God takes our sin
The blood of animals
could not obtain redemption. However, by His death,
Jesus Christ removed "the sins of many people."
A permanent sacrifice for
sin is needed to deal permanently with our sin
problem. The Levitical sacrifices could not deal
permanently with our sins; however the once-for-all
perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross dealt
with our sins permanently. There will never be a
need for another sacrifice for sin. The blood of
Jesus Christ wipes the record clean forever.
The Purpose of the Old
Testament Law (Hebrews 10:1-4)
"For the Law, since it
has only a shadow of the good things to come and not
the very form of things, can never, by the same
sacrifices which they offer continually year by
year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise,
would they not have ceased to be offered, because
the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no
longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those
sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and
goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:1-4). All
Scripture references are from New American Standard
Bible, 1995 Update unless otherwise noted.
Jesus fulfills the
shadows of the Law.
The law and its offerings
were only a "shadow" (skia) or a vague
reflection, a silhouette of the real thing to come.
However, the "form" (eikon) is the "image."
It is the real thing, the true form, and accurate
representation. It is the appearance of the reality
itself. Jesus casts His shadow over the whole Old
Testament in preparation of His coming to fulfill
all of the reality of its symbolism, types and
shadows. It is His shadow that is seen throughout
the Old Testament. He is the real object that
produces the shadow. The reality is Jesus Himself.
The author of Hebrews has already spoken of copies
and shadows in Hebrews 8:5 where the emphasis was on
earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. Now he draws out
the comparison between the sacrifices offered by the
priests under the Law and the one perfect sacrifice
The purpose of the
The Law and its
sacrifices was a constant daily reminder of the
reality of sin. If the sacrifices under the old
covenant could have permanently dealt with sin the
sacrifices would not have been terminated. The
sacrifice in view at the opening of chapter ten is
the Day of Atonement. The constant repetition of the
daily and annual sacrifices only proved that the
Levitical sacrifices could not satisfy the
righteousness of God. They were imperfect and could
never "make perfect those who draw near."
Their very repetition argues for their insufficiency
to deal with sin. The high priest could never
declare to the worshipers this is the final
sacrifice; there will never be another sacrifice
because this sacrifice has removed all your sins,
once for all.
Moreover, the constant
repetition of the sacrifices kept before the eyes of
the people their human depravity. It is was a
constant reminder that they were sinners and in the
need of the atoning sacrifice for sin. They could
never get away from the idea that they were sinners.
They were under the judgment of God. The Day of
Atonement reminded them that the one final payment
for sin had not been made. The full perfect, never
to be repeated, all sufficient payment by the Lamb
of God was still in the future. The Day of Atonement
was a shadow of the real thing to come. It reminded
the people they were sinners, and at the same time
pointed to God's appointed Lamb. It was a reminder
of sin, the sacrifice, and the Savior.
The Mosaic system with
its laws and sacrifices were by nature preparatory
because they reminded the people of the reality of
sin, the righteousness of God and the necessity for
atonement for sin. They looked forward to the
sacrifice of the Lamb of God. They pointed to
expectation, not fulfillment in themselves. We look
back upon the perfect fulfillment of the expiation
of our sins. The sacrifice on the Day of Atonement
did not possess the power to cover the sins of the
past year. They simply called to mind the divine
pardon which would come with the death of Christ,
the Lamb of God.
What does the atoning
death of Christ cause us to remember, but that we
are depraved sinners in need of the atoning
sacrifice of Christ? It reminds us of the
remedy God has provided in the blood of Jesus.
When Christ offered the
perfect sacrifice for sin the inadequate sacrifices
were terminated at the Temple. Christ dealt with our
sins once for all, never to be repeated. There was
no need for another sacrifice. Jesus paid it all. He
fulfilled the requirement of the law that declared,
"The wages of sin is death."
This passage also reminds
us of the new covenant. In Christ, we inherit the
good things to come. Though God remembers sins that
have not been propitiated, He forgets the sins for
which atonement has been made. If we have come by
faith believing in the all sufficient sacrifice for
sin made by Jesus Christ it is great comfort to know
God remembers them no more. He is a God who
"remembers" and "forgets" our sins based on the
atoning sacrifice of Christ.
"For it is impossible for
the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins"
(Hebrews 10:4). One of the clear messages that has
been repeated in Hebrews is the fact that only a
perfect man, without sin, could stand in the place
of another man and make perfect atonement (Heb.
2:14-18; 4:15-16; 5:8-10; 7:26-28; 9:26-28). No
animal could ever make that decision. The old
covenant could not accomplish cleansing and
forgiveness. We have already been told in Hebrews
9:14, "How much more will the blood of Christ, who
through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without
blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead
works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14). For
both the Old and the New Testament believers there
is only one propitiatory sacrifice for sin. It is
the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The
Levitical sacrifices only pointed to a future
expiation. They satisfied the requirements of the
law, but they could not deal with the heart of the
problem of sin. With the coming of the expiation of
sin by Christ these old sacrifices ceased because
they were not truly propitiations. Christ provided
the true propitiation. His sacrifice cast the shadow
over the old that pointed to Him. His sacrifice
declared, "It is finished!" There will never be any
need for another sacrifice for sin.
The apostle Paul declared
this same great truth: "For Christ is the end of the
law for righteousness to everyone who believes"
(Romans 10:4). This is true because Christ is the
end of the old Mosaic covenant sacrifices. Christ
brought to an end the Mosaic Law, Levitical
priesthood, sacrifices and offerings.
Perfect Obedience of
Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:5-9)
"Therefore, when He comes
into the world, He says, 'Sacrifice and offering You
have not desired, But a body You have prepared for
Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You have taken no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Behold, I
have come (In the scroll of the book it is written
of Me) To do Your will, O God.' After saying
above, 'Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt
offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not
desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them' (which
are offered according to the Law), then He said,
'Behold, I have come to do Your will' He takes away
the first in order to establish the second'"
The writer of Hebrews
puts the words of Psalm 40:6-8 on the lips of Jesus.
He writes as if they are the words of Christ at His
incarnation. It is as if Christ is speaking in
verses 5-8. The writer is fond of taking Old
Testament passages and applying them to the person
and work of Christ. "Lo, I have come to do Thy will,
O God." Again he said, "Lo, I have come to do Thy
will." We cannot miss the messianic emphasis.
"When He comes into the
world" is a Semitic way of referring to the
incarnation "when Christ was born." The Word became
flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:9, 14; 6:14; 9:39;
11:27; 12:46; 16:28; 18:37).
What did God want? He
desired perfect obedience, and He found perfect
obedience to His will in the person and work of
Jesus Christ. Jesus came to do the will of God. He
stated this clearly the night before His death in
the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39). "Not My
will, Your will be done." Doing the will of God was
crucial in the life of Christ.
To accomplish the will of
God, the Son needed "a body." As the eternal Word of
God He could not die, therefore God prepared a body
for Christ. Only as a man could He fulfill the will
of God by dying as a bloody sacrifice. God provided
the Son with a perfect body to fulfill His eternal
purpose. He assumed that body when He became flesh
and dwelt among men (John 1:14; Phil. 2:8). That is
why the virgin conception is so important to
Biblical theology. Athanasius said, "At one and the
same time as man He was living a human life, as Word
He was sustaining the life of the universe, and as
Son He was in constant union with the Father."
The old animal sacrifices
were not capable of making atonement once and for
all, but there was one sacrifice that answered to
the demands of the will of God. Christ sacrificed
His body once for all to atone for the sins of His
"In the scroll of the
book it is written of Me" refers to all the
Scriptures whose theme is the coming of the Messiah
to accomplish the will of God. Remember the words of
Jesus when He spoke to the two disciples on the road
to Emmaus? "Then beginning with Moses and with all
the prophets, He explained to them the things
concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke
Christ fulfilled the
demands of the first covenant and terminated it. But
He also established the second covenant when He came
to do the will of God. The incarnate Son of God
abolishes the "first in order to establish the
second" (v. 9). "He takes away the first," i.e., the
sacrifices associated with the Levitical law, "in
order to establish the second," the will of God
which was the offering of Himself to take away the
sins of the world. It was by His will that "we have
been sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all" (v. 10). The passive
obedience of Christ is observed in His fulfilling
the Aaronic priesthood. Moreover, His active
obedience is seen in the priesthood of Melchizedek
in the new covenant. Christ is involved in the
fulfillment of both covenants in Hebrews with the
termination of the old and the inauguration of the
The author's use of the
word "sanctification" in Hebrews is the cleansing
from sin and reconciliation to a holy God. Our
redemption has been accomplished by the offering of
the body of Jesus Christ once for all. The sacrifice
of Christ is absolutely adequate to deal with our
sins and restore our relationship with God. It is an
all sufficient sacrifice for sin.
Results of the One
Sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:10-18)
The work of the Levitical
priest was never finished. Rivers of blood flowed
daily from the Temple of Jerusalem as one animal
sacrifice after another was slain for the sins of
the people. The High Priest could never sit down
because his job was never completed.
The writer of Hebrews
draws out the contrast with the Priesthood of Jesus
and His one sacrifice for all time. Christ's work
was finished, and He sat down! In fact, Christ sat
down in everlasting rest and blessedness at the
right hand of the Majesty on High. Our redemption
was completed and the Levitical priesthood was
"By this will we have
been sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily
ministering and offering time after time the same
sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He,
having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,
sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that
time onward until His enemies be made a footstool
for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected
for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy
Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 'This
is the covenant that I will make with them After
those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon
their heart, And on their mind I will write them,'
He then says, 'And their sins and their lawless
deeds I will remember no more.' Now where there is
forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any
offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:10-18).
We have been
sanctified by the blood of Jesus.
"We have been sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all" (v. 10). Again in verse 14 he writes,
"For by one offering He has perfected for all time
those who are sanctified." Here the emphasis is on
our positional sanctification. The verb is in the
perfect tense and speaks of an act completed in the
past with present results. We have been deemed from
the moment we believed on Christ perfectly holy, yet
making someone holy is a process. We are
progressively throughout this life being sanctified.
It is always the tension of the now and the yet to
be in the Christian life. "We have been made holy,"
yet we are exhorted to make every effort to be holy.
This is the great tension in the Christian life. We
have received sanctification once-for-all, but we
have not achieved it yet. It does not mean we are
now already sinless and perfect, but that Christ has
fully earned our perfection for us which we will
receive in glory. One day we will be glorified. That
is yet to come when we see Jesus in His glory (1
John 3:1-3; John 17:22; Rom. 8:18, 29; 9:23-24;
11:33-36). Our eternal perfection is based on the
once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Our sanctification
is past, present and future. The writers of the New
Testament stress the process of sanctifying. The
work of perfection is not yet complete; however it
will be one day. Christ has made perfect forever
those who are being made perfect. We are still a
work in progress, but there is a clear image of the
final outcome. God has predestined us to become
conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30).
Because we are "in
Christ" He sanctified us by His shed blood. Since we
are "in Christ" we have received these benefits that
were purchased by the death of Christ. They have
been ours since the moment we believed on Christ as
our Savior. Our sins have been forgiven, our
conscience has been cleansed, and we have peace with
God, the gift of eternal life, eternal security,
reconciliation with God, and propitiation by His
blood that turns away the wrath of God. John Owen
said Christ sanctified the believer first, and then
afterward He perfected him.
This sanctification is by
the election of God the Father (Heb. 10:10, 14, 29;
2:11; 13:12; 1 Pet. 1:2; John 17:19). It is His work
from beginning to end. It is the result of our vital
union with Christ, the Son of God (1 Cor. 1:2, 30;
6:11; 1 Thess. 5:23). The Holy Spirit applies it to
the believer (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thess.
4:7-8). It is coincident with our justification (1
Cor. 6:11; Acts 26:18; Rom. 8:29-30). Positional
sanctification covers all believers collectively
(Acts 20:32; 26:18). It is once-for-all, and perfect
forever (Heb. 10:10; 2 Thess. 2:13).
Christ offered one
sacrifice for sins for all time.
Remember in verses 11-14
the author gets to the heart of the message in
Hebrews. "By this will we have been sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering
and offering time after time the same sacrifices,
which can never take away sins; but He, having
offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat
down at the right hand of God, waiting from that
time onward until His enemies be made a footstool
for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected
for all time those who are sanctified" (Hebrews
His comparison is now on
the daily sacrifices and offerings in the
Tabernacle. There was ceaseless activity under the
Levitical system. Day and night there was the
repetition of sacrifices all year long leading up to
the Day of Atonement. These sacrifices could never
take away sins. Then one day Christ offered up
Himself and paid the debt in full, a single
sacrifice for sin, and sat down at the right hand of
the Majesty on High. The work of the Levitical
priesthood was never finished, but the sacrifice of
Christ was once for all. The Levitical priests were
still standing, but Christ completed His sacrifice
and sat down. The continual offerings were
inadequate, but sacrifice of Christ alone was
perfect. Again the contrast is between many
sacrifices and one sacrifice, many priests and the
one great High Priest. The contrast is between many
sacrifices that could only point to another in
expectation, and one perfect sacrifice of Christ of
Jesus Christ is "seated"
in royal sovereign glory "at the right hand of God"
after having offered His sacrifice.
It is one single
sacrifice for all that can never be added to or be
repeated. This has great implications for our
salvation. The message of Biblical evangelical
Christianity is faith in Christ plus nothing equals
salvation. We are saved by grace alone, through
faith alone in Christ alone for God's glory alone.
Our great High Priest is
seated; therefore we have the security of a finished
work of atonement. God has accepted the work of
Christ because He raised Jesus from the dead, and He
is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
God would not have raised Jesus from the dead if He
had not accepted the sacrifice. He would not be in
the presence of God the Father in heaven interceding
on our behalf if His sacrifice was not perfect.
Moreover, there is
something else just as marvelous. Christ is seen
"waiting from that time onward until His enemies be
made a footstool for His feet" (Hebrews 10:13).
Christ is busy interceding on our behalf. But He is
also patiently waiting until the very last person to
be saved trusts in Him for salvation and then He is
coming in glory. He is not sitting in heaven
wringing His hands. Nothing catches Him by surprise.
Satan has been judged and
defeated. He was crushed at Calvary. He is waiting
for the appropriate time for His return and His
enemies are made His footstool.
Psalm 110 permeates this
great letter to the Hebrews (1:3, 13; 5:6, 10; 6:20;
7:1; 8:1; 12:2). It is also an important theme in
the New Testament (Matt. 22:44-45; 26:64; Mark
16:19; Acts 2:34-35; 3:13, 21; 1 Cor. 15:27-28; Eph.
1:22; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Pet. 3:22).
Jesus commenced the
Now with the completion
of the sacrificial work of Christ, the new covenant
is inaugurated. We have been redeemed by the blood
of Jesus, and we celebrate it every time we go to
the table and celebrate the Lord's Supper.
The Holy Spirit is at
work in the hearts of true believers applying the
great message of redemption. In verses 15-18 the
Holy Spirit and Yahweh are one. What the Holy Spirit
says is what the Lord (Yahweh) says. The author of
Hebrews had a high view of the inspiration of the
Scriptures, and he believed in the Trinity.
He picks up once again
the theme of the new covenant and applies it to the
believer (Jeremiah 33:31-34). It is the work of the
Holy Spirit to make the application. He writes the
principle of the new covenant in the heart. Our
guilty hearts are purged of sin and guilt. When
there flashes upon the mind some old sin or guilt
the Holy Spirit brings to our conscious mind the
cleansing in the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus
though the eternal spirit offered Himself without
blemish on our behalf. True forgiveness of all our
sins is provided in the once-for-all sacrifice of
Christ. The Holy Spirit writes God's law upon the
heart and empowers us to live by it.
God imputed all our sins
to Jesus Christ and He died in our place as our
representative. Moreover, He also imputed all
the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to us, and
now we have a perfect standing before Him for all
eternity. The beautiful thing about this new
covenant is that God has a perfect forgetter; He
remembers our sins no more! "Their sins and their
lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Heb. 10:17).
Why is that a true statement? It is true because
Jesus died and His blood covers all our lawless
deeds! I love Psalm 103:12 which declares: "As far
as the east is from the west, So far has He removed
our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). Because
our sins are under His blood, God has forgiven and
forgotten all of them. They are cast into the depths
of the sea. "Therefore there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
There is no longer any
need for more sacrifices.
Christ's sacrifice on the
cross was final. "Now where there is forgiveness of
these things, there is no longer any offering for
sin" (Hebrews 10:18). Praise God! There is no need
for another sacrifice, ever. Jesus paid it all!
Christ's covenant was
eternal and His offering for sin was perfect so
there is no longer any need for any other offering
since we have confidence to enter the holy place by
the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He
inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His
flesh, and since we have a great priest over the
house of God" (Hebrews 10:19-21).
By His death, Christ has
opened up the way into the presence of God. The
moment He died the curtain to the Most Holy Place
was torn from top to bottom, and there is no longer
any veil between God and His people (Matt. 27:51).
We have access to God through the shed blood of
Jesus. He said to His disciples, "I am the way, and
the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father
but through Me" (John 14:6).
How significant that the
author of Hebrews after setting forth the atoning
sacrifice of Christ, His resurrection and session in
heaven, that He stresses toward the end of his
epistle the second coming of Christ. He is returning
as the sovereign king of glory. He "shall appear a
second time, not to bear sin, to those who eagerly
await Him, for salvation" (9:28). "For yet in a very
little while, He who is coming will come, and will
not delay" (Heb. 10:37). It could very well be that
He is patiently putting off His coming for you to
put your faith in Him as your savior. One day
someone like you or me will put their trust in
Christ and that person will be the last Gentile to
believe and instantly Christ will come (Rom.
11:25-27; Matt 24:24). "The Lord is not slow about
His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient
toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for
all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord
will come like a thief, in which the heavens will
pass away with a roar and the elements will be
destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its
works will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:9-10).
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
10:1-18 Jesus the Only True Sacrifice for Sin