The biggest problem in the Body of Christ today, is a failure to recognize the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant. This results in a continued mixing of Self Willed, Self Effort Legalism, with the Promise and Inheritance of Christ’s Finished Work. There is no greater confusion as to this mixing as when it comes to the Ministry of Jesus Christ.
Many true believers are under the impression that the New Covenant begins between Malachi and Matthew and that the teachings of Jesus are all New Covenant Truths. We forget all too often that Jesus Christ, was a Jew sent under the Law to redeem those under the Law, the Jews. (Galatians 4:4-5) Because Jesus was sent to satisfy the Law, he was actually unable to add anything to the teachings of Moses, as it was forbidden according to Deuteronomy 4:2.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
It is for this reason that Jesus spoke in Parables to the people that they could not understand. (Matthew 13:34) The Parables allowed him a way to teach and prophesy of the New Covenant and the age to come without breaking the Law of Moses, because technically he’s not adding to the Teachings of Moses, if no one understands Him. The early part of Jesus’s Ministry, his preaching is to restore the Ministry of the Law to its Glory, in the hope that the Jews of his day would see the high standard, and realize the impossibility of works righteousness by the Law. At which point, Jesus would present himself as their long-awaited Messiah, and they can be redeemed by faith in Him.
Without understanding the dividing line and this aspect of the Law ministry of Jesus to the Jews, we will never reconcile the teachings of Jesus and Paul unless we realize that Jesus was at times ministering to the Jews under the Old Covenant. In the Words of Jesus, we cannot put New Wine, into Old Wine skins. (Matthew 9:17)
On the subject of Eternal Life, Jesus said to the rich young ruler he should Keep the Law to inherit Eternal life (Matthew 10:17-22), but According to Paul, Eternal Life is a gift through faith (Romans 6:23) On the issue of Sin, Jesus said to cut off your hands and pluck out your eye, (Matthew 5:29-30), while Paul writes that sin is solved by faith in the fact that we have been made dead to sin. (Romans 6:6, Romans 6:11) On the subject of Forgiveness, Jesus said, if you do not forgive others neither will the Father forgive you (Matthew 6:14 ), but Paul writes that We have been Forgiven because of the Blood of Jesus, even in our unforgiving state, but we should forgive others. (Ephesians 4:32)
It is not that they are in conflict, it is that they are ministering under two different covenants, before the cross and after the cross. The easy way to know if something is old covenant or new covenant is by following these templates. Everything that is old Covenant, take the shape of “If… Then… But.” For instance, If you do something, Then God will do something, But if you don’t do that something, then God won’t do anything either. Under the Old Covenant, God is always responding to man according to his efforts.
Under the New Covenant, it always take the form of “I Will… It is Finished.” The New Covenant has nothing to do with your efforts, it is an Inheritance to humanity, that we access by faith, not effort. In fact to try and receive it by effort is to try and access the New by using the Old.
God does not reward us according to our self willed, self determined Christian disciplines. Rather he rewarded us according to what Jesus has done, and we get those benefits through Faith. When we are able to rightly divide the word of Truth, we can finally be free to receive Grace from what Christ has done, without marring it with our own self willed religious tendencies.