Hebrews 10: 1-25
There is a difference between the way God presents justification in the epistles to the Romans and to the Hebrews. In the epistle to Romans, it is a question of justification as before a court; man is guilty and the blood of Christ justifies us. Moreover, Christ is risen and he who has faith has part in that resurrection. In the epistle to the Hebrews, justification is presented as giving us the right to come before God. The two characters of this justification are different, for entering the presence of God as a worshipper is different from entering as before a judge.
There were sacrifices through which the people drew near to God. If there is judgment, we need to be cleansed to appear before Him; one must be clean to present oneself before Him as a worshipper. The first thing which was met in the tabernacle was the brazen altar, the altar of burnt offerings, where victims were offered, types of Christ. Cain brings as offering to God the fruit of his work. He wishes to come before God as he is, and regards himself as entirely honest. God knew that, in his thoughts, this suited Cain. But Abel recognised that blood was necessary; he presented a propitiatory victim; faith made him recognise that, as a sinner, being driven from God’s presence, he could not present himself as such before Him, without blood, without a dead victim as expiation and propitiation; without blood-shedding there is no remission. God must be true and we must appear before Him without sin. We must be true and appear before Him as sinners; and this is what is resolved in Jesus.
The efficacy of the blood of Christ is presented to us here to this end, that we should be able to present ourselves before God to worship Him. It is not sufficient for us to be justified as guilty; we must also worship God. The purpose of this epistle is to show us that we can appear before God without conscience of sin. To be set apart for God, sanctified, sins must be removed.
There are three things here: the will of God, the work of Christ and the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The will of God, which sanctifies and purifies us so that we might approach Him, must have its effect, otherwise man would be more powerful than God. There must be the accomplishment of this will, and the work of Christ is its accomplishment; there must be the testimony of the Holy Spirit for us to know it. I must know that my debt is paid; if I do not have this knowledge, I cannot but flee the presence of my creditor.
Christ came to do God’s will. This will was that the Son might come to accomplish the work. It was not God’s will that man should present himself before Him as Cain did, without blood, but that the Son might accomplish this will. “I have completed the work which thou gavest me that I should do it”, John 17: 4. “For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous”, Rom 5: 19. The Holy Spirit bears witness to our souls that Christ perfectly accomplished the work the Father gave Him to do. We have the certainty that the debt is paid.
God's will was to save us; this will was that His Son should save us. I have the certainty that the Son has accomplished that will, that the Son removed all my sins. I am without conscience of sin; although I know that I am a sinner, I have the consciousness of no longer having sin before God. It is the only thing of which
I should be conscious by the Holy Spirit in drawing near to God. I acknowledge the debt, but I know that it is paid. To have no more conscience of sin is the normal state of the Christian. God wanted to save us; that is the first thing. Then God reveals to us what He has done. It does not simply remain a matter of will; He has accomplished this will and He has given His Son. He has sent the Holy Spirit to convey to me the assurance that this was God’s will and that He has accomplished it. My certainty rests on this testimony rendered by the Holy Spirit to the work of Christ.
What is this testimony? Here, it is that Christ is seated at the right hand of God. The priests offered new sacrifices every day, because there was no remission and the consciousness of sin remained. Every time a Jew sinned, a lamb had to be sacrificed. Christ offered one sacrifice for sin and sat down at the right hand of God. Having done everything, accomplished everything for ever, He sits down, while the Jewish priest stands always and does not rest. The Christian who feels constant fresh need of expiation, and thus retains consciousness of sin, is to this extent a Jew and not a Christian. Here is how Christians are found in God’s presence to worship Him.
When a Jew drew nigh to the throne of God, there was a sacrifice to offer. But the Christian is already introduced into the house by sacrifice; the sacrifice is behind him. I have passed the altar of burnt offerings and am come into the holy place. I no longer have the altar of burnt offerings between God and me. At Christ’s death, the veil of the temple was rent. The action which rent the veil and opened access into God’s presence has taken away my sin. Without this, the open sanctuary would make me flee in fear. But I have full liberty to enter into the most holy place. It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness of it to us and gives us the certainty of it. The blood of Christ introduces us into God’s house. It is there that we find holiness; it is there that we understand sin and have horror of it. It is there that, having the sense of the purity in God’s presence, we hate any blemish.
Let us approach Him in full assurance of faith, having the certainty of this perfect work of Christ. The Holy Spirit will warn us, will chasten us perhaps, but as children who have access to the Father’s throne.
Is it really our desire to approach God? It is impossible if we keep anything forbidden. With anything forbidden, there is no desire to come into the light as God is in the light, for God probes our depths. How good if God could be pleased with what pleases us! But with forbidden things, the heart is not upright. It stops on the way before arriving at the throne. Nobody can come before God with his sin. Approach must be by the blood of Christ, without consciousness of sin, through the rent veil, the death of Christ. With a good conscience, the more we are in God’s presence, the happier we are. We cannot doubt the excellence of Christ’s blood; we are at ease in God’s house, and we have at the same time the consciousness of what we are and the consciousness that He has removed all our sins.
Translated from “Le Messager Evangélique”