Summary: Do you revisit old sins? Did you know that God has forgotten them purposefully and it would be wrong to go over and over them? Learn about freedom from guilt in the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever been in a contract dispute? Maybe charges got put on your account that you feel aren’t yours or aren’t fair. I had a situation recently with an agreement that I signed an extension on - and the other party and I discussed the changes and then I signed the document I received. Little did I know that there was a huge hidden fee that wasn’t disclosed in the negotiations. Ouch! It’d have been nice if I had that contract wired into my brain so I would have known of that clause before I signed the contract!
That’s the way it is with trying to please God. He gave us His Law and said to obey it. We go on thinking we’re doing pretty well and then Whamo! We get hit with a sin we committed and suddenly we owe God again. So we get back on our knees and beg God’s forgiveness and get up and dust ourselves off and promise to try harder next time.
The problem with that way of thinking is that it creates a yoyo approach to our relationship with God. One day we’re close - then we sin and we’re far away - etc. The Hebrews needed some reminding of that yoyo approach - because that’s the way their old system of animal sacrifices worked. Instead God wants them to fully take hold of a new way - a way of hard-wiring His Law in our hearts, and counting on someone else’s obedience to please God always on our behalf.
You can’t have it both ways though - you can’t rely on yourself to be pleasing to God and rely on your relationship with Jesus. It’s one or the other - and that’s the gist of chapter 10. It’s broken up into a series of 7 paragraphs - which I’ll sum up with 7 statements about our relationship to God.
1. Animal sacrifice cannot take away sin, it only reminds us of it
2. Its obedience, not sacrifice that wins God’s approval
3. Jesus made one offering for all time
4. Obedience hard-wired into the believer
5. Don’t feel guilty - but draw near by His faithfulness
6. If you spurn His salvation, He will spurn you
7. Look to the reward coming, not the hardship now
Verses 1 - 4 Animal sacrifices cannot take away sin, they only remind us of it.
1 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.
Do you ever test out a new computer program? Sometimes software companies will let you use a trial version while you decide whether to buy. These trial versions sometimes have partial functionality, and sometimes have these little reminder screens come up that tell you "please register." I had a trial program once that every time the little message stayed on the screen longer and longer until I was so bugged by it that I paid the fee just to get rid of the message!
In a way, trying to please God through our own efforts - or through the Jewish sacrificial system was like using a trial version of God’s salvation software. The animal sacrifices couldn’t really be "saved" - the program wasn’t fully functional. In fact, every time they used it, it was like a reminder screen saying "you haven’t paid for your sins." But the Jews really focused on those sacrifices - and the Hebrews were thinking it was really a pretty good way to go - because it is tangible - just like our external obedience as a way to please God is tangible. But God had something better in mind - but something far more difficult:
Verses 5 - 10 It’s obedience, not sacrifice that wins God’s approval
5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 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.’"
8 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), 9 then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.