We can read the Bible all we want, but if we are not picking up the true meaning of what God is trying to convey to us, we might as well be reading a fairy tale. There is a sharp contrast between the Old and New Testaments, and it can be seen as “before the cross” and “after the cross.”
The old covenant, based on the Law of Moses, required that we first follow the letter of the law in order to be blessed. Under the new covenant, we now live under grace because of what Jesus did when He shed His blood for us on the cross. As believers, it is important for us to realize the difference.
A. How we understand the Scriptures profoundly impacts how we live our lives.
1. Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15, AMPC).
a. We can either correctly or incorrectly divide and interpret the Scriptures.
b. We are to analyze and earnestly study the Word of God, in order to be presented to Him and come into His presence.
c. We cannot preach the old covenant, because we are no longer under it.
2. Jesus shed His blood on the cross, and He was the perfect sacrifice for all time. With this in mind, we must ask ourselves if we are living “pre-cross” or “post-cross.”
a. This will affect how we live our lives.
3. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the old covenant was still in force. The new covenant did not start until He shed His blood.
4. If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.
Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock… But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you (Deuteronomy 28:1-4, 15, AMPC).
a. The law, as described in the Old Testament, was based on the “If you do good, you get good” principle.
b. Overlooking even one small area of the Law brought a curse.
5. What the new covenant means for us is that we have already been redeemed. Jesus has already delivered us from the curse of the Law. (Galatians 3:13, 14).
a. Jesus took the curse on Himself when He was hanged on the cross.
B. Because of Jesus, we are now no longer required to earn our salvation.
1. We are blessed because of Jesus’ obedience, not ours (Romans 5:19).
a. Unlike in the Old Testament, our obedience is the response to what He has already done.
2. Grace and righteousness are gifts from God. We receive them because of Jesus (Romans 5:17).
3. Under the new covenant, we cannot brag about what we have done. The focus is on Jesus, not us (1 Corinthians 1:29, 30).
a. Because of Him, we have wisdom, righteousness, redemption, sanctification, and holiness.
4. We have spiritual blessings which will result in the fruit of the spirit (Ephesians 1:3).
a. We will bear this fruit automatically when Jesus takes root in our lives and branches out, like a tree.
5. In the New Testament, two people asked the same question—what to do to have eternal life—and received two different answers.
a. The first answer was during Jesus’ ministry, before the cross (Matthew 19:16, 17)
b. The second answer was after His death and resurrection, after the cross (Acts 16:30, 31).
For more on how life after the cross differs from before the cross, and how grace of Christ impacts every area of our lives, click on the link below for the MP3 message, Before and After the Cross.
Dr. Creflo Dollar is Pastor at Creflo Dollar Ministries