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10. Christ's Sacrifice Once for All
1For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. 2Else would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. 4For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,
But a body didst thou prepare for me;
6In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure:
7Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me)
To do thy will, O God.
8Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law), 9then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: 12but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after he hath said,
16This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, saith the Lord:
I will put my laws on their heart,
And upon their mind also will I write them;
then saith he,
17And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21and having a great priest over the house of God; 22let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water, 23let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: 24and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. 28A man that hath set at nought Moses law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: 29of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufferings; 33partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used. 34For ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of you possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. 35Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 36For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.
37For yet a very little while,
He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry.
38But my righteous one shall live by faith:
And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him.
39But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition; but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul.
The Priesthood of Christ. (a. d. 62.)
1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Here the apostle, by the direction of the Spirit of God, sets himself to lay low the Levitical dispensation; for though it was of divine appointment, and very excellent and useful in its time and place, yet, when it was set up in competition with Christ, to whom it was only designed to lead the people, it was very proper and necessary to show the weakness and imperfection of it, which the apostle does effectually, from several arguments. As,
I. That the law had a shadow, and but a shadow, of good things to come; and who would dote upon a shadow, though of good things, especially when the substance has come? Observe, 1. The things of Christ and the gospel are good things; they are the best things; they are best in themselves, and the best for us: they are realities of an excellent nature. 2. These good things were, under the Old Testament, good things to come, not clearly discovered, nor fully enjoyed. 3. That the Jews then had but the shadow of the good things of Christ, some adumbrations of them; we under the gospel have the substance.
II. That the law was not the very image of the good things to come. An image is an exact draught of the thing represented thereby. The law did not go so far, but was only a shadow, as the image of a person in a looking-glass is a much more perfect representation than his shadow upon the wall. The law was a very rough draught of the great design of divine grace, and therefore not to be so much doted on.
III. The legal sacrifices, being offered year by year, could never make the comers thereunto perfect; for then there would have been an end of offering them, v. 1, 2. Could they have satisfied the demands of justice, and made reconciliation for iniquity,—could they have purified and pacified conscience,—then they had ceased, as being no further necessary, since the offerers would have had no more sin lying upon their consciences. But this was not the case; after one day of atonement was over, the sinner would fall again into one fault or another, and so there would be need of another day of atonement, and of one every year, besides the daily ministrations. Whereas now, under the gospel, the atonement is perfect, and not to be repeated; and the sinner, once pardoned, is ever pardoned as to his state, and only needs to renew his repentance and faith, that he may have a comfortable sense of a continued pardon.
IV. As the legal sacrifices did not of themselves take away sin, so it was impossible they should, v. 4. There was an essential defect in them. 1. They were not of the same nature with us who sinned. 2. They were not of sufficient value to make satisfaction for the affronts offered to the justice and government of God. They were not of the same nature that offended, and so could not be suitable. Much less were they of the same nature that was offended; and nothing less than the nature that was offended could make the sacrifice a full satisfaction for the offence. 3. The beasts offered up under the law could not consent to put themselves in the sinner's room and place. The atoning sacrifice must be one capable of consenting, and must voluntarily substitute himself in the sinner's stead: Christ did so.
V. There was a time fixed and foretold by the great God, and that time had now come, when these legal sacrifices would be no longer accepted by him nor useful to men. God never did desire them for themselves, and now he abrogated them; and therefore to adhere to them now would be resisting God and rejecting him. This time of the repeal of the Levitical laws was foretold by David (Ps. xl. 6, 7), and is recited here as now come. Thus industriously does the apostle lay low the Mosaical dispensation.