Developing A Covenant Mentality

By William Handschumacher

Rock of Offence Special Commentary





A primary characteristic of a person who understands covenant is their boldness. When Christians who are luke-warm or indifferent encounter someone who has faith established upon the blood covenant of Jesus Christ, the first reaction is to brand them as fanatical and egotistical. Ego is the world's counterfeit of covenant faith. Remember that counterfeits are "look-alikes." If you place these two mind-sets side by side, they look nearly identical. However, ego is based upon what "I" can do ... and authentic Bible faith is based upon what "God" has already done. One is "self" centered and the other is "God" centered.

The religious community often accuses people of faith of lacking humility. Webster's dictionary describes humility as a lack of SELF-assertiveness. A Christian who has Biblical humility has replaced self-assertiveness with GOD-assertiveness. This type of person may appear on the surface to be just the opposite of what the world might call "humble." His assertiveness, however, does not come from self. It comes from God's Holy Spirit and can be very aggressive at times. A Biblically humble person never forgets that what he is came as an undeserved gift from God. A Christian with true humility is more caught up with who he is "in Christ" than who he is "without Christ."

The best example of this mentality is observed in the Old Testament example of David and Goliath. David was a faith-filled, covenant minded young man. Although you may have heard the story many times, we need to see the hidden lesson in this example from I Samuel chapter 17.

Saul was king and had reached an impasse in his struggle with the Philistines. Goliath of Gath, who had a height of six cubits and a span, stood in the way of Saul's victory. This "champion" of the Philistines possessed a bronze helmet, a coat of mail that weighed five thousand shekels of bronze, bronze armor on his legs, a bronze spear having an iron spearhead that weighed six hundred shekels and a shield-bearer that went before him. In other words, this guy was fearsome! Goliath was so intimidating that the Bible says in verse 11 that Saul and all of Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid of him. Remember that these were military men. Goliath would come out and defy the armies of Israel saying "give me a man, that we might fight together." The deal was that if Goliath won the fight, Israel would become the Philistine's servants. No one, even king Saul, had the courage to take on Goliath.

Something happened, however, that changes this whole situation. A young shepherd boy, approximately 16 years old, arrives on the scene. There's really nothing special about this boy named David except that he knows God and understands covenant. The Bible called David "a man after God's own heart." For forty days Goliath presented himself morning and evening saying words that defied the armies of Israel. When David heard the words of Goliath, something went off inside him. David declared to those around him, "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" As a result, David was called before King Saul. David told Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." David went on to say, "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God." David declared, "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." Saul tried to persuade David not to go but finally agreed saying, "Go, and the Lord be with you."

In verse 42, Goliath sees David and
the Bible says he disdained him
because he was only a youth. Goliath
tells David,


"Come to me, and I will give your flesh
to the birds of the air and the beasts
of the field!"


This threat had no effect on David at all.
In response David tells Goliath,


"You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands."



In verse 48 the Bible says,


"And it was so, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine."



We all know how it ended. David not only killed Goliath, but set the stage for Israel's complete victory over the Philistines that day.

What's going on here? We have thousands of men of war in the army of Israel ... and not one had this kind of confidence, including the King. Was David being presumptuous? Was he just some teenager who was mischievous and had a big ego? If you read the account in I Samuel 17, you discover that this is what his brothers thought.


Where did David's boldness
come from?

It came from blood covenant
knowledge.



Examine David's words and then read Psalm 91. It gives some of the provisions of that covenant. One of the provisions is that when an enemy comes against you, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." This is from where the faith and confidence of David came. It was covenant-based faith. David knew something about God that the soldiers did not know. David's faith was not founded in a god who constantly changed the rules so that you couldn't figure out what He was going to do. David's faith was in the God of the covenant. The author of Hebrews tells New Testament believers that the new covenant of Jesus Christ is; "a better covenant founded on better promises!" This means that we have something that is better and more sure than the Old Testament or old covenant on which to base our faith (Hebrews 8:6).


THE TWO KINDS OF COVENANTS


So far, we have covered what is known as an equal covenant. This is where the two participants who wish to cut the covenant have a balance of liabilities and assets. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Covenants are often made for this reason. One tribe who is weak in one area will join itself to another tribe who has strength in a corresponding area. This is especially important if there is a threat from an enemy. In this way, both parties benefit from each other's strengths.

However, there is a different type of covenant called an 'unequal covenant'. This is where one participant has absolutely nothing and the other participant has an abundance of resources. This kind of covenant is usually made because of a love that the one with the abundance has for the one who has nothing.

The one who has the abundance
actually does all the giving.
The participant who has nothing
does all the taking. It is an
unequal arrangement and our
natural reaction is to declare
it as unfair to the one with
the abundance.



The Greek word for this kind of
covenant is "Diatheke." It is
very interesting that when Jesus
made the statement in Luke 22:20 ...

"This cup is the New Covenant in
My blood, which is shed for you,"

The English word "covenant" in this
Scripture is translated from the
Greek word "Diatheke."



The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is an unequal covenant where God provides everything ... and our job is to receive what he provides. John 3:16 comes to mind as we discuss this subject;

"For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."


Another scripture that goes
along with the one above is
found in Romans 8:32;


"He who did not spare His
own Son, but delivered Him
up for us all, how shall
He not with Him also
freely give us all things?"



This kind of thinking brings us to a place of liberty and freedom. It's good news ... the good news of the Gospel. The way of religion brings bondage. It distorts and perverts the Gospel into something it was never meant to be.

Maybe, we can begin to understand
what Jesus was talking about in
John 8:32 when He said...


"And you shall know the
truth, and the truth shall
make you free."



Many in the Church have never heard "the truth” Jesus is speaking about in this Scripture. Counterfeit truth brings bondage, but real, Biblical truth brings freedom and liberty. I believe the proclamation of the counterfeit merit-based gospel to be the primary reason that many have left the Church and are disillusioned with the things of God. If this is where you are today, stay with us. We have some good news.




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