Living in the Freedom of the New Covenant Pt. 2 (Jeremiah 31 & Heb 8)

Andrew Fountain
Sun, 2022-06-19
  • When you really understand the New Covenant, it will transform your life, bring you into a new freedom, and enrich your relationship with God.
  • Sadly it is rarely explained, and most Christians are not entirely free from the Old.
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Sermon Slides - Living in the Freedom of the New Covenant Pt. 2 (Jeremiah 31 & Heb 8)

Video cover image by George Hodan CC0 Public Domain


When you really understand
the New Covenant,
it will transform your life,
bring you into a new freedom,
and enrich your relationship with God.
Sadly, it is rarely explained,
and most Christians are not entirely free from the Old.

  • I want to do three things in this presentation

Living in the Freedom of the New Covenant pt.2

  1. What about James & good works?
  2. The New Covenant – Jeremiah 31:31–34
  3. Living in the Joy of the New Covenant

1. What about James & good works?

“A forever relationship with serious commitments”

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Gen 15 portrayal

Three Covenants

  1. Covenant with Abraham (grace) —a picture of the New Covenant
  2. “Old Covenant” (law)
  3. New Covenant (grace)

(There are actually several others, e.g. Noah & David, but these are the main ones.)

  • God made a covenant with the whole nation of Israel in Old Testament times
  • He gave them a lot of laws and commandments
    • If they kept them, then he would give them
      • financial blessing
      • health and long life
      • lots of children
    • If then broke them then
      • He would punish them
      • He would take away all the good things
      • Ultimately the nation would be destroyed
  • It was all based on their performance
    • It was gracious (they were totally undeserving)
    • But that is not the same as saying it was a covenant of grace
  • It was mostly external, not about the heart

James 2 – Faith & Works

  1. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
  2. If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,
  3. and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
  4. So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
  5. Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
  6. You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
  7. and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.
  8. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.


  • When we have faith, we are given a new heart, alive by the Spirit
  • A changed life is the evidence of this new heart
  • Good works do not save us, but they are evidence of the faith that saved us
  • So “faith”, without works, can only be a dead faith
  • But our relationship with God is based on our faith

2. The New Covenant – Jeremiah 31:31–34

  • To be a Christian is to be part of the New Covenant
    • This was actually God’s plan all along. The purpose of the Old was to teach the need for the New
  • The clearest prophecy in the Old Testament about the New Covenant is in Jeremiah 31:31
  • This is unpacked and explained in Hebrews 8
    • The Four promises of the New Covenant:

Hebrews 8:6–13

  1. But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that he mediates is also better and is based on better promises.
  2. For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one.
  3. But showing its fault, God says to them,
    ‘Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
  4. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt…


  1. For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.
A. God’s law written on our hearts I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts.
B. We will belong to him and he will belong to us And I will be their God and they will be my people.
C. No need for priests between us and God 11. And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, “Know the Lord,” since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.
D. Our sins are all forgiven 12. For I will be merciful toward their wrongdoing, and their sins I will remember no more.
  1. When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and ageing is about to disappear.
  • This is a quote from Jeremiah 31:31–34
    • Note that v.13 speaks about the temple about to be destroyed in AD 70

A. God’s law written on our hearts

  • Have you ever had a supermarket trolley that just wanted to turn all the time?
    • That’s what it’s like for us trying to follow God’s desires for us
  • When someone becomes a Christian, God puts some of his life in them
    • He calls this his Holy Spirit alive in us
    • Something deep inside us has changed
  • E.g. the main command in the New Covenant is to “Love one another”
    • In Galatians Paul tells us that no matter how many laws you make, it can’t change the heart.
      • Just imagine that the government passed a law that everyone must love each other—no more hate!
      • You can’t legislate love!
  • But God’s gift of the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives: [Gal 5:22–23]
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
    • Part of the New Covenant is that we get a wheel-change – it feels natural to go God’s way
    • (Not necessarily all the time, because sometimes bits of the old wheel seem to be there still)
  • There’s a fundamental change in our very nature
    • A few years ago I saw a trapped butterfly, under a piece of glass on our deck.
      • What if the government made a law that caterpillars must fly?
        • If you throw a caterpillar up in the air and say “fly! fly!”, it won’t work
      • but a butterfly naturally flies (unless it is trapped, and there are things that can ensnare us but that is another subject)
  • Relationship to the law
    • Moses brought the 10 commandments
    • How many commandments did Jesus give?
      • Someone has catalogued the commands in the N.T. and come up with 1,050 !!
      • Did Jesus have a higher standard?
      • So do we end up replacing the OT laws with more and harder laws?
    • Some teach that Jesus just gave us some more commands to add on to Moses, but that is a total misunderstanding
    • The replacement for the law is not a new law, but a person, Jesus himself!!!!
    • He says “follow me”, do what I do, think how I think, love others like I love others
      • Moses never said “follow me”!!
    • Goes far beyond a written list of rules
    • Can we do it ?
      • Not in our own strength, but Jesus is actually living in us through the Spirit.
        • Moses never said “I will come and live in you!”
      • We are united with him vine and branches This bread is my body
      • he has defeated the power of sin and he is living within us
  • Here is a key idea: what has changed is not the law
    • but our relationship to the law
  • Let me ask you a question
    • Could we run the country like this: not by laws but by grace
      • no speed limits, just tell people to drive in a way that would please Jesus?
    • (He is not in their hearts)

One thing to remember

  • It is not the law that has changed, but our relationship to the law
  • I heard a report about someone who is on staff with Camilla



Image source: Carfax2 CC-by-SA3.0

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B. We belong to him and he belongs to us

  • The essence of the New Covenant:
    • brought into God’s family
    • we were enemies, in rebellion. Now we are brought into his family
    • He is “ours”, in a sense he belongs to us as a possession, and we belong to him
    • This is like love language, isn’t it:
      • “I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s mine” [SongSol 6:3]
    • secure!!!
  • I think the most important element of this part of the N.C. is that it is unshakable
    • Think of God going between the animals
    • Not dependent on our feelings
    • Whole point of the book of Hebrews is “better promises”
    • This is what we can hang onto in the storms of life
      • “an anchor within the veil”

C. We can all hear God for ourselves and don’t need to be totally dependent on “priests”

  • God still gives teachers to his people
    • but they are to be listened to with discernment
    • Since we have the Spirit, we can discern truth from error, and are responsible!
  • There is a fundamental difference between the O.T. prophet and the N.T. prophet
    • They spoke into a community who didn’t have the Spirit in the same way we do and so could not weigh their words
    • Most people couldn’t read anyway
    • Totally dependent on the priests to speak the truth
      • (That is why it was so serious when O.T. prophets spoke falsehood)
    • In the N.C. we all have a responsibility to test what we here
    • Not just from prophets, but from teachers as well
  • God’s written Word is our primary authority
    • but in the New Covenant we can all read it and understand it for ourselves!
    • Because all of us have the Spirit
  • In O.T. times if someone wanted to know God’s will, they had to go to a prophet,
    • Even King David did (e.g. at Ziklag)
    • but in the New Covenant, Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice”
  • This is a responsibility that many of us would rather not have
    • It is much easier to have a priest who will tell you the answer to every question
      • Tell you how to live without you having to think it out yourself
    • This is how cults get going
    • Something in us wants to follow a leader
  • Christ is our leader—he leads us all directly
    • This gives us encouragement
    • “I thought something was not quite right, but I never liked to question the leader”
    • You are empowered to discern the truth
  • But of course leaders should be honored—they are gifts to the church

D. Our sins are all forgiven

  • You might say at this point, “how was anyone in the Old Covenant saved”
    • Actually the O.C. never saved anyone:
      • Heb 10:4 “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
    • They were saved under the “promise” of the N.C.
      • They didn’t clearly understand it apart from what the prophets said
      • Jesus hadn’t died yet, but they were saved by faith in the promises
  • No Assurance
    • In the Old Covenant you could never be sure that you had kept even the most basic laws
      • You could spend your life worried and anxious about whether God would accept you.
    • But many Christians today live lives full of
      • condemnation
      • guilt
      • anxiety over their failings
      • feelings of being inadequate and failing God all the time
      • A sense that God is angry with them and is judging them
  • The covenant God made with Abraham was a picture of the New Covenant in that it was unconditional
    • A free gift
    • We don’t have to do anything to earn it -> It was received by faith
  • But God says: “I will forgive their wickedness, and their sins I will remember no more.”
    • Don’t you get it? God is not counting your sins!!!!
    • If you mess up today, he will have chosen to forget it tomorrow!
      • (That doesn’t mean their are not consequences—if you get drunk and crash your car, you may find the police remember it.)
      • (Also, God is committed to helping us get out of sinful lifestyle, but he will not ultimately count it against us)
      • Once I was taking a course and just about to go into the exam when I added up my marks and realized I had already passed!
        • What a relief! I didn’t even need to take the exam!
        • You can imagine how it took the pressure off!
        • We have already passed—Jesus has earned us a 100% grade

3. Living in the Joy of the New Covenant

  • Scandalous
    • Terry Virgo was preaching this once and a man at the back of the church interrupted him and shouted out:
    • “That is the most scandalous thing I have ever heard!”
    • “Then you very nearly understand it, Sir”
    • People are offended by this teaching (and were when the Apostle Paul taught it), saying it will lead us into more sin...
      • This truth is almost dangerous (why is it actually safe?)
      • If it were not for the new heart and the relationship then it would!
      • But the New Covenant is a package
        • If someone does use it as an excuse for sinning freely, then they probably don’t actually have the new heart
  • We need to take this truth and apply it to our relationships
    • Not “remembering”
  • family: when children mess up, and it is dealt with, don’t “remember it”
  • friend who brought something up.
    • “I asked you to forgive me, and you said you did! so why are we talking about it...”
  • If you are a supervisor in the workplace, it is very freeing when someone makes a mistake to someone to say
    • “Let’s pretend this didn’t happen—I’m just going to forget about it”
    • (I’m not saying that people should not be corrected or disciplined, but when we are able to do this...)


  • If you are a member of the New Covenant:
  1. You have a new heart, that like a butterfly wants to soar
  2. You are God’s beloved and he is your beloved. You are secure in the relationship
  3. You relate to God directly, not through priests
  4. You are totally forgiven and God is never judging you or condemning you
  • How do you become part of this covenant?
    • Although there was no explicit requirement for Abraham, there were two things he brought

Abraham’s part

  1. He wanted to be brought into this covenant
  2. He trusted God
  • God says that if these two things are true of you, and you ask him in prayer, he will make this covenant with you.


  • God’s requirement for you is that you trust him with your life
  • Do that, and he will take care of everything else
  • “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” Rom 8:1
  • Go back to the visual God gave Abraham
    • God has made this promise to me
    • It is so certain that God says he would cease to be God if he broke it
  • We need to respond to this message!
  • Maybe you are feeling condemned and a failure and want to enter into these truths more.
  • So often we live in condemnation, and feel like a failure all the time
    • “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” [Rom 8:1]

Updated on 2022-06-19 by Andrew Fountain