Do you like rules? If I’m honest with you, I’d have to say I don’t have a problem with rules when they make sense to me; however, when a rule seems ridiculous or unnecessary I get frustrated by it. Fortunately, my conscious kicks in and I follow the rules, even the ridiculous ones.
Nowhere in the world have I found a longer list of rules to follow than the Old Testament. I have recently spent some time reading the book of Leviticus and I get exhausted just reading all the Israelites had to do and not do. There is a sacrifice for just about everything. In fact, it would appear they spent all of their time sacrificing for something. I don’t know how they found time to sin because they were constantly looking for a one year old animal of some sort without blemish. Maybe they sinned by taking another’s animal. I don’t mean to make light of what God called them to do. It is simply overwhelming. One thing is perfectly clear if you spend a lot of time in the Old Testament…we need Jesus.
The old covenant made with the Israelites is based on justice. If you wrong another, you must go through a sequence of events to make things right. It certainly requires more of you than simply saying you’re sorry. You have to confess you’ve sinned to the one you’ve wronged and the priest, bring a sin offering to the Lord (which costs you financially) and then you must make restitution to the one you’ve sinned against. When you sinned you felt the consequences of your sin in a variety of ways. [You can read about this throughout the book of Leviticus.]
With the new covenant, when we sin we are extended grace, which is undeserved favor [Acts 15:11]. There isn’t a sequence of events to make things right because we can never make things right [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We can never do enough, say enough or be enough to cleanse ourselves from our guilt. Forgiveness is a free gift from Jesus [Ephesians 1:6]. He surrendered His life for us to pay for all of our sins [John 3:16]. All that is expected of us in return is to surrender our lives to Him [Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, and Luke 9:24].
The choice is ours. We can choose to live a life under the old covenant where justice is required or we can choose to live a life under the new covenant which is filled with grace. One thing we must keep in mind, whatever covenant we choose for ourselves, we must extend to others. We cannot demand justice for others and expect grace for ourselves. Matthew 7:2 says “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The Lord felt so strongly about this, He made it part of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Which covenant will you choose today: the one you have to try and earn your way into or the one that is freely given? Jesus chose you. “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” [2 Thessalonians 2:13]. Will you choose Him?