“Most Christians are satisfied living their entire lives as common Christians. They never experience the richness of what it truly means to be a Christian. Without a deep insatiable hunger for the things of God, there is nothing within them prodding them to go forward to perfection…once again, we need a great move of the Holy Spirit to break out of the spiritual rut and press on to spiritual perfection. That move needs to start with individual Christians who are willing to give all to God and live the crucified life.” – AW Tozer
Our God created humans for intimacy with Himself. This is not because He is needy or lonely, but because His nature must be expressed. Love, companionship, and intimacy express that nature, it is His plan to share these with the humans He created. When humans rejected that, our God began pursuing us all the way to our redemption through Jesus Christ and the initiation of the new covenant relationship. We were created for the new covenant life, and no other kind of living is our God’s will for us. Religiosity, rituals whether simple or complex, or efforts to please our God in our own strength will not bring us to intimacy with our God. To try to do so by these old covenant methods alone is not the Christian life.
This is because the old covenant and the law of God were not intended to save people from their sin or produce holy living in them. These were established to point out that no one by keeping religious rituals and laws or doing good deeds can ever be justified or made holy. Galatians 3:21 is clear on this. “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.” Hebrew 10:11 tells us, “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins….”
The old covenant had several important purposes, including to point everyone to the necessity of a Savior to redeem people from their sin and to reunite them to their God. Galatians 3:24-25 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
In the Bible, “the heart” most often does not mean a blood-pumping organ. It is a term used for the combination of the mind, the will and the emotions. That “heart” was made only for such an intimate relationship with our God and was damaged and wounded by our choice to reject Him. The old covenant and the law were not intended change the hearts of the people. Our God restores our hearts through the new covenant relationship with us, as was promised through Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
In the analogy of the wineskins in a recent Adventure Blog post, Jesus ended with the warning, “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” For the priests to whom He spoke, the old wine of the religiosity to which they were devoted was good enough. For many Christian adherents today, the old wine of religion is good enough. They are not living in a new covenant relationship with their God. Consequently, they are not experiencing the fulness of a restored heart, and miss so much of what their God has for them.
The new covenant purchased by Christ’s blood is also our God’s initiative to restore us to companionship and intimacy with Himself. The defining feature of the new covenant is this: the triune God in His fullness once again resides literally within every true disciple. Not the faint essence of our God. Not a sliver of our God. The fullness of our God in us by His Holy Spirit. If we are to realize the power and the transformation of the manifest presence of our God within us, we must be living fully in the realities of the new covenant.
“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there; there is no such thing.” – CS Lewis