A Sufficient Sacrifice

Posted: July 13, 2009 in Hebrews

Hebrews 10:1-18, “A Sufficient Sacrifice”

In the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” there’s a running gag about the father using Windex to solve any issue. Got a wart? Spray Windex on it. Got a pimple? Windex, etc. Of course, it’s funny…but just not effective. Windex is very good at cleaning windows – its designed purpose; but it’s terrible as skin medicine. Using a product beyond its designed purpose sometimes works; but usually is a failure.

That seems to be what happened regarding the sacrificial system in the old covenant. God designed the old covenant offerings and sacrifices with a very specific purpose in mind; but the Hebrews & priests took it beyond God’s designed purpose of merely covering over their sins & pointing to the need for His grace, & they tried to claim it was effective to ultimately forgive them their sins & give them righteousness.

Thus for the Christian that was raised as a 1st Century Jew, it’s very easy to understand how they could become confused about going back to the sacrifices of the law. They may have put their faith in Christ, but they were so ingrained about the need to sacrifice, that they wanted to keep on doing it. Thus the writer of Hebrews has been comparing the priesthood of Aaron & Jesus for nearly 5 chapters – showing Jesus to be superior in every respect.

He wraps up the comparison here in Ch 10, demonstrating that Jesus’ sacrifice is the only sufficient sacrifice to offer true & eternal forgiveness of sins. The old covenant sacrifices were a shadow of the substance of Christ – the Old Testament clearly proclaims the sacrifices to be insufficient – and the old covenant sacrifices never produced the results that Jesus did.

In comparison to what Jesus did for us in cleansing us from our sin, setting us apart as holy in the sight of God, and granting us the blessings of complete forgiveness, the old sacrifices are like putting Windex on a wart.

Hebrews 10:1-18 (NKJV)
1 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.

A. Reiteration of the same theme he’s been hammering home of the Day of Atonement. (Repetition can be good!) God wants us to understand that the law was insufficient. As detailed as the law is, it is only a “shadow”. It gives us an idea of what’s behind it, but it’s not really effective for anything of substance. There’s something real that causes the shadow & that’s what we should be looking toward (and what the shadow indicates); we shouldn’t be chasing after the shadow itself.

B. Strong language here. The law can “never” make us “perfect.” It’s not that it could ‘sometimes’ make us perfect; nor could it make certain people perfect under special circumstances. The law can NEVER make anyone who attempts to approach God through the law perfect.
__a. And if the law of God can’t do it, then how much less of a chance do false religions have? God gave the sacrifices in the Law – He commanded His people to perform them. Yet it is impossible for those God-given sacrifices to make anyone perfect. We can be sure that Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. have even less to offer. The only way to be made perfect is through the way God Himself provides & makes for us – thus Jesus is the way, truth, and life.

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.

A. Therein is the proof of the argument. How can the writer of Hebrews (and thus EVERY Hebrew) be so certain that the animal sacrifices in the law were always insufficient? That those sacrifices would “never…make those who approach perfect”? Because otherwise, they would have ceased long ago. Why keep making a sacrifice if the sacrifice was sufficient. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!)

B. The Jew’s own conscience should have convicted him/her of that fact! If their sin was truly forgiven – forever done away with…if the person was already made perfect by sacrifice, they would “have had no more consciousness of sin.” … Keep in mind that one’s own guilt (or lack thereof) over their own sin has nothing to do with whether or not we’re actually guilty. (A lot of criminals never feel remorse!) But the Jew would have not have ever been able to claim a complete righteousness (even within his heart), because he was already looking forward to the next sacrifice as soon as the present one was completed. See vs. 3…

3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

A. Every single year had the same sacrifices, because every single year had the same need for sacrifices…

B. Bottom line, it’s impossible for animal blood to “take away sins.” It makes perfect sense when we stop to think about it. Why would we have ever had an expectation that the blood of a bull could truly satisfy the wrath of God for our sin? The BULL had not sinned against God; I had. The bull’s death merely acknowledged that God did indeed have wrath against sin & that the wages of sin is death. All the sacrifice does is basically say, “I’m sorry God – please don’t kill me yet.” But the blood of a bull was not required for my sin; the blood of a MAN is. A man committed my sins, and a man has to pay for my sins.
__a. If it’s impossible for animal sacrifice to take care of sin, what’s a good Jewish worshipper supposed to do? His only means within the law to save himself makes salvation impossible. Exactly. And what’s impossible with man is possible with God (Matt 19:26). The insufficiency of the sacrifice was always supposed to make worshippers fall on their face before their holy God & cry out for grace…

5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’ ”

A. Quoting Ps 40:6-8. A psalm of David, written in a time when David obviously felt surrounded by enemies & he was trusting the Lord for deliverance. Messianic… Regarding Jesus, it goes to affirm the argument of the writer of Hebrews. Even the OT affirms that the sacrifices in the OT were insufficient. God had always told the Jews about this & prepared them for this fact.

B. God commanded sacrifice & offering, but “did not desire” it regarding complete & total cleansing. … What DID God want? Sacrifices of the heart – Psalm 51:16-17 (16) For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. []

C. God DID desire to provide Jesus as a sacrifice – the eternal, immortal Son of God had a physical body “prepared” for Him & Jesus became the Son of Man in His incarnation. (Just as God told Abraham, God provided Himself a lamb…)
__a. BTW, if you compare the rendering of Heb 10:5 with Ps 40:6, you’ll see a big difference. Instead of “But a body You have prepared for me,” it’s “My ears you have opened.” The difference is due to the use of the LXX by the author of Hebrews. Does that mean the author was wrong? No. He was just as much under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as was David. The Holy Spirit preserved the LXX rendering for us here, we can trust this is what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us.

D. The sacrifice of Jesus was the “will” of God & prophesied throughout the “volume of the book” of the Torah. $20 word of the day: “Christocentricity” – meaning simply that Christ is at the center. All throughout the Scriptures (OT AND NT), we find a Christocentric message in that the gospel is both hinted at & openly proclaimed from Genesis to Revelation. This “will” of the Father was plainly known & the whole of the book is about Jesus dying for our sins & rising again, giving glory to God & new life to His people.

E. Did Jesus actually say this? There’s no recorded instance in the gospels about it. It just goes to underscore the inspiration of the Scripture. David wrote it – under the power of the Holy Spirit – Who gave Him the words of Christ that applied during His incarnation, even if we don’t have a record of Jesus saying it in His incarnation.

8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

A. Goes into detail about the quote from Ps 40. Basically shows that the sacrifices were indeed lawful – they were “offered according to the law.” Even though God did not find pleasure in them (in regards to final propitiation of sin), God did require that they be given. But now that Jesus has come, His new covenant (the 2nd) takes away the need for the sacrifices from the 1st. …

B. Question: “How can God have no pleasure in burnt offerings, etc., when the Law affirms that those offerings are indeed a sweet aroma to Him?” Good question! The 1st 5 books of Moses refer to various burnt offerings and sacrifices as a “sweet aroma” no less than 38 times, so obviously they pleased God in SOME way. This is where context becomes so important! … The writer of Hebrews has been hammering home the point that the legal sacrifices had to be done repeatedly, so they never truly made anyone perfect & without need for any further sacrifices. But that doesn’t mean that they were totally without benefit! God gave the law & the law is good (Rom 7:7). The sacrifices helped to maintain the covenantal relationship God had with His people & provide temporary atonement for sin. In that sense & in their worship, God was indeed pleased. But regarding the ultimate propitiation of sin – having the wages of sin completely addressed through the righteous wrath of God, the legal sacrifices did not please God; they were woefully insufficient.
__a. Only in Jesus – the One Who came to do the will of God…only He accomplished the will of God in providing a perfect sacrifice. See vs. 10…

10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

A. “By that will”: IOW, by the will of God in sending Jesus as our perfect sacrifice…

B. What was offered? “the body of Jesus Christ.” The very body that God prepared for Jesus in Ps 40 was given as our sin sacrifice – the ultimate offering for sin. Just as Communion celebrates, Jesus’ own body was broken for us. As bread is broken for us to give us nourishment, so was Jesus’ physical body broken for us to give us spiritual life…
__a. Why is this important to realize? We have a tendency of spiritualizing a lot of these very literal truths. We think, “Oh – Jesus suffered for me & became my sacrifice. Isn’t that nice?” NO! Jesus was punched, beaten, had His beard yanked out – had a mess of thick & long thorns shoved down on His skull – had a cat o’ nine tails shred His back almost to death – had massive nails the size of tent stakes driven through His hands & feet – hung on a cross, laboring to breathe, just waiting to die – had a spear shoved through His rib cage & pierce His heart. The SON OF GOD, Whom most of us would be like Mary & wash His feet with our tears – the One for Whom most of us wouldn’t let Him walk through mud – truly the most valuable VIP who ever existed – He suffered for you. This is a very REAL thing that happened; this was true history that took place. And He did it all for the glory of God because of sin.

C. What happened as a result of that offering? “We have been sanctified.” Remember what sanctification is… [justification, sanctification, glorification] If there’s any part of salvation that we take an active role in, it’s sanctification. We make conscious decisions about the way we live, the things we say, the way we act in desiring to glorify God, etc. But by no means does this mean that we are able to accomplish our sanctification in & of ourselves. … We have been saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) – and that applies to our justification, our glorification, and even our sanctification! Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, “we have been sanctified.” PAST tense. Technically, in the Greek it is the perfect tense (action occurred in the past & has ongoing results in the present). That’s exactly what happens in our sanctification through Christ Jesus! Jesus through His grace set us apart – Jesus through His grace made us holy – Jesus through His grace empowers us to walk away from sin & more. Everything about our walk with Jesus Christ is due to the grace of Jesus Christ!

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

A. Jesus did it once; the priests did it every day. Not that they went into the Holy of Holies every day; but the sacrifices for sin & burnt offerings were laid upon the altar every day of every year of every decade of every century. And NONE of those sacrifices (as numerous as they were) could ever “take away sins.”

B. Think about that for a moment. Even the very best of all the sacrifices…nothing that was offered in all its grandeur, could ever take away sins. They had some massive sacrifices at times. When the Tabernacle was dedicated, it was done with a massive offering of gold, silver, 36 bulls, 72 rams, etc. (Num 7:84-88) When Ezra recorded the rebuilding & dedication of the temple, there were 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs & more sacrificed (Ezra 6:17). When Solomon dedicated the 1st temple, there were so many sacrifices going before the ark that the sheep & oxen “could not be counted or numbered for multitude” (1 Kings 8:5). Those are some BIG offerings! But yet what does the Bible say about them? They “can never take away sins.” Every single one of those offerings was done out of worship to God, but ultimately they were all the work of man. When it comes to taking care of sin, our work can’t affect anything. In effect, that’s what our attempts at self-righteousness through sacrifice is like: filthy rags! (Isa 64:6) Thus it can’t be OUR sacrifice; it must be HIS…

12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

A. Jesus provided an effective sacrifice: The previous sacrifices under the 1st covenant were numerous & repeated. Not Jesus’…His sacrifice was singular & unique. He provided “one sacrifice” & now He no longer in is the process of sacrificing; He “sat down at the right hand of God.” In contrast to the priests who continually stood, Jesus gave one sacrifice & sat down. Even His posture in heaven speaks of His sufficient sacrifice!

B. Jesus provided an eternal sacrifice: So important! Not only was Jesus’ sacrifice singular; that one sacrifice was sufficient for all time. “one sacrifice for sins forever…” Gk “forever” used 3 times in this passage (vs. 1, 12, 14) & means exactly what we think: “always, continually, for all time.” (Louw-Nida), “unlimited duration of time, with particular focus upon the future – ‘always, forever, forever and ever, eternally.’” Get the picture? For the born-again Christian, there will never be a time when the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf is not effective; there will never be a time when it doesn’t work. When Jesus died for sin; He didn’t temporarily satisfy the wrath of God for the 1st million years & then we’re on our own. It’s forever & ever!
__a. If there was ever a verse that should drive the final nail in the coffin of works-righteousness, this would be it! There’s not a single thing in all the universe that you could add to the blood of Jesus to make you “more righteous” in the eyes of God. There is never an area of your life or a sin that you committed that is “too stained” for Jesus to handle. His sacrifice has an eternal significance. The price for sin has been paid; and it always will be.

C. Jesus provided a victorious sacrifice: Not only did Jesus’ sacrifice satisfy the righteous wrath of God toward us, but it also provides the basis for His ultimate victory over death & the devil… [“footstool”: Ps 110:1] In such grand irony, what the devil probably thought was his victory blow (the crucifixion of Christ) was his own death knell. The cross is where Satan bruised the heel of Jesus, but Jesus crushed his head (Gen 3:15).

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

A. Note the change in tense. In vs. 10, “we have been sanctified” through Christ. In vs. 14, we are “being sanctified” through Christ…moves from the perfect tense to the present tense – which demonstrates the “here & now” aspect of our sanctification. In a very real sense, Jesus set apart those Whom He saved & made us holy through His sacrifice. But that process of being conformed into the image of Christ goes on & on throughout our lives. (So we sin-less & less…)

B. We can’t emphasize it enough; His work is sufficient! We have been “perfected forever.” Not that we are sinless & forever without error in the future (that’s a definition of heaven; not earth). But no longer are we in need of anything regarding sacrifice for sin. Jesus has brought us to perfection in that.

15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

A. Hearkens back to Ch 8 a bit, comparing the 1st covenant & new covenant. Jer 31…

B. The point? Jesus had said through David that there was a different sacrifice to be given. The Holy Spirit said through Jeremiah that a new covenant would be given & in this new covenant, our sins would be completely forgiven. If there were any doubters that remained among the Jewish Christians reading this letter, they’ve just been shown the double-testimony of God Almighty! By 2 or three every matter is established (Deut 19:15), and the Tri-Une God has made His thoughts perfectly clear on the matter.

18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

A. The final summation of the argument. In vs. 2, the writer noted that because of the ongoing sacrifices, the Jews had an ongoing consciousness of sin. But in vs. 17 we read how God declared that through the one sacrifice of Jesus (in the new covenant), God’s OWN consciousness of sin is fundamentally changed. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, He remembers our sins “no more.” Guess what? That means we’ve experienced true forgiveness; true remission. And where there has been true forgiveness, there is no more need ever to have an offering for sin again. Jesus has taken care of it at the cross…

There are certain things in life we can scrape by on: we don’t need the highest quality blue jeans on the planet when a pair from Wal-Mart will do, etc. There are other things we don’t dare skimp on, such as health care for our loved ones. A sugar pill will never do if we need to treat real disease…we want the best medicine & healing from God. How much more with eternal salvation & forgiveness from sin? We dare not trust in anything that is insufficient for the task – after all, we’re dealing with eternity here! … The ONLY sufficient sacrifice is the sacrifice Jesus provided on the cross for our sin. His sacrifice is the substance; not the shadow. His sacrifice is what the entire OT prepared us for. His sacrifice is the only sacrifice that brings effective, eternal, and victorious results.

It’s not likely that in this room we have anyone in the same boat as a 1st century Jew. There’s no one here looking to put their trust in an ongoing sacrifice at the Jewish Temple – and even if you did, there’s no more Jewish Temple to sacrifice in. But it is possible you may be here with the idea that Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t enough…that you need to add to it in some way. Perhaps if you engage in certain rituals, it’ll “help” Jesus along. Or that if you give to the right ministries, that you’ll add more favor to your account. Or that if you impose as much of the OT Law upon yourself as possible, you’ll be made “more” sanctified in the sight of God.

All those things are insufficient means! They’re like Windex on a wart, when what you need is the all-sufficient blood of Christ Jesus on your entire life. Cast yourself upon His mercies & rejoice in His grace today!


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