Agonizomai: Heb 10: 01-04 - Christ - The End of Sacrifice

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heb 10: 01-04 - Christ - The End of Sacrifice

Heb 10: 01-04 - Christ - The End of Sacrifice

Heb 10:1-4 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Now this passage has been anticipated in much that has been said already. It stands for me as the ultimate refutation of [that dispensational view first systematized by Darby, and taken up since then by many others, including Schofield and Ryrie] the idea that the old sacrificial system itself actually led to anyone being justified with God. For it states plainly here that not only were the sacrifices and ceremonies, the temple and priesthood and all that was concerned with these matters mere shadows of the realities found in Christ, but there was no power in any of it to actually remove sins. It would be hard, therefore, to think of the Jews of the Old Covenant as having been justified with God solely, or even partly, on the basis of their adherence to this system.

The idea that God dealt differently with Israel in the matter of justification/salvation than with the church is completely refuted by this passage. It is not that Israel had the covenant of works and the church had the covenant of grace. On the contrary, what this passage points clearly to, is that either all the Jews that lived under and by the law perished eternally, or that there was something else in play. And that something else was the covenant of grace, which preceded the law, ran concurrent with it and was fully disclosed in Christ.

As has been stated elsewhere, the law and ceremonies never had the ability to justify, but only to show the need for justification. {Ro 3:19-20} They had the power to convict, but not to change a person. Remember, real theology takes the real fall really seriously. If you have a defective understanding of the depravity of man then it is easier to believe that man can, by acts of his unaided obedience and will, both seek after God and do that which pleases Him. The Bible flatly and emphatically denies this. {Ps 14:2-3} A fuller bibliography of this condition, as taken from the Old Testament, can be found in Paul’s writings. {see Ro 3:9-18}

The writer here even makes it plain that the annual sacrificial sprinkling in the Holy of Holies by the High Priest was but a reminder (and not an expiator) of sin. And again, it is impossible for the blood of mere animal sacrifices to appease the righteous wrath of a thrice holy God. Obviously! God is infinite, eternal, and of purer eyes than to behold sin. Therefore something infinite, eternal and spotlessly pure in God’s eyes, must be the real sacrifice that atones for sin. This is the lifeblood of the eternal Son of God given for that purpose by God the Father himself. This is Jesus Christ - the spotless Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (in God’s eternal purposes).

Reminded of this, surely the Hebrews who were faltering must by now see that immeasurable contrast between the old system and Christ. One was almost nothing - a cipher, a shadow, a type; the other is all truth and reality. One is of the earth and the other of heaven. One is fleshly and the other spiritual; one is the signpost and the other is the destination.

The Greek word used here for "consciousness" is anamnesis, which is where we get our word "amnesia". Amnesia, as we know, is literally the inability to remember; loss of memory. When you were saved did you literally lose all memory of your past sins? I doubt it. Perhaps this is why some translations use the word "conscience" instead of "consciousness". The context would certainly suggest that meaning, as would the rest of scripture. Attention is directed towards a verse in this very chapter that seems to throw more light in this. {see Heb 10:21-22} The idea is that, having a great high priest in the heavenlies, seated at the right hand of God, eternally presenting Himself to the Father on our behalf, we have no more need of guilt over former sins. They are forgotten by God and so they ought to be forgotten by us in the sense of the guilt that arose from our consciousness of them. With regard to the grace of God in providing a substitute for us in bearing the penalty of our sins, however, we ought never to forget. Neither shall we, for our eternal praises in heaven will be to the glory of His grace - which grace necessarily implies our salvation from our sins.

The good news is that there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. That is the point here. That, and the fact that it is only in Him - and not (never) by conformity to the law or through the merits of animal sacrifices, that this removal of guilt is effected. A person who sees this, who truly grasps and owns it, is free indeed. The truth that makes free is a Person - the God/man Jesus Christ - and He did it by atoning for sin and redeeming a people that God had given Him.


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