The Old Covenant, or Old Testament has been fulfilled and replaced by the New Covenant.
Does this mean we should throw out the Old Testament and never read it? Not at all. The Bible tells us that the Old Testament Scriptures are written for our admonition, so that we can learn from what was recorded.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 NKJV
The Old Testament is the living Word of God just like the New Testament, but needs to be read with the understanding that because of the finished work of Jesus, we now live under a new covenant with God.
As New Testament believers we no longer live under the Old Covenant Law given to Moses and the Israelites. We now receive right standing with God based upon our faith in Jesus’s finished work. Does this mean that we make the law void through faith and no longer agree with it? The Bible says no, instead we establish the law through our faith. Our faith establishes the fact that the law brought us all under guilt and our need for a Savior.
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Romans 3:31 NKJV
How God relates to humanity has completely changed with the change of covenant. How God related to Old Testament men and women is very different from how He relates to us now.
Remember in the Old Testament book of Psalms how David begged God not to take His Spirit from him?
Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11
This is a great example of how things have changed under the New Covenant. It would be ludicrous for a Christian to pray this prayer today.
Under the New Covenant, God has promised that He will never leave you. For more about this, read The Holy Spirit Will Never Leave You: How You Can Be Sure.
Does the New Testament Override the Old Testament?
One of the definitions of override according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is to set aside, to annul.
Using this definition of override, we can see from the Bible that the New Testament, or New Covenant does in fact override the Old Covenant.
..He takes away the first that He may establish the second. Hebrews 10:9 NKJV
The Bible tells us that the Old Covenant has now been made obsolete.
To make something obsolete means that it is made no longer useful or it is no longer in use. This makes it quite clear that the Old Covenant is no longer how God is relating to mankind. This doesn’t mean that the old covenant never mattered, but it means that the old covenant is no longer the active contract between God and man today.
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. Hebrews 8:13 NKJV
The change of covenants has dramatically changed how God relates to humanity.
Sin has been completely wiped away and forgiven. The New Testament believer can now be born again and receive a brand new, righteous spirit. The New Testament believer can now be filled with the very Spirit of God Himself. Everything has changed. When God looks at a believer now, He sees His child who is just as righteous as He is. Wow!
It’s so important as a Christian to understand that you are not supposed to be living under the Old Covenant that was made with the Israelites through Moses.
The Old Covenant included blessings and cursings according to man’s obedience or disobedience. It included many animal sacrifices, feasts, rules, and various other traditions that had to be kept. These were all a shadow of what was to come- Jesus Christ.
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Colossians 2:16-17
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. Hebrews 10:1
The Old Testament sacrifices could never truly cleanse a person. Only the blood of Jesus is able to wipe away sin. Because Jesus bore our sin, we can be totally forgiven and made new. The penalty for sin has been paid for you. You are free!
What is the Difference Between the Old and New Testaments?
I grew up going to Church every Sunday and Wednesday night. I was raised in a traditional Christian family and yet somehow I had absolutely NO CLUE the difference between the Old and New Testaments. I look back now and wonder how in the world this wasn’t taught in our church.
The difference between the Old and New Testaments is a basic foundation of Christianity. It is so important and impacts every aspect of our life as Christians. It is much more than just two sections in the Bible.
The difference between the Old and New Testaments is the change of covenants between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. A covenant is how God interacts with humanity. God uses covenants to determine everything about His relationship with people.
I have heard it said that “you never know what God is going to do”. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! God lays out exactly what He has done and will do in His Word, through His covenants with people. You can anticipate what God will do in a situation based on the covenant He has established. He will never, ever violate His covenant with mankind. He is trustworthy.
It is important to know that the New Covenant began with Jesus’s death and resurrection. The New Covenant was actually made with Jesus, as a representative of mankind. When we become born again, we enter into this wonderful new covenant.
When Jesus was walking the earth, He was living under the Old Covenant law with all its rules and traditions. He fulfilled all the requirements of the Old Covenant, the only human to ever do so. He fulfilled the requirements on our behalf. Therefore, all of the benefits promised in the Old Testament to those who were obedient have now become available to us. Because of Jesus, every promise is given to us. The requirements have been met. Thank you Jesus!
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV
Not only are all the Old Testament promises available to us, but the New Testament is full of promises as well. The New Covenant is a better covenant, established on better promises.
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. Hebrews 8:6
Have you ever met someone who seemed to know for certain that God would bless them? How can they be so sure of this? Doesn’t God sovereignly decide who He will bless and who He won’t? No, this is not the way it works. God’s blessing is no longer determined by our adherence to Old Testament laws or “how good we are”. It is completely determined by our belief in Jesus and what He did for us.
God is good to all (Psalm 145:9). He causes it to rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But those who have received Christ have entered into the New Covenant, and the blessing of God is guaranteed- because of that covenant.
Do Christians Live by the New Testament or Old Testament?
Christians today live under the New Covenant, and not the Old Covenant. We have one law under the New Covenant, and that is the law of love (1 John 3:23). We do the works of God by believing on Jesus (John 6:29).
Our lives are now lived by faith, by believing what Jesus has done. Our eyes are fixed on Him, rather than on our own performance. It is good news. We are free from self-evaluation and the pressure to measure up. Jesus did it all for us, and we receive the benefits.
Best of all, we get to live in unbroken fellowship with God, who loves us more than we could imagine. Everything we could ever possibly need has already been provided for. It is a land of rest. There’s no more earning, no more striving. It’s a life of acceptance and blessing. A life of peace with God and peace with ourselves.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3 NKJV
Our right standing with God as New Testament Christians no longer comes from adhering to the Old Covenant law. The work that Jesus completed with His death and resurrection has put an end to life under the law.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4 NKJV
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. Galatians 2:21 NKJV
When I read the Old Testament, I quite frequently just stop and thank God for what Jesus has done.
Reading the accounts of Old Testament men and women make me so thankful that I am born again and filled with the Spirit of God, living under the New Covenant. I am so thankful that Jesus has made the way for us to be in a perfect relationship with God, not according to our performance.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1 NKJV