Written by Rachel Denison
Recommended reading along with this post: Hebrews 10:1-25 and Song of Solomon 2
19Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
I feel like it is very important to understand the old covenant that Jesus fulfilled by his sacrifice if we want to understand the new covenant of grace we walk in today. Hebrews 10:1-18 pretty much lays it out. Feel free to open your Bible and take a look with me. Some of the keys points I see are as follows:
- The law, making the same sacrifices continuously, year after year will never make perfect those who draw near to worship. (vs. 1)
- They are not made clean; therefore still feel guilty for their sin. (vs. 2)
- Their actual sacrificial worship only serves as a reminder of how guilty they are in their sin. (vs. 3)
- Their sacrifices are not even pleasing to God. (vs. 5-6)
- Religious duties will never take away our sin (in their case, sacrificing the blood of bulls and goats). (vs. 11)
How many times have I made promises and sacrifices to God in order to “fix myself” so God wouldn't be mad at me? How many times have I fallen into this “sacrificial” worship of attempting to do good deeds in my own strength in order to make myself right with God? I have done this plenty of times. God says in this passage that the sacrificial works based religion I attempt to create will never take away my sins. And he's right, this type of “service” unto God only seems to remind me of how guilty I feel. Without the sacrifice of Christ, I am one guilty mess. But thankfully it doesn't end there.
In our Dallas culture, the theology of good works will get me into heaven is becoming extremely prominent. But to who's standard of good do I compare? If I'm supposed to live up to a holy, perfect, righteous God's standard, I will obviously fall short and miss the mark EVERY time. I can draw near and make the same sacrifices “endlessly year after year” and never be made clean or good.
Shamefully I've come before God too many times saying, “God I promise I'll do better at this! I swear I'll give this up. Maybe if I could just pray more, if I could just read my Bible more, if I could lead a life group. Then I would be better. Then my relationship with Jesus will be so deep; I'll be closer to God.”
For many of us, this is what our walk with Jesus looks like. Day after day after day. It is exhausting right? Screwing up, feeling guilty and shamed. Scrambling to fix yourself thinking somewhere in the back of your mind, God is mad at you. Filling your wounds with religious deeds before you come shamefully back to God with your tail tucked between your legs. All of us can easily slip back into this toilsome religious routine, really missing the abundant life Jesus longs for us to freely receive.
Thank God this isn't where our story ends.
5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
Christ came into the world. And by the sacrifice of his body, we have been made holy once and for all. The word literally says in verse 14, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” WHAT?! You mean his one sacrifice on our behalf has made us holy and perfect before God? Yes. So what does that mean for us? Let's read Hebrews 10:15-25 now. What do we see? What exactly happened for us through Christ's sacrifice for our sins?
- First of all, Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (us). (vs. 14)
- Also, God has written his law, his commandments and his word, on our hearts and minds through the Holy Spirit. (vs. 16) (It's by his grace we can even begin to walk by it)
- Then he adds, God will remember our sins and lawless acts NO MORE. (vs. 17)
- One of the best parts of all, “...where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” Uh what? You mean I don't have to keep making excuses and try to work my way back to you through good deeds?
For too long, shame has had a hold of God's Church. It is oh so very true that we are unworthy of the forgiveness of sins we have so freely been given. But does that mean we have to come before God in worship shameful, guilt-ridden and afraid? Now do not get me wrong, there is a place for confession and repentance. But that is not what I'm talking about. Confess your sin before God and turn, but we cannot stop there. God is ALWAYS faithful to forgive our sins when we confess. We must not wallow in guilt but receive that freedom and perfection Jesus is speaking over us.
Let's now ponder this way to come before God in worship from now on:
19Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
We are encouraged to CONFIDENTLY draw near to God with a sincere heart and with FULL ASSURANCE, with our hearts CLEANSED FROM GUILT and our bodies washed with pure water (which only Jesus could have done) holding steadfastly to our hope in him, because he who promised these things is faithful. Because HE is faithful, we are free. It is only by the sacrifice of our One True High Priest we can confidently and bolding approach the Throne of Grace. Mankind was never supposed to attain holiness and forgiveness on our own. It was always going to be Jesus. Jesus alone could pay the penalty of death and sin. I promise, if you will promise to believe and remind myself that his faithfulness alone has set me free, cleansed me and rid me of all guilt.
So Church, let's come before God with full assurance that our hearts have been cleansed and set free from sin. With the knowledge that we are right with God because and only because of the perfect sacrifice of his Son Jesus on our behalf. That Jesus says we're worth his sacrifice, and God is pleased with our sincere, grateful worship.
Our Bridegroom is saying to us:
Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
(Song of Songs 2:13-14)
No more hiding Church, or shying away. Our God wants to hear our voices and see our faces as we worship as one-- His pure and spotless Bride.