21 Feb Understanding and Enjoying Our Covenant Privileges and Responsibilities with God
Understanding and Enjoying Our Covenant Privileges and Responsibilities with God
The word covenant is usually used to describe a binding agreement that people enter into with each party understanding their roles and committing to playing their parts so that the blessing of the covenant can be enjoyed by all concerned. Covenants are entered into with purposes in mind. They are well thought out as the consequences can be very serious in cases where agreements are broken.
There is an old story of two villages who came into covenant relationship with one another for the purpose of benefiting one another with what each village is known to produce. Let us call them village A and village B. Village A is a farming village and village B is known to be a hunting village. Through their leaders they decided to come into a covenant relationship wherein the hunting village would hunt for both villages and the farming one would do same for both. Village A would have supplies from the hunting village, which would in turn be supplied with the farm produce from village A. This way both villages are blessed by the labours of one another and both enjoy benefits that they otherwise would not have enjoyed.
The process involved in making covenants may differ from place to place but some things are common to all. There is the swearing of oaths and giving of promises by the representatives of each party (as well as the mixing of blood in blood covenant relationships). The representatives go through the process as the villages come into covenant relationships with one another. The relationship is binding and any breaking of agreements may be met by strict punishments or even death to the offender.
Covenant Relationship with God Almighty
In the relationship between God, the creator, and the human race, God has been known to have initiated certain covenant relationships.
Genesis 6:5-9 (AMPC)
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart. So the Lord said, I will destroy, blot out, and wipe away mankind, whom I have created from the face of the ground—not only man, [but] the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air—for it grieves Me and makes Me regretful that I have made them. But Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord. This is the history of the generations of Noah. Noah was a just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God.
Genesis 6:17-22 (AMPC)
For behold, I, even I, will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy and make putrid all flesh under the heavens in which are the breath and spirit of life; everything that is on the land shall die. But I will establish My covenant (promise, pledge) with you, and you shall come into the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh [found on land], you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of fowls and birds according to their kinds, of beasts according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind—two of every sort shall come in with you, that they may be kept alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and you shall collect and store it up, and it shall serve as food for you and for them. Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
When God initiates the covenant relationship with the human being, He instructs, promises and then makes His power available for the implementation of His purposes in that relationship. On the part of the man (referring to both man and woman), he believes and then carries out actions of faith, as he walks in obedience. In fulfilling the purposes of God, he experiences the power of God. The shedding of blood is usually initiated by God but implemented by the man involved. The men are known to raise altars of worship and surrender to God as well as come into full alignment with His purposes for the covenant relationship. Man builds his hope on the covenant promises and experiences the blessings of the covenant relationship as he operates in believing and obeying the demands of the covenant with God.
Genesis 7:23 – 8:3 (AMPC)
God destroyed (blotted out) every living thing that was upon the face of the earth; man and animals and the creeping things and the birds of the heavens were destroyed (blotted out) from the land. Only Noah remained alive, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed [mightily] upon the earth or land 150 days (five months).
AND GOD [earnestly] remembered Noah and every living thing and all the animals that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind blow over the land, and the waters sank down and abated. Also the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the gushing rain from the sky was checked, And the waters receded from the land continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had diminished.
Genesis 8:20 – 9:1 (AMPC)
And Noah built an altar to the Lord and took of every clean [four-footed] animal and of every clean fowl or bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the Lord smelled the pleasing odor [a scent of satisfaction to His heart], the Lord said to Himself, I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination (the strong desire) of man’s heart is evil and wicked from his youth; neither will I ever again smite and destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
AND GOD pronounced a blessing upon Noah and his sons and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
Genesis 9:7-17 (AMPC)
And you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply on it. Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, Behold, I establish My covenant or pledge with you and with your descendants after you. And with every living creature that is with you—whether the birds, the livestock, or the wild beasts of the earth along with you, as many as came out of the ark—every animal of the earth. I will establish My covenant or pledge with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood; neither shall there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth and make it corrupt. And God said, This is the token of the covenant (solemn pledge) which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set My bow [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be a token or sign of a covenant or solemn pledge between Me and the earth. And it shall be that when I bring clouds over the earth and the bow [rainbow] is seen in the clouds, I will [earnestly] remember My covenant or solemn pledge which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy and make all flesh corrupt. When the bow [rainbow] is in the clouds and I look upon it, I will [earnestly] remember the everlasting covenant or pledge between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said to Noah, This [rainbow] is the token or sign of the covenant or solemn pledge which I have established between Me and all flesh upon the earth.
Genesis 12:1-4 (AMPC)
NOW [in Haran] the Lord said to Abram, Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]. And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves]. So Abram departed, as the Lord had directed him; and Lot [his nephew] went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
Genesis 15:1-9 (AMPC)
AFTER THESE things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great. And Abram said, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am going on [from this world] childless and he who shall be the owner and heir of my house is this [steward] Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram continued, Look, You have given me no child; and [a servant] born in my house is my heir. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This man shall not be your heir, but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir. And He brought him outside [his tent into the starlight] and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars—if you are able to number them. Then He said to him, So shall your descendants be. And he [Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God). And He said to him, I am the [same] Lord, Who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees to give you this land as an inheritance. But he [Abram] said, Lord God, by what shall I know that I shall inherit it? And He said to him, Bring to Me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
Genesis 15:18-21 (AMPC)
On the same day the Lord made a covenant (promise, pledge) with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates—the land of The Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, The Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, The Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Genesis 17:1-19 (AMPC)
WHEN ABRAM was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, I am the Almighty God; walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete). And I will make My covenant (solemn pledge) between Me and you and will multiply you exceedingly. Then Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, As for Me, behold, My covenant (solemn pledge) is with you, and you shall be the father of many nations. Nor shall your name any longer be Abram [high, exalted father]; but your name shall be Abraham [father of a multitude], for I have made you the father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting, solemn pledge, to be a God to you and to your posterity after you. And I will give to you and to your posterity after you the land in which you are a stranger [going from place to place], all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said to Abraham, As for you, you shall therefore keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations, whether born in [your] house or bought with [your] money from any foreigner not of your offspring. He that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money must be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the male who is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant. And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a son? And [he] said to God, Oh, that Ishmael might live before You! But God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed, and you shall call his name Isaac [laughter]; and I will establish My covenant or solemn pledge with him for an everlasting covenant and with his posterity after him.
We see God honour His Word to His covenant partners, demonstrating His power on their behalf to fulfil His covenant expectations. Abraham had his name changed and went on to believe God concerning the promised son, Isaac. He also had to pass his test when he was told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
The New Covenant
Our covenant with God was made possible through the sacrifices of our Lord Jesus Christ whose blood was shed to ratify the new covenant. His body was broken to make healing available to us. He took our place so we can take our God ordained place in the family of God. The covenant is between our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father God. We are beneficiaries of the covenant as Jesus Christ was our representative in the covenant. He came to restore mankind to what God had in mind from the beginning of creation. We were made in the image and likeness of God. Through sin, we lost the glory of His image and presence, but Jesus came as the express image of God to take our punishment and restore us to the image we had lost in Adam’s fall. Now we are designed to grow into conformity to Christ, the image of God the Father.
Matthew 26:26-28 (NKJV)
Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper
(Mark 14:22–26; Luke 22:14–23; 1 Cor. 11:23–26)
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
A New Covenant (as seen in Jer. 31:31–34)
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The entirety of our relationship with God is based on the new covenant. This covenant is made on our behalf by the Lord Jesus Christ, who stands as our representative before the Father God. His blood was shed, His body was broken and He took our shame, sin and rejection so we can share in this relationship with God through Him. Now we have many things working for us and we have built our hope, confidence and future on this covenant.
We have an enemy who will try to discredit our God by using the weakness of our flesh so that he can keep us in bondage and stop us from giving God all the glory that is due to Him.
It is to the extent that we know who we have become, what we have received and what our assignment in life is, that we can do exploits for God as we rely on the covenant.
God’s purposes are designed to be fulfilled through His covenant relationships with mankind. He gives His Word, goes through the rituals involved with covenant-making with His covenant partner, then expects our hope and confidence in His covenant to become our basis for carrying out His will on planet earth. The new covenant was between our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.
All that we become are part of our privileges in Christ and our obedience to God defines our relationship with Him. We are who God says we are, we can do what He says we can do and we have what He says we have. These are all because of the covenant of grace we have through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Enjoying our Covenant Privileges Demands the Following
(A) Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him as our Lord and Saviour is the entry point into this covenant with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This brings us into our privileges of the covenant: our new identity; the new authority we have; and the new relationship of sonship we have with the Father God as we become part of His family and part of the church our Lord Jesus is building today.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
(B) We also need to align our lifestyle with values based on the covenant we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our thoughts, words and actions should be based on His Word.
1 Peter 3:8-12
Called to Blessing
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For
“He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
(C) We need to develop the desire to please God in all areas of our lives. This is done through obedience, staying teachable in humility and receiving all the Spirit of God would have us know and apply in our lives.
(D) We need to be battle ready against all the works of the enemy through warfare prayers as well as confronting thoughts that are contrary when they come up in our minds.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…
The Whole Armor of God
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…
Seek to give God all the glory in everything, through worshipping regularly and acknowledging His help and guidance in our lives, as well as in our daily devotions.
We impact our world through evangelism, helping the poor and healing the sick. These represent our responsibilities in Christ as a result of our covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We also add value to others in Christ as we serve them through the avenues of the local church. Those who receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour are welcome to become part of the local expression of the church Jesus is building.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
We are destined to be conformed to the Son, reflecting the Father in His fullness.
Preeminence of Christ
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
As we meditate on these scriptures and begin to act on them and depend on the Holy Spirit of God in us to lead, teach and guide us, our prayers will become more effective as we take our place in God’s family, allowing Him to have His way in and through us.
We shall grow up into Christ and carry out the plans and purposes of God as we fulfil our assignment and bring glory to God. Whatever we are called to do will be made known to us as we fellowship with His Word and Spirit. We shall be enjoying our privileges and carry out our responsibilities in the covenant we have with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rev. Kola Ewuosho