March 19, 2021
by: Pastor Jim Cords
Jeremiah 31:33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

I have long struggled with this text in Jeremiah, primarily because of verse 34: And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.  It seems to say that we will not need to learn the ways of God. It seems to suggest that the way of God will simply be understood by all.

I don’t see that reality. So either I need to understand this differently or this new covenant is not yet a reality. Well since the New Testament (Testament and Covenant are closely related) is intended to communicate the change in our relationship with God that comes through Jesus, I must need to adjust my understanding of this new covenant.

Jeremiah 31:34 continues with the emphasis on forgiveness: For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

And then verse 35 brings a statement about the natural order of creation.

So instead of the focus of this new covenant relationship being on what we know or do, the focus is on what has been done for us by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The heart of the new covenant is an inner, personal relationship with the Lord that each believer experiences in God’s forgiveness that comes through Jesus. Divine judgment was applied to Jesus on the cross and therefore righteousness and a new relationship is established for us because his death inaugurated the new covenant in which we now live.

God’s grace, which we receive through faith, is not based on my knowledge nor on any sacrifice or offering that I make. Instead through Jesus we are set free from guilt and death to live in the fulness of God’s love. Indeed He is our God and we are His children. This new relationship is grounded in grace and not law. We know God through Jesus who makes Him known. 

So no more “good old Lutheran guilt?” Our sin eliminated by God. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which flow out of God’s amazing grace.

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