Breaking Covenant with God


God never breaks His Covenants or His promises.

In the book of Joshua, God pulls out absolutely every stop, gives over unrepentant sinner after unrepentant sinner, in order to keep His promises to His people. God even uses the Israelites to make and keep promises to sinners, like the repentant prostitute Rahab.

God is a promise keeping God.

But what about when we don’t keep covenant with Him?

Quick definition of a covenant: A promise with stipulations.

God, to Abraham:
“Live in My presence and be devout. I will establish My covenant between Me and you.”

God, to the Israelites after they failed to do all He said to do in their Promised Land:
“I will never break My covenant with you. You are not to make a covenant with the people living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars.”

Jesus, to His disciples at their last meal together before His crucifixion:
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.”

God’s covenants, His promises to save and make and keep a people, are rooted in His identity. They are good because He is good. Trustworthy because He is true.

But they have stipulations. And the overarching one is this: Believe in Me, love and worship Me, or die in your sins.

In the book of Judges, which our church talked about last week, you see that the people of God can forsake their end of the Covenant.

Christ never breaks His marriage vows, but we can break ours.

So, God promised to save and protect and be the Lord of the Israelites as they entered their God-given home in Canaan. Moses died, Joshua died, but God would give them new leaders and keep their sinful enemies from overpowering them.

And they turn from God.

They worship Baal and they worship Asherah and they worship Molech and they worship about a hundred other gods. Stupid, fake ones made of stone or wood. They cheat on God like we do.

And their lives blow up.

God hands them over to be abused and punished for their evil. Because cheating on God is evil. Loving anything more than the God of Jesus Christ is evil.

The Israelites broke covenant with God, and He punished them. They broke covenant with God, and their lives fell apart.

So what about us?

Jesus said that His blood was a new covenant. That He was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Faith in Christ, following Jesus of Nazareth, brings us into a new covenant with God.

Can we break that?

Well, Jesus says that none of His sheep can be snatched away, and that His mission is to present all who are given to Him back to His Father. So I don’t think if you have truly been adopted into, grafted into, the family of Christ you can completely, utterly break away.

But I think books like Judges (parts of Hebrews hit on this, too) say 2 things about breaking covenant with God:

1)There are ways that even those who are truly God’s in Christ can temporarily turn from Him, and they will be disciplined.

2)There are some people who look like they’re God’s, but who repeatedly violate His saving covenant. They will die, spiritually, apart from Him.

“For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the Heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s good word, and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.” Hebrews 6:4-6

There is a kind of breaking, a kind of forsaking, that gets very close to the Covenant of God but then holds it up to contempt. That’s the 2nd kind I listed, I think.

But whether we’ve never tasted Jesus and broken God’s laws or have come close and broken Christ’s Covenant or know Jesus and love things more than Him right now, what do we do?

What do we do?

Hebrews 3, before that scary bit above, repeats the Old Testament 3 times when it says, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden Your hearts…”

And Jesus said in Revelation that He stands and knocks, and that if anyone answers He will come in.

And in Acts when Peter preaches the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection to the people who crucified Him, they ask what they should do and He has a response: Repent and believe in Jesus.

If I’m breaking His Covenant, I need to repent. Confess it and turn from it.

And in Judges, every time the adulterous and idolatrous people of God truly did that, the gracious and merciful and promise-keeping God sent a judge to rescue them.

Because even though we break promises, He doesn’t.

When the prodigal son comes home, the Father’s arms are open.


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