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Why Christians Lack the Power of the Gospel in Their Life
by Michael Edwards
3/03/2018 / Bible Studies
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. "No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins." Mark 2:22 NASB
In context, the verses above were spoken to the Pharisee’s as a reply to their questions as to why Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, and His disciples did not fast. In other words, the Pharisee’s were saying, “why are you hanging out with the riffraff when those who are religious and know the law of God are here too? We are the ones right with God, and those people are steeped in sin since birth.”
Jesus explanation is that you cannot mix the New with the Old or both will be lost.
The Pharisee’s knew the Old Covenant law of Moses inside and out; they were the Old Wineskins. They were unbending, hard and brittle just like the law of Moses. Jesus needed New Wineskins for the New Covenant of grace and truth. He knew that if He mixed the New with the Old, all would be lost. Jesus wanted New Wineskins to establish the church. The 12 Apostles were the New Wineskins, men who were not steeped in the law. These were men who hungered and thirsted for grace. Men that would gladly show grace, because grace had been shown to them.
The Old Covenant and the New Covenant contradict each other and like oil and water cannot be mixed. If I mix fine oil with pure water, neither is good for anything. By mixing them I have spoiled both of them.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. Rom 11:6 NASB
The Old Covenant is about self-righteousness.
Those of the Old Covenant trusted in themselves that they were righteous and judged others, placing others under the letter of the law and condemnation.
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ Luke 18:9-12 NASB
Those of the Old Covenant were raised under the hard and stone-cold law. They could not give away what they did not have and would never mix with those who hungered and thirsted for mercy and grace.
“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:13-14 NASB
The New Covenant is about seeing our own righteousness as filthy rags and humbling ourselves completely under God’s righteousness found only in Jesus Christ. Christians lose the power of the gospel in their lives by mixing the two covenants, just like the Galatians who Paul called fools.
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Gal 3:1-5 NASB
The Old Covenant hardens the heart like we see in the Pharisee’s and places a veil over the hearts of the hearers even today. The veil spoken of is what separated man from God to protect man before the cross. It was represented by the veil in the holy of holies that was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross. However, when the veil is torn and pulled back to reveal the love of God but a person does not believe it, they will still live like the veil is in place, separated from God in their heart by their fear of the holiness of God.
Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what (the old covenant) was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor 12-18 NASB
Can you see how a message mixed with Old Covenant law and New Covenant grace and truth is contradictory? It is a message of self-righteousness mixed with righteousness in Christ alone. You read the Old Covenant law, and a veil remains over your heart, read the New Covenant and it is removed, read the Old and the veil is back, etc. It is a double-minded message unless a person knows for certain how to divide the word, and God tells us that a person with a divided mind should not expect to receive anything from God.
For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:7-8 NASB
Mixed, the Old Covenant law cuts off a person from the grace of Christ found in the New Covenant.
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Gal 5:4 NASB
When Paul states they were severed from Christ, he is talking about the grace of Christ. The Galatians had cut themselves off from God's abundance of grace and His righteousness in their minds and thoughts. They did this when they were deceived into adding their own self-righteousness to grace as a requirement for salvation. Advocating keeping the letter of the law instead of walking by the spirit of the law, is self-righteousness. Self-righteousness and salvation by grace through faith alone are self defeating and contradictory. They do not mix. When we add the law to the gospel we end up like the Pharisee standing at the altar comparing ourselves to the tax collector. Instead of admitting we still fall short, we end up justifying ourselves by comparing ourselves to other believers who we see as bigger sinners. This removes us from the protection of God's abudant grace in our minds and throws the door wide open for Satan to attack us. In the Old Covenant, Satan could legally accuse a person every time they personally failed. Under the New Covenant, when Satan tires to accuse and attack us about our failure, we point him to Jesus sacrafice on the cross and our faith in His righteousness alone. This is the power of the gospel stopping Satan cold. Once you are established in the truth of His righteousness, Satan will leave you alone.
How to have the power of Christ rest upon us.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10 ESV
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Cor 2:2 NASB
Paul boasted in two things, his weakness and Christ crucified, the gospel. This is where the power of Christ is found for our lives.
so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 1 Cor 2:5 NASB
Instead of boasting in their weakness and the power of Christ, His righteousness alone, like Paul. The average Christian boasts in Christ plus the power of their own righteousness, own ability to keep the law and sin less than others. This is how they lose the power of the gospel, power of His righteousness in their lives.
The power of the Christ is found in the abundance of grace and of the gift of His righteousness alone. Christians will never reign in life as they are supposed to, if we mix the Old with the New.
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Rom 5:17 NASB
Do you want the power of Christ in your life?
Commit to studying the New Covenant exclusively for one year. Do not study or read from the Old Covenant during this time period. This means you should not do a standard daily Bible reading plan that mixes everything like it is one Covenant. Like Paul, you need to be firmly established in the New in your mind, in His love and His righteousness, then you will understand how to correctly divide the word and be able to understand the New that replaced the Old. You will then also understand how to read the Old Covenant for what it is, Christ concealed, a shadow of the truth, not the reality. The Old emphasizes God's holiness and is filled with things that point to Jesus. It is very valuable in growing our faith once we are established in the New. The New emphasizes the love of God found in Christ. The Pharisee's were so blinded by the holiness of God that they did not recognize the love of God. This was the veil that covered their hearts.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Heb 10:1 NASB
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Col 2:16-17 NASB
Jesus shed His blood to bring us the New Covenant that replaced the old.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20 NASB
I want the power of Christ to rest upon me.
1) Study the book of Hebrews in depth. It is all about the New Covenant. Study it once a month for the next year. Pay extra close attention to Hebrews 10.
2) Do New Covenant Bible studies exclusively for a year. Many can be found HERE.
New Covenant Bible Studies
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Read more articles by Michael Edwards
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