Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  Scripture quotations are from the ESV ® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: A “covenant” is in modern terms a “contract.” The nature of contracts is pretty simple under American law. The parties to the contract exchange promises to do something, and that something has value.  That valuable something is called “consideration.”  For example, I promise to give you a specific sum of money, and you promise to give me your car.  The money and the car are valuable consideration, and the mutual promises constitute the contract.  Theologians often find many covenants in the Old Testament.  Our lesson this week is about one, the ambiguously termed “New” Covenant. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible to understand better this new covenant, and to determine if it is truly new, or simply “refurbished.”

  1.         Defining the Covenant

  1.         Read Hebrews 8:6-7. What does this tell us about promises and the covenant? (We are told there is an old (“first”) covenant and a “more excellent” (“second”)covenant. The difference between the two has to do with “better promises.”)

  1.         Read Hebrews 8:8-9. What was wrong with the old promises? (The people “did not continue in my covenant.” That means the people did not keep their promise.  They breached the contract.)

  1.         Let’s pin down the first covenant. How do these verses help us to understand what constitutes the original covenant? (This is the Ten Commandments. We know that because of the “land of Egypt” context.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 8:10. Describe the “better promise?” (The better part is that God’s laws are placed “into their minds” and written “on their hearts.”)

  1.         Can you break a promise placed in your mind and written on your heart? (The correct answer seems to be “no,” but the practical problem is that we still disobey.)

  1.         What is the important difference in the new covenant? (It is internal rather than external. It becomes a part of our thinking and our internal desire.)

  1.         Is the law actually new? Or is there a new power? Is it now a force coming from inside us?

  1.         Notice the comment about timing in Hebrews 8:10. It says that God’s law is placed in our minds and hearts “after those days.” What days are those? (Read Hebrews 1:2. The time reference is not precise, but it applies at least to when Hebrews was written, for the writer calls that time “these last days.”)

  1.         A New Covenant?

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 6:5-6 and Deuteronomy 11:18. These texts refer to the old covenant. Did God have the same goal for it? (Yes. The idea that the law would be written on our hearts and minds was the original idea.)

  1.         If the goal has not changed, how can we say the “new” covenant is really new?  Or, is there some other aspect of the “new” covenant that makes it new?

  1.         Read Zechariah 7:11-12. Remember that a contract contains mutual promises. What has happened with the people’s side of the promise? (They have no desire to keep their side of the promise. They have “diamond-hard” hearts.)

  1.         Read Ezekiel 36:26-27. What remarkable thing is going on here? How does this vary from a normal contract? (In the normal contract, each side is responsible for providing their own consideration. This tell us that God is working on both sides of the contract. He has come to “our side” and aided us in keeping our promise.)

  1.         Let’s break down what God is doing to aid us in keeping our part of the deal. How do you think our “diamond-hard” heart is replaced? What is the mechanism for doing that? (It must be that Jesus’ death for our sins changes us. Such an incredible show of love.)

  1.         What is the new “Spirit within you?”

  1.         Read John 14:15-16. Consider these verses. Are they the answer to Ezekiel 36:26-27? (These two texts fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The goal is for us to keep our promise to obey. John 14:15 tells us that love of Jesus triggers obedience. That is what replaces a diamond-hard heart. John 14:16 describes the Holy Spirit being given to us as a “forever” Helper. These two constitute the “better promise” from God and the better promise from us.)

  1.         When John 14:15 is quoted to me, the point is that I should keep the Ten Commandments because I’m supposed to love God. Is that the point being made by John? (When we see how Ezekiel 36 and John 14 fit together, the point is just the opposite. When God gives us this new heart of love, we will keep God’s commandment.)

  1.         A Superior Promise

  1.         Read Galatians 3:10-11. How does this fit into our discussion of humans keeping their promise to obey? This says that those attempting to keep this promise are “not justified” and even “cursed!” (The curse comes from not keeping the promise. But, the “not justified” language tells us that no one can keep the promise.)

  1.         Read Galatians 3:13. Let’s go back to our original contract discussion.  One party gives money and the other party gives a car.  Can the party giving the car also give the other party money? Can that party lend money to help the other party pay for the car?


  1.         Is Jesus helping us to keep our promise? Or, is He paying the penalty for not keeping our promise? (In the previous section of our discussion, we learned that Jesus is helping us to keep our promise. But we see here that He is doing even more. He is paying the penalty for our broken promises.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 7:18-19 and Hebrews 7:22. What if the seller of the car decided to guarantee that the buyer would have enough money to pay? (As strange as this parallel seems, that is exactly what Jesus is doing here. His perfect life is the “guarantor” of our promise to obey.)

  1.         Let’s be sure we grasp the full picture of what Jesus is doing for us to help us keep our promise. First, He provides the means for a new heart. Second, He aids us in obedience. Third, He guarantees our obedience by obeying for us.)

  1.         Is that a superior promise? I will sell you my car and I’ll make sure you have enough money to buy it!

  1.         Let’s look at Hebrews 7:22 from another angle. Hebrews 8:6 says that Jesus “mediates” for us while Hebrews 7:22 calls Him our “Guarantor.” Are those two the same in your mind? (No. A mediator is one that tries to resolve a dispute between two hostile parties. A guarantor takes the side of one of the parties. In this contract “dispute” Jesus is on our side.)

  1.         How does this situation change the definition of “dispute?” (We are not in a dispute over this contract. Jesus is doing everything possible to be sure that our promises are fulfilled. What a great God!)

  1.         Friend, the “New Covenant” is not your regular contract. Instead, Jesus is taking care of both sides of the agreement. He guarantees our promise! Would you like to enter into this contract right now?

  1.         Next week: Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice.