I believe God created man to have somebody He could have a relationship with and pour out His love upon. God has this desire to share Himself with what and who He created. It’s basically the same kind of reason I suppose as you wanting to have a pet dog or cat, or even your own child. Now we aren’t God’s pets, don’t hear what I am not saying. But just like we might have an intense longing to care for another life, so God had an intense desire to care for the lives He created. That is why He created us in the first place.
When dealing with any kind of relationship between two or more parties, there is always an agreement of some sort. Take a marriage for example. The vows you take when entering into a marital relationship with somebody are nothing more than stipulations governing the conditions of the relationship. You also might have signed a contract with an employer where they agree to give you X amount of money in exchange for a certain amount of work you do. The breaking of a contract or agreement usually has repercussions. If a husband breaks the marriage agreement, his wife divorces him. If you break your job-contract, you lose your job. In other words, there is no longer any relationship. In the same way, when God relates to man, there is also an agreement that is entered into. This isn’t just any agreement, it’s more than that. The kind of agreement God makes is called a covenant. A covenant is a solemn agreement and is different from an average contract because the terms of a covenant are life-long. There are no fixed-term covenants. The only way to get out of a covenant is for one, or both parties to die. Now God does not enter into a relationship with man outside of covenant, so if you want to have a relationship with God, you need to understand the covenants He made with man.
If you have ever paged through a Bible, you would have noticed that it has two main sections. One is called the Old Testament and the other is called the New Testament. The word testament is the same word for covenant. So those 2 sections can also be seen as the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is what is generally referred to as the Mosaic Law Covenant, or the Law of Moses. You might better know them as the 10 Commandments. All those “Thou-shalt-nots.” This covenant of law was introduced to man as a way to have a relationship with God. The reason being is that the basis of any relationship with God is always righteousness. There is much to say about this word, but the dictionary defines it as the ability to act right. God has the ability to always at all times act right, and therefore He has perfect righteousness. For a man to relate to God, he needs to also have righteousness. So in this law covenant, man had try and copy God by trying to do what God has determined to be right. If you take the 10 commandments and say that each one for example carries 10% worth of righteousness, then the more law you keep, the more righteous you become. The catch is that you need to have the same level of righteousness as God in order to relate to Him. Only keeping all the laws perfectly would give you enough righteousness. If you lie, your righteousness drops from 100 to 90%. If you also steal, it drops further to 80% and so on. Since dropping below 100% is seen as breaking the law covenant, you are now unable to have a relationship with God. Naturally the repercussions stated at the inception of the covenant now have to be executed. In the case of the Law Covenant, this means death. Even keeping the law 99.99% right still meant you fell short and broke the covenant. The actions that cause a covenant to be broken, are called sins.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death (NKJV)
This is where the whole judgment and punishment of God story comes in. Since God always does right, He has to enforce the punishment for sin, otherwise He Himself wouldn’t be acting right anymore. But this is not something that God wanted to do. He hated the very thought of having to keep that side of the law covenant. But failure to punish people for breaking the covenant would mean God is not upholding the stipulations that demand the punishment either, meaning God is now breaking the covenant too, and He would need to put Himself to death for breaking the covenant. Since He can’t do that, He had to find a way to punish sin without having to kill the people. Enter the bulls and goats…
God then told the people that they could sacrifice animals in exchange for their lives. The animals were put to death for the sins the people committed. So the sins were punished, and the relationship was restored. But since humans were the pinnacle of natural creation, the life of an animal just does not compare to the life of a human. That is still true today. If I shoot a cow, nobody has a problem. But if I shoot a human, I get locked up for life and might even be put to death myself. In the same way, the animal sacrifices were never good enough to completely restore the relationship. The people had to continually sacrifice animals year after year after year to calm down the wrath of God. The only life that could be sacrificed to stop the wrath of God completely and forever, was the only life that was more valuable than the lives of all mankind put together. And that was God’s own life. Since God is immortal, the covenant could never be ended through death on His side, but that was still the only way to completely end the law covenant forever.
But God couldn’t just give up His life for us because His life was also not a human life. To stop the punishment for man’s sin, a human had to be put to death. So God allowed His Spirit to conceive a child with a human woman, and so doing birthed His own Son into creation, into man’s side of the law covenant. This human form of God’s life is the person we call Jesus. He is both 100% man and 100% God at the same time. Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, fully obeying every stipulation of the relationship covenant between God and man. He therefore had 100% righteousness, and because of that He was able to enjoy the benefits of a relationship with God completely. All the love God had to give was finally able to be released in all its fullness, splendor and glory. This also meant that Jesus’ life was now the only life that could be sacrificed to forever end the punishment required by the law covenant. Jesus willfully took that burden upon His shoulders. In that one willful act of sacrifice, Jesus took the punishment for all the sin of the entire human race upon Himself and died. Since He perfectly kept the stipulations of the covenant, including the required punishment, Jesus fulfilled the law covenant and thereby enabled man’s relationship with God to be restored back to one of harmony and peace, the same way it was before the first sin was ever committed.
Another thing you need to know about covenants, is how they are made. A covenant was made by two people coming together and killing an animal. They would usually drain the blood and proceed to cut the animal in two halves and pour out the blood on the ground in between the two halves. Then they would agree on the stipulations of the covenant, and together walk through the blood, swearing an oath that if either party would break the covenant, they would have to pay with their life. The reason why I am telling you this is because if you remember earlier I told you that the Bible has two parts. Old and New, two covenants. We already looked at the old law covenant and how it came to an end when Jesus died, and that man was now able to have a relationship with God. But also remember that God cannot have a relationship with man without a covenant. So a New Covenant was made where in man could be rightly related to God.
This covenant was cut at the same time that Jesus’ body was put through the torture of being flogged and crucified. Just like the animal was slain to establish a covenant, Jesus Himself became the new blood-cut covenant that would ultimately govern the relationship between God and Man. The first, or old covenant was made between God and man. This second, or new covenant, was not made between God and man. This Covenant was cut between God the Father and God the Son. The stipulations were that the righteousness Jesus had attained through His sinless life, and all the benefits and blessings associated with that, would be given as a free gift to mankind, so that they would always have the righteousness needed to have a relationship with God. The only condition to receive this wonderful free gift is for man to place their faith in Jesus. Every man that comes to the knowledge of what happened on that cross, is faced with a choice. They can either keep trying to live 100% righteous by their own effort, or decide to place their faith in Jesus, which basically means to acknowledge that He lived a sinless life as God in human form and took the punishment for our sins freely and willfully, in order that we can be bought out of the original covenant that required us to be put to death for our sins. In doing so, every man that places their faith in Jesus, receives a divine exchange. Their sinfulness gets included in the sacrificial death of Jesus, and Jesus’ own perfect righteousness is freely given to them. This is the only way a person can have their relationship with God restored. That is why Jesus said in
John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)
Unlike the Old Covenant with its many rules and regulations, the New Covenant doesn’t have any requirements or stipulations that man has to keep, except for one: Faith. As soon as you decide to take your faith and place it in Jesus, you fully and completely obey all the stipulations of the New Covenant. In other words, you are now entitled to all the blessings of having a harmonious, peaceful relationship with God, which is life and life abundant. All the negative effects of not being in relationship with God are taken away forever. When God made this New Covenant with Jesus, the conditions He swore to were to never again remember the sins of man, to never again punish any person for not obeying the regulations of the old covenant, and to always treat man the way He always wanted to, with unconditional love and affection. This is great because it means no matter what we do or don’t do, the moment we place our faith in Christ, God gets set free in a sense of having to treat us how we deserve (punishment for our sin) and is enabled to treat us like He wants to (loving-kindness). We are totally set free from the debt of punishment, guilt and condemnation of breaking the original covenant in the first place. We are now able to live in complete harmony with God forever, no matter what sins we have committed before, still do, or are going to do in the future. Your ability to do right is no longer the basis of the righteousness needed to relate with God. Jesus’ righteousness is that basis now. Through Jesus, God has found a way to remove man’s ability to fall out of relationship with Him, and also to stand before God as completely righteous all the time.
It doesn’t matter what sin you have committed, God has already dealt with it. You don’t even have to come and grovel or ask for forgiveness. All you have to do is acknowledge Jesus as the person who carried your punishment for you, and accept the fact that you no longer have to live by the regulations of the first law covenant. If that makes sense to you and you believe that in your heart that it is true, then confess it out loud with your mouth. You can say something like: “Jesus, I acknowledge that in order for me to know God the Father, and to have a relationship with Him, I need a Saviour. I know that I have sinned and that my relationship with God has been broken because of that. Today I accept your free gift of righteousness, and I make you my Lord and Saviour. Your sacrifice on the cross paid my debt of sin in full. Please come live in me, and restore my relationship with God. Because you gave Your life for me, I now give my entire life to you. Let Your Holy Spirit come live in me, revealing to me the depths of the love contained in this restored relationship. Thank you for doing everything You did to save me. Let me daily walk in Your Presence and enjoy life the way you wanted me to enjoy it: With You!”
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