Summary: 1st message of 4 part series in Hebrews. There are 18 messages preached in 4 sections. This is 3rd section focusing on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This section was preached during the Easter season.

God Wants a Perfect People

My mom tells the story of a little neighbor boy who for Christmas received a cowboy outfit. It had a cowboy hat, vest, chaps and boots. As soon as he opened up his presents he put them on and then ran to the full length mirror in his parents’ bedroom. He stood there and looked at himself carefully for a long time and then he sighed and said, “It’s just perfect.”

What does it take to reach perfection in life? What does it mean to reach perfection? Is it about power? Might? Wisdom? All knowledge?

The lady must have been desperate. She decided to write a letter to Dear Abby. Her letter reads: Dear Abby, I am 44 and would like to meet a man my age with no bad habits. She signed her name, “Rose.” Abby replies: “Dear Rose: So would I.”

There’s more truth to Abby’s answer than her typical pithiness conveys. “So would I” – meaning that perfect people are not easy to come by. I think that you and I can relate to that.

At some level we know that perfection eludes us. What perfection? Why even the simple thing that Rose asked for: having no bad habits, eludes us.

Today we’re going start in Hebrews 7:11 and learn about perfection – what it is and how you can obtain it. Listen closely because what you will learn today is simple and powerful.

We begin with what does not bring you perfection – Religion.

Religion Does Not Make You Perfect

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

Hebrews 7:11

We are not made perfect through the work of imperfect priests. Imperfection produces… imperfection. This is invariable. There are no exceptions.

Even the most perfectly made robotic machinery that produces widgets by the thousand per minute will occasionally miss feed a part, press a piece incorrectly, load an ingredient partially, or connect a component loosely – and produce an imperfect product.

Why? Because the most perfectly made robotic machines are imperfectly made by imperfect people or machines.

Imperfection is contagious and pervasive – it’s everywhere and it’s catching!

Religious behavior is no different. People who try to attain perfection through religious activities will never make it. It is simply not enough…

But we keep hoping and trying – don’t we!

One of the struggles I have in life is dealing with my own imperfection in the context of people who don’t want to let me be imperfect. I live in a world that knows I’m not perfect but expects me to be perfect.

In fact, have had people upset with me when they find out that I’m not perfect.

Now, There is a tough set of expectations for being a senior pastor…

Expectations for Senior Pastor, Rick Stacy:

• Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

• Is more powerful than a locomotive.

• Is faster than a speeding bullet.

• Walks on water.

• Gives policies to God.

Expectations for Administrative Minister, Jamie Wetzel

• Is able to leap short buildings in a single bound.

• Is as powerful as a switch engine.

• Is just as fast as a speeding bullet.

• Walks on water because he knows where the stumps are.

• Is occasionally addressed by God.

Expectations for Worship Minister, Esther Hetrick

• Lifts buildings to walk under them.

• Can make the sound of a locomotive on her keyboard.

• Catches speeding bullets in her teeth.

• Swims well.

• Tells God which key to sing in.

Expectations for Children’s Pastor, Dave Costa

• Leaps small garden sheds with a running start.

• Can identify a locomotives 2 out of 3 times.

• Can shoot a speeding bullet.

• Knows how to use the water fountain.

• Talks with God if special request is approved.

Expectations for Youth Minister, Tyler Sherman

• Runs into side of small buildings.

• Plays with toy trains

• Is faster than a speeding BB.

• Uses a squirt gun.

• Mumbles to himself about God

Religion Does Not Make You Perfect

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Romans 3:23

The Ministry is made up of imperfect people

Aaron – helped make the golden calf

Eli – raised two evil sons

Hophni and Phinias were corrupt priests who stole the best from the people

Annas and Caiphais were the priests who led the people against Jesus

No different today… We hear about the national evangelists who fail and fall and occasionally about a local minister who falls into sin or leads a church into division with arrogance and power.

If those who lead cannot attain perfection… how can we?

Immature and religious people don’t want to hear about the imperfection of their leaders. They get angry. They get disappointed. They get let down.

Perfection does not come from those who serve in ministry.

Love me, accept me, pray for me as we strive to walk together in the ways of God.

Author Max Lucado writes:

All of us occasionally do what is right. A few predominately do what is right. But do any of us always do what is right? According to Paul we don’t. "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10, NKJV).

Some may beg to differ. "I’m not perfect, Max, but I’m better than most folks. I’ve led a good life. I don’t break the rules. I don’t break hearts. I help people. I like people. Compared to others, I think I could say I’m a righteous person."

I used to try that on my mother. She’d tell me that my room wasn’t clean, and I’d ask her to go with me to my brother’s room. His was always messier than mine. "See, my room is clean; just look at his."

Never worked. She’d walk me down the hall to her room. When it came to tidy rooms, my mom was righteous. Her closet was just right. Her bed was just right. Her bathroom was just right. Compared to hers, my room was, well, just wrong. She would show me her room and say, "This is what I mean by clean.”

God does the same. He points to himself and says, "This is what I mean by righteousness."

[Lucado Says God’s Standard Is Perfection, Citation: Max Lucado, Traveling Light (Word, 2001)]

The Law Does Not Make You Perfect

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 7:18-19

Not through obedience to the law

Ill - Imagine going into your doctor and finding out you have a serious illness. So, he sits down to write a prescription for it, and talks to you, like doctors do: “Now, this medicine I’m writing up for you, is an old medicine. It’s been used for centuries, and it hasn’t ever worked once. In fact, no one has ever been cured by it. But, who knows, maybe you’ll be an exception. Think of it as an experimental drug.”

Right about that time, you’re going to be looking for a better doctor who will prescribe something that’s actually going to help!

Laws don’t make people good. Never have – never will.

Laws help us know when we’re wrong. Having rules tells us what we should do, but it doesn’t do anything to make sure we will.

Listen to Paul describing a man-made religion to the Colossians:

The Law Does Not Make You Perfect

20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.

23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Colossians 2:23

God never intended that the OT Law would make people righteous. He gave it to us to show us that we’re not good law-keepers, and that we need a better way.

If you’re game plan this morning is to be good enough to deserve heaven, you’d better reconsider. You need a better hope than that.

Yet so many people hold on to religious rules and laws… They think that they can live up to God’s perfection by making rules to keep them away from sin… Don’t dance, don’t go to movies, don’t wear makeup. (If a barn needs painting – paint it!)

Rules don’t make you righteous. The Law does not make you perfect.

Jesus Makes You Perfect

12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

Hebrews 7:12-14

A different kind of law – it’s personal

A different command that is new; and old; and yet it is new.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

1 John 2:7-8

How can this be? What we are talking about is a command that is not embodied in a code of legal words but a command that is embraced within the person of Jesus Christ.

We are used to the rule of law in our country. The idea that our justice, truth, and fairness is regulated by a constitution, a set of laws passed by a democratically chosen legislature, adjudicated by learned judges, and administrated by dedicated and democratically selected executives – all of which produces the American system of government of the people, for the people, and by the people. It’s messy but it works after a fashion and it’s our way.

We don’t have a law – we have Jesus – the perfect God who has become our new king and priest.

The Power of an Indestructible Life

15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 7:15-17

The religious and the law were focused on the external.

The Levitical priesthood and the old law was all oriented toward the externals. In Leviticus 21:16ff the law required that a priest have no imperfections. Any one of 142 separate different deformities could prevent a man from being a priest.

His ordination was painstakingly fixed on the outward appearance of his clothing, his hair, how he was bathed, anointed with oil, and marked with blood. The focus was on the externals throughout.

Jesus is different. He has one qualifying characteristic that makes him priest forever. There is one thing that makes the difference in him and all the others before him – or after him. It is the power of the indestructible life.

It’s not that he didn’t die. He did! It is that he had a live that did not end in the grave. He had a different kind of life – indestructible – and literally, indissoluble.

Everything comes and goes. We see things new become old and eventually they are dissolved by the relentless passage of time.

But there is another way. It involves a powerful king with an indestructible life. It is built on a priest that understands our world and has bridged the separation between God and man through his indestructible life.

And his empire will never fall.

• The Egyptian Pharoah’s lost their power and their empire

• The Israelite Kingdom of Saul, David and Solomon slowly disintegrated as the people left God’s way.

• The Mede and Persian Empire rose and then fell

• The Greek Empire rose and then fell

• The Carthegian Empire rose and then fell

• The Roman Empire rose and then fell

• The Turkish Empire rose and then fell

There were the years of the dark ages with city states and feudal kingdoms… and then eventually the rise of nation states.

• The Spanish Territories were stripped away from Spain one by one.

• The Napolean Empire fell

• The French monarchy was rotted from within and as destroyed by angry mobs of revolutionaries

• The Russian Czars crumbled in revolution

• The British Empire faded away

• The German-Italian-Japanese Axis fell

America become the dominate super power after years of cold war to emerge the single superpower of the 21st century but just as it rose the American Influence will one day end. I am proud to be an American but it is simply the way of the world… There is a beginning and there is an end.

But there is a kingdom – not of this world that I am a citizen of – that will never fade, never fall, and never die because of the power of the indestructible life of Jesus.

It is by this power a better hope is introduced

A Better Hope by which We Draw Near to God

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

Get it! Here is the source of perfection. It is God himself. We must draw near to him. Here is the answer. The closer you get to God the more perfect you become. This perfection is not a matter of flawlessness but it is the process of becoming a whole and complete man or woman of God.

It’s not religion. It’s not rules and regulations. It’s your proximity to the Almighty Creator of the universe. Draw near to him to become like him. This must be our anxious prayer. This must be our deepest desire and our great and better hope. It’s better than any other path or course of action.

You can count on it!

Count On it!

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”

Hebrews 7:20-21

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ’You are a priest forever.’" Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

It’s not very often that God makes an oath, so when we read “the Lord has sworn…” we need to pay attention. What’s so significant that God would pronounce it and swear to it? The fact that this different priesthood is forever. So, God’s new covenant is powerful. Hebrews 7:11

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

Answer: it couldn’t! There had to be another priest and another covenant!

Now what do you do about this? After all, how many of you here this morning are counting on keeping the OT law to get you into heaven?

But I’d be willing to bet there are many people sitting here this morning, some who have sat in the pews of a church for years.

Put your trust in Jesus

Renew your trust in Jesus.

Stand – It’s just perfect!