For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Hebrews 10:1-3
A Shadow of Our Savior
We should recall that the writer of Hebrews is admonishing ‘Jewish Christians‘ to not return to their old sacrificial, ‘first covenant’ system. In the Hebrews 10 passage above, they are specifically being reminded that if these old ordinances were of any effect, they would not have to do them over and over. So while it’s true the rituals covered their sin (for a year at a time), it’s also true that they did not remove their sin, doing very little for the conscience and nothing towards salvation. With each and every sacrifice, the liturgies were doing little more than bringing their transgressions, and the guilt associated with them, into their memory.
How was this happening?
Put yourself in the Jew‘s shoes. Every year the sinner (in this case, every Jew) would bring his prized little lamb or mighty bull to be sacrificed. As per the law, these animals were to be the best of their best, born and hence maintained to be without imperfection. Naturally, their hearts would ache as they walked these beasts from their homes to the temple, knowing the animal’s fate. Finally, when the priest took possession of the their animal, and the knife was plunged in, and the critter would squeal, and the blood would begin to flow, how could they not lament that their sin caused this dreadful thing to occur. Animal sacrifice was never meant to be a pretty thing and subsequently they were reminded each year, “Nothing has changed; I am still an appalling sinner. Look at what I have done.”
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. 2 Cor. 7:9
God had a purpose in all this — these things were a picture of what was to come in Christ Jesus, but as we have come to know, pictures and shadows do not save a man. Our sin should make us sorrowful, but in Christ Jesus it is a one-time event. After the Law (the old covenant) has done the job of identifying us as sinners, we can take the offenses, along with the guilt and the shame, and leave it at the foot of the cross, once and for all. The accuser of the brethren might bring up our sin, but Jesus never will.
Not to worry…
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10
Our new covenant in Jesus, His ultimate and final sacrifice, has done away with the old system. As a result, we no longer lament.
Today, Jesus says in our communion with Him, “Do this in remembrance of Me!”
Nowhere does Jesus ever say, or will He ever say, do this in remembrance of your sin. So while Godly sorrow (appropriate sorrow) works to bring us to a place of repentance, we do not need to sacrifice Jesus over and over. For this reason we do not recall the sin, but joyfully recall the Savior of our salvation. We celebrate Holy Communion, we don’t bewail it.
The work is done, we are forgiven, we are free, and we are at peace.
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14
Sacrificial System = Dead Works
But you say, “I’m not sacrificing animals for my sins; never have, never will.”
Me either. However, many are guilty of doing good works that they falsely believe will save them, while others are faulted in rejecting His grace and embracing their shortcomings, beating themselves up with the ugliness of their sinful past. Jesus would not have us fall into that trap, which is why the Book of Hebrews is applicable to every believer.
Christ desires that we would celebrate Communion often as a reminder that He finished all the work on the cross, and that we need not get sucked back into our own little sacrificial systems; those “Oh, I sinned again,” pity-parties that we have a tendency to throw for ourselves.
Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)
Why are we to examine ourselves?
To give worth to Christ’s deed, and not to be consumed with our selfish impulses and false ideologies. When we acknowledge the work is done, we are free and we are at peace with the Lord, hence we do not condemn ourselves. In other words, the examination process is to focus on Jesus (giving Him worth) and not ourselves, lest we fall back into the practices as the Hebrews were doing. Behaving in an unworthy manner only serves to bring judgment upon ourselves.
So let us celebrate our salvation. The tomb is empty, we are free, and we are saved!
Rejoice and stay the course!
These articles may or may not be related:
- Law of Moses 104 – A Christian Perspective (kswptim.wordpress.com)
- Rescued Out of Darkness and Confusion: Robin’sTestimony (kimolsen.wordpress.com)
- Is the Blood of Christ Really a Big Deal? And Why You Should Care (vineoflifenews.com)
- Hebrews 1-6 (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
- Are You Even Saved? Moving Out of Comfort to Consider Whether We Truly Live (doctorsnyder7.wordpress.com)
- Yom Kippur: A Reason for Christians to Celebrate (katrinastephenskaiser.wordpress.com)
- A Judgmental Charismalvinist: Part 3 (The Gospel) (brenthellendoorn.wordpress.com)
- Hebrews 7-10 (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
- A Greater Savior, A Superior Call: A Faith That Endures (churchinstpeters.com)
- How Jesus Says To Read The Old Testament (jonahmb.wordpress.com)
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