Summary: A sermon on Hebrews 7:19 about the Law


J. Oswald Sanders Once Pointed Out: “The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are [often] but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache. The millionaire is usually a lonely man and the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience.” In His Book, “Facing Loneliness,” Sanders “Goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about. Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had “only grasped a shadow.” After evaluating his life’s goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, “Lord, let me burn out for You!” In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages!” He Died At Age 31!


These Scriptures continue the argument of Jesus Christ being prophet, king and priest. He is priest through the order of Melchizedek. To do this there had to be a change in the law.

Focusing on vs. 19 tonight on the law made nothing perfect. What does perfect mean here? It means that it was not complete. It lacked something. The Living Bible says here: It never made anyone really right with God.

Thesis: Let’s talk about the inabilities and abilities of the Law.

For instances:

Inabilities of the Law

It revealed sin but had no power to remove or cleanse sin. Hebrews 10:4: it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

It showed the necessity of mediation between God and man, but it made no provision for it.

The people had to approach God through the priests; the priests alone must offer the sacrifices; the priests alone had access to the holy place of the tabernacle and the temple. The priesthood was to mediate, but it was not adequate. The priests were themselves sinners; they need to offer sacrifices for themselves; they were human and passed away by death.

Job 9:32-34: He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.

It presented the ideals of life and conduct, but no power or strength to help to attain them.

The Law condemns sin, it commands righteousness. But how shall we obey its commands?

Romans 7:18-19: For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Romans 8:3: For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature...

II. Abilities of the Law

It allows us to discern God’s thinking.

Matt Proctor in a recent Christian Standard said, “My wife, Katie, and I have 6 children- ages 16, 14, 11, 9, 7, and 3. We’re not a family; were a small town! As sheriff of this community, I (with my deputy, Katie) enforce certain rules, one of which we call “double trouble.” The double trouble rule is this: If you hear a parent give a clear command to your sibling and then you proceed to disobey this command yourself, you will get in twice as much trouble. This is to short circuit the kid strategy of protesting, ‘But you told Carl not to jump off the roof. You didn’t tell me!’ Even when my kids are not directly addressed, they are still held responsible for what they overhear.

It’s something similar with OT Law. As NT believers, the Law is not directly addressed to us, but we are still responsible for what we overhear. God left those Scriptures in there so we could overhear his heart. When we read OT Law, we are not responsible to obey the specific commands, but we are responsible for understanding the will of the God who gave those commands- the God we Christians love and follow.

For example, when a man slept with his father’s wife in the Corinthians church, Paul did not demand that the law’s penalty for incest be applied, but he did demand that the man be disciplined by the church until he repented. So while the letter of the law is not followed, the will of the Lawgiver himself most certainly is. One scholar argues that, without this OT law, Paul would ‘not have been able to define this activity as sinful.’”

The Law is a window into the heart of God.

The Law was not given to make us righteous, but to show us our unrighteousness.

Galatians 2:16: by observing the law no one will be justified.

Romans 3:20: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Studying the Law is like looking into a mirror and discovering that our face is dirty. Left to our own evaluation, we might not realize our own sinfulness, but when we compare ourselves to God’s moral standards, we become aware of our moral failure. J. B. Phillips translated it this way: It is the straight edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.

The Law shows us the one who will perfectly fulfill God’s purposes.

Hebrews 10:1: The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.

So what reality was the Law pointing to? Colossians 2:17: These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Throughout the many ceremonial regulations God gave to ancient Israel were clues to the person and ministry of Christ. These “shadows” form an outline or a pattern- a picture of what the Messiah would someday look like. If we read the OT Law carefully with our NT glasses, we can begin to see the image of Christ.

As Romans 8:3-4 goes on to say: For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

So what?

We could read Hebrews 7:19 like this: The Law made nothing perfect, but it prepared the way for the better hope by which we draw near to God.

Galatians 3:24-25: So the law was put in charge (our schoolmaster KJV) to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

What makes this hope better? 3 things.

It is much clearer. The Christian is given many assurances of being saved, sanctified and of the reality of heaven. These things are much clearer than under the Old Covenant.

It has a firmer foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:11: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 28:16: So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

We draw near to God through this better hope.

The priesthood tended to make people feel their distance from God, and to keep them at a distance.

The priesthood of Jesus Christ brings men near to Him. We no longer need the human priest and the bleeding animal to approach the Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 2:13: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

Henry Martyn found fulfillment in his work as a missionary. Another way to say this is that to draw near to God brings fulfillment or perfection. One day we will have ultimate fulfillment or perfection in heaven, but right now we have fulfillment through drawing near to God through Jesus Christ in service, in prayer, in worship, etc.

What Is “Fulfillment” For You? What Completes You? What Satisfies You? Is It Your Family? Your Career? Your Retirement? Your Goals? Your Education? Etc? Fulfillment Will Only Come When You “Draw Near To God” Through The Lord Jesus Christ & Experience The Power Of HIS Endless Life!

James 4:8-10: Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

To Save a Life- Jake asks his youth minister: Is it worth it? Youth minister: At some point you are going to have to ask yourself, What do you want your life to be about? At some point I had to answer that question in my heart, Is there something more? If you are really willing to look, you are going to find that he is more than worth it.