Many emphasize the holiness of God, and it is true that God is holy, holy, holy. I am not trying to diminish this truth. But, mankind instinctively knows the holiness of God as can be seen in man’s reaction when even an angel shows up on the scene, “depart from me for I am a sinful man.” Unfortunately, many focus on God’s holiness to the point where the love of God is unseen. Instead of being rooted and grounded in God’s holiness in our thoughts that can lead to inappropriate fear, the Bible teaches we need to be rooted and ground in God’s perfect love so that we can be filled with the fullness of God. This same perfect love casts out all fear of punishment, so we can boldly approach our Father.
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19
If we look at the Pharisee’s, they knew all about the holiness of God but had no sense of the love of God. Based on the preceding verse, this would mean they were not filled with the fullness of God. That makes sense since they knew all about His holiness but to know all about God, to be filled with the fullness of God, they would need to know the love of God too. This would indicate to me that being established in God’s love is for the mature in Christ. For them, it was all about keeping the rules out of holy fear and making sure others did too. Anyone who thinks they are still under the law and fear God’s punishment will place others under the same legalism. The Pharisee’s allowed the knowledge of God’s holiness to puff them up and blind them to the love of God that builds up. They were all about the letter of the law, neglecting the weightier aspect of the spirit of God’s law, love. They did not even recognize God’s true nature in the Son of God, Jesus. We all agree the Bible teaches about the holiness and justice of God, but it calls God love, “God is Love.”
Jesus Came to Reveal the Love of God and Our Father
If we want to know the heart of God, our Father, we just need to look at Jesus who is an exact representation of His nature according to the Bible. Jesus only did what the Father did and tells us clearly, “in seeing me you have seen the Father.”
The Pharisee’s knew many of the names of God, but Jesus came to reveal the one name they did not know, Father, and Abba which is equivalent to Daddy. Father and Abba present to us, God’s desire for a close personal loving relationship.
Under the Old Covenant which emphasized the law of Moses and the holiness of God, the Pharisee’s were unwilling even to utter God’s name. To call God Father as Jesus did, was blaspheme to them. The Pharisee’s knew all about the holiness of God and claimed to love God, but according to Jesus, they did not know or love God.
They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” John 8:19 ESV
A person who does not know God is defined in the Bible as a person who does not love God.
But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 1 Cor 8:3 ESV
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. John 8:42 ESV
According to scripture, the Pharisee’s hearts were hardened, and a veil remained over their eyes due to their focus on the Old Covenant and the law of Moses. The law of Moses makes a believer sin conscious. In other words, conscious of the holiness of God. This focus creates separation from God by the believer in their thoughts. This leads to an incorrect fear of God that blinds the person to the love of God. I submit to you that when the Bible talks of a hardening of the heart, it comes about from the rejection of God and His love.
Even though Christians are no longer under the Old Covenant or the law of Moses, the Bible is very clear that whenever they are read to this day, a veil remains over the hearts of the hearers.
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 2 Cor 3: 14-16 ESV
An example of this can be seen in the teaching that a Christians sins separate them from fellowship with God. This is false and an example of what happens when the Old and New Covenants are mixed. The truth is, sin only separates a person who is mixing the two covenants in their mind. In other words, the separation comes from the believer's side only because they do not trust their Father nature seen in Jesus. A believer is a born-again child of God, and we can always freely approach our Father.
The Bible teaches that God’s love goes far beyond ours. If we can do something good and loving, won’t God do even more? Even a loving human father wants their child to come to them when they fail for guidance, comfort, and help. If the child does not come to their father, it indicates a flaw in the relationship. The child does not trust the father or fears the father’s punishment and condemnation. It is understandable why a child might keep things from a father who is less than loving. But, the worst thing the child can do is keep their failures a secret from their loving father. This is what creates a separation in the mind of the child from their father. It has nothing to do with their loving father. If you have a hard time approaching your Father in Heaven who loves you greatly, read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 and see how the father treated the wayward son.
The Old Covenant was all about the Jews own personal righteousness, earning blessings and avoiding curses, sin could separate a person from God until they offered a sacrifice for their sins. The New Covenant is all about Jesus righteousness. He paid for every sin, one sacrifice for all people for all time, and then places believers under grace where sin is not counted. Our righteousness is His righteousness, and it is a gift from God, imputed to us when we are born-again, similar to when our sin nature was imputed to us when we were born into this world. We become heirs of eternal life in Jesus and are no longer heirs of death in Adam. Our fellowship with our Father is based on Jesus righteousness, not our own righteousness. Since Jesus righteousness never fails, we are always righteous before our Father. If we feel separated from God when we fail, we are falling into Satan’s trap. He is the only one that wants us to feel separated from God, unloved and fearful when we sin. A Christian is supposed to approach God with freedom and confidence because of the blood of Jesus, especially when we fail.
According to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Eph 3:11-12 NIV
Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb 4:16 NIV
Am I suggesting that a Christian not read the Old Covenant or the Old Testament? No. A Christian can learn a lot from the Old Covenant, but they must learn to correctly divide the word as the Bible teaches. The Old Covenant, the law of Moses, was only given to the Jews. The two covenants cannot be mixed as one. If you read the Bible as one whole teaching where everything applies to you as a believer, you are not correctly dividing the word. The New Covenant starts after the cross in the New Testament. Jesus was born under the Old Covenant law and brought us the New Covenant of Grace and Truth. Jesus sacrifice fulfilled the Old Covenant law for us. The Old Covenant was made obsolete by God when He established the New with the blood of Jesus. A believer first needs to learn all about the New Covenant; they need to be established in it. When they are, they will rightly be able to divide the word as they read it. They will know which verses apply now and which ones do not. They will not mix the two covenants into one. The veil will be completely lifted from their hearts and eyes, and the perfect love of God will be completely revealed to them. If a person keeps mixing the two covenants, this will never happen.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
As Christians, God has not called us to walk by the letter of the law that kills while ignoring the spirit of the law like the Pharisee’s did. We are called to walk by the Spirit of the law, which is love.
who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 ESV
If we agree with the Holy Spirit, walk in the same direction, he renews our minds from passing judgment to showing grace, and from fear of punishment to God’s perfect love displayed on the cross that casts out all fear.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4: 7-21 ESV
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:8-12 ESV
There was a time when Peter was blinded to the love of God by the holiness of God, read about it: What is Maturity? Knowing God's Holiness or God's Love and Grace?
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20