Today we’re reading Hebrews 10.
This chapter wraps up the argument about the superiority of Christ to everything Old Testament. The main point of verses 1-14 is that Jesus’ death is superior to the Old Testament sacrifices because his death was a permanent sacrifice for sins. In the words of 14, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” That’s why Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God” (v. 12b) because there was no more blood work to be done.
The result of Jesus’ sacrifice is genuine salvation, according to verses 15-18. God has forgiven us in Christ (vv. 17-18) and has regenerated us spiritually, putting his laws into our minds and hearts (vv. 15-16). Because all of this is true, the author of Hebrews applied these truths to Christians like us by giving us two sets of application steps:
The first set of application steps consist of learning to worship God sincerely (vv. 19-22), devotedly (v. 23), servingly [OK, I made that word up, but it works.] (v. 24), and corporately (v. 25).
The second set of application steps involves not turning away from God (vv. 26-35) but instead to persevere in faith and obedience (vv. 36-39).
Let’s focus today on verse 14: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” This verse compresses into one capsule two important truths about our faith.
First, we are perfect. Don’t deny it or think about all the ways that you are imperfect. When God looks at you, he sees absolute, perfect obedience. Given how easily and frequently we disobey his word, how is that possible? The answer is in the first part of the verse: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever….”
Notice that it was Jesus’ death that made us perfect in God’s sight–“by one sacrifice.” And, it was his act, not ours, that made us perfect in God’s sight–“HE has made perfect forever.” You and I are not considered perfect by God because God is blind to our sins and flaws. No, we’re perfect before God because Jesus paid for all of our sins–past, present, and future. His death did everything that was necessary to cause God to treat us as perfect.
When a defendant is acquitted of murder, the state treats him as if he is and always was innocent of murder, whether he actually was perfect or not. In our case, we were guilty of many crimes before God but Jesus paid for all them. God in his role as judge, then, treats us according to our legal standing in Christ, not according to our actual record of good and evil. This means that, if you are in Christ, there is nothing you can ever do to cause God to treat you as guilty again. You should not try to impress God with your good works or your righteousness or your growth or your knowledge. You should be thankful that he sees you as perfect. This is a “positional” truth; that is, Christ’s death gave us a perfect position–perfect standing–before God.
The other side of verse 14 is that Christ as perfected “…those who are being made holy.” This is the practical truth of our faith. Positionally, we have perfect standing before God if we’re in Christ. But, practically speaking, we have a long way to go. God, however, is working on us. Notice that the voice of verse 14 is passive; we “are being made holy.” Through his word, his church, trials, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, God is working on us. He is changing us so that who we are practically will eventually match what we are positionally. In Christ we are positionally perfect. Through Christ we are becoming perfect in practice. The reason why we obey God’s word now is not to save ourselves, to make God like us or keep him from disliking us. Our position is secure in Christ; God loves us because we are in Jesus and God loves Jesus. The reason why we obey God’s word is because we want to become holy like God is. Like a child who desires to become like his parents–not to gain their favor but because he truly admires them–we as God’s children have a desire now to become holy like he is.
Let these truths change you! You are secure in Christ so you don’t need to worry about sin knocking you out of favor with God. But God is working in you to change you to think and act like Jesus, too. He wants your position to match your reality, so let him purify you from sin as you grow in your faith each day.