2 Chronicles 26:3, 5
Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
I think Romans 6:14 is one of the clearest statements distinguishing the Old Covenant (law) from the New (grace).
The three kings from today’s reading are perfect illustrations of the burden of living under the burden of the law.
Uzziah (Chapter 26) began in good fashion… “He set himself to seek God […] and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5). Uzziah enjoyed the blessings of God in military strength and victory. But Uzziah became prideful and presumed upon the law of the Lord by trying to do the duty of a priest. God gave him the opportunity to repent by sending the priest to warn him, but Uzziah became angry. “When he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord” (26:19).
Jotham (chapter 27) was portrayed as upright throughout his reign, and he enjoyed God’s favor. Whereas, Ahaz (chapter 28) was idolatrous and suffered under God’s judgment.
This is the Old Covenant. Living under the law was burdensome. Sin was inevitable. But God, in his grace, would relent if His people repented. Otherwise, they faced judgment.
In contrast, the New Covenant is founded on Grace and offers freedom from the burden of the law. Listen to how Paul begins Chapter 6 of Romans…
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
Paul answers, “By no means!” But the reason for his answer is complicated, and it is the key to the difference between the Old and the New Covenants. Paul’s answer involves the difficult concept of union with Christ…
Christ’s death and resurrection have defeated the power of sin in the believer’s life! As believers in Christ, we are united with him in his death and life, so that we have His power to overcome the sin in our hearts. When we turn to Christ in repentance and faith, a powerful spiritual transaction occurs. Our hard hearts are given life…they are transformed from stone to flesh through the indwelling of Holy Spirit.
- The Old Covenant exposed sin through the lens of the law, but provided no power to overcome sin.
- The New Covenant defeats the power of sin through the death and life of Christ.
Living under the new Covenant of Grace does not remove our responsibility…we are still able to sin and we are still accountable for our actions! But. We have the power of Christ to help us obey!
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14).