The One Atoning Sacrifice- Hebrews 10:18
As we continue in our examination of Hebrews 10, we now come to the concluding verse in the first section of this chapter, which is translated as “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” in NIV. The “these” here obviously refers to the “sins and lawless acts” of verse 17, and this verse serves to further emphasize the once for all nature of the forgiveness which we have in Christ. This is captured by the writer here through the use of the noun “forgiveness” (as in the KJV), which is translated by the NIV using the perfect tense verbal form “have been forgiven”. This verse shows for us two different ways of saying in English what the verse here emphasizes in Greek, that those in Christ have been forgiven once for all of all of their “sins and lawless acts”: past, present and future. The writer here then gives us a very logical reason why this is the case in the second part of this verse by telling us that there is “no longer any sacrifice for sin”. We must first emphasize precisely what is being said here, which is that there is no longer any sacrifice which can atone for sin. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross is the only one which could atone for human sin, and that sacrifice was a once for all event. Jesus Christ is coming again, but not to be the atoning sacrifice for sin (which was the purpose of His first coming), but to bring judgment upon all sin not forgiven through faith in Him as the atoning sacrifice. Those who have placed their trust in what Jesus did upon the cross to atone for their sin are forgiven once for all, for if they were not, there would be a need for further sacrifice, which only one is able to make, and that sacrifice has already been offered. In the many places in the New Testament in which believers are admonished to offer sacrifices, or to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we are never told to do so to obtain forgiveness, but to do so in gratitude for the forgiveness which we already have been given. The believer is now the “sacrifice”, offering him or her self to God, not in order to atone for sin or to obtain forgiveness, but to offer him or her self to God in humble obedience. The believer cannot make, and is never admonished to make, the sacrifice of Calvary, but is continually admonished to make the sacrifice of Gethsemane. We cannot die on a cross for our own sin (that has already been done for us once for all), but we can die to our own wills and live the sacrifice of Gethsemane, the sacrifice of “not my will, but thy will be done”. It is this sacrifice which the writer admonishes all believers to offer.