HEBREWS 10:1- 22 STUDY 8
In this section the author turns to the Mosaic Law and demonstrates that it, like the sacrificial system, is also a shadow and not the reality. Here we begin to see that obedience to laws served to condemn man, but never brought man back to the place he was prior to the fall; which was to say, someone in right relationship to God in his heart and mind and therefore no longer in need of the law. What the Law could never produce was a new man. The author will explain the process of our sanctification that is the manner by which we are transformed and made holy. Once this has been made clear he will begin to deal with the subject of how we ought to live as new creatures.
10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.
Verse one begins with the word “for” referring back to the “once for all” sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice.
In 8:5 he referred to the tabernacle as the shadow of a heavenly reality. Now he turns to the Law and applies this same word again. The Law was foreshadowing a good thing to come.
The Law Was a Shadow
Shadows do not exist except if there is a substance between them and the light. The shadow was cast from the very substance of Jesus Christ. Therefore it is not something to mock; it had glory in its time and fulfilled a divine purpose, but it is done away by the light of Jesus Christ, the living word of God.
The shadow pointed towards the important things to come: a new covenant bought with the blood of Christ that would bring redemption for our sins, eternal life with God; and becoming a new creature freed from everything that offends God. The good things are summarized in verse 12, when he adds “And eternal redemption”. Redemption speaks of restoration. The Christian view of redemption means that every issue between God and the believer has been settled on the cross for eternity. The purchase price for our offences has been declared and satisfied. We have eternal peace with the Father. Every spot and blemish from our earthy lives has been washed away.
There are two Greek words for shadow. One means a sharp distinct shape. The other is a rough or pale shape. The author of Hebrews uses the rough pale shape to describe the Law, but adds that it pointed to the good things to come and was not the thing itself. Next the author switches from the word “shadow” to the word “image”.
Heb 10:1 the Law “was not the very image of the things…” This Greek word for “image” was used by Paul in 2 Cor. 4:4 and Col. 1:15 where he declared that Christ is the very image of God. The Law was not the very image.
This same word “image” is used in Hebrews 1:3 speaking about Christ.
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,
The Son is the exact image or true representation of God. We are shown continually in scripture that Jesus is God who became flesh and dwelt among us. The Law could not function in this way. The reason for this is because Law does not precede God, it proceeds from God. God has always existed. He created the Law for a purpose and when he has accomplished that purpose he destroys the Law. Christ, who is God, preceded the Law and abides forever. The Law was added after Christ had created all things; and after man had fallen.
Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve where not governed by a body of laws. They existed in right relationship with God so no law was necessary. In order for them to have a free will that actually involved making a choice, God gave them one law (don’t eat from this tree) so they could choose God rather than something he prohibited. Eating from the tree was not a moral violation; it was rebellion. There is nothing immoral about eating fruit. They broke the one law God gave them. Jesus said if you love me you keep my commandments. Keeping that one law was their opportunity to express love and trust towards God.
Verse one says the Law was a shadow of good things to come but not the real image. What was the good thing to come? The good thing is when the will of God is written in our heart and becomes a part of who we are by the progressive transforming work of the Holy Spirit. When we are restored the Law will be irrelevant. We will be holy as God is holy.
The author contrasts the good things to come to the failure of the Law by speaking about the Levitical law with its endless repetition as well as its failure to take away sin.
The Old System Didn’t Work
Heb 10:2 Or else wouldn’t they have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins?
Here is an important point. If the Law worked, it should have solved the problem of sin. If it had worked people would not have remained mindful of sin. There was sufficient time in history for it to change man and eradicate sin.
Heb 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is yearly reminder of sins.
Heb 10:4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.
All the animal sacrifices pointing to the need for the cross, because they were insufficient to pay the price for sin. They just covered it, until Christ came and redeemed those who in faith, waited for him.
Heb 10:2 Or else wouldn’t they have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins? (1)
The sacrifices did not cleanse the conscience. If the conscience had been cleansed man would have learned to think righteously and would have turned away from his sinful desires. The sacrifices pointed to the need for something more. So did the Law. The Law was necessary to teach man about sin, but it was inadequate because it could not solve the problem of sin.
If the Law had succeeded in redeeming man the Law would have changed man and passed away without the need for a savior. The problem was greater than the Law; the problem is that fallen man is self-centered and self-serving. His own ambitions bring him into conflict with the Law. The Law could never have changed his nature.
The sacrifices held forth a promise and a hope because they covered the peoples sins and restrained the wrath of God. Covering is not the same as removing. The shadow was crying out for the real to remove sin and make peace with God. Christ was the real. The Law identified the problem. The flesh is sinful. It offends God’s holiness. The Law was not a true representation of God; Jesus Christ is. The law prepared them and caused them to anticipate the real, so Paul called it the school teacher that brings us to Christ, after which its job is done. If the Law worked, it would have changed man rather than simply identifying man’s sins.
The Law Brought Condemnation
The Old Covenant secured a temporary pause from the judgment of God. Did this save the Hebrews?
We were told at the end of chapter 9 that some were saved in Christ. But what we are told here is that the sacrifices did not bring about the forgiveness of even one sin. The Law pointed to the need for forgiveness and for transformation. Paul says:
Ro 3:19 ¶ Now we know that whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God.
Ro 3:20 Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
The Law points a finger at every sinner and cries “guilty”. It reproves people because their deeds are evil. We spoke in the second message about God coming down and dwelling among men. The condition of that union was ‘Be holy for God is holy’. Here Paul tells us the Law failed to save even one person. There was not one person who was found to be righteous under the Law. Rom 3:20 suggests that the Hebrew as a nation were a witness against mankind because the Jews have the same flesh as everyone else. By their failure they condemned the flesh as a means of solving the sin problem; so that all of mankind has become guilty; all men are the children of Adam and sin in some manner just as Adam did. The Jews proved that no one could keep the Law. What the Law did was bring mankind the knowledge that all men are sinners. Man always falls short of God’s holiness.
Heb 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is yearly reminder of sins.
They had sacrifices going on every day, but once a year when the High Priest went in to the Holy of Holies they as a nation were conscious of their sins and waited in anxiety to see if God would accept the offering that covered them as a people for another year. If God did not accept the sacrifice the High Priest died inside the Holy of Holies. The High Priest had a rope tied around his ankle so other priests could pull him out if God killed him. Every year this was repeated and continually reminded them of their failure. It exposed them to endless fear and guilt.
Heb 10:4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.
If it was impossible for the blood to take away sins; why did God accept their sacrifices? Even though they had the law they kept offending God by their sins. What God was looking for was faith. He wanted to show them mercy so faith was the thing he looked for in their offerings. If they had responded correctly God would have accepted them by grace through faith. It was impossible for the blood of animals to save them. Faith in God’s promises and provisions would have. Those who put their hope in God were looking forward to a time when God provide the sacrifice that would finish everything. The faith and hope they had in the sacrifices was fixed on the fact that God had made a provision for them; it was not based on their own merit. If they responded correctly they were not paying a debt. They were worshipping God for making a way to draw near to him. But only a remnant of them saw that. That remnant was saved in Christ.
Many thought they were paying their own dues and were self-righteous. Others saw their sins and the hopelessness of overcoming them so they turned away from God. Throughout the Old Testament we see God calling them back from their decisions to backslide. This back and forth went on all the time. The majority either became self-righteous by their sacrifices or they became discouraged by the consciousness of sin and gave up. A remnant put their hope in God and trusted him to bless them for their faith in him.
We need to see that God was not pleased by the sacrifices. They were a tangible means by which people could worship him; they were a means for those who loved God to serve him in faith; it provided a means by which their faith could find expression.
Heb 9:15 ¶ And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
When the law was given there was no indication that what they were doing would not satisfy God. What they were told is without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Later Jeremiah and Ezekiel identified a problem. The people had a Law written in stone, and needed God to make a new covenant that would place the Law in hearts of flesh.
Verse one tells us the Law could not produce spiritual maturity. Believers become pure because Christ is their righteousness, and he imputes that righteousness to them apart from their performance. We find the solution to man’s sin in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We don’t produce righteousness in our self; Christ has made us righteous by faith in his sacrifice. If this were not true the Holy Spirit could not dwell in us. There is no union between light and darkness. There is no union between Christ and evil. Because God sees us as clean the Holy Spirit can live in us and begin the process of conforming us into the image of his righteousness. All the conditions have been met in Christ and we are already righteous by faith, so his Holy Spirit will never leave us. Paul says we have this treasure in our earthen vessel. Our body is the Temple where the Holy Spirit lives so we are pure by the blood. The Holy Spirit wouldn’t abide in us if we were not pure. 1 John 3:3 says “He that has this hope purifies himself even as he is pure.”
We Continually Chose Either Faith or Works
As Christians when we sin we sometimes think we need to do something to make things right. It is hard to turn to Christ and say your blood covered this. That seems flippant so we devise ways of self-redemption. We think we need to pay for our act in order to show God we are serious about being faithful. So we add something to the finished work of the cross. In doing this we are saying to him, his sacrifice was inadequate. For the Hebrew Christians addressed in this letter, when they had that sense of needing to do something, they were tempted to return to the Temple and make a sin offering. Verse two says to them, If worshippers were cleansed from sins by an offering then they would have stopped sinning. If it worked nobody would have a bad conscience. No one would be thinking about sins because the Law would have made them holy. The Law failed so returning to the Law after they were saved to do something more is an act of futility as well as an insult to the sufficiency of Christ.
The Perfection of Christ
The “good thing to come” is that Christ has made us perfect. We are perfectly forgiven. God received the sacrifice of Christ and his justice was satisfied. His righteousness which is perfect is imputed to us. The Greek word for perfect here means finished or accomplished. God declares it to be so. God transfers Christ’s righteousness to us by our faith in his finished work. We receive the righteousness of Christ and are perfect because he is perfect (2 Cor. 5:21).
Heb 10:5 Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, “Sacrifice and offering you didn’t desire, But a body did you prepare for me;
Heb 10:6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure.
Heb 10:7 ¶ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of me) To do your will, God.'”
Here he quotes Psalm 40: 6-8.
The Old Testament prophesied that God would provide his own sacrifice. The animal sacrifices were always only a temporary measure.
Ho 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
The Law should have humbled them and made them delight in mercy. It should have made them draw near to God. The sacrifices were a means of access to God, because the blood covered their sins. It enabled them to approach God by faith in the means which he had provided. But they made the sacrifices an end in itself, instead of a means to an end which is God and this gave them self-righteousness for having completed the means. Repeatedly God said I hate these sacrifices. God received no pleasure when men offered animal sacrifices.
Man was under a death sentence and a life had to be sacrificed for man’s life. God looked for man to come to him through faith by these sacrifices. If there was no faith involved it was a meaningless slaughter. This is clear in passages like Isa. 1:11, Jere. 6:20, Amos 5:21-22. They all say God hated animal sacrifices. The animals no doubt hated them also. Man was supposed to rule over the animals, but his rebellion brought destruction to them. God didn’t make his creation to destroy it. He didn’t give it to man so man could destroy it. In Isaiah God says “I did not make the world for nothing, I made it to be inhabited.” Man brought sin and death into the world. In Romans 8:22 we are told that the whole creation is waiting for the Children of God to come to maturity so all that suffering, death and futility will be brought to an end. Death is God’s enemy.
We can get a glimpse of this in how scripture talks about Christ ruling and reigning on the throne in Jerusalem; we are told that no creature, no matter how contrary they are to each other will kill each other on the holy mountain where he sits on his throne.
Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
At some point, according to Dan 2:34-35 the whole earth will be filled by the mountain. This does not mean there is no death in the Millennium (Isa. 65:20; Matt 5:22). My only point here is to illustrate that God hates death, it is his enemy, but according to Paul it is the last enemy to be destroyed (I Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14).
Isaiah tells us that death doesn’t happen on the Holy Mountain. All these species of animals do not turn into sheep with different skins. Different species teach us different things about God. Jesus is called the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. He compares his love to a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. He describes his wrath as worse than a bear robbed of her whelps. He speaks of Leviathan to illustrate overwhelming power. Scripture is full of references to different animals that illustrate the passion and character of God. But in the place where Christ dwells on the holy mountain, it appears that there will be no death. In the Gospel accounts, in the life of Christ only at the cross did a human die (the two thieves) in his presence.
Heb 10:7 Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of me)
All of the scripture speaks of him. Here he reminds them that in the Old Testament they were told this. The sacrifices pointed to the need for something more to complete man’s redemption. The Psalm and prophets predicted that the Messiah would come and would satisfy God. When Jesus was attacked by the Pharisees, he pointed out that no one could bring a charge against him. He never broke the Law. That in itself was a fulfillment of this prophecy quoted in Hebrews. At the beginning of his ministry he declared that his purpose was to fulfil all of the Law. The Pharisees should have seen his sinless character and known he was the Messiah. But they had made the Word of God of none effect by their traditions, and Jesus violated their traditions all the time. Man still does this. Peter says they twist the scripture to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).
When Jesus said “Lo I come to do thy will”, he showed that he was a willing sacrifice and by his obedience even to death on the cross he would be the final sacrifice for sin (Phil. 2:8).
Light in the World
In Christ the sacrificial system was completed and abolished. It is no longer part of God’s plan. We don’t have altars. They have been abolished.
Heb 10:9….” He takes away the first, that he may establish the second,
The phrase “he takes away the first” in the Greek literally means to kill or destroy, to put to death or do away with. The Hebrew Christians reading this were still drawn to the temple; they had rituals, the Sanhedrin created law, and the priesthood still dealt with penalties. That was their society. They needed to sort out what was done away with in Christ and what was permissible.
Even though Christ fulfilled everything, he did not condemn their society. He did not call them to live in a vacuum. They remained first century Jews living in a Jewish society. But they were called to live in their society as witnesses to what Christ had finished. They were to preach the cross. This is the crossroad every believer must travel.
They were living in a sacerdotal system that had rejected Christ. Their struggle to obey the faith in their society always involved a conflict with the religion system that rejected Christ. They were in the society but not of the society. They were called out but they continued to interact so that they might reach the lost.
In the first study we looked at Cain and Nimrod and recognized that the natural man is a social animal. He builds societies and empires and he develops institutions that socialize him. He draws his identity from these things. They define how people relate to each other; they define family; they define what is lawful for self-protection, who has the power to police the society internally or to protect it from outside threats. Societies decide how provisions are to be developed and distributed. Societies are organized around these regulatory institutions. In a fallen world they are necessary. They are part of the fall and prove that we are still in fallen world, but God uses them as a common grace which allows people to co-exist. So even though Paul preaches grace apart from the Law, he does not condemn the Jewish society.
1Co 9:19 ¶ For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Co 9:23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
We see in the book of Acts and in references like this in the epistles that Paul and other servants of Christ continued going to the temple and synagogues; they observed feasts; they went through cleansings, they joined in their society so they could save souls. Jewish Christians are not forbidden from keeping the Law. The error they commit is in thinking it adds anything to the finished work of Christ (Rom. 14:1-9) (2).
The Hebrew Christians were having to navigate through this; to find the proper use of things; to find what was done away with and what could be used to enable them to be a conscience in that society (3).
What is plain is that believers are God’s presence for the society they are in. they bring the gospel of peace. But peace with God means accepting God on God’s terms. Believers are not called to justify a society so they can have an alibi for being worldly. They, like Jesus, are immersed in a society so they can seek those who hunger for God and bring them to the cross of Christ. There is no other way in this life to be saved. God will decide the fate of the rest of mankind at the Great White Throne judgment. We, as believers can love the nice people around us and be glad they are great people, but they are lost souls who will go to hell if they die in their sins. That reality has to be separate from our relationship to any society. We need to remember what we are about. Heb. 10:9 tells us old things are passed away. Christ has taken away the old that he might establish the new.
Heb 10:10 by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Notice the author here changes his pronoun to “we”. Up to this point he has been using the third person tense, now he changes to first person. The change recognizes that our faith in Christ has united us with God and set us on a course that is different than that of the world. We now see all people, good citizens or bad, as those for whom Christ died and who will perish in their sins unless they hear and receive the Gospel of Peace initiated in Christ (Rom. 10:15).
Here the author speaks to the believer and tells him/her that we have been sanctified in Christ. The tense of the phrase “have been” means it was done in the past by Christ’s sacrifice, but it continues to have effect into the present. It is once for all. His point is that we are completely sanctified. God sees us as holy. Why, Because God sees us in Christ. The word “sanctify” means to make clean or holy.
Sanctification is revealed in scripture in three ways or stages. These stages can be seen as past, present and future and scripture refers to them by different names. You can look at it this way:
Justification (positional sanctification) is Gods declaration that we are delivered from the penalty of sin before God (Rom. 8:29-39)
Practical Sanctification (Practical or experiential sanctification) is the process by which the power of sin is being purged from our lives through obedience to the faith by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:2)
Glorification (ultimate sanctification) is the final and ultimate deliverance from the presence of sin when God presents us to himself without spot or blemish. (Eph 1:13,14)
With practical sanctification we still sin and God is working in us, to bring about our obedience to the faith. Our sanctification is complete in God’s eyes but it is being realized by the process of our transformation. In Phil 2:12-13 Paul says work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God working in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
We work because God is working is us. We have his promise that we are being changed, so our faith acts on that promise as a permission to become by our obedience or participation, what he has planned to be the finished purpose of our lives.
Paul says work out your salvation with fear and trembling. He uses the phrase “fear and trembling four times in his letters (1 Cor 2:3; 2 Cor 7:15; Eph 6:5; Phil 2:12). It is important for us to think about it because it may tell us something about the numerous warnings in Hebrews. Paul like the author of Hebrew tells us we are free in Christ. But Paul in another place says that even though we are free in Christ we should not use this freedom to be brought under bondage to anything (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23). He says we are free but not everything we do builds us up in Christ or glorifies God or his church.
So Paul speaks about his own ministry and our own faith and inserts the phrase “fear and trembling.” The Greek word for fear here is what we get our word “phobia” from. It means alarm, terror and extreme fear. Trembling means fear to the point of quaking or becoming weak kneed. We cannot be flippant about our faith. Paul talked about the battle he had with his own flesh, (his appetites, interests, desires and ambitions), and he said he disciplined his body the way a boxer disciplines his body. He said he did this because he was afraid that after preaching to others he might find himself put on a shelf (1 Cor. 9:27).
Nobody is indispensable to God. It is a privilege to be used by God. We should be afraid that he won’t use us. We should be afraid that he won’t change us now. Our hope must be a fearful expectation; we are participating in eternity right now, we minister to other people who are eternal creatures; we have this time and chance to demonstrate our love for God by living righteous lives; and we should be terrified that we could waste that chance. I’m not talking about Law; I’m talking about loving God. In this life we can make choices that effect eternity.
Ro 12:1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Ro 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
That is practical sanctification.
In Ephesians Paul says we have heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, we are God’s purchased possession and have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13) which is the guarantee that we will be presented to God to the praise of his glory. There is nothing about losing our salvation here. It is about losing the opportunity to complete the ministry of Christ by being his body in our world (Col. 1:24; 1 Cor. 12:27-31).
Entering Into His Rest
Heb 10:11 Every priest indeed stands day by day ministering and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,
Heb 10:12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Here is the contrast. The aorist tense here is a onetime offering. The body of Christ is set against the bodies of all the animals that failed to please God. Why is Christ’s sacrifice acceptable when the others were not? Christ is God the creator; he was a perfect man. He is holy. By his holy and voluntary sacrifice he alone could meet the standards of the Holy God. The sacrifice had to be equal or greater than the offence. God was the offended party. Christ met God’s holy standard and God was satisfied. Nothing on this earth; not even the sum total of the earth could have done that for it was all corrupted by the fall. If the sum total of the earth were sufficient to satisfy God man would have been saved by the flood under Noah. But Noah continued to sin as did his children.
Christ’s blood has made us perfect because his sacrifice is permanent. It happened at a point of history but it has an eternal effect. He sat down because the Father was satisfied by his once for all sacrifice.
Verses 11-12 are the summary of the contrasts between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Christ. In the Levitical priesthood they had an endless supply of new priests being born and dying. The Levitical priests stood all day repeating the same sacrifices over and over. Jesus offered one sacrifice that was sufficient for all time and sat down; signifying that this part of his ministry to God and man was done. There is nothing more to add. The Levitical sacrifices covered sin. Christ’s sacrifice removes sin. Salvation is secure. He offered “one sacrifice for sins forever”. Sins here is plural. That means that he didn’t just deal with the problem of sin (singular), which would be positional sanctification; he has made a way to deal with the sins we still struggle with in our faith which is practical sanctification. Sin singular is the state of sin the world is in because of the fall. The glory of God is not there. As his children we are in a state of grace or positional sanctification; and we will be presented to him in glory. Christ by his sacrifice has removed our sins from the presence of God so that our position before God is a position of holiness. Otherwise we could not come before his throne. All three stages of sanctification were accomplished in one sacrifice, once for all. This is the rest of God that we abide in by faith.
Jesus Sat Down
Jesus sat down at the right hand of God signifying that the work of our salvation was finished. Theologians call this the session of Christ. When Christ sat down beside the Father he entered his session, which means he is seated with the Father and the work he now does is called intersession. In intersession he brings us, his people into his communion with the Father. His sacrifice is over and he now represents us before the Father as God’s dear children. This is the time of harvest in which lost souls are being invited to join the family of God. We are God’s instruments in this period.
Ephesians tells us we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We are part of his session where he sits with the Father and intercedes for us. And this is what we do when we pray for one another. In Christ we stand before the throne of grace asking God for grace and mercy and help in times of trouble; for ourselves; for the church and individual members of the church as well as for the lost. Then one day we will sit because our work in this present evil world will be done. Today, we have the privilege of standing for God. (4) Christ has finished the work of securing our redemption. He works now as our High Priest interceding on our behalf and he will come again as a king to destroy his enemies.
Heb 10:13 from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet.
This quote goes back to Psalm 110. This is a reference to his Second Coming. Chapter 9 concluded by saying Christ will return a second time, but not to do another sacrifice; he is not coming back in reference to sin; he returns in judgment. He will rise to destroy his enemies. God will not allow sin to go on forever. He endures with patience man’s sins because people are being added to his kingdom. At some point he will say enough.
Psalm 110 speaks of him as the conqueror of this present evil world and in the midst of that Psalm it refers to him as a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Because he is the Great High Priest he alone is the just judge who can execute judgment on the earth. In Revelations 5 the scroll is brought and all heaven weeps because no one is worthy to open it and bring the rebellion of man to an end. In 5:5 the say the Lion of Judah is worthy and when he comes forth to initiate judgment he comes as the Lamb that was slain.
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
The author is repeating what he said in verse 12. He has perfected us one time for all. The word “perfected” is in the perfect tense, which means a past action with continuing effect. The emphasis here is upon finality. God has dealt with sin. It is done. What he prophesied he has finished. This is what Isaiah 53:10-12 prophesied.
Heb 10:15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us,
The Holy Spirit testifies. Let’s consider that phrase. The verb tense for testify removes it from simply being a historical record and makes it something the Spirit is speaking all the time. The Spirit is testifying to the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice all the time. People associate the work of the Holy Spirit in all kinds of non-Biblical ways. John 15:26 says the Holy Spirit is sent to testify about Jesus. 2 Peter 1:21 says the Holy Spirit was also the agent that inspired the writing of all scripture. In John 5:39 Jesus said all the scripture testifies of him. So you see a syllogism here:
1) The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ
2) The Holy Spirit inspired all scripture.
3) All scripture testifies of Christ.
This is the point of John Chapter one. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Holy Spirit came in fullness upon Jesus when he was baptized. The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to testify of Christ (Jn. 15:26) and to change us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). The work of the Holy Spirit is centered on Jesus Christ and he makes the word alive to us so we can understand what Christ has done and seeks to accomplish in us now (Jn. 16:13).
Jas 1:21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Implanted means engraved. The Holy Spirit works in our lives to build his word in us and change us into the image of Christ. To participate in this we need to be students of his word.
Heb 10:15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them: ‘After those days,’ says the Lord, ‘I will put my laws on their heart, I will also write them on their mind;'” then he says,
Heb 10:17 “I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more.”
Heb 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
The author is repeating part of the quote from Jeremiah 31 that he gave in chapter 8:8-12. The author is saying that what Jeremiah wrote is itself a testimony to what Christ accomplished. He is focusing on two aspects of that testimony. Because of what Christ did; we can now internalize the law of Christ (plural) by the Holy Spirit. If this were the Law of Moses it would be singular. The Holy Spirit has set an impulse in us to prompt us to think and behave righteously. Our job is to read the word and enable the Spirit to write his word in our heart and make us living letters were his laws are written in the fleshly tables of our heart rather than in the Old Testament where the law was written in stone. Secondly, to facilitate our growth in the word and our transformation by the Holy Spirit, God will no longer remember our sins.
He is concluding that the Levitical system is done. There is nothing to add. It has no more part to play. Christ is the mediator of a new and better covenant in which he no longer remember our sins and our lawless deeds. Where there is forgiveness for these there is no longer offerings for sin. God is not giving us a license to sin. He is giving us a way to be redeemed. The Law could not do that. The Holy Spirit working in us can. So we are told not to frustrate the grace of God and not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We need to see who we are in Christ and what we are becoming and let that vision direct our thoughts and activates. The Levitical system as well as the Law was formless shadows of the reality, but not the substance. We are called to live in a holy relationship with God which will culminate in our complete transformation into the image of Christ. The Old can add nothing to this and therefore must pass away.
How Then Should We Live
This ends the theological presentation the author is making. He has made a clear presentation of the differences between the old and the new covenant. In Francis Shaffer’s words how then should we live? In the rest of the chapter he will focus on the practicality of what he has taught. In the next study we will consider certain exhortations. The author is now showing us how this all has practical application to our lives. It instructs us about our access to God; the importance of community; and the expression of our faith.
Open Door to God
Heb 10:19 ¶ Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
We need to see Christ in us as the hope of glory rather than looking at our failings and telling our selves we will never make it. Of course we won’t make it, if it is up to us to accomplish it. But Christ has accomplished it for us. If we speak practically about this, there is a difference between feeling guilty and being guilty. If you feel guilty you are disappointed in yourself. That is the flesh pouting because it cannot perfect itself. What happened to the flesh? It was crucified in Christ (Gal. 2:20). God has freed us from guilt so we can walk in newness of life. So we can now boldly come into the presence of God without any fear of being rejected.
We have confidence to enter the Holy place. We have complete access to the throne of mercy. We can do it with full confidence. For the Hebrews who received this letter, their world was literally being turned upside down. Think back to the second study when we looked at the holiness of God and how dangerous and fearful it was to approach God. They were so afraid of offending God they wouldn’t even say his name. Now the gates are wide open.
Rev:3:20 if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Joh 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Heb 10:20 by the way which he dedicated for us,
The word dedicated means inaugurated. It was inaugurated when the Father raised Jesus from the dead and accepted his sacrifice. The way was not there, and then with Christ, it is there. It is there for one reason. Jesus shed his blood and through his blood he returned to the Father so a way was made for us through his blood. His blood makes us holy so we can freely and boldly come into his presence. Modern Theologians and modern Bible translations have deliberately tried to tone down the discussion of blood atonement. They are squeamish about it. It embarrasses them when the world brings it up. There is contempt for it.
People find it offensive that God requires blood. It makes no sense to the world so many churches never sing songs that refer to the blood of Christ. But the shedding of blood is what stopped God from killing Adam and Eve and continuous sacrifices had to be made to cover sin for man. Jesus destroyed sin and inaugurated a new and eternal way to be saved through his blood. Life is in the blood. A life was required to pay for the death that reigns over all mankind.
The blood of Christ is divisive because it tells man he cannot redeem himself. We cannot describe the gospel without reference to his perfect sacrifice. Paul says the preaching of the cross is an offense to them that parish.
1Co 1:17 ¶ For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Good News–not in wisdom of words, so that the cross of Christ wouldn’t be made void.
1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.
1Co 1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, I will bring the discernment of the discerning to nothing.”
1Co 1:20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Hasn’t God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1Co 1:21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn’t know God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe.
1Co 1:22 For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom,
1Co 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks,
1Co 1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The blood Christ shed on the cross has bought us eternal redemption; we can freely enter into his presence with praise and thanksgiving. “What can wash away my sins; nothing but the blood of Jesus?” Nothing unclean can enter God’s presence. Therefore in order for us to freely come boldly into his presence, we are declared clean and holy already, even though we are still working out our salvation in this life.
Heb 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
The word “new” means fresh. The way is alive. John 14:6 Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the light. His body is the living road or pathway that brings us directly into contact with the Triune God. His flesh was a veil because it prevented him from having complete access to God. In his incarnation he experienced our limitations and was tempted because of those limitations. When he was crucified that fleshy veil was removed and he returned to the Father making a fresh road for us through the Heavenly temple into the very presence of our holy God.
Heb 10:21 and having a great priest over the house of God,
The importance here is that he is our High Priest. If he were a High Priest after the order of Levi he would have no role to play in the lives of Gentiles. But this Great High Priest is over the house of God. We who believe in Christ are the house of God.
1Ti 3:14 ¶ These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly;
1Ti 3:15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Heb 10:22 let’s draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith
The tense here is to continually draw near. This is an imperative. Anytime you see the word “let” in scripture it is probably a commandment from Christ. If you go through the New Testament and look at how the word “let” is used you will find that it is both an exhortation and a commandment. In the next couple of verses the author will give us three such imperatives. Here the commandment is: let us acknowledge God throughout the course of our day.
A True Heart
We draw near with a true heart. The word “fullness” means a sincere heart. It implies that we come to him with certain purpose. In any relationship people can exchange words without being conscious of them. We should be careful not to offer God clichés when we draw near to him. We need to be conscious that we are actually talking to the living God and he is conscious of what we are saying to him. Imagine what it would be like if we had an earthly king over us and we went into his presence babbling; talking to ourselves; unconscious of his presence; and having no sense of reverence. We wouldn’t be there long and we might lose our head. That is not sincerity it is foolish arrogance. An earthly King would do bad things to us. We have a gracious and merciful king in Christ Jesus, but he is the King of kings and we need to come to him with reverent, sincere hearts.
God knows everything about us. So we don’t come to him pretentiously. Sincerity also implies being honest with God. God in his mercy meets us where we are at; so it would be futile to put on any airs with him. Over and over David poured his heart out to God; demonstrating that faith is expressed through a whole range of emotions, actions and circumstances; in times of failure as well as triumph. The Psalms is a good place to study the fullness of faith. Can I come to God when I am angry? Is there any feeling that I may experience that closes the door to my full expression of faith in God. Can I tell him I feel like I let him down, or that I feel like he let me down? That depends. Am I bringing an accusation against him or am I pouring out my heart; expressing my confusion.
God Comes Down To Us
Lazarus sister Martha said “if you had been here my brother would have lived.” He explained to her how her thinking was deficient. She was satisfied. Mary came weeping and said the same thing. Jesus wept with her. She didn’t have a theological problem; her heart was broken. God meets us where we are. But in time we learn that if our understanding of scripture or the trials we are going through bring us to the point of questioning the goodness or love of God, the problem is our faulty understanding. He is always worthy of praise. We confess our ignorance. It is when we know we are blind and will always get it wrong until God gives us eyes to see, that we draw near with all of our emotions and express our trust in him. We ask him to help us understand. That is the sacrifice of praise. This is when faith becomes real? Drawing near with a true heart is a heart that believes the truth and stands on it.
In verse 22 we are told to draw near to God knowing we are clean and welcome in his presence. We have free access to him night or day. There are no limitations. If we experience a moral failing there is no incubation period where we must suffer for a while. That kind of sorrow is a disappointment in the flesh. It creates condemnation. Love produces a sorrow because we don’t want to hurt the one we love. Paul says in 2 Cor. 7:10 ‘The sorrow of the world works death, but the sorrow of God works repentance, not to be repented of’. Godly sorrow drives us into the arms of God. The sorrow that produces condemnation drives us away.
When we look in shame upon our own behavior we lift it to God and say ‘here, you died for this. Get it out of me. Change me so I don’t have to deal with it again. Make me like you.’ We may have to do that a billion times. Those failings ought to prod us to cling to his love and find the determination to let his grace work in us. When Paul speaks of grace he adds the word “abundant” to it. We need abundant grace.
1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Here we see again a partnership; Paul worked out his salvation because God was working in him. Here God’s grace was not bestowed in vain, because Paul was counting on that grace to enable him to glorify God in his life. It was 100% God and 100% Paul. Maybe this is why God likens our relationship to him as a relationship between a husband and wife, because for that kind of union to be an abundant relationship, it must have an equal commitment. The fruit of it is a full assurance of salvation. After the resurrection Jesus said “I go to my Father and your Father.”
1Jo 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Does that mean everyone who calls themselves a Christian is saved? No. Jude warns us that false brethren have crept into the church without anyone knowing it and by their teachings they have turned the gospel of grace into a license for sexual sins. They appeared like Christians, (Gal. 2:4; Jude 1:4; 1 Jn. 2:19) but they were deceiving the church. So in Hebrews there are warnings, because some people need to be warned.
A saving faith produces a longing to know God; to want to please God; to want God to make us his own in every way. The author of Hebrews will issue warnings to us, but those warnings are in the context of having this full assurance of Faith.
Another thing to note about the consciousness of sin is that whenever the author speaks about the sacrifices he does so in the present tense which indicates that at the time of the writing the sacrifices were still going on. It is important to see this so we understand the probable meaning of the phrase “the day” when we get to verse 25.
All things in their proper order
The life and ministry of Jesus was largely iconoclastic. He did not destroy things; he put them in their proper place. They were things to use, not to be worship. They were not ends they were means by which to worship God. For example, at the beginning and end of his ministry Jesus cleansed the temple. First he accused them of making his Father’s house a house of merchandise. After he had ministered to them for three years he cleansed the temple again, stating that they had made his Father’s house a den of thieves. They were without excuse because he had revealed the truth to them.
The temple should have made them see the need for the Messiah but they had made it into a value by itself. They used it for their own glory, their own power and their own profit rather than a means of seeking God’s glory. So Hebrews tells us the true tabernacle is in heaven, and Jesus in Luke 21 prophesied the destruction of the earthly temple.
The church everywhere needs to function as a conscience in the society God has planted them in. Until Israel was conquered that was the social world Hebrew Christians operated in; but it was not how they were supposed to define themselves. They were now children of God left there by God to save souls.
Scripture shows us that as the church spread into other societies it experienced this same kind of crisis of conscience regarding things done by those societies. There were always things that ran contrary to what they knew in their faith. Meat was offered to the idols in the temples before it was sold in the market places. Paul was concerned about the conscience of the unbeliever. If he ate their food he was acknowledging their idols. So he chose not to eat for the sake of their conscience (1 Cor. 10:25-28). Paul had priorities. Souls are eternal; the world is passing away.
In any society we are in there are areas of tension. We have to be a light. We have to take stands. We have to decide what message we are sending to people by what we do or abstain from doing.
The church has been divided by what that means. Some think we need to win souls; others that we need to create governments; others hold both views simultaneously; and others withdraw into conclaves or privatize their faith. That is something each believer must work out between their self and God utilizing the full counsel of scripture.
There is one instance in Acts where Christ stood up. He did not stand to add to what he had accomplished; he stood to witness the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7:56. Stephen looked up and saw this intimate response by Christ, regarding Stephen’s suffering. Isn’t it amazing to think that your acts of enduring faith might prompt Jesus to stand up? You have to see this like a football game where a touchdown is made and the crowd leaps to its feet and roars. But that is vain-glory. Imagine Christ witnessing your praise and thanksgiving towards God while you hold on in patient endurance in the midst of incredible stress, and he is so pleased all he can do is stand up as if to say “did you see that.” You don’t have to be a big shot to act in an extraordinary way. You just need to love God more than life itself.