Which Covenant Are You Under?

Christians would tell me, “Don’t go in that store, it’s evil!” like any evil of the place would jump out and grab me or something. Admittedly, the store in question was making good money promoting witchcraft and druidism and other things that are completely contrary to the gospel. But their wide-eyed “Don’t go in there!” unsettled me. I’ve been trying to understand.

First, I needed to come to grips with a truth that I have sometimes overlooked: sinners sin. The proprietor of the shop (I’ll call him James) is a nice guy, and he plays the didgeridoo better than anybody I’ve ever met. He doesn’t know the love of God, though he has told me, in all seriousness, that he’s “pledged his troth” to Thor. He’s a nice sinner, but he’s a sinner. So it shouldn’t surprise me that James is drawn to sinful things. He makes a good business off them, so I assume that there are a number of folks in our town who are also sinners, and who also sin. That's what people do when they don't know forgiveness. Let's deal with it.

There is room for the question, “What is the appropriate response of Christians toward sinners?” but I digress. I want to examine the concept of whether the “evil” of James’ shop is a danger to me, a saint of God.

The Old Testament teaches me that there are a bunch of ways to become unclean, and one of them is to touch anything or anyone that is unclean. For example, did you know that being dead makes you unclean, and anybody that has to touch your dead body will be unclean for a week. Leprosy is another example: You catch this, and you’re unclean for life. (Unless you get healed, but of course, nobody hardly ever got healed of leprosy.)

Worse, if you’re unclean, you can’t minister before God. If you ever do, you “shall be cut off from my presence” declares the Lord. Uncleanness is a big deal: God is holy, so we need to be holy if we want to hang around Him. It’s not like we’re going to make him unholy (ha!), but more that we’d get blown up if we showed up in His presence when we’re unclean. It’s a big deal, and the command is not just for our good, it’s for our survival!

So my Christian friends were trying to protect me when they warned me not to visit James’ shop. They were afraid that I’d become unclean from contact with the uncleanness of his store. Well, I appreciate their concern, but I’m not sure I want to live under that particular covenant. Those are all Old Covenant arguments, and are very important for someone living under the old covenant. I’m not living there.

Jesus was the embodiment of the new covenant. His words are words of the new covenant, His actions, actions of the new covenant. So if evil can get on me from unclean things, then I should be able to see that principle at work in Jesus, right?

So what did Jesus do when He came upon a dead person? He touched them and raised them to life. He touched them! How about the lepers? Same story: Jesus touched them and healed them. The pattern is repeated in the apostles. And unlike the OT, in the NT, I’m commanded to come into His presence!

So there is a huge difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and the New is better. In the Old, when a godly person touched an unclean thing, the unclean trumped the godliness and godliness did not overcome evil. But in the New Covenant, the presence of God in me trumps evil.

So what does that mean for my life?

First, it means that I don’t need to be afraid to visit James’ shop. I’m not going to get jumped by the spirit of witchcraft on his sacred herbs or whatever. Heck, Jesus hung out with sinners, didn’t he? Did that make him unholy?

More, I see this as a New Testament extension of an Old Testament (or Old Covenant) promise: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours.” So now, I carry the presence of God with me, and everyplace I go, godliness trumps darkness, light shines in darkness and necessarily overpowers it. When I visit James’ shop, I leave footprints of the Kingdom of God behind me. When I visit with him, I leave something of the presence of God with him.

Now for the sake of clarification, this does not mean that I should be spending my time hanging out at porn shops and liquor stores and dens of iniquity. Specifically, if I have had trouble with porn, I’m not going to be submitting myself to the strongholds there; if I’m a recovering alcoholic, I’ll avoid the bars, not because I’m afraid of being touched by the uncleanness there (though the uncleanliness of their kitchen may be an issue), but because I’m not going to submit myself to temptation.

So no, don’t go looking for sin, don’t get cocky about darkness. But neither be afraid of darkness; someone else’s sin is not going to be a danger to me unless I’m not walking in the Presence of God. Let’s live holy and invade the darkness! How in Heaven’s name will they learn about the light if we don’t bring it to them?


the rose among lillies said...

That's great McPilgrim :)

I have struggled with the same things, but never put enough thought into it to realize why I felt it was ok. Your words clarified my feelings, I love it when people do that!

I am so glad to be living under the new are you supposed to live in peace and joy under the old?? Gosh! I'm going to cozy up even more under the NT "laws" and ENJOY MY LIFE!

Anonymous said...

I too have struggled with the same things, but some time ago I came to the conclusion that you did and I no longer fear walking into the darkness and claiming it for the light. Thanks for articulating this!

Anonymous said...

I agree you can go make fellowship with anyone you wish, the personal contact will draw looks and murmuring from fellow Christians but not Jesus.

I how ever do hold that even the appearance of sin is a factor in our witness to others. I always try to remember, don't do stuff that makes our brothers stumble, but as far as dirty? Not a chance once, we are fully covered in His Blood done deal.

I believe if we are going to influence the lost we must some how make and have contact into their personal lives. Without relationship how are we going to reach anyone with our accountability? There are enough poor witness Christian judgments out there to create a barrier so high no lost soul can look over it to see what is good.

Christ did however say if we exalt our Jesus, the Holy Spirit would draw all men to Him. So maybe we don't need as much contact with the lost as we do with Him.

Good study I like the results.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, McPilgrim, good post.

I've been teaching Sunday School on engaging culture and your ideas on that front are a spot on. Well done.

I'm also quite interested in the discussion about the comparison 'twixt Old and New Covenants - especially with reference to the carry-through of the Law and the New Cov't understanding of that Law. Anyway, that's a discussion for another time.