When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground. — George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Periodically, someone will say to me, “Hey, Pete, I came across an old cassette tape of yours.” Because cassettes are obsolete, I automatically know it’s from a long time ago. So I’ll respond, “Do me a favor and burn it, will you?” 

I’ve been teaching in vocational ministry for 30 years, but I’m not the same teacher I was three decades ago. To be more exact, I experienced a shift over a decade ago that radically changed my understanding of God. I became a new covenant guy. Let me explain… 

When I reflect upon the last 30 years, I see three phases of living: old covenant, middle covenant, and new covenant. 

During my years of old covenant living, I followed the words of Jeremiah 7:23 that say, Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. Said differently: Obey God and be blessed. Disobey Him and there will be consequences. 

Did I sin? You bet. And following my failure came the fear that I’d lose fellowship with God. So I entered a cycle of messing up and then working relentlessly to “earn back” God’s approval. Whenever bad things happened in my life, I attributed those things to God’s much-deserved anger toward me. 

Later, I learned about the Holy Spirit and entered what I call “middle covenant living.” Finally, I knew the Spirit had power! Perhaps He’d help me please the Father. During this time my prayer life went something like, Spirit, help me to be obedient so I can please God. 

Because I now knew that God had promised to never leave me nor forsake me, I fixated upon a new fear: God would surely stop using me if I sinned too much or too greatly. 

Neither old covenant nor middle covenant living is the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Our salvation isn’t based upon our performance but on God’s promises. There is a better way, which we’ll discover together this week. 

Jesus, set me free from fear-based faith this week! I want to rest in my relationship with You, knowing both intimacy and empowerment from Your Spirit. Lead me into that freedom. Amen.