“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14
No More Sacrifices (vv.11-13)
The author opens this passage by presenting us with a description of the high priests. We are told the priests are standing in the tabernacle every day, performing the same sacrifices again and again. The reason for this repetition is simple: the animal sacrifices that the priests offered were not enough to fix our sinful natures. Because of this, the priests’ work never ended. They had to continually stand and offer sacrifices that would act as temporary fixes for our sins.
All of this changes with Christ. After Jesus offered Himself as the perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice, He proved definitively that the work of atonement was completed by sitting down. Christ sat down to show no more work had to be done, or sacrifices to be made, to accomplish our salvation. The author reminds us that Christ sat down at God’s right hand, and it is there where He sits today, advocating on our behalf before the Father.
No More Sinful Natures (14-16)
God promised the prophet Jeremiah that there would come a day when He would make a new covenant with His people and give them new hearts. God said that He would write His law upon these new hearts and remember the sins of His people no more. The author of Hebrews has made it quite clear that Christ’s death was the beginning of this new covenant, and that His sacrifice has allowed us to obtain these new hearts. By being the perfect sacrifice, Christ removed our sinful natures, and He covers us in His righteousness so that we can be justified before God. The author is quick to remind us, though, that while the work of our salvation has been completed, the work of making us holy (sanctification) is an ongoing process. Sanctification is a process that we will be going through for the rest of our lives, but it is a necessary part of Christian life. It is through this daily process that we become more and more molded and conformed to the will of Christ, and better able to live as His people.
No More Shame (17-18)
The most wonderful news the author presents to us in this passage is the news that we have no more shame. Earlier in chapter 10, we read that the old covenant sacrifices served to continually remind the people of their sins and shame. This was intentional, for God wanted to point us toward the new covenant that was coming. The author of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31 to remind us of the glorious news that we have no more shame under the new covenant. Once we have been saved and our sins are forgiven, God remembers our transgressions no more. Christ bore all of our sins and our shame upon the cross. He took those things away from us to free us from the feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness that shame gives us. Now, as believers, we have a new identity in Christ, one that has been made spotless and pure by His blood. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are no longer defined by our shame; we are instead defined by His righteousness.
The news presented by the author to us is incredible, but it is also demanding. Christ has done so much for us: He has taken away our sin and shame, He has justified us, and He has begun sanctifying us. As such, we must live differently. We must be conformed every day to His will. The sanctification process assures us of our salvation. With that in mind, we must evaluate our lives and be sure that the life we are leading is a life that is being molded to Christ’s will.
Artwork: “Jesus, Man of Sorrows,” Peter Howson, 2006