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. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
- The law has only a shadow of the good things.
- The good things are to come.
- The law does not have the true form of reality.
- The law can never make perfect those who draw near to God.
- If the law could have made men righteous there would have been no need of to perform sacrifices more than once.
- Once cleansed there is no consciousness of sin.
- With the old law there was a need to sacrifice every year.
- The sacrifices remind us of sin.
- It is impossible for the blood of animals to remove sin.
- God does not want sacrifices and offerings.
- God prepared a body for Christ.
- God does not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
- God does not take pleasure in sin offerings.
- Christ came to do the will of God.
- God’s will for Christ is written in the scriptures.
- The sacrifices and offerings and burnt and sin offerings were offered according to the law.
- Christ did away with sacrifices and burnt offering and sin offerings when He did God’s will.
- We are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.
- The offering of Christ was made once and for all.
- The priest performs his service daily.
- Priest offer the same sacrifices repeatedly.
- The sacrifices the priests offer can never take away sins.
- Christ offered a single sacrifice that takes away sin.
- Christ offered a sacrifice for all time.
- Christ sat down at the right hand of God.
- Christ is waiting for the time when His enemies will become a footstool for Him.
- Christ’s single offering perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
- The Holy Spirit provides a witness to us.
- The Holy Spirit says God will make a covenant with us.
- God says He will put His laws on our hearts.
- God says He will put His laws in our minds.
- God says He will not remember our sins or lawless deeds.
- Where there is forgiveness of sin there is no longer an offering for sin.
The writer re-emphasizes the difference between the Law and the Gospel. The Law was a shadow, an imperfect image, of what was to be revealed by the Gospel. The Gospel reveals the true reality in living color. The Law was in black and white and only outlined the shape of things. However, the Law was not useless, nor were the ceremonies useless. The imperfect representation presented by the Law was a great benefit to the fathers. Nonetheless our situation is much better. In both the Law and the Gospel Christ is presented the same righteousness, sanctification and salvation. The only difference is the manner they are present.
Both the Law and the Gospel presented salvation. But the sacrifice of bulls and goats did not satisfy the justice of God. They were representation of what was to come, Christ’s sacrifice. If the sacrifice of animals were effective in themselves they would not need to be repeated, let alone performed annually. This then would also argue against the Roman Catholic idea of the mass where Christ is sacrificed again during every mass, though an unbloody sacrifice. The writer is clear that Christ sacrifice was conducted once. It was effective and therefore only needed to be conducted once. Rome would argue that the mass is not a new sacrifice but a same sacrifice. The express words of the writer to the Hebrews are that the offering of Christ pacified God not only put an end to former sacrifices but is also contemptuous to repeat the sacrifice. It is therefore obvious that the offering of Christ in the mass is sacrilegious.
The author concluded that the sacrifices under the Law were weak. They needed to be performed every year in order to obtain pardon. The same reasoning would conclude that the Roman Catholic claim of a need to sacrifice Christ at every mass would be because Christ’s sacrifice was also weak. Since it is weak it must be performed daily in the mass. This is a blasphemy against Christ.
The author quotes from Psalm 40. In reading Psalm 40 it would appear at first glance that the author misapplied the Psalm to Christ. Psalm 40:12 says, “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.” That verse seems to apply to you and me, sinful man, not Christ, unless we remember that Christ willingly took on Himself our sins. Once we have that perspective we can understand how the whole chapter is assigned Christ. True David wrote it with himself mind. But David was a type of Christ. So there is nothing unreasonable about transferring what David said about himself to Christ. This is not only passage the author could have used to make his point. The prophets repeated spoke on the theme.
Christ fulfilled the will of God. It was the Father’s will to provide a means of salvation. Christ came in obedience to that will and provided the prefect and wholly effective sacrifice. In doing so the Law, with it requirements for repeated sacrifices, is done away. The gospel is established. Christ offered Himself and thereby fulfilled the will of the Father. When the author says, “through the offering of the body” he alludes to that part of the Psalm that says, “a body have you prepared for me.”
Christ embodied what pleased God, prefect obedience, so he had no need of external aids or sacrifices. With Christ sacrifice the office of priest is done away with. There is no longer a need to provide annual or daily sacrifices. Christ is now at the right hand of the Father waiting for His enemies to be placed under His feet. We enjoy and will enjoy the fruit of His victory even though we had nothing to do with the victory. Satan, sin, death and the whole world are defeated. The corruption of our flesh will be cast off. We will be triumphant together with Christ. We share in His victory. We partake of spoils even though we are the rescued and played no role in the rescue.
There are several promises under the Law for the remission of sins. Therefore the remission of sins does not exclude sacrifices. The fathers had the same promise under the Law we have today. Relying on the promises the called on God and rejoiced in the pardon they obtained. But here the writer to the Hebrews quotes from the prophet Jeremiah. The prophet promises a time when our sins will no longer be remembered. The writer to the Hebrew says that the Holy Spirit is our witness and tells us that a new covenant is made with us. In this new covenant the laws of God written on our hearts and minds. Christ paid the price for our sins. Our sins are no more. They are totally and completely atoned. That is why God no longer remembers them.
Christ atoned for you sins and my sins. If you were unaware of that before you now are. You now know it. The question is do you believe it? And will you trust in Christ’s atonement alone? Why it is may seem trite to some to ask the question. The answer may be easy answered yes, I believe and trust in Christ atonement alone. The fact is we still try to go back to the Law. There has to be something I have to do to either get or keep that for which Christ paid.
We live in a world where reciprocity is king. I will be your friend it you do certain things, like be nice to me, and refrain from doing other things like treat me poorly. I will give you x if you do y is the way our world works. But that is not grace. That is not God’s economy
God demands perfection. The law cannot make us perfect. We receive Christ’s perfection. It is imputed to us. Christ atoned for our sins. Pray and repent of your sins. Then enjoy the love and grace of God.
The Gospel means good news. What better news could there be than this. Our sins are paid for, atoned for, and forgotten. As a result we have communion with God. Praise God!