Troublesome Topic: Things the New Covenant Assumes but Does Not State Clearly

Lesson 2 of 8

The New Testament presumes that the reader knows the Former Covenant and does not need to be taught these principles all over again.

The nature of God

The Old Testament, especially the Law, gave the followers of God a full understanding of what God is like and what He demands of us. In the Law we see God’s character, His priorities and His perfect balance. The stories of the Old Testament do not stand alone, rather they give us examples of the truths of the Former Covenant, lived out in the lives of people who had weaknesses similar to ours. The New Covenant does not introduce us to God, it assumes we have already been introduced to Him (Jn 1:1, Col 1:15-20, Heb 1:1-3, I Jn 1:1-2).

What sin is

Through the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, the teaching of the Law, and the stories of God’s mercy or punishment, the Old Testament gives us multiple pictures of sin and its consequences. We do not decide which actions are sins and which are not; God does. The New Covenant relies on that prior understanding of sin (Rom 1:18-20). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus often said, “You have heard that it was said.”  He started with the understanding they already had, and then He raised the bar. Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28), the reader is supposed to know what that means.

God makes the rules, we don’t.

We do not decide what our relationship with God will look like, i.e. what is included and what is not included. We do not have the luxury of deciding what level of commitment to God and passion for God is “enough.” God determines that (Mt 23:23, Rom 6:15-16).

Clean and unclean things

God created an entire category of things that we should look out for because they will take us in the wrong direction – away from Him. Jesus agreed that some things are clean and some things are unclean (Mt 15:10-20, Acts 10:15).

Unintentional sins

This principle is similar to that of clean and unclean things. It teaches us that there are things that are not yet full-fledged sin but we should stay away from them none-the-less because they take us away from God. We should be careful of all spiritual dangers in our lives, not just the “big ones” that are obviously sinful (Heb 12:1, I Cor 9:25-27).


Tithing was not removed or replaced as were the sacrificial system and the priesthood. The Christians in the book of Acts seem to have assumed that tithing and giving beyond the tithe were expected, not removed. If we are going to follow the principle of complete trust in God, one of the best ways to learn it is by tithing and giving beyond the tithe. We cannot say we trust God with our lives without trusting Him with our finances (Lk 11:42 & Mt 23:23).

The Sabbath Day

The New Covenant assumed that the Sabbath day was important. Notice that the New Covenant does not teach the Sabbath day, it simply assumes it. (Mk 2:27). Jesus did not remove the Sabbath, rather He taught that it could not be used as a club to beat people with. The Sabbath is a means to get closer to God and family, not a way to show off.

Respect for life

Like the others already mentioned, the New Testament does not teach this concept specifically, but it assumed the reader knows it is important (Mt 6:25-27).

The need for a substitutionary sacrifice

The need for a proper sacrifice was created by the Law itself and felt by all who lived under it. The arrival of the true substitutionary sacrifice is not explained in the Gospels, rather they demonstrated it to be real. Paul and the other Apostles who wrote epistles explained it for what it was (Col 2:13-15, Heb 9:25-28).

God’s holiness and His grace are perfectly balanced

The New Covenant not only uses symbols to communicate this balance, it shows us Jesus, whose life on earth was the best example we have of this balance (Jn 8:11). He will later be the ultimate judge and His rulings will be right and just – not too lenient and not too harsh; Jesus will once again demonstrate God’s perfect balance (Rev. 20:11-15).

The next lesson in the Full Series on Covenants is: Jesus on Clean and Unclean Foods