Trying to do the right things but can’t keep up with the list? Feeling disconnected with God because you haven’t read your Bible lately and prayer is dry? Getting offended because of all the work you do in church or “for God” but things still aren’t going great…in fact life kinda stinks? Are you almost tired of being a Christian but you have enough fear of God that you can’t just walk away?
Welcome to religion. “Wait,” you say, “I’m not religious!” Oh, I know for many it’s just because that’s all we know, but I want to encourage you today that there is a better way. The word religion is of Latin derivation. “Re” means “to do again or return to something.” “Ligare” means “to bind”. Religion is a return to bondage. So anytime we return to a place where we feel like we are working harder in order to get God’s attention, his favor or even forgiveness…we have returned to the bondage of works and sin.
When the Bible says we are slaves of God instead of slaves to sin, it means that now you are locked in a prison of the goodness of God. You are shackled to the blessings of God. You are in bondage to his love.
When we are under the power of religion we are in the handcuffs of sin, wearing the ball and chain of works to try to please God. It feels like drugery, duty and heaviness.
All the time in Christian circles we hear people talk about the fact that they are in covenant with God and God always keeps his promises. A covenant is a relationship built on mutual promises. Unfortunately the little known fact is that the New Covenant isn’t a covenant with you to begin with. God didn’t make a covenant with you. He made a covenant for you. God made a covenant with Jesus and you get the benefits!
Remember the upper room discourse before the crucifixion. Jesus takes the bread and wine and he begins to teach them an introductory lesson to the easy yoke and light burden. He says, “this is MY body, given FOR you” and “this is the blood of the New Covenant in MY blood.” In fact, in Hebrews 8 where He speaks of making a covenant with Israel, the word with actually means “in regard to.”
See God already demonstrated what a covenant with you looks like...failure! It’s called the Law and if you are burnt out with God it may be you are trying to negotiate blessings. Are you are trying to be good enough for him to accept you? Are you doing things in church to get the attention of God? When things go wrong do you look at your life to see why God is mad at you?
The author of Hebrews said, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them…” (8:7,8) The problem with the first covenant is because it was with you. God cannot help but find fault with us when our relationship with him is measured by our ability to never fail.
That’s why the new covenant is different. It depends on the obedience, faithfulness and sinlessness of Jesus. God knew his Son could not fail. He did not fail. So the covenant He made with Jesus meant that if Jesus was faultless, then he would inherit every promise that was made to mankind as its new representative. Then because he is the representative of this new race called the new creation, everyone who believes in what he did gets what he got! You are a co-heir with Christ.
So how do you become blessed? Never by doing something, or praying for something. It is by being “in Christ” because he is the Blessed One. Why are you accepted? Because Jesus is accepted. Why are you holy? It is because he was raised holy. Why are you faultless/blameless before him? Jesus is faultless and blameless before the Father and you are in Him!
1 Corinthians 6:17 says that you have become one with the Lord. In this new covenant, whatever is true of Jesus is now true of you because you are “in Christ.”
In other words, the only thing that is left for you to do is to rest in faith in what he has already accomplished on your behalf, accept your new identity, and let him live his life through you. Ah, hope for tired Christians!