I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Please notice in the inspired quotes below that the new covenant came before the old covenant. In Genesis 3 God offered His grace, but man chose to establish his own righteousness. When Paul refers to the old covenant, he calls it old because it is useless, not because it came first. The new covenant was God’s original covenant of trusting in His grace and power instead of our own promises and strength. Please notice too, that niether covenant does away with the ten commandments. Reconciliation to the law is the goal in both covenants. In the new covenant we trust Jesus to reconcile us by His grace and power, while in the old and useless covenant we try to reconcile ourselves by our own strength and effort.
God’s Plan to Ransom Man
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. Genesis 17:7. As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall, there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon, and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation. This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it, and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 17:1; 26:5. . . . The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant. The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today. . . . Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the author and the finisher of our faith.
Man’s Inability to Save Himself
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16. Another compact–called in Scripture the “old” covenant–was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. . . . God . . . gave them [Israel] His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant, and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. . . . The terms of the “old covenant” were, Obey and live: “If a man do, he shall even live in them;” but “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 27:26. The “new covenant” was established upon “better promises”–the promise of forgiveness of sins, and of the grace of God to renew the heart, and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. The only means of salvation is provided under the Abrahamic covenant. -The Faith I Live By, pages 77-78 by Ellen G. White.