Hebrews 10 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
Once again the author is urging those Jews professing faith in Christ not to turn back to Judaism because those old ceremonial laws were only given to point them to Christ, and now that Christ has come to fulfill those laws in our behalf our salvation might is to be based solely upon faith in Christ’s work and not in any other sacrifice, which will never be acceptable in God’s sight. So, once again, he turns their eyes to Jesus, to his perfect life, death and resurrection so that they might better understand what Christ has accomplished in their behalf.
The first half of this chapter serves as the conclusion to the author’s argument on why one should look only to Christ for salvation. Then, in the latter half of this chapter he finally transitions into the application portion of his epistle. But before he exhorts them on how to apply the specific benefits of their salvation, he urges God’s people to take one more look at Christ and what he has actually accomplished on the cross. By His single offering, in laying down his own life for our sake, Christ has accomplished three things. He has obtained our forgiveness, he has gained our perfection, and he has initiated the process of sanctification in us.
The old sacrifices never actually granted forgiveness to the worshipper. Certainly, they foreshadowed the fullness of the gospel of Christ, but they were only the shadow, Christ himself is the reality. Why then, would anyone turn back to a mere silhouette of salvation, when Jesus himself has been manifested so clearly? In his famous hymn, Isaac Watts wrote “Not all the blood of beasts, on Jewish altars slain, could give the guilty conscience peace, or wash away its stain. But Christ, our heavenly Lamb, takes all our sins away; a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they.”
In Christ’s one sacrifice, he has not only obtained forgiveness for our sins, he has also won for us a perfect standing before God. The old sacrifices, offered daily in the temple, could never add righteousness or holiness to the worshipper. That’s why the prophet Samuel said to King Saul, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” This is what makes Christ’s offering so wonderful. Because the Son of God became the Son of Man, he took on the role of a second Adam, the perfect man who could offer his life as a living sacrifice unto God in perfect obedience. Thus when Christ laid down his life before the father, he didn’t merely grant to us forgiveness of sins but also his perfection in righteousness. Through his substitutionary atonement, not only were our sins transferred to his body on the cross, but his perfect righteousness was transferred to us. Thus in another great hymn written by Horatius Bonar we sing, “upon a life I have not lived, upon a death I did not die, another’s life; another’s death, I stake my whole eternity.” Our confidence in salvation stems solely from the fact that God accepts us as righteous in his sight because Christ’s perfect righteousness has been attributed to us.
Then, in addition to obtaining our forgiveness and crediting us with righteousness, Jesus also initiated our sanctification. Theologians often refer to two different types of sanctification: definitive and progressive. Through Christ’s one and only sacrifice, he not only granted to us his perfect righteousness but also his pure holiness allowing us to draw near to God in the sweetness of fellowship. In that one moment, Christ gave us a positional holiness, a definite holiness in terms of our standing with God. But this act was just the beginning. After his death and resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven in order to send his Holy Spirit to continue the work of sanctification in us. All along there was a definite plan and purpose in our salvation, not merely for the sake of our standing before God but also for our renewed walking with God. Just as God walked with Adam in the cool of the Garden of Eden, so the Lord’s purpose in sending his son to earth is to restore our relationship with God, our fellowship with God and our enjoyment of God. And through Christ’s break in fellowship with the father on the cross, when the father turned away from him in anger, he restored our fellowship with the father in obtaining our holy standing before God and initiating a new holy way of walking with God. Indeed, we need to look to Christ daily not only for our standing with God, but for our new desire and ability to walk with God, for even our sanctification is entirely dependent upon Christ and his once for all sacrifice for sin.