The emphasis in Hebrews 9
and 10 is on the cleansing efficacy of the blood of
Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus Christ is all
sufficient for the reconciliation of sinful man to a
As our redeemer Jesus
Christ purchased His people with the price of His
blood. This redemption became eternally valid when
He figuratively entered the Holy of Holies to
intercede on our behalf.
The author Hebrews draws
a strong contrast between the sacrifices of the old
covenant Levitical system with its animals and the
perfect self-sacrifice of Christ.
The radical difference
between the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that of
animals under the old covenant is expressed in the
words of Jesus. "For this reason the Father loves
Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it
again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay
it down on My own initiative. I have authority to
lay it down, and I have authority to take it up
again. This commandment I received from My Father"
(John 10:17-18). It was freely His own choice; no
one imposed it upon Him. Jesus was unblemished,
undefiled, morally perfect who of His own volition
made the decision to die in the place of the sinner.
The Blood of Christ
Cleanses Our Conscience (Hebrews 9:11-14)
"But when Christ appeared
as a high priest of the good things to come, He
entered through the greater and more perfect
tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not
of this creation; and not through the blood of goats
and calves, but through His own blood, He entered
the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and
the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been
defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 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 9:11-14) All
Scripture references are from New American Standard
Bible 1995 Update unless otherwise noted.
The image before us is in
this chapter is the sacrifice on the Day of
Atonement. In the immediate context of 9:13 the
author refers to the "ashes of a heifer sprinkling
those who have been defiled sanctify for the
cleansing of the flesh." He takes us to Numbers 19
to describe the practice of sprinkling the unclean
person with water of cleansing made from the
sacrifice of the red heifer which was in perfect
health that had never been harnessed. She was slain
and burned and her ashes were gathered and kept for
In sharp contrast the
author states "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). Jesus did what no red heifer
sacrifice could ever do.
It has already been
established in Hebrews that Christ is the great High
Priest. His priesthood is permanent because He
continues for ever (Heb. 7:24).
Under the old covenant
the animal sacrifices cleansed from external
defilement, but they could not touch the inner
defilement. The heart is defiled, deceitful and
desperately wicked. Christ was undefiled sinless
Lamb of God and therefore as priest and victim He
would make the perfect sacrifice to atone for sin.
Jesus is also the victim
of the sacrifice. In the passage before us Jesus the
High Priest is offering up Himself on the altar to
atone for sins. He did this "through His own blood,
He entered the holy place once for all, having
obtained eternal redemption."
This passage also tells
us something about the nature of His sacrifice.
Jesus was "without blemish."
The author tells us He
did this "through the eternal Spirit."
"Through the eternal
Spirit" can refer to the work of the Holy Spirit
anointing Christ accomplish His mediatorial work as
High Priest. Jesus was quoting Isaiah 61:1 when He
addressed synagogue members at Nazareth saying,
"The Spirit of the Lord
is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to
preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to
proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to
To set free those who are
oppressed" (Luke 4:18).
Everything Jesus did in
His ministry was under the perfect power and
presence of the Holy Spirit. No one has ever lived
the Spirit-controlled life as Jesus did. He lived
the perfect sinless life and offered the perfect
sinless sacrifice in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Again the words of the prophet Isaiah give insight.
"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in
whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon
Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations"
(Isaiah 42:1). This verse may have been in the mind
of the author of Hebrews.
What Christ accomplished
has eternal value. John Brown said, "It was the
living God manifested in flesh who was both our High
Priest and victim." No human being could ever offer
himself as an eternal propitiation for the sins of
the whole world. He accomplished His priesthood
"according to the power of an indestructible life"
(Heb. 7:16b). He was the eternal Son of God who
became flesh. Jesus fully understood the will of God
with all of its implications as no human being could
possibly know. Christ offered Himself as the eternal
Son of God.
The consequence of this
sacrifice for all who appropriate it is to "cleanse
your conscience from dead works to serve the living
God." This sacrifice does something that no animal
sacrifice could ever accomplish.
The sacrifice at Calvary
accomplishes a radical purging of the conscience,
and is the basis of our reconciliation to God.
How are our
The author states it is
by "the blood of Christ." With the poet we sing with
all our hearts:
"For my cleansing this I
Nothing but the blood of
For my pardon this my
Nothing but the blood of
Jesus Christ served at
the altar as the High Priest, and was laid on the
altar as the perfect sacrifice to atone for all our
sins. He shed His precious blood on the cross and
figuratively as our High Priest entered into the
Holy of Holies. The work of offering Himself as our
sacrifice was completed on the earth at the cross.
Moreover, as High Priest He entered "the greater and
more perfect tabernacle" in heaven in the very
presence of God.
The author stresses it is
"repentance from dead works to serve the living God"
The conscience is
purified by the blood Christ "from dead works." The
author spoke of "dead works" in 6:1.
Every unregenerate person
produces "dead works." In fact, man is "dead in his
trespasses and sins" and can only produce "dead
works." He is incapable of producing living works
that could satisfy a holy God. What our corrupt
depraved nature will produce is described in
Galatians 5:19-21. "Now the deeds of the flesh are
evident, which are: immorality, impurity,
sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife,
jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,
factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and
things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as
I have forewarned you, that those who practice such
things will not inherit the kingdom of God"
(Galatians 5:19-21). Jesus said these dead works
come from out of our depraved hearts. "That which
proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the
man. For from within, out of the heart of men,
proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts,
murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and
wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy,
slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil
things proceed from within and defile the man" (Mark
In fact, we can produce
only dead works until the Holy Spirit creates a new
spirit within us. By the grace of God we are "made
alive together with Christ." Paul stresses "even
when we were dead in our transgressions, made us
alive together with Christ (by grace you have been
saved)" (Ephesians 2:5).
"The wages of sin is
death." "The soul that sins will surely die." Only
the blood of Jesus can cleanse of these dead works.
We have been cleansed, washed in the blood of Jesus
so that our purity may serve the glory of God.
"For by grace you have
been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result
of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk
in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10). Can a better statement
of God's purpose for man be found?
The purpose is that every
true believer is to produce good works that will
serve the living God. He saves us "to the praise of
the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on
us in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).
Could there be a stronger
antithesis than "dead works" and the "living God?
They are completely incompatible. Dead works come
from total radical depravity and await the judgment
of the living God. The living God gives eternal
The Blood of the New
Covenant (Hebrews 9:15-22)
"For this reason He is
the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a
death has taken place for the redemption of the
transgressions that were committed under the first
covenant, those who have been called may receive the
promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a
covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of
the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only
when men are dead, for it is never in force while
the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first
covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when
every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all
the people according to the Law, he took the blood
of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet
wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself
and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of
the covenant which God commanded you.' And in the
same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all
the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And
according to the Law, one may almost say, all things
are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of
blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:15-22).
The basis of Christ being
our mediator in the new covenant is His death. He
was the innocent victim who died on behalf of the
The shed blood of Jesus
Christ accomplished what the old covenant priesthood
with animal sacrifices could not achieve.
It was not God who failed
under the old covenant, but sinful defiled man. Only
the new covenant with the perfect sacrifice of
Christ could meet once and forever the needs of
Sinful man needs to stand
just in the sight of God, but the law could not do
that. It could point out our sin problem, but it
could not resolve it. What was the purpose of the
law? The apostle Paul says, "Therefore the Law has
become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we
may be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
In the wonder of God's
grace the people who put their faith in God before
the coming of Christ were redeemed by His death.
They also have an "eternal inheritance" along with
us. The promised inheritance is received on the
basis of faith in the redeeming death of Christ. All
of heaven will sing redeemed by grace through the
death of Christ. The atoning sacrificial death of
Christ answers the demands of the law.
The only basis for
cleansing and reconciliation is the shedding of the
blood of Jesus. Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes
away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The apostle
Peter wrote, "knowing that you were not redeemed
with perishable things like silver or gold from your
futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished
and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter
1:18-19). "He Himself bore our sins in His body on
the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to
righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1
Peter 2:24). The apostle John affirmed "the blood of
Jesus His son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John
1:7). Christ has "released us from our sins by His
blood" (Rev. 1:5). Moreover, He has clothed us in
His righteous robes "made white in the blood of the
Lamb" (Rev. 7:14).
The whole thrust of the
author of Hebrews is the absolute superiority of the
blood of Jesus in His new covenant. The new covenant
of Jesus is superior to the old. Christ "appeared
once for all because if He had come a second or
third time there would have been a defect in the
first sacrifice which would deny this fullness,"
wrote John Calvin. It was a once-for-all eternally
perfect sacrifice for sin.
The inheritance God
provided for us became effective in full force, in
the manner of a will the moment Christ died on the
cross and declared "it is finished." The instrument
of death insures the present reality of our eternal
inheritance. God cleansed us of all our sins and
brought about reconciliation to Himself by means of
that sacrifice. "For through Him we both have our
access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are
no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow
citizens with the saints, and are of God's
household" (Ephesians 2:18-19). Moreover, we have a
new status with God. "For you have not received a
spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you
have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which
we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit Himself
testifies with our spirit that we are children of
God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and
fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with
Him so that we may also be glorified with Him"
The Perfect Sacrifice
of Christ (Hebrews 9:23-28)
In a sense that is what
this whole chapter has been about. There is only one
totally all sufficient sacrifice for sin. It is the
death of Christ for the sinner. Animal sacrifices
could not accomplish this.
Christ's blood is only
basis for God's people to enter into heaven. Without
the shedding of Christ's blood God could not open
heaven up to us. The only sacrifice God will accept
is the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
We stand before God
guilty, and as a result heaven is closed to us
unless we are permitted to enter based on Christ's
death. The blood of Jesus opened the door for us,
and it is on the basis of that shed blood that God
will allow us into His holy presence in heaven. The
blood of Jesus redeems us and sanctified our
presence before the Father.
"Therefore it was
necessary for the copies of the things in the
heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly
things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
For Christ did not enter a holy place made with
hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven
itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the
high priest enters the holy place year by year with
blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have
needed to suffer often since the foundation of the
world; but now once at the consummation of the ages
He has been manifested to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is
appointed for men to die once and after this comes
judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once
to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time
for salvation without reference to sin, to those who
eagerly await Him" (Hebrews 9:23-28).
I hear echoes of the
prophet Isaiah all over this passage.
"As a result of the
anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be
By His knowledge the
My Servant, will justify
As He will bear their
Therefore, I will allot
Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the
booty with the strong;
Because He poured out
Himself to death,
And was numbered with the
Yet He Himself bore the
sin of many,
And interceded for the
transgressors" (Isaiah 53:11-12).
Christ sacrificed Himself
on the cross to pay my sin debt. He died the death I
deserved. Jesus died on our behalf and appeared in
the presence of the Father. He is our High Priest
who offered the perfect sacrifice to satisfy the
righteousness of God on our behalf. "The wages of
sin is death," and Christ paid our debt on our
behalf. Now, He intercedes for us at the throne of
Christ "Himself is the
propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only,
but also for those of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
Our salvation has been achieved by a unique
sacrifice of a unique one of a kind individual.
There is none other like Him, or ever will be. He is
infinite in holiness.
I have the privilege of
being deeply involved in world missions. One of the
great joys I look forward to in heaven is singing
with that great host of redeemed from all over the
world down through the ages. The apostle John peaked
into heaven and heard a new song, with great
multitudes singing to Jesus: "Worthy are You to take
the book and to break its seals; for You were slain,
and purchased for God with Your blood men from every
tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have
made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God;
and they will reign upon the earth" (Revelation
How beautiful are the
three "appearings" of Christ at the end of chapter
nine. In verse 24 Christ appeared in heaven "now to
appear in the presence of God on our behalf." In
verse 26 "He has appeared once for all at the end of
the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of
Himself." In verse 28 we await for His appearing a
second time, "not to deal with sin but to save those
who are eagerly waiting for Him." Wow. What a day
that will be! Even so, come Lord Jesus.
That was the apostle
Paul's hope: "in the future there is laid up for me
the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and
not only to me, but also to all who have loved His
appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). The apostle John looked
forward to that same day. "Beloved, now we are
children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what
we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be
like Him, because we will see Him just as He is" (1
John 3:2). By the grace of God we are even being
transformed into His likeness today. "But we all,
with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the
glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the
same image from glory to glory, just as from the
Lord, the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). I am looking
forward to the day I see Jesus face to face and can
sing saved by grace. We are saved by grace alone.
There is only one reason
we will sing.
"For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to
I'll wash my garments
In the blood of Calvary's
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson
He washed it white as
snow" -- Elvina Hall, 1865.
Christ is coming a second
time, but not to deal with our sin. He has already
done that for all who will believe on Him alone for
Are you ready and
"eagerly waiting" for His coming? In whom or what
are you trusting for that day?
9:11-28 Jesus' Sacrificial Blood