Yet, God knew beforehand
that such would be the case! And this fulfilled another of God’s
great purposes in raising up the nation Israel: to
demonstrate that mankind needs
the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. God never offered the Holy Spirit to those of Old Testament times---only to the
prophets and patriarchs. Without God’s Spirit in them, the Israelites could
not truly live God’s way. They could not live by the
spirit and intent of God’s law; and oftentimes they did a very poor job of obeying even the letter of the law.
So, not having God’s Spirit, they proved what we read in Rom. 8:7---“the carnal [natural] mind is enmity [hostile] against God; for it is not subject
to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
Notice what Herbert W. Armstrong said: “God gave PROOF, through Israel, that WITHOUT the Holy
Spirit, MAN IS HELPLESS! They even had God to appeal to. But they
did not have His Spirit within them….One of the purposes of this nation was to prove by human experience that man without
the Spirit of God within him cannot be righteous” (Mystery of the Ages, 1985, p. 175).
So, this was the lesson of the Old Covenant.
And just as under the Old Covenant, those who enter the New Covenant also (at baptism) enter
an agreement with God to strive to live by His spiritual law, summarized by the Ten Commandments.
Yet, notice this important difference in
the two Covenants. The New Covenant is based on “better promises” (Heb. 8:6).
Instead of the Old Covenant promise of national blessing and greatness, those who fulfill their calling under the New Covenant have two “better” promises: (1) the promise of a resurrection to eternal life, and (2) the
promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is the essential ingredient
OF the New Covenant.
Yes, the Holy Spirit is the “essential ingredient.”
Having God’s Spirit within you, enables you to
fulfill your part of the Covenant agreement:
to obey God’s spiritual law---to obey not only the letter of the law, but also its spirit and intent.
What was the fault
of the Old Covenant? The “fault” of the Old Covenant was NOT with the law, but with the people!
Notice verse 8: “Because finding fault with them [with the Israelites], 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…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…”
the Old and New Covenants are based on the keeping of God’s spiritual law! The New Covenant, rather than doing away with the law,
actually validates God’s spiritual law! How? By putting God’s laws right into the minds and hearts
of those who enter into that Covenant.
more, the exceedingly wonderful news is that this New Covenant is not only for Israelites alone, but also for Gentiles! [see sub-heading “New Covenant For GENTILES?”]
Let’s now look at one other passage in this regard. “So
then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, IF indeed the Spirit of God dwells IN you” (Rom. 8: 8-9).
This passage plainly shows that it is only by having the Spirit of God IN
us, that we can please God ---that we can
live a life of obedience to His spiritual law. Because without God’s Spirit in us, we are in the category of people spoken of in verse 7: we are “not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be”!
Holy Spirit is the essential ingredient of the New Covenant. And that brings us to the third and final point.
(3) The One and ONLY Way to Salvation
We can begin to see this “one and
only way to salvation” by reading Rom. 8:11---“But IF the Spirit of
Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the
dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [How?] through His Spirit
who [which] dwells in you.” So we see that having God’s Spirit dwelling in you, is the one and only means to salvation---the
only means to life after death.
So, the big question
is, how can a person come to have
God’s Spirit dwelling within him? Peter sums up the answer
for us: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
At baptism, we actually enter a covenant (or agreement) with God.
God agrees to give us His Holy Spirit on the condition that (1) we accept Christ
as our Savior, and (2) we repent of---turn from---our past way of life. We make an unconditional
surrender to God---that we will henceforth strive,
with the help of the Holy Spirit---to live in accordance with God’s spiritual
As we're told
in Acts 5:32, God gives His Spirit only “to those who obey Him”---only to those who have repented---only to those
who are striving to live God’s
way. True Christians ---also called “saints”---are
described as “those who keep the commandments
of God” (Rev. 14:12; 12:17).
entering that agreement with God at baptism, the individual (upon having hands laid upon him) then receives God’s Spirit. It is the
death of the old self and the start of a whole new life! (Rom. 6: 3-6, 12-13).
Yes, at baptism the person begins a new life of being
“a living sacrifice” unto God (Rom. 12:1). He enters a lifelong
process of having God’s laws written in
his mind and placed in his heart (Heb. 10:16).
As for the idea that those of Old Testament times had to earn salvation by
law-keeping, and that we today are saved by merely professing Christ---both these
ideas are wrong! The truth is that God has only one way to salvation!
1. For a further discussion of this subject, see the two articles
entitled “Progressive Revelation and Dispensationalism” and “Is 'BELIEF' All That’s Necessary for Salvation?”
2. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were given temporarily
to a carnal people as a reminder of sin.
3. Is God a “respecter of persons” for offering salvation to those under the New Covenant
but not to those under the Old Covenant?
No, because all who have ever lived will eventually be given a chance for salvation.
(See the booklet Is This the Only Day of Salvation? by Roderick Meredith, pastor of the Living Church of God.)