Hebrews 10:1-4

Hebrews 10:1‑4  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The grand distinction between the legal economy and Christianity was set forth luminously in Heb. 9, with the facts which made the contrast clear, and above all His person, work, and place Who closed the one and introduced the other. In the first half of Heb. 10, we have the truth triumphantly applied to the conscience in order to our enjoying the presence of God where Christ is gone.
“For the law, having a shadow of the coming good things, not the image itself of the things, with the same sacrifices which year by year they offer in perpetuity, can never perfect those that approach: else would they not have ceased being offered, because that those who serve, having been once purified, would have no more conscience of sins? But in them [is] a recalling to mind of sins year by year; for [it is] impossible that blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 1-4).
The law had a shadow, and but a shadow, of the coming good things, not the very image. There is even contrast in what is most characteristic. The law made nothing perfect. The work of Christ as now made known perfects the believer, not of course in his state or conduct, but in his standing before God. It was never so under the law. People or individuals, all they got was temporary relief. Finality they had none. They had to offer the same sacrifices: the greatest year by year, the lesser as need arose from day to day, they had to offer without a break. It was only provisional, at best a witness of good to come. But now in Christ and His work the best is come. The Second Man is the Last Adam. None shall rival, still less supersede, Him; and the efficacy of His work is in keeping with the perfection of His person. The constant repetition of the old sacrifices tells the tale of their intrinsic shortcomings. Christ's own sacrifice bespeaks its everlasting worth. Of old, sins if renewed, as they were, demanded a fresh offering. Where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sins; and this is only and precisely true, now that Christ has been once offered. He obtained eternal redemption; for it the believer does not await, like Israel, the day of His appearing. While He is still on high, the Holy Spirit is sent down; and he that believes the gospel, purified in his conscience before Him, beholds Him on the right hand of God. No need for Him to offer Himself again; else must He often suffer. But this were an insult alike to Christ and to God, to the Spirit intolerable. Where faith is, God sees, not the believer's sins, but the blood which blots them out forever. There is no renewal, because he has been once purified and has no more conscience of sins.
But men in Christendom have so receded from the gospel of salvation to a mingled system of half-law and half-gospel, that we rarely hear this truth proclaimed, this privilege enjoyed. Even saints on either hand wonder at the sound. Right well they know when awakened that the Spirit wrought by the word and laid their sins heavily on their conscience; and they cried to God in distress of soul, and called on the Lord—surely not in vain. Still their experience has been very like the saints of old, seeking fresh recourse to His blood on every fresh occasion of need. To use the truth before us, they have still a conscience of sins. They believe in Christ, but do not bow to the efficacy of His work. Of old it could not be otherwise, for it was not yet accomplished. Even the most Evangelical of prophets, as he is called, was not given to say more than “My salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” But now in the gospel, God's righteousness is revealed (Rom. 1), and believers receive the end of their faith, salvation of souls, not yet of bodies, but of souls by a work divinely perfect, which “perfects those that approach.” How could it be less? God Himself could not add to the perfecting virtue of Christ's blood. By Christ “all that believe are justified from all things,” from which none could be by the law of Moses. It will be known better, enjoyed fully, by the saints in heaven; but God will never estimate it more highly on our account than He declares already to us; and faith now rests on His word. Without Christ's blood it were impenitent and obdurate presumption to pretend to “no more conscience of sins.” It is putting shame on His work for one who believes on Him to doubt that God beholds him washed in the blood that purifies from every sin. The only true title to believe that any are canceled ought to assure one that all are gone.
How sad it is that those in Christendom who have least pity for the poor guilty Jews are themselves in their faith more Jewish than Christian! Let them test themselves by this capital truth of the gospel. Do they draw near as worshippers once purified having no more conscience of sins? Is this the ground they take in private and in public, in their prayers and in their praises? Do they believe that their guilt is quite gone and forever by Christ's sacrifice? Read how the inspiring Spirit lays bare the total failure of the Levitical sacrifices, “In them is a recalling to mind of sins year by year;” and the reason is no less evident, “for it is not possible that blood of bulls and goats should take may sins.” Christ's work is God's intervention to do away with the believer's guilt. This He has done once and forever. Every wrong deed, word, or feeling calls for humiliation on the Christian's part, as other scriptures show; but no scripture enfeebles the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice for him that believes. No doubt it is a sin which exposes to other and all sins; as it may end in total ruin and prove that the doubter never was born of God.