near “in full assurance of faith” that we have been cleansed of all sin and guilt by the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Faith is the key. We are saved by faith and we must approach Him by faith, believing we are “The righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV). “Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 NKJV).
“Washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22 NASB). What is the pure water referring to? Let me suggest a few scenarios.
- Baptism. Baptism is probably the first thing most think of, however, it says “pure water.” This was written to Hebrews. Any baptizing would have likely been done in the Jordon river which was very muddy – anything but pure.
- The Holy Spirit. Water was frequently a type of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive” (John 7:38-39 KJV).
- Blood and water which flowed from Jesus’ side. “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34 NKJV). Many have speculated this to be a sign of dying from a broken heart. Read also 1 John 5:6.
- The Word of God. Water was also used as a type of God’s Word in scripture. Jesus said, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3 KJV). Paul said, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26 NKJV).
We must hold fast our confession. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NASB). Confession is powerful in the spiritual realm. It was said of those in the tribulation period battling the devil or Anti Christ – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11 NKJV). Here are a few aspects of confession.
- Never give up or quit. Holding fast is essential to our Christian faith and survival as followers of Christ. Holding fast signifies persistence, endurance, tenacity, stubbornness and simply refusing to quit or give up. When we get saved the devil immediately attacks us. He does everything he can to get us to give up. If we refuse to give up, we are promised God will bring us through to a successful conclusion (Philippians 1:6).
- We must hold on to the confession of our hope. This is how the enemy endeavors to make us give up. If he can cause us to lose hope we begin to weaken. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 KJV). We must hold onto the God of all hope” (Romans 15:13). “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 NKJV).It is imperative we cling to the promises of God and never forget “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NASB). “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV). “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NKJV). “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NKJV).
- Confessing Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Confessing Jesus is imperative to salvation. “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 NKJV). “But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10 NKJV).This is not a one time confession at conversion. It is something that is to be ongoing throughout our entire Christian walk. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 KJV). Let’s hold fast our confession of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
- Witnessing for Christ. The Bible says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8 KJV). Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19 KJV). If we are not fishing (witnessing) we are not following. Read also Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15.
- What we are believing God for. I am not nor have I ever been part of the Word of Faith movement. Nevertheless, there is always an element of truth in everything. We mustn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. It is incumbent upon us to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” We must hold onto what we are hoping and believing God for. The only way we should ever let go of it is if the Holy Spirit shows us we are in error and that we should alter or change what we are believing for. “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17 KJV).
We are to consider one another. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV). (It is an interesting study to go through all the “one another’s” in scripture and a great series for you preachers). Considering one another is the challenge. Putting others first. The scriptures exhort us, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 KJV). “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10 KJV). If we could heed this it would solve most relationship problems.
- Provocation. We are exhorted to provoke, stimulate and challenge one another. I like the old King James here – “Provoke.” This is particularly a challenge to us Pastors (Preachers or Ministers). The writer is basically saying we should be really pushy, in a loving manner of course. We are to keep pushing and challenging our people or one another until they are doing what they need to be doing and beyond.I have always been big on follow up. At my first pastorate, if someone missed church I was calling or visiting them first thing Monday morning. There is one person I went to visit frequently. I found out years later they would often hide in their closet from me when I came over. To the best of my knowledge, these many years later, they are faithful in church and being used of God to this day. It was said of Simon of Cyrene that he was “pressed into service…. to bear His (Jesus’) cross” (Mark 15:21 NASB). Many who are pressed into His service end up becoming someone great in service to the King.
- Love and good works. “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24 KJV). We are not saved by works but unto good works. After speaking about salvation by grace apart from works Paul said, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB). “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17 NASB). John Calvin put it this way, “It is faith alone that saves, but faith that saves is not alone.” We must provoke one another to love and good works. Read also John 13:34-35 and 1 John 3:16-18.
- Fellowship (Church). The context here is fellowship. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 KJV). Fellowship, according to this scripture, should be more prevalent and frequent today than ever before, “As ye see the day (of His return) approaching.” It’s interesting that believers fellowship less today than we ever have. Few churches have more than Sunday morning service. This is primarily because they can’t get people to show up to anything more than one service a week.The reason for fellowship should be because we are considering one another. “let us consider one another…….Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV). It’s common to hear people in church complain about not getting enough attention or not getting their needs met properly. Though we should not ignore our personal and spiritual needs that is not what fellowship is about. We are to go to church (fellowship) because we are considering everyone else and their needs. What can I do to love and be a blessing to everyone else in the church I attend? If the truth be known, just showing up is an encouragement to others (especially the Pastor). I should go because others will be encouraged by my presence.