Before and After the Cross

by Creflo Dollar | 10 Apr 2019

Summary

The message of grace is vital to Christians, yet this message will mean nothing to us if we do not understand God’s nature under the covenant of grace. Our impression of God shapes how we experience Him; if we think He is a God who judges us, makes us sick, and kills us, we will not experience His forgiveness, healing, or deliverance. God deals with man through covenants, and there is a sharp contrast between the old and new covenants. We get the wrong impression of God if we look at Him in context of the things that happened before the cross, and fail to see Him in light of the things that happened after the cross. It boils down to an issue of not rightly dividing the Word. A true understanding of how grace impacts every area of our lives opens our spiritual eyes. Once we are solidly grounded in the differences between the old and new covenants, we will see God as He really is.

  1. We need to see God as He really is, now. He is no longer an angry God who punishes.
      1. The biggest issue in the church today is spiritual blindness. If we look at God through the lens of the Old Testament, and fail to see Him through the lens of the New Testament, we get the wrong impression of Him.
        1. The law blinds us to God’s grace. The old covenant blinds us to the new covenant. Servanthood blinds us to sonship.
        2. What was acceptable and considered the truth under the old agreement is not acceptable or considered the truth under the new agreement. An example of this was when Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the people (2 Kings 1:10-14). During His ministry, Jesus rebuked the disciples for suggesting the same thing (Luke 9:52-56).
      2. Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15, AMPC).
        1. We must correctly analyze the Word; we cannot simply pick up the Bible and begin reading without accurately dividing what we read.
      3. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
        1. We must rightly divide Mosaic Law from the grace and truth that came by Jesus.
      4. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29).
        1. We are in error if we do not know the Scriptures. We must be careful about information we hear that is passed from person to person.
      5. It is dangerous to blindly accept philosophies taught in church if they are not scripturally-based.
        1. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8).
        2. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8, NIV).
      1. There are some significant contrasts between the old and the new covenants.
        1. Before the cross, the people were blessed only when they obeyed; they were cursed when they failed to obey.
          1. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
          2. This was true before the cross, but it changed after the cross; however, some churches still teach this.
        2. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Galatians 3:13).
          1. “Redeemed” means freed and delivered. After the cross, we are blessed not because of our actions, but because we are God’s redeemed.
        3. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Romans 4:8).
          1. God no longer holds sin to our account; He already charged it against Jesus. The curses are gone, but the blessings remain.
      1. God is no longer far away and inaccessible. He now welcomes us into His presence.
        1. Under the old covenant, God was distant from His people and unapproachable.
          1. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death (Exodus 19:12).
          2. This directive came after the people rejected the grace of God.
        2. But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Ephesians 2:13, 14).
          1. Now, God no longer keeps us at arm’s length.
        3. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
          1. We now have rights and privileges that allow us to approach God.
      1. Under the old covenant, sin was the central issue. Jesus took care of sin on the cross.
        1. Under the law, God held man responsible for his sins, whether or not man even knew he had sinned.
          1. And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity (Leviticus 5:17).
          2. No one could keep all the commandments; therefore, the law created sin-consciousness.
        2. “Suppose you sin by violating one of the LORD’s commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin” (Leviticus 5:17, NLT).
          1. The law put people in bondage, because they were always wondering if they had sinned without knowing it.
        3. Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience (Hebrews 9:9).
          1. The sacrificial system only covered sin for one year, and the people constantly had to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins. This system actually increased their sin-consciousness.
        4. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12).
          1. After the cross, we have redemption and forgiveness. Jesus’ blood cleansed us of all sin; we are now free from a guilty conscience.
      1. The new covenant signals a major shift as to how to be righteous in God’s eyes.
        1. All the “thou shalt not” commands under the old covenant changed to “I will” promises under the new covenant.
          1. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith 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 in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:8-12).
          2. Under the new covenant, the focus shifts from man to God.
        2. Before the cross, righteousness was demanded of sinful and fallen mankind.
          1. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us (Deuteronomy 6:25).
          2. We are not righteous simply because we obey the commandments; however, religion still teaches otherwise.
          3. We fall from grace when we try to be righteous through our own willpower and performance.
        3. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).
          1. After the cross, we no longer have to earn righteousness; it is now a free gift.
      1. Under the law, the people lived in condemnation. Under grace, we are free from it.
        1. Before the cross, Adam’s sin meant condemnation for everyone. Afterward, there was no condemnation.
          1. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).
          2. Many Christians today are still walking in condemnation.
        2. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
          1. We cannot earn the free gift of no condemnation; there is nothing we could ever do to deserve it. The woman caught in adultery received this gift, despite what she had done.
          2. The only thing we need to do to receive this free gift is to get in Christ. Once we are in Him, we will walk in the Spirit.
        3. Before the cross, there was no mediator between God and man. After the cross, Jesus was that mediator.
          1. For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both (Job 9:32, 33).
          2. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
          3. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).
        4. Multiple religious figures in the world may compete for our attention, but Jesus is the only mediator who stands between us and God.
          1. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).
          2. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises (Hebrews 8:6).