From spiritual milk to solid food… Hebrews 10 gives us that message in a single chapter with special speaker Dave Shaver.
Everyone is familiar with the most quoted and most memorized verse in the entire Bible: John 3:16 that says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
It’s what I call “gospel milk.” It’s a great starting point to share the gospel with someone who has not yet heard because they are at the beginning stages. But once you have a basic understanding of salvation, it’s time to start chewing on some heavier topics. So, this chapter, Hebrews 10 is what I call “the Meat of the Gospel.”
Paul is writing to the Hebrews and he lays out some feel good and some not so feel good stuff. Let’s read.
1a: The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.
The Old Testament law with its sacrifices, behavioral restrictions, and medical practices was not the final solution to sin. God new it was insufficient but since Christ had not yet come, it was a temporary replacement.
1b: For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeatedly endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
The Israelites were compelled to bring sacrifices annually to cover over their sins. While this was necessary before Jesus, it was simply that… a covering. It could not remove your sins, which means you could never be made perfect in God’s eyes.
2: Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
If the sacrifices offered under the law were sufficient, they would only be necessary once. But because they were just a covering, everyone would need to return to make new sacrifices for the sins they committed after the last sacrifice. That was a lot of sacrifices, and with a large population, the priests were kept quite busy.
3: But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.
Ouch. Not only did the sacrifices not remove the sins, they reminded you of them. Every time someone brought a sacrifice it was a strong refresher that they were indeed guilty of sin.
4: It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
We see that these sacrifices were simply not capable of removing our sin. Though it was the only alternative at the time, it simply could not restore us in God’s sight.
5-7: Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, my God.”
Did Jesus just say that God did not desire nor was he pleased with sacrifice and offerings. While Scripture does say that it was a pleasing aroma, it is clear here that sacrifices were not what God wanted from his people. No, it was Christ that God was waiting for. The sacrifices were only a replacement until Jesus came along.
8,9: First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” – though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.
As it reiterates that sacrifice and offerings were only to satisfy the Old Covenant law, we see that Christ’s task was to put aside the old, insufficient laws and replace them with something better. So, what was this second law that would make the difference?
10: And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Christ Jesus once for all.
Ooh. There’s the kicker! It was God’s will since the beginning that we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Not just once, but forever. Now let that sink in… we can be made holy forever!
11: Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
The Levitical priests would work feverishly performing sacrifices for the people. But that work and the sacrifices that were made did little.
Imagine there was a wall and each day every sin you committed was written on that wall. At the end of each day you would look upon this wall and be reminded how imperfect you are. Then, with a brush you would paint over the markings. On appearance, the sins would look like they were gone, but you would know what was under there, and if you could scrape off each layer, the sins would be visible once again.
No matter how many layers you put on there, those details would still be there buried underneath. That’s how the sacrifices were for the Israelites, just a covering.
12-14: But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Jesus was this priest. He offered himself as a sacrifice for all sin for all time. And this one sacrifice was sufficient to completely remove all sin permanently, not just cover it over.
But wait. This does not apply to everyone. Did you catch that last part? It says, “for those who are being made holy.” It is obvious that it is conditional. Who is made holy?
15,16: The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
As believers, the Holy Spirit helps guide us by keeping the law in our hearts, and by writing in on our minds. It was a gift that those before Jesus didn’t have. Today, we can thank God for providing us with the Holy Spirit to help keep us on the right path. It is a covenant God has set up between us and Him, a powerful contract that He will never break. We can depend on him to stay true to his words.
17: Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
Hallelujah! Our sins are completely forgotten in God’s eyes. Complete redemption! Isn’t that something to get excited about?
Now think back to that wall where the paint only covered the writings of our sin. Jesus was a wrecking ball that completely destroyed that wall. The markings were ground to dust, and no more paint is necessary. There is no recollection of our sin with Christ’s sacrifice.
18: And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Again, Hallelujah! Jesus’ sacrifice was the last one. No more priests, no more bulls and goats, because this was the last sacrifice that would ever be needed.
19,20: Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
Now in the temple where the priests worked there was a large curtain that separated a special place called the Holy of Holies. This was the inner chamber where God’s presence rested. It contained the Ark of the Covenant. Priests had to prepare themselves to enter into that area through ritual cleansing. It required sacrifice, the burning of incense so that they had no sin when they went inside. You need to remember that sin cannot exist in God’s presence, so any priest entering must be made holy and stay holy while inside. If they did not, God’s holiness would simply have killed them.
This curtain was not some small window covering. It was heavy, and made from blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and embroidered with gold cherubim. It was not something that could be easily damaged.
Yet when Christ died on the cross, this curtain was torn in two from the top to the bottom. This signified that it was no longer necessary to ask someone else to enter God’s presence on your behalf. No priest is required for you to pray and have God hear you.
I think another Hallelujah is warranted. God is now available to everyone through Jesus. That is incredible news.
21-23: and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
We have been made holy! And as such, we can draw near to God with assurance, but not just assurance… but full assurance. How can we be fully assured? Because he is faithful and he made this promise to us.
24,25: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
So, let us move to action. Let us meet and grow and build each other up in our walks with the Lord. The “Day” it refers to here is that of Christ’s return. Though we know it’s coming, we still have work to do here until it comes.
What a joyful day that will be!
These are all great and wonderful things, and it’s easy to end there. But, there’s more to this chapter.
26: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.
Remember that this is the book of Hebrews so it was written to the Jews. They still followed the Old Testament law, including the offering of sacrifices. Now if a Jew accepted Christ, but then expected their old ways to make up for their sins they were rejecting God’s final sacrifice.
But as I read this, it is clear that it applies also in a serious way to us. Once we come to Christ, we are to repent from our sin, or turn away and stop doing those sins. While God is faithful and just to forgive our sins, those we commit willfully, intentionally, and continually make forgiveness a challenge.
Now imagine you have a friend that one day slaps you in the face over an argument. They are immediately apologetic and ask for forgiveness. As a friend, you’d likely forgive them and tell them not to worry about it. But what if that friend then continued to slap you in the face during every disagreement? Following each incident, they apologize profusely and beg for forgiveness. Perhaps they really are sorry, but are you going to be able to keep forgiving them time and time again for the same offense? They know it’s wrong, but they keep doing it anyway. Not so easy to forgive, and it may not take too long before your no longer friends with that person.
This is where a repentant heart makes all the difference. While we will most certainly sin against God from time to time, and many times it is willful sin, when we keep our hearts set on Christ, there will be a desire to turn from those and back to him so that we don’t continue down the wrong path. Straying from the path and then returning is different than taking a road that leads directly away from God.
27: but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
God’s not messing around here. Fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire can mean only one thing: hell.
Are we as believers willing to put away our sin, to turn away from it and draw close to God? Repentance is key. Of course God knows that you’re going to sin. But again, it’s a matter of the heart whether you deliberately, or purposefully sin against him.
28,29: Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two to three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Are we treating Jesus’ sacrifice with respect? When we sin against God we are trampling underfoot the very thing that will save us.
30,31: For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
It’s easy to talk about how loving God is. We often forget about his justice. The feel good message is popular today. No one wants their feelings hurt, and we don’t like telling people bad news. But the truth is that God is just. He wouldn’t be a good God if he wasn’t. That means punishment for sin is a requirement… one that we must not forget.
So, turn away from your sin. It may be a struggle to surrender, but you don’t have to give it up on your own power, but on Christ’s who gives you strength.
32-34: Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
The early apostles who received Jesus, or what these verses call the “light” were full of courage, willing to put up with persecution and suffering at the hands of non-believers. They faced imprisonment, the theft of their property, ridicule and even death for their faith.
Are we willing to do the same? Christ’s offer far surpasses anything the world has to give, so why not take a stand and be strong for him?
35: So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.
Amen! Stand strong with confidence. You see, ours is not a desperate hope built on wishes. We have the living God as a firm foundation on which to build a mighty fortress of faith. The rich rewards are simply icing on the cake.
36: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Staying the course is difficult. It’s a long war with battles fought against the power and principalities of this world and the pressure from our own flesh. But we can call out to God who will never leave us or forsake us. We have also been given the Holy Spirit, with the law written on our hearts. We are mighty warriors for the kingdom of God.
37-39: For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteousness one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
God takes no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. So, let us not be a people who shrink back, but soldiers who stand strong, live out their faith, repent from and surrender their sin, and rejoice in the sacrifice that for once and for all time removed sin to give us eternal life.
So today, if you are struggling with a habit or an addiction, or just the will stop a sin you know you’ve been in… give it up to him. You don’t have to do it under your own strength. Surrender your all to Jesus and fall upon him and his grace.
Then, stand and be a warrior for God. Let us not shrink back in the culture war. Let us speak words of hope, love, and truth. And yes, the truth does hurt. But sometimes hurting feelings is what is necessary to bring us to change. And our country is in desperate need of change.
As I read the news I am greatly disturbed about the state of affairs in America. Each day brings another attack on God and common sense. From campus safe spaces, to professional victimhood, to outright atheistic teachings, the lunacy of the world is more evident every day.
This country needs revival. It needs to repent and turn back to God to avoid judgment.
I used to look at the insurmountable problems America faced: moral decline, poor economy, massive debt, and so much more. But I took a step back and looked at it from a perspective of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. You know what, God can fix all of these things. There were times that the Israelites didn’t even have to lift a finger so great was God’s power to fight for them. He can do that again.
So, let’s pray that God will once again move in this country, that hearts will be opened and lives transformed. Let us stand and fight, not shrink back.