For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’ ”
8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. 15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
The law was a shadow of the good things to come. Strange, then, that we so often seek to live under the burden of performance. Why settle for a shadow when we can have the actual thing? If we stacked $1,000,000 in the light, it would cast a shadow. But since you can’t pay off your mortgage with a shadow, wouldn’t you want to actually possess the cash?
The priests offered sacrifices continually, yet those sacrifices never made those who approached perfect. Under the Old Covenant, sacrifices were required for every sin. It was a relentless demand for blood. Yet the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin. They could only be covered temporarily.
Not only did the sacrifices not remove sin permanently, they also served to keep reminding people of their sin. We don’t sacrifice animals today, but when we get stuck in sin-consciousness, we find ourselves in a vicious cycle. We make sacrifices to try to feel better about our shortcomings. As discussed yesterday, some of us go to church not to worship and enjoy Jesus, but because we hope that going will make God happy with us and remove some of our sin guilt. We buy gifts for people that we’ve wronged in hopes of making the guilt of our wrong-doing fade. Yet these sacrifices, rather than removing sins, serve to remind us of them.
Sin-consciousness not only keeps us focused on our short-coming before God, but it also keeps us aware of each other’s shortcomings. In our personal relationships and in larger-scale relationships such as between races, socio-economic classes, sexes, and age groups, sin-consciousness keeps us aware of the sins committed against us by others. You against me, your tribe against my tribe. We demand sacrifices from each other but they are never enough to remove sin. So the strife continues.
But verse two in today’s passage tells us that if an offering were made that could actually remove sins, then the purified worshipers would not have sin-consciousness. If the right sacrifice were made, then we could actually be free from living with the guilt of our shortcomings before God and we could free others from the guilt of their shortcomings before us.
Verse 13 tells us that Jesus offered one sacrifice for sins forever. He is the perfect Lamb of God. Where the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins, Jesus’ blood is pure enough to perfect us forever. If we can accept this incredible truth, we can actually endeavor to live lives that are not sin-conscious. We could be free from our own guilt and from the guilt we hold over others. We could enjoy freedom from condemnation and begin to move toward peace in our society. We could trade in our sin-consciousness for grace-consciousness.
We could choose to be aware of the unmerited favor that God bestows on all who put faith in Jesus. We could see each other, every tribe, tongue and nation, as favored children of a Heavenly Father. We could do all of the things that are now sacrifices and instead enjoy them as acts of joy and love.
Jesus has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Additional offerings have no value. Brave grace, and have no more consciousness of sins.
Hebrews 10 sermon (message begins at 30:44)