A Living Sacrifice- Hebrews 10:1-10

In this passage, the writer compares the sacrifices of the Old and New covenants, and focuses on the differing results each have in the lives of those who participate in them. He begins, in verse one, by referring to the law as “only shadow of the good things that are coming”. By law here, the writer refers to the Old Testament ceremonial law of sacrifices, not to the moral law of commandments. The sacrifices of bulls and goats in the Old Testament were merely a foreshadowing of the final and perfect sacrifice which Christ would provide to atone for sin, and the writer then informs us of the reasons why the sacrifice of Christ was superior in every way to the sacrifices required under the Old Covenant. The first reason given is that the sacrifices of the Old Covenant needed to be repeated “endlessly year after year”. The very fact that they needed to be repeated over and over showed that they were not able to deal with sin once and for all, as the sacrifice of Christ would do. We then find a second reason why the sacrifices of the Old Covenant were inferior to the sacrifice of Christ, and it is because they were unable to “make perfect those who draw near to worship”. The Greek term translated “make perfect” here is the aorist infinitive of teloo. Teleoo is a Greek word having to do with purpose or goal. Someone or something is teloo when it achieves its goal, when it fulfills its purpose, when it does what it is intended to do. Our purpose as human beings, what we were created for, is to be the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and those operating under the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant were not able to do so, because the Old Covenant system did not deal with sin fully and finally, and did not allow for the presence of the Holy Spirit within the “worshipper”, for it is the Holy Spirit within us who conforms the believer to the image of Christ, who is the image of God (Colossians 1:15). The writer further clarifies in verse 2, in which we find that the sacrifices of the Old Covenant cleanse only outwardly, that the Old Testament worshipper did not receive the new heart and new spirit promised in Ezekiel 36:26. This inward cleansing provided by the sacrifice of Christ is referred to here as “cleansing the conscience”, in reference to the fact that the sacrifice of Christ deals not only with sin but with the sinner, atoning for his sin once and for all so that the Holy Spirit may come and indwell the believer. The writer then further explains by informing us that the Old Testament sacrifices could not “take away sins”, for the worshipper needed to be cleansed once for all by an unrepeatable sacrifice in order to fulfill his or her God given purpose. The reason for all of this is then given in verses 5-10. He begins his explanation with a reference to Christ, of whom we are told “but a body you prepared for me”. This is a quote of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Masoretic text (the original Old Testament) renders this phrase as “I have dug out my ears”, which is a Hebrew idiom describing one who listens intently to God and obeys what he hears. The writer then quotes several other Old Testament passages, which he uses to describe the fact that Jesus had come to do His Father’s will, in verses 7-9. The main point in all of this is that the writer tells us here that the New Covenant also includes a “sacrifice” which is to be repeated continually, that the believer himself is now to be the “sacrifice”, but not now as a dying sacrifice, but rather as a living one (Romans 12:1-2). All believers, following the example of Christ, are also to “dig out our ears”. We have been purified and the Holy Spirit has been sent to dwell in us, we are now enabled to be a sacrifice “acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1-2) through the work of Christ. His sacrificial death once for all enables us to sacrifice ourselves over and over again. As verse ten states, we (believers) “have been made holy though the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”. Christ offered His body in obedience to the Father all of His earthly life, to obedience even to the point of death, and it is this offering by Christ of His body in obedience to God which both enables and motivates the believer to offer his body in obedience to God as well. The sacrifice of Christ has enabled the believer to be what he was created to be, to be the image and likeness of God just as Jesus was, and we will do so only as we are willing to “dig out our ears”, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, ready and willing to do the will of our Father just as Jesus did.

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