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Hebrews Chapters 8-10: "We Have Been Sanctified" Through the Better Sacrifice, Part 6
by Karl Kemp
1/22/2015 / Bible Studies
We continue with the comments under Heb. 9:23 here in Part 6.
The unique blood of Christ, by contrast, does cleanse and bring spiritual life in the spiritual/Spiritual dimension through the Righteous, Holy, Spirit of life, who indwells believers. Hebrews 10:19-22 show that "we have confidence to enter the holy place [heaven] by the blood of Jesus" and that we have this access "with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, HAVING OUR HEARTS SPRINKLED CLEAN FROM AN EVIL CONSCIENCE [my emphasis] and our bodies washed in pure water." We have access to the presence of God in heaven now in a preliminary, but very real, sense through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, through our being united with Him, and through the indwelling Holy Spirit of life. We will enter heaven in a fuller sense if we die before the Lord returns, and we will enter heaven in the full sense at the end of this age when we are glorified.
The writer of Hebrews is putting the emphasis on our being cleansed from sin and spiritual death, so we can enter the presence of God and live in His truth, righteousness, and holiness now, but it is also true that we will be forgiven for any sins we should commit after we become Christians, when we repent, through the shed blood of the Lamb of God (cf., e.g., 1 John 2:1, 2).
I'll quote a sentence from what F. F. Bruce ("Epistle to the Hebrews," page 210) says here: "What required to be cleansed was the defiled conscience of men and women; this is a cleansing that belongs to the spiritual sphere."]] (24) For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands [cf. Heb. 9:12; "not made with hands" (Heb. 9:11)], a mere copy [on "copy, copies," see Heb. 8:5; 9:23, 24] of the true one [cf. Heb. 8:2], but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us [cf. Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34]; (25) nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year [on the Day of Atonement; cf. Heb. 9:7 ("once a year");10:3 ("reminder of sins year by year"); contrast 9:12 ("entered...once for all"); 9:26 ("once at the consummation of the ages")] with blood that is not his own. (26) Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer [The verb "pascho" is used here of suffering death, as it often is in the New Testament; see Heb. 13:12, for example.] often since the foundation of the world [Having become a man (the God-man) through the virgin birth, Jesus could only die once, but, in accordance with God's salvation plan, that one Sacrifice totally solved the sin, spiritual death, Satan problem forever.]; but now once at the consummation of the ages [cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; Gal. 4:4, "But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law."] He has been manifested [referring to His first coming; His coming again (His second coming) is mentioned in 9:28] TO PUT AWAY SIN [[my emphasis; the KJV; NKJV also translate "to put away sin"; the NIV has, "to do away with sin"; the Amplified Bible has, "to put away and abolish sin." These are some of the most important words in this epistle, but, in my opinion, most Christians miss the primary point, a super-important point, that the writer of Hebrews is making here. We will discuss these super-important words as we continue.]] by the sacrifice of Himself. [[The One Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (on the day, Friday that year, when the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple in Jerusalem) totally solved the sin, spiritual death, Satan and his kingdom problem forever, which will have been totally manifested by the time of the creation of the new heaven and new earth, after the millennial kingdom and the great-white-throne judgment (cf., e.g., Rev. 20:10-21:1).
The primary point that the writer of Hebrews makes here, which is a point he makes often in Hebrews chapters 8-10 (but a point which the majority of Christians miss), is that the sin, spiritual death problem is solved for believers through new-covenant salvation, which centers in the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that believers are called, enabled, and required to be dead to sin (in the Christian ideal, to be dead to all sin) and walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, by the sufficient saving, sanctifying grace of God in Christ, through faith. Most Christians believe the writer of Hebrews in putting the emphasis on the fact that total forgiveness is provided for us under the new covenant. This is true, but it isn't the primary point that the writer is making.
I'll discuss this primary point as we continue, but I'll briefly comment on the things that the commentators on the book of Hebrews typically say under Heb. 9:26. At the most, ten percent of the commentaries on Hebrews that I have looked at for this study include the point that I am calling the primary point that the writer of Hebrews makes here. Most speak of forgiveness (often mentioning that the people were not forgiven under the old covenant). They speak of having a clear conscience, knowing that you have been forgiven and are accepted by God. They speak of having a positional sanctification (a legal consecration) that opens access to God. They speak of being in a sanctifying process, which means that you sin less as time goes on, but that you will never be able to live in an abiding state of righteousness and holiness in this life. They speak of God's eventually totally overthrowing sin and the kingdom of Satan. None of this is surprising to me, because I have learned over the years that most Christians (something like ninety percent of Christians) do not believe that we are called or enabled to walk with the victory over all sin until after we are glorified. I believe they are making a BIG mistake. We cannot appropriate and cooperate with God's sufficient sanctifying grace by faith if we don't believe it has been provided (is available).
In HEBREWS 8:10 we read that a major feature of new-covenant salvation is that the law will be written on the hearts and minds of new-covenant believers, which will enable them (in the ideal case) to walk on a continuous basis in the righteousness and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. In HEBREWS 9:14 we read that the blood of Christ cleanses consciences from dead works (which includes being cleansed from doing sinful works and the religious works of those who are spiritually dead; believers have been born again), so we can adequately serve the living God. Here in HEBREWS 9:26 we read that Christ was manifested "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." "To put away sin" includes (it even puts the emphasis on) enabling Christians to walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, with the victory over all sin. This is at least the Christian ideal, and the writer of Hebrews (in agreement with the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter, the apostle John, etc.) consistently speaks in terms of this ideal. This "ideal" is solid; God will back up this ideal; it is worthy of our faith. HEBREWS 10:10 and 14 are super-important: "By this will [the will of God just mentioned in 10:9] WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED [(my emphasis) and live in an abiding state of holiness], through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" and "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." ((The writer presents this having been sanctified and perfected as accomplished facts for Christians, which is the Christian ideal (a realistic ideal through the sufficient saving, sanctifying grace of God in Christ). Many commentators understand "we have been sanctified" in Heb. 10:10 to only mean "consecrated," which does not include walking with the victory over sin. I am quite sure that the writer of Hebrews used the words "we have been sanctified" to mean we have been set apart by God and for God, which includes (in the ideal case, which we are called to) our walking in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, with the victory over all sin, using God's definition of sin. The verb sanctified (and the closely related words like holiness, holy, make holy) are typically used this way in the New Testament when referring to Christians being sanctified, holy, etc. See the last chapter of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over All Sin.")) After saying, in Heb. 10:11 that old-covenant sacrifices could "never take away sins" (with the emphasis on the fact that the old-covenant sacrifices could not give the worshippers the new birth and the ability to walk with the victory over sin), he says in HEBREWS 10:12 that the one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus does have the authority and power to do what the old-covenant sacrifices could not do. In HEBREWS 10:16 the writer refers a second time to the super-important prophecy of Jeremiah that the Law of God would be written on the hearts and minds of believers under the new covenant. In HEBREWS 10:18 he speaks of Christians being released from sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin), which results in sanctified lives, with the victory over all sin. In HEBREWS 10:22 he exhorts us to "draw near to God in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience ["Having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience" includes knowing that we have been forgiven, born again, set free from bondage to sin and that we are enabled and committed to walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God (see under Heb. 9:14)] and our bodies having been washed in pure water [referring to water baptism]." In HEBREWS 10:26-31 the writer warns of the fatal consequences if the readers "go on sinning willfully" after they become new-covenant believers. And in HEBREWS 10:35-39 he warns that "those who shrink back" shrink back "to destruction." He is speaking of those who shrink back from being faithful to God (by grace through faith) in accordance with the new covenant. As I have mentioned, there is widespread agreement that the initial recipients of this epistle were Hebrew Christians who were being pressured/tempted to turn from the new covenant back toward the old covenant, which amounts to apostasy.
Now I'll List Some Verses from Hebrews Chapters 8-10 where the Writer Tells Us Some Key Things that the Old Covenant Could Not Do. (These verses, by contrast, help demonstrate and emphasize the point that the new covenant was designed to accomplish these super-important things. Forgiveness is included, but the primary emphasis is on being sanctified and perfected, a relative perfection that includes forgiveness, the new birth, being sanctified, and having access to God beyond the veil.): In HEBREWS 8:7-9 the writer shows that the primary problem with the old covenant was that the people did not keep the covenant (they rather consistently sinned against God and the covenant). The new covenant was designed to solve this primary problem. As we have discussed, the new covenant was planned by God before the world was created and Adam and Eve fell. HEBREWS 9:7 shows that defiant, intentional sin, sins with a high hand, were not atoned for, forgiven, taken away under the old covenant (cf. Heb. 9:15). HEBREWS 9:9 shows that the gifts and sacrifices under the old covenant could not "make the worshipper perfect in conscience" (cf. Heb. 7:19; 10:1; contrast with Heb. 9:14, 23, 26; 10:10, 14, 18, 22, 29 [especially 9:14; 10:22]). In HEBREWS 10:1-4 the writer tells us that the old-covenant sacrifices could not "make perfect those who draw near" (10:1); that the worshippers still had consciousness of sins (10:2); that the old covenant sacrifices made it clear that the sin problem had not been solved and that the worshippers continued to sin, in that the sacrifices clearly needed to be repeated year after year (10:3); and "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (10:4). As we have discussed, the blood of Christ has the authority and power "to take away sins," including the fact that new-covenant believers are called and enabled to stop sinning. The sin problem certainly isn't solved if God's people continue to sin against Him. And HEBREWS 10:11 tells us that the old-covenant sacrifices "can never take away sins." They were forgiven under the old covenant (except for the defiant sins with a high hand), but the sin/spiritual death problem remained in the hearts and lives of the people.
1 JOHN 3:5 Is an Important Cross-Reference To Help Us Understand what it Means To PUT AWAY SIN; TO TAKE AWAY SIN. I'll quote 1 JOHN 3:5-10 and make a few comments ((These verses are discussed in context with 1 John 2:29-3:12 in more detail on pages 208-213 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" and in my e-book, "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin." (Both books are available at amazon.com.) Other key relevant passages from 1 John are discussed in those books too.)): "You know that He appeared [very much including His all-important atoning death and resurrection] IN ORDER TO TAKE AWAY SINS [[my capitalization for emphasis. The apostle John is speaking in this context ((as the following verses demonstrate; and how about verses like 1 John 3:3: "And everyone who has this hope [the hope spoken of in 1 John 3:2 of participating in the glory of heaven] fixed on Him, PURIFIES HIMSELF, JUST AS HE [the Lord Jesus Christ] IS PURE [which clearly includes the victory over all sin]." (My capitalization for emphasis here and in the next sentence.) Or how about 1 John 2:6, "the one who says he abides in Him [every Christian must abide in Christ] OUGHT HIMSELF TO WALK IN THE SAME MANNER AS HE [the Lord Jesus] WALKED.")) of TAKING AWAY SINS that includes the fact that God's people stop sinning by the saving, sanctifying grace of God in Christ through faith, which is a common theme throughout this epistle and throughout the New Testament. Clearly this is the Christian ideal, and we must be aiming at this target! However, as I have mentioned, most Christians are not seriously aiming at this target because they don't believe the New Testament calls them to such a walk, or provides the grace for such a walk. As I have mentioned, they are making serious mistake.]]; and in Him there is no sin. [And we are "in Him," as verse 6 (1 John 3:6) shows; all true Christians are united with the Lord Jesus and indwelled by the Holy Spirit.] (6) No one who abides in Him sins [[The apostle John repeatedly makes the point that there should not be any sin at all (including in 1 John 2:1a), but he makes it clear in 1 John 2:1b, 2 that true Christians can commit acts of sin and be restored when they repent through the Lord Jesus and His atoning death.]]; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. (7) Little children, make sure no one deceives you, the one who practices righteousness [better, "THE ONE WHO IS DOING RIGHTEOUSNESS"] IS RIGHTEOUS, JUST AS HE [the Lord Jesus] IS RIGHTEOUS [(my emphasis) The apostle clearly is not speaking of positional/legal righteousness, and he is not speaking of a lifelong sanctifying process where the Christian continues to sin.]; (8) the one who practices sin [or, "the one who is doing sin"] is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning [[The devil has been sinning since the time of his fall. What John is speaking about here is that he has been sinning through people since the time of the fall of man, when man joined the devil in his rebellion against God (cf., e.g., Eph. 2:1-3).]]. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. [[The primary work of the devil that the Lord Jesus came to destroy is sin. As the apostle John has been saying, God's people should not be sinning (not at all), and by the time God is done judging the world, all sin will have been removed from God's kingdom forever.]] (9) No one who is born of God practices sin ["will continue to sin" (NIV); "Whoever has been born of God does not sin" (NKJV); a more literal translation would be, "is not doing sin."], because His seed [referring to the Holy Spirit] abides in him; and he cannot sin [better, "HE IS NOT ABLE TO CONTINUE IN SIN" [(my emphasis); see under 1 John 3:6], because he has been born of God. [Being born of God and indwelled by the Righteous, Holy Spirit of God, by definition, should result in the victory over all sin.] (10) By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness [better, "THE ONE WHO IS NOT DOING RIGHTEOUSNESS" (my emphasis)] is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."
I'll quote what H. Orton Wiley says under Heb. 9:26b ("Epistle to the Hebrews" [Beacon Hill Press, 1959, 1984], page 276). He is one of a very few commentators that I have looked at for this study who (in my opinion) understands the primary point that the writer of Hebrews was making here. (Andrew Murray is another such commentator; I'll quote from him next.) The writer's primary concern (a very practical concern) was that his readers continue to hold the truth of the gospel in their hearts and continually appropriate the grace of God in Christ to walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. "The purpose of this one offering was 'to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself' (9:26b). This is a climactic statement. By it the writer means that Christ has put away sin and all that is connected with it - its nature and effects, its roots and its fruits. He has removed its guilt, destroyed its power, and cleansed away its very being. [[I would at least say that He has overthrown sin and we are called, enabled, and required to walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God with the victory over all sin. We still have the old man to contend with until we are glorified, but as long as we walk in line with God's Word and by the Spirit, which we are called to do on a continuous basis, we will walk with the victory over all sin.]] Sin was apostasy from God. No man was able to destroy it. But Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. His atonement has abrogated and disannulled 'the law of sin and death' and brought in 'the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' (Rom. 8:2). [Yes!]
Here is the inner transformation by the Holy Spirit that puts the life in harmony with the will of God and makes true obedience possible. The words 'put away sin,' therefore, not only declare His purpose but affirm its effects. He was manifested to take away our sins (1 John 3:5, 8), and this purpose He has fully and triumphantly accomplished." Yes!
I'll quote part of what Andrew Murray says under Heb. 9:26b ("The Holiest of All" [Fleming H. Revell reprint; originally published in 1894 (now in the public domain)], pages 323-325): "He was manifested...to put [sin] away so that it has no more power over us, and we enter upon an entirely new state of life, with sin removed and God's law written in our heart.
... But this truth is seldom fully understood or accepted by believers. And as their knowledge limits their faith, and their faith their experience, the human exposition and witness of what God means seldom if ever reaches to the fullness of what the word contains. We limit the Holy One of Israel perhaps most when we think we honour Him, by thinking we know and hold in our formulas all His word means. ... It is as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, whose it is to reveal the power of the blood and the opening of the way into the Holiest, that we shall be led to inherit the promise too, in all its divine significance - sin put away by the sacrifice of Himself."
I'll quote what A. R. Fausset says here ("A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments" by Jamieson, Fausett, and Brown, Vol. 3 [Eerdmans, 1984 reprint], page 558): "abolish: doing away with sin's power, as well as the guilt and penalty, so that it should be powerless to condemn, as also its yoke, so that believers shall at last sin no more. 'sin' - singular: all the sins of men of every age are one mass laid on Christ. He hath not only atoned for actual sins, but destroyed sin itself. John 1:29, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin (not merely the sins: [sin is] singular [in John 1:29]) of the world.' "
I need to point out that Fausset is not including the idea that Christians can walk with the victory over sin now, but he is speaking (as so many evangelicals speak) of a sanctifying process where the amount of sin is decreasing. Note that he said, "so that believers shall at last [but not now] sin no more," and he makes his viewpoint clear in comments on other verses (Heb. 10:10 and 14, for example). The writer of Hebrews understood that true Christians can sin (cf., e.g., Heb. 4:14-16; 10:26), but I believe he (like the other writers of the New Testament) also knew and taught that we are called, enabled, and required to walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God with the victory over all sin, through the sufficient saving, sanctifying grace of God in Christ. Our faith cannot rise above what we have been taught; our faith must be based on God and what His Word actually teaches; it is totally necessary for us correctly interpret His Word. All of us need to humble ourselves before God and consider the possibility that we may be misunderstanding what His Word teaches in important ways. This is ultra important! For one thing, we ministers are going to have to answer to God for what we teach! This is a very serious matter. We are affecting the lives of other people.
If we don't see that God has called us to walk with the victory over all sin in His Word, we don't have a basis to have faith for that victory, and the only way we can have that victory is by grace through faith. It is super-important for us to aim at the target of walking in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, with the victory over all sin. We certainly are not going to hit the target very often if we are not even aiming at it. This is important, very important!]] (27) And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (28) so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many [[The words "to bear the sins of many" probably build on the use of these words in Isa. 53:12. The Greek, Septuagint version of Isa. 53:12 even uses the same verb translated "to bear" here and the same word for "many." Christ died for all (e.g., 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 1 John 2:2), but all will not be saved. Many reject God's offer of salvation.]], will appear a second time [[Christ was a man (but He was much more than just a man) and He died, bearing our sins (with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin), including any and all sins we commit after becoming Christians. His death is followed by judgment, His judgment and ours, since He was bearing our sins and our salvation is totally dependent on the effectiveness of His atoning work.
For those who have eyes to see, it has already been demonstrated that God the Father judged Jesus as being totally Righteous (even though He was put to death supposedly because He was a great sinner) through His resurrection, His ascension, and His work as our great High Priest at the Father's right hand, which included His pouring forth the promised Holy Spirit, starting on the Day of Pentecost. When He appears a second time, at the end of this age, it will demonstrate before all people that He has been judged Righteous, AND it will be manifested that those who are united with Him by faith and have appropriated the salvation from sin, spiritual death, and the demons that He earned for them through His all-important atoning death will inherit the fullness of eternal life.
The words that follow in the Greek would be literally translated "without sin." I would follow the word order of the Greek and translate "without sin" (Greek "choris hamartia"). When He comes the second time He will be "without sin," and "those who eagerly await Him" and have been living for Him will receive "salvation" in its full and final form that includes being glorified and beginning to reign with Him. I'll give my translation for the rest of this verse as we continue discussing this verse, but I'll include the rest of this verse from the NASB here, "for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."]], without sin, resulting in [Greek preposition "eis," which is often translated "resulting in"; the NASB translated it "resulting in" ten times] salvation, for those who eagerly await Him." The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers with the need to make it top priority to always be ready for Christ's return with these last words, "for those who eagerly await Him." Those who eagerly await His return will live for Him with top priority in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, by His grace, through faith. The writer doesn't mention the judgment of His enemies here; he is dealing with salvation here; but the day of His wrath is coming too. The Lord Jesus is coming to save and to judge.
We will start Hebrews chapter 10 in Part 7 of this verse-by-verse study of Hebrews chapters 9-10.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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