Study of the Book of Hebrews
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

Christ’s Perfect Sacrifice

(Hebrews 10:1-22)

The basis for this study is found in Hebrews 10:1-22.  This is covering Christ’s perfect sacrifice.  What Paul is doing in this passage is contrasting the sacrificial system given through the ceremonial laws to the Jews through Moses, with the sacrifice of Christ. His main purpose is to show the Jewish Christians that the sacrifices that they were offering — the blood of bulls and goats and lambs etc. — had no salvic value [i.e., no salvation in them].  They were only a shadow.  They were only a type.  The emphasis should be on the reality which is Christ and Him crucified.

I don’t need to remind you that at the heart of human redemption is the cross of Christ.  This truth is often referred to in the New Testament by the expression “the blood of Christ.”  This is the theme of Hebrews 10:1-22.  Needless to say, this is a very important subject because the cross of Christ was the central message of the New Testament.  When you read the words, “blood of Christ,” it is not referring to His literal blood.  You see, blood in the Old Testament symbolized life.  We are told in the Old Testament that the life of the flesh is in the blood. The blood, therefore, refers to the life of Christ and shed blood refers to His life that was laid down in death.

We human beings cannot live without blood.  We can give maybe a pint of blood in terms of donation, but if we lose our blood, we lose life.  When I was in Uganda, I had two translators.  One of them was Dr.  Kusaka, who is now the prime minister of the country. The other one was also a highly educated man, Mr. Kalabu.  One day some of the soldiers of Amin’s army came along and pointed a gun at him and said, “Give me the keys of your car” and, out of fear, he gave them the keys and, after they had taken them, they shot him through the arm.  His wife panicked.  The soldiers took off, but she panicked.  All she had to do was tie some cord around his arm to stop the bleeding.  But she panicked and she was screaming and, unfortunately, he bled to death.

So blood symbolizes life.  When the New Testament talks of the blood of Christ, it refers to the life that He laid down in death on the cross for our sins.  With this introduction, let us go to chapter ten of Hebrews.  In the first four verses what Paul is doing is pointing out that the sacrificial system which was required by the ceremonial law was a shadow of the reality, and that, in and of itself, these sacrifices could not save.  Why?  He tells us in verse four that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin.  Why was it that the blood of bulls and goats was unable to save the Jews?  He gives us the answer to that question in the first four verses:

For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, [Remember, the ceremonial law was only a shadow of the good things to come. And what are these good things?  That is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.] and not the very image of the things, [they were only a type but not the reality] can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

So legally, those sacrifices did not remove sin.  They had no power to save.  And because of this, these sacrifices were offered repeatedly every morning and evening every day of the week.  Verse two continues:

For then would they not have ceased to be offered...

If they actually had removed sin there would be no need to repeat these sacrifices.

...because that the worshippers once purged [cleansed] should have had no more conscience of sins.

In other words, they would not be reminded that they were sinners. If they were actually cleansed, then they were free from condemnation. But that was not true.  Verse three:

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

In other words, even on the Day of Atonement the sacrifices of bulls did not remove sin because every year they had to repeat the service symbolizing that the blood of bulls and goats did not remove sin.  So verse four says:

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Now the question that we must ask is, “Why is it not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to remove sin?”  Did the Jews transfer their sins to the goat by confession and the laying on of their hands on the animal (through the priest, of course)?  Wasn’t that animal sacrificed, killed?  Wasn’t the blood taken into the sanctuary?  All this is true but the question is why was it impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to remove sin? The answer is very simple: because the law will not allow sins and guilt to be transferred.  In other words, you can’t transfer guilt and punishment from one person to another or from man to animals.

Turn to Ezekiel eighteen where the prophet is trying to make it very clear to the Jews that, legally, they have absolutely no right to cancel sin.  This is something that God had already spelled out to the Jews in the laws that He gave to Moses.  Look at Ezekiel 18:20, which is really a conclusion of an argument that began right there in verse one of Ezekiel eighteen.  God is making it very clear to the Jews that they were wrong in using a proverb which says, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”  God is saying, “You cannot use that proverb in a legal matter.  You cannot transfer sin from father to son or visa versa.”  And the conclusion is in verse twenty:

The soul [or the life] that sinneth, it shall die.

In other words, the life that has committed the sinful act must meet justice.

The son shall not bear the iniquity [guilt] of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity [guilt] of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

In other words, you cannot transfer guilt and punishment.  This has been a major problem with the doctrine of substitution.  Because many have failed to solve this problem, some theologians are turning to theories like the “moral influence theory” or the “governmental theory of the atonement” which in themselves are not wrong but err because they deny the legal phase of the atonement.  That we cannot do.  The moment you remove the legal framework of the atonement of the cross you cannot preach true justification by faith.  So the question is that the blood of bulls and goats could not remove sin, even though the sins were transferred symbolically onto the animal and the animals were sacrificed; because no law of man or God will allow guilt and punishment to be transferred.  The question is, “How did God solve this ethical problem of salvation?”

Hebrews 10:5 gives us the answer to that question.  Verses one to four make it very clear that it is impossible for the sacrifices of animals to remove sin.  But now look at verse five, where God solves the legal problem by linking Christ’s divinity with our corporate humanity:

Wherefore when he cometh [The “he” refers to Christ Who is the reality; He is the One Who truly saves.  He is the One Who truly purges us from our sins.] when he cometh into the world [i.e., into our world], he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.

In other words, in order for God to save us through Christ He had to first qualify Christ to be our Saviour.  How did He do that? He did it by taking the divine life of His Son and taking the Adamic life (the human life of the human race) and uniting the two.  He did this in the womb of Mary.  It was in the womb of Mary where divinity was united with our corporate humanity.

You see, even though we are many, we all share the same life. Acts 17:26 says that God created out of one — i.e.  one man, one life — the whole human race.  The human race is simply the multiplication of the Adamic life.  It was this Adamic life that was linked to Christ in the womb of Mary.  Mary’s womb was the vehicle that produced the humanity of Christ where God prepared a body for Christ.  Mary passed on to Jesus all of the privileges and the rights.  For example, Jesus as a human being was of the tribe of Judah.  That’s because Mary was of the tribe of Judah.  Mary was a descendant of David, so was Jesus.  Joseph also was a descendant of David.

If you look at the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and in Luke you will notice that they don’t agree.  One is giving the blood line.  Jesus received the blood of David through Mary.  Mary could not inherit the throne of David because she was a woman. It was through Joseph, even though he was not the real father, he was the foster father, and therefore Jesus did qualify to receive the throne of David through Joseph.  Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon, the royal line, and Jesus was a descendant physically of the flesh of David through Mary.  Paul brings this out in Romans one.  The point is that we need to keep in mind that the humanity of Christ was the corporate humanity of the human race which He came to redeem.

So God did not transfer our guilt and punishment to Christ. He united us to Christ so that we and He became one.  This was clearly taught in Hebrews chapter two.  We covered this but just to remind us let us turn to

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels...

You see, as God He was above the angels but then He became a man when He was made flesh.  He became a man when He was linked to us.  He was made a little lower than the angels because that’s how man is when created.  Why was He made man?

...for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

You see, because the humanity of Christ was our corporate humanity when He died on the cross He was experiencing the death that all men as sinners deserved.  His death was not the death of one man instead of all men, His death was all men dying in one man.  He experienced, He tasted the awful second death that belongs to us.  Because His humanity was our humanity we died in Him on the cross.  2 Corinthians 5:14 brings that out, “When one died, all died.”  Christ tasted death for all men.  Let’s go on to verse ten of Hebrews two:

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Christ is the source of our salvation.  He is the source of our redemption.  Going on to verse eleven:

For both he that sanctifieth [that is Christ] and they who are sanctified [that is us] are all of one.

We share the same life.  That is why we can legally claim the righteousness of Christ.  We can legally claim the justice of God that took place on the cross when Jesus died for sin.  Why?  Because we who are sanctified and He who sanctifies us have the same origin and share the same life.  It is His humanity which is our corporate humanity that died on the cross

Who are they that are sanctified?  In Exodus 31:13, God made a statement to Moses.  He said, “This is going to be a perpetual covenant that Israel must keep the Sabbath because the Sabbath is a sign.  It is a sign between Me, that is God, and you for I am the Lord that sanctifies you.” 

You see, our part in the gospel is to enter into God’s rest. Hebrews four brought that out.  We who believe the gospel have entered into God’s rest.  God is the one who does the sanctifying. Our part is faith from beginning to end.  In verse eleven of Hebrews two we are told that the source of our sanctification and we who are affected by it have the same origin because we share the same life.  That’s why he says in the last part of the verse:

...for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.

Why?  Because He shares our life.  We have become one.  In verse twelve:

Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.  And again, I will put my trust in Him [that is what means to rest in Him]. And again, I and the children which God hath given me.

So Jesus connects Himself with us.  He identifies Himself with us in order to be our Saviour.  Of course, for that salvation to be effective, we, in turn, need to identify ourselves with Him and His holy history.

Faith is our surrender of the will to the truth as it is in Christ.  That’s why Paul often defines faith as obedience.  It is not doing something but it is the obedience of the heart.  It is the surrender of our will to the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  His life becomes our life and His death becomes our death.  In that way we can legally claim the righteousness of Christ because that life and death of Christ was the life and death of all men in one man Jesus Christ.  Now look at verses fourteen and fifteen of Hebrews two:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same.

The same humanity which belongs to the children, He took part of the same.  His humanity was the humanity of the human race that needs redeeming.  That is why Ellen G. White says, “The humanity of Christ is everything to us.”  And that is why we need to come to grips with the issue in terms of the humanity of Christ. We need to approach this on the basis of our redemption.  Christ as a man is only an example to the believers but to the world He is a Saviour.  He took our humanity.  God prepared Him a body primarily to be our Saviour.  Only to those who have accepted His salvation He says, “Follow me.” 

So we must remember that the primary purpose of Christ taking our humanity exactly as it is, our humanity that needs redeeming, humanity that stands condemned, humanity that you and I have... Jesus took part of the same.  Why did He take part of the same? Well look at the last part of verse fourteen:

...that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

In other words, going back to Hebrews 10:5, Paul tells us that, in order to qualify Jesus Christ to be our Saviour, God prepared for Jesus Christ a body, a human body that represented the human race.  That is the basis of the doctrine of substitution.  It was the humanity, the corporate humanity of the human race that needed redeeming that Jesus assumed.  Going back to Hebrews 10:6:

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

There was no salvic value in the sacrificial system.  Did God give the sacrificial system?  Yes, but He never gave it as a means of salvation.  That was the mistake of the Jews.  He gave the sacrificial system only as a shadow, only as a reminder, only as a symbol to point them to the hope of the reality which is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

When Christ came to this world, He did not come to perpetuate the sacrificial system because God has no pleasure in seeing His creatures, animals die.  Then why did Jesus receive a body?  Verse seven says:

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me)....

Of course, the volume of the book here refers to the Old Testament. That’s all that existed in the days of the Apostles.  In other words, the primary purpose of the Old Testament was to point to Jesus Christ.  Christ should always be the center of every doctrine and of every belief that we practice in the Christian Church. I thank God that this is the direction that the new book on the Twenty-Seven doctrines of the Adventist Church is taking.  Now let’s look at verse seven:

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.

What did Paul mean?  What was the will of God?  The will of God was our salvation.  The question is, how could God save us in Christ?  We covered point number one.  Before He could save us He had to qualify to be our Saviour.  To qualify Himself to be our Saviour, He linked Himself to our humanity.  God prepared Him a body.

Having prepared that body for Christ, now comes the second and third qualifications.  He had to meet the positive demands of the law and He had to meet the justice of the law to save us in that humanity, so that we could be before God and His law righteous in Christ.  Let us read verse eight:

Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [that which the ceremonial law required] Then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.  He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

He had taken away the ceremonial system, the type, the shadows, in order to establish the second, which is Christ, the reality. You will notice that verse nine and verse seven is a quotation:

In the volume of the book it is written, to do thy will O God.

Now this quotation was only partial.  Remember, this book was written to the Jews who were very familiar with the Old Testament; so all he has to do is simply quote a partial statement.  I would like for us who are not as familiar with the Old Testament as the Jews were to look at that quotation because there we will see something that will help us.  The quotation is found in Psalms 40 and you will notice here what the will of God is concerning our salvation.  Reading verses six to eight:

Sacrifices and offering thou didst not desire...

So the Jews were aware of the fact even before Christ came that the sacrificial system was not the real purpose of saving mankind.

...mine ears hast thou opened:

This is David saying “You have opened my ears.  I have now heard the true meaning of the sacrificial system, that in and of themselves they do not save.  Burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast not required.”  The sacrifice of animals in and of themselves had no salvic value.  So God did not require the sacrificial system in order for us to be saved.  He required it of them as a confession of faith and a reminder to point to the coming of Christ who is the reality.  Now verse seven:

Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: Yea, thy law is within my heart.

In order for Christ to redeem us, He had to fulfil all the requirements of the law.  It was the will of Christ when He came to the world, He cherished in His heart one desire and that is to obey the law of God in its fullest sense, both in its positive demands, which He did in the first thirty-three years and also in terms of its justice when He satisfied the law at the cross.  In other words, in the doing and the dying of Jesus Christ, by His perfect obedience of God’s will as expressed in His law, Christ met both the positive and legal demands of the law as our substitute, as our surety, as our representative and, thus, He replaced the shadow which could not save us with the reality which does save us.  So we go back to Hebrews 10:10-14:

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In that humanity and what this humanity accomplished by the doing and dying of Christ we are being saved.  The reality of our salvation is in Jesus Christ.  The body of Christ was, as I mentioned earlier, the corporate humanity of mankind.  Therefore, when that body died on the cross, the sins of all humanity met their legal justice.  All our sins — and I repeat: ALL our sins, past, present, and future — were met on the cross in terms of justice.  That is why when you read this passage you will find that Paul emphasizes the sacrifice as being once and for all.  Now verses eleven through fourteen:

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often times the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But [in contrast] this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever...,

Every human being from Adam to the last person was dealt with on the cross of Christ in terms of redeeming our sins and, please notice, that this is what the sacrifice of Christ means to us. After He had offered Himself once and for all:

...He sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

In other words, Christ has redeemed the human race and He has ascended into heaven to finish His mission and sat on the right hand of God.  He will reign until He brings the great controversy to an end.  The great controversy has not yet come to an end.  We still live in a sinful world.  We still possess sinful bodies. We still are under the accusation of Satan.  He is still ruling this world but not legally.  1 John 5:19 says that the whole world lies under the evil one.  That doesn’t apply to us Christians. We belong to God.  But remember, we are living in enemy territory. The plan of redemption is not yet finished.  Christ has a heavenly ministry to do.  He is doing that.  He began it in 31 A.D.  How long will He continue His ministry?  Until He brings sin to an end and ushers in everlasting righteousness.  So my dear people, Paul goes on to say in verse fourteen:

For by one offering He has perfected for ever...

Please never, ever look at yourself in terms of your performance. It is by His sacrifice, by His doing and dying He has perfected, not for the time being but forever, now and in the judgment, He has perfected those that are sanctified.  Please remember those that are sanctified are those who have put their trust in Christ. Those who are resting in Him.  Those who have no confidence in their flesh and their performance but are resting in the righteousness of Christ.  He goes on in verse fifteen:

...Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.

The Holy Ghost confirms this truth.  He confirmed it to the apostles who wrote the New Testament and He also confirms it in our own hearts.  He confirms it in the heart of every believer. How does He do that?  He gives us peace; He puts into our hearts the love of God.  Look at verse sixteen:

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.

What is the sacrifice of Christ to do with the Lord writing in our hearts?  You see when you accept Christ and the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in you He does two things:

  1. He gives you peace. Romans 5:1 says “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”  Romans 8:16-17 tells us that the Holy Spirit convinces our spirits that we are the children of God.  The first thing that the Holy Spirit gives us is peace, because of the cross of Christ.  Jesus made it clear to the disciples, “I give you peace, peace that the world cannot give you.” 

  2. But He also does something else.  He puts the agape love into our hearts. It comes into our hearts vertically from God and Paul makes it clear in Galatians 5:14 and in Romans 13:8-10 that love is the fulfilment of the law.  In other words, He puts the ingredient of love which the Bible calls agape into our hearts.  And it is this ingredient that makes the law meaningful and a delight.

The difference between a legalist and a true Christian is that the legalist looks at the law as a set of rules, something that he has to perform in order to qualify for heaven.  To him it is not something he enjoys doing but something that is necessary for salvation.  To the truly converted Christian who is resting in the righteousness of Christ the law becomes a delight because the law is identified with the righteousness of Christ.  The love of God creates in us a direction that is in harmony with the law so David could say, “I delight in the law of God,” and Christ could say, “I delight in the law of God,” because love is what controlled their hearts and their minds.

This is what the New Covenant does.  The law is not tattooed into the heart of the human being.  A Christian who has died and has an autopsy, the doctor will not find the law of God tattooed in the heart of the believer.  What the text is saying is that when we have understood the gospel and we turn from the sacrificial system which cannot save, to Jesus Christ and Him crucified as the reality, then only are our sins truly purged.  We are truly cleansed and we can come to God without fear and without doubt. This is how he ends this passage.  Look at verse seventeen:

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

God is saying that.  Do you believe God.  Do you believe that God doesn’t remember your sins any more?  Do you believe what God says through Ellen G.  White in Steps to Christ that when you accept Christ, “God looks at you as though you had never sinned”? Now Paul is saying in Hebrews 10:18:

Where remission [or forgiveness, or purging] of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

Christ will never die the second time because His one sacrifice took care legally and correctly and completely of all our sins. In view of this Paul says in verse nineteen:

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

We can come to Christ boldly every time; and please do not come to Christ on the basis of your performance.  And when the devil comes to you and says to you, “You are not good enough today to pray.  God will not listen to your prayers,” please remind him that he is the father of lies.  We have the privilege of coming to the throne of grace day in and day out seven days a week all the year round, boldly, as long as you enter into the presence of God, into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus.  Folks, in Christ, you do stand perfect.  Verse nineteen says:

By a new and living way,

Why is it new?  In the earthly sanctuary the people could not come into the sanctuary itself.  Not even in the Holy Place.  The priest came there and even he could not come directly to God because there was a veil between him and God in the sanctuary.  And when he came into the Most Holy Place at the end of each year on the Day of Atonement, he had to offer a special sacrifice for himself. We do not any more have to come to God through a human priest.

This is what [Martin] Luther meant when he said, “The priesthood of all believers.”  What did he mean?  He meant every Christian, every believer has free access to God through Jesus Christ.  We do not have to go through another human being.  We can come boldly to the throne of grace by a new and living way not through another human being, but through Jesus Christ.

By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

You see, in the earthly sanctuary the blood of animals was sprinkled on that veil.  That veil represents the humanity of Christ which we have seen is our corporate humanity.  Romans 8:3 says:

What the law could not do God did by sending His Son in the likeness of our sinful flesh and for sin He condemned sin in the flesh of Christ.

That’s why the veil in the earthly sanctuary was torn apart by God’s hand.  It was a barrier between a Holy God and a sinful race and was removed on the cross.  We who believe can come to God by the new and living way which Christ has prepared for us in His humanity.  Verse twenty-one:

And having a High Priest over the house of God; Let us draw near {to God] with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Don’t you ever allow the devil to discourage you and to put you into a guilt trip and say, “Look, God will not accept you because you are a sinner.”  Please remember, that in Christ, and through His life and death, God looks at you as if you had not sinned, as if you had no sin in you at all.  We can come to God, near to Him, without any barrier, through Jesus Christ with a heart full of assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Our humanity, both flesh and mind, in Christ stands perfect.  That is what makes Christianity the most wonderful religion.

All other religions teach that God is way up there demanding you down here to be good enough to come up to Him.  Jesus Christ came down where we are.  He took upon Himself our humanity.  By His life and death He redeemed us.  Now we can come boldly to God every day, every hour.  We can cast our burdens on Him.  We can come to Him with assurance, without guilt.  Not because we are not sinners but because in Christ we do stand perfect.

It is this truth, folks that we need to be settled into because when we face the time of trouble, when the church organization is disintegrated because of the time of trouble and you and I are scared and up in the mountains the devil will come and play with our feelings.  We will agonize with our feelings.  Then, folks, please remember that we can come boldly unto God through Jesus Christ with full assurance because our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ and our bodies have been washed.  May God bless us, that we may understand this truth.

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