About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Christís Sacrifice Once For All  (ch. 10:1-18)

Verse 1 is one of those verses that puts the Law in its place, when it says that the Law "is only a shadow of the good things that are coming."  The Law spoken of here in context is the Law of Moses that the author has been addressing for many chapters now.  Some of these good things are already ours in Christ, and some are still to come in the next age.  This is why the author puts this verse in the future tense.  We must remember that salvation history, as I call it in this instance, is a process that began in the book of Genesis and ends in the book of Revelation.


Since the Law of Moses is only a shadow, the author has been saying that there is no logic keeping a shadowy image of something when the real thing, that is Jesus, is being offered to you.  These Hebrew believers are losing their minds when they think it is better to revert to law instead of staying with grace.        


The verse goes on to say because the Law of Moses is not the real thing, but only a shadow, it canít make people perfect.  Its sacrifices that "endlessly made," as the NIV puts it, never fixes our problem, which is sin.  If Godís Law canít fix our sin problem then any man made law canít either, and that includes all of the Evangelicals laws which I grew up in. 


How do we then become perfect?  We should note before we go farther, the word "perfect" here and elsewhere in the book of Hebrews doesn't mean sinless.  It means complete, as in a complete person.  As we have seen over again, God views us as perfect or complete because of the perfect sacrifice Jesus has made for us.  I always say it this way.  God views us as being totally righteous, even as He is totally righteous, when in fact we are far from righteous.  How grateful we should be for that.    


We should note in verse 2 that the people of the Old Testament felt guilty for their sins.  It was for this reason they had to keep offering sacrifices.  If the sacrifices could have taken away the sin that causes these feelings, then they would not have had to keep making the sacrifices. 


Another thing we should understand here is that guilt is not a feeling, but a position in which we stand before the Lord, the Supreme Judge.  Without allowing Jesus to be our High Priest, we are guilty, whether we feel guilty or not.  Once allowing Jesus to become our High Priest, we are no longer guilty, whether we feel guilty or not.  Still, many of us still have feelings associated with guilt even though we stand before God guilt free.  The more we understand that in Christ, we stand before God guilt free, the more we will not have these feelings associated with guilt. I grew up as a teenager struggling with these feelings.  It all ended for me in one 5 second prayer.  Since February 1970, I have had no feelings associated with guilt.  I've come to understand the grace of God that has touched my life.


Some Christians still suffer needlessly with so-called guilty feelings.  To appease these feelings, they do all sorts of good things.  Maybe they teach Sunday school.  Maybe they do lots of things in the local church; all to appease these feelings, but this is the same as offering Old Testament style sacrifices to God.  There is nothing that we can do to rid ourselves from this positional guilt.  If the feeling of guilt remains, we should go back to the Bible to understand what Jesus has done for us.  It is obvious that serving Jesus in the local expression of church is a good thing.  I'm speaking to the motives why we serve.  We serve because we love Jesus.  We serve because our service is an expression of faith.  Real faith produces service.  We do not serve to get rid of any feelings associated with gilt that we might have.     


Verses 3 and 4 are simple.  Daily sacrifices simply remind us of our sin.  They can't take away sin.  Being reminded of our sin every day does little in the way to help us move forward and being the Christians we are meant to be.  It's only logical.  If we're constantly thinking of our sin, we can't serve Jesus as we should.      


Verses 5 through 7 are a Messianic quote from Psalm 40.  Here we see yet another prophetic Psalm.  The writer says that Christ quoted this Psalm when He came into the world.  This would suggest that the pre-existing Son of God said these words as He entered the baby's body that God gave to Him to reside in while on earth.  This quote makes it clear that Jesus existed prior to becoming human.  It also says that God was never interested in animal sacrifices.  What God was most interested in was preparing a body for Jesus to live in.  This is a picture of what theologians call the incarnation.  This means that the pre-existing Son of God came to live in an earthly body.               


Jesus' body here is compared to the Old Testament sacrifices of animals.  What the verse is saying is that Jesus' body was not just prepared for Jesus to live in but was prepared to be sacrificed as an offering for our sins.   


You may struggle over the notion that God was never interested in sacrifices.  If that is so, you will ask why He instituted them in the first place.  They were a temporary measure.  They weren't His long range plan.  Just why God made temporary measures instead of going right into the real thing, well, you'll have to ask Him some day.   


The Psalm quotes Jesus as saying, "Here I am Ö I have come to do your will."  If you read the book of John, coming to do His Father's will is one of the main themes of the book.  This is what God in Heaven wanted to see and hear all along from man, but didn't.  Doing God's will means more to God than all of the sacrifices ever made in Old Testament times.  Just a few simple words, "Here I am Ö I have come to do your will, O God" satisfies Him more than we can ever imagine.  I can't begin imagine how God felt when He heard Jesus saying these words.


In verse 8 the author brings up the point that God wasn't really satisfied with offerings even though the Law required them, the very Law that He instituted.  We have to realize that most all of the time throughout the Old Testament that when the Jews offered these sacrifices they were being hypocritical.  They were simply going through the motions.  They continued to willfully sin.  Many church people are no different today.  They follow their religious tradition, week after week, but it's meaningless.  As God was not happy with Israel 's offerings He is not happy with many offerings today.


Verse 9 says it clearly once again, that God set aside the first (Law) to establish the second.  Knowing that Jesus said, "Here I am.  I have come to do your will" did it for God.  Finally, somewhat would do His will, which was seen clearly at the cross.  At was then that the Old Covenant was set aside.  The sacrifice of Jesus has made us holy as stated in verse 10.


At this point the term "in Christ" is important.  The question should be asked, "How are we made holy because of Jesus' sacrifice?"  Here is how it works.  Jesus was sacrificed as the supreme offering for our sin.  In a Biblical sense of the word, and, according to how God views things, He (God) sees us when He sees Jesus.  He died and lives in our place.  This is why God sees us when He sees Jesus.  This is why God sees us as being in Christ.  God views the believer through the lens of Jesus.  Spiritually speaking, we are actually in Christ.        


Verse 11 says that "day after day priests stand and perform religious duties."  It is very ironic as the writer of Hebrews writes this letter that the priests were still performing their ritualistic duties.  This verse is in the present tense.  The sad fact is that they were doing all of this for nothing.  Jesus had once and for all made His sacrifice.  Beyond His sacrifice there are no sacrifices to be made. 


Verse 11 states what the author has been saying all along through this book.  Ritualistic Judaism is a daily ritual that accomplishes nothing.  In one sense of the word, it is a boring routine.  


Verse 12 says that after Jesus made His great sacrifice "He sat down at the right hand of God."  Whether there is a literal seat that Jesus is sitting in or not can be debated, but we know in the culture in which these words were written, this phrase tells the readers that Jesus is now in a place of final authority alongside His Father.  He was at one point in time a living sacrifice, but now He is the Lord of all things until all of His enemies become His footstool, as verse 13 says.   This will take place at the end of what Prophetic Futurists call the thousand year rule of Christ as seen in the book of Revelation.  What is called the White Throne Judgment will put an end to all of God's enemies as seen in Revelation 20:11 and following.   


In verse 14 we see that "we are being made perfect,Ē or as I've said earlier, "being made complete," yet in verse 10 it says that we "have been made holy."  This is the continuous nature of our salvation seen here.  In one sense we have already been made perfect because God views us as perfect, yet in another since He is changing us into someone who will be perfect, or, as the Greek implies, made complete.  Our transformation into perfection will reach its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus gives us our new and glorified bodies, bodies like His present glorified body.


You see the continuing nature of our salvation in verse 13 with the phrase "continuing to be made holy."


In verse15 the author speaks once again of the Old Testament as being inspired and spoken by the Holy Spirit.  This gives us a bit of an understanding how New Testament Christians should understand the Old Testament, something that I believe is not well understood in the Evangelical church.  What we learn here is that all of what was written in what we call the Old Testament is in fact the Holy Spirit speaking to us.    


The writer in verses 16 and 17 quotes Jeremiah 31:33 and 34 as he did earlier.  "I will put my laws in their hearts Ö and remember their sin no more."  We have talked about this earlier.  Once again, in one sense of the word this has come true already, yet the totality of this prophecy will not come true until Jesus returns to rule in Jerusalem . 


One thing that is often missed in this Jeremiah quote in Evangelical circles is to whom this passage was written to and to whom it refers.  The passage is written to Jews, not Gentiles as many think.  It is the Jews that will have God's laws written on their hearts.  It is the Jews whose sins will be forgiven.  As a matter of fact, the New Covenant as seen in Jeremiah was not written to or about Christian Gentiles but to Jews.  The Biblical principles concerning these matters is always, to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles.  This passage only applies to Gentiles as believing Gentiles have been grafted into the Jewish tree as the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 9 through 11.  Once Jesus returns to Israel and the surviving Jews from the Great Tribulation are saved, then, the believing Gentiles will inherit the fulfillment of the New Covenant in its totality.       


Verse 18 is important.  It says, "Where these have been forgiven there is no longer any sacrifice for sins."  You and I have been forgiven, as will be the Jews as Jeremiah predicted, by God.  This is so if we have accepted His forgiveness that was purchased by Jesus on the cross.  If this indeed is the case, then there are no other sacrifices to be made to make us right with God.  We can do nothing to make ourselves right with God.  Jesus has done it all for us.  This does not mean that we should not live sacrificially.  It means that our sacrificial living is a result of our love and thankfulness towards Jesus.  The good things we now perform do not make us right before God.  They are a result of us being made right before God and our being thankful for this fact.


The simple Biblical fact is that there is absolutely no other sacrifice to be made that provides forgiveness of sins.  If you reject Jesus' sacrifice then you are eternally lost in your unforgiven sin.   


The forgiveness of our sins that is mentioned here tells us that there is no longer any record of past, present, or future sins in God's records.  They no longer exist.  It is for this reason that we can be reconciled to God and have His Spirit live within us.  This should really free us from any feelings associated with guilt.     


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