Summary: Christ has completely removed every trace of guilt from us!
December 23, 2012
Recently I had a discussion about First Corinthians 3:12-15: “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
The question really was whether we’ll feel shame on that day for not being all we’re called to be—for not always abiding in Christ. And I don’t think it’s too out of line to ask it this way:
Is there such a thing as a Baptist sort of purgatory?
Not the kind where we suffer in fire for 1,000 years, but maybe we’re ashamed for 10 minutes. At its core, the question is whether or not we’re as pure and holy and blameless as Christ Himself. Did He impute His righteousness to us? Can we be presented without spot or wrinkle? Did He bear all our sin? Are our sins cast as far as the east is from the west? Are we truly and eternally saved from the wrath of God or is there yet some work that needs to be done?
Let’s turn to Hebrews chapter 10 with this in mind. We’ve seen so far that Jesus is better than all things and that He has done away with all the laws and rituals of the Old Testament:
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Here’s the heart of our question: what makes a man perfect, and what does it mean to be made perfect?
The Greek word is τελειόω (teleioō) and it’s used in several ways. For instance, when a prophecy is fulfilled, it’s τελειόω. A lawyer or a judge could make a legal document valid and then it is considered τελειόω. When a boy reaches maturity; that is τελειόω. Christ has finished our work in pleasing God. The old tabernacle with all its furniture and blood can’t do it because it’s merely a shadow or a blueprint of the real thing.
2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
This word for “conscience” means joint knowledge. It shows the conflict between right and wrong in the mind; it’s between the things you ought to do and the things you ought not to do. If those things in the old tabernacle worked, then the people wouldn’t have kept offering sacrifices. There would have been one sacrifice for sins and the conscience would have been clear:
3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
In actuality, the annual sacrifices only reminded everyone of their guilt. This word for “remembrance” is only used three other times in the New Testament, and all three are in reference to the Lord’s supper where Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk. 22:19, I Cor. 11:24, 25)!
The Lord’s Supper is a regular reminder that Christ paid our sin debt; its very purpose is to keep it fresh in our minds, and here in Hebrews we find that the animal sacrifices were reminders of sin. Nothing was removed by the blood of an animal:
4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
No one has ever been forgiven for sacrificing an animal:
5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.[ ]
This is a loose quote from Psalm 40:6-8. God wasn’t satisfied with the blood of animals, so Christ was sent to do God’s will and offer Himself as the spotless sacrifice!
8Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
In that Scripture (which was written by David) he declares that God took no pleasure in the things required by the Law! How could God not find pleasure in something He’s demanded?.
9Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.
This is the most important part of this Psalm. It’s not just that God wasn’t pleased with their sacrifices; much more importantly, it was that God made a way to perfect us and make us truly holy!