Series on Hebrews, V Superior Privileges, A Superior Purification 10:1-18, Title: The Reading of the Will

Introduction:

The discussion of Jesus Christ as our great high priest continues, but the emphasis in this section is on the superior privileges enjoyed by believers since he came. This section contrasts the provisional nature of the lawful sacrifices offered by Old Testament priests  with the permanent nature of Christ’s sacrifice. However the focus is on the effect upon believers. Believers in the Old Testament and New Testament have so much in common and yet since Jesus came we have something they did not !!  What is it?? According to verses 1-4 it is complete cleansing, The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. There is probably no better explanation than that of Paul in Galatians 4:1-5 What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Old Testament believers are pictured as children who are heirs but are like servants because they have not yet received the inheritance and are still under the authority of parents. Notice Paul ends up saying we are heirs too. But the difference is that in Christ we have received the inheritance. Old Testament believers were not any less children of God or heirs of God. All of God’s people are heirs and all will receive what he has promised no matter when they live! However there are differences in what they outwardly experience. Old Testament believers were waiting for the full, outward, public, declared experience of being an heir which would come only after Jesus death and resurrection. New Testament believers are born in possession of that inheritance. The author is surely referring to this fact in Hebrews 11:13,  All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. He states it again in 11:39  These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  We are going to look today at five characteristics of the inheritance we now possess. If you inherited a farm in upstate New York you would want to know its size, its location, its configuration, how many buildings there were, and their condition. In Christ we have the greatest inheritance in the world. We need to examine its character too.

I  Provisions

If I inherited a farm I would like to know about the provisions of the will. The author of Hebrews makes it abundantly clear that this will is incontestable. Basically he tells us that God has a program. It is a covenant or testament based upon a perfect sacrifice which would fulfill all the requirements of his holiness. In other words from the beginning God was not pleased with the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. Verses 5-7 state, Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;  with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’” The terms of the will require the death of an adequate substitute for us. The divine Son of God, Jesus Christ, is an adequate sacrifice not only because he is human, but because he perfectly obeyed as we read in verses 8 and 9  First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. This is the plan of God and it reflects His eternal will and desire, His wisdom, and His love. I am hereby assured that my inheritance is secured because the provisions of the will are fulfilled.

II Property

In the second place I would like to know about the property I have inherited. Does it exist only in the imagination or on paper or is it real. Do I really own a farm?  Look at verse 1, The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. The OT provisions were shadows. The Greek word means a pale shadow. The word realities is the translation of a Greek word meaning image or likeness. Some people have suggested a perfect picture. I am not even sure a perfect holograph would be what is implied. This word appears in the first chapter referring to Christ as the exact representation of God. In Christ the shadows of the Old Testament become substance. All that they portrayed and promised is realized. The proof I have a farm is that God has appeared in the flesh and there can be nothing more real than Jesus Christ. In Christ, God is not far off but near, not invisible but visible and substantial. The promises, the will and testament are just as real as He was. I John 4:2 says, Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

III Possession

My next question is when can I move in? The whole point of our passage is that Old Testament believers did not possess the inheritance. In verses 1-4, we are told that the law, can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. The whole aim of God’s revelation to us is that we might know him and have access to him and that is fulfilled in Christ. The author of Hebrews reminds us in this very chapter in 10:19 immediately after our text, that we now have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus. The blood of bulls and goats could not fulfill the provision of the will and therefore could not grant the access to the inheritance. We on the other hand possess the inheritance because Jesus gave himself for us. The author quotes Psalm 40 which describes Jesus mission. It was planned, written in the book. It was executed. He took a body, a human nature. It was a willing offering of a perfect representative. Thus John can write the blood of Jesus Christ God’s son cleanses us from every sin. There were 24 orders of Levitical priests with hundreds of priests in each order. They were kept busy all day in the service of the tabernacle and temple. On Passover 300,000 lambs were sacrificed. Not one sin was fully atoned for. But the blood of Jesus removes all our sins.

IV Perfection

My ownership of a real farm and my access to it is now established, so my next question is what is it like? What is its condition? The answer is my inheritance is perfect. The author of Hebrews goes to great pains to point out that the Old Testament was provisional and temporary but what Christ has done is perfect and complete in the sense that there is nothing left to do. Look at verse 10, And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. My holiness is positional. It does not depend on my performance. I have been made holy by Jesus my Savior. I possess His righteousness. It is mine. It is an inheritance! Look at verses 11-14 which say, Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,  because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. All who trust in Him are immediately and perfectly righteous in God’s sight.

V Protection

With the title and possession of my perfect farm I have one more question. Will I be happy there. Can I lead a safe and fulfilling life. The author quotes from Jeremiah the prophet. Two promises that are fulfilled in Christ my inheritance. First he says verses 15 and 16, The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” I will be happy because the work of Christ our great high priest not only changes my status, it changes me. I might have been a city slicker but He will make me into a farmer, or in other words I am a sinner, but He is remaking me so that I can enjoy my perfect inheritance. This is guaranteed by the complete victory of Christ over sin and death. That victory has enabled my Savior to send forth the Holy Spirit to effect a change in me. Furthermore my place is secure according to verses 17 and 18 because: Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. My old life is over and forgotten.

Conclusion

Let me ask you today have you entered into the inheritance in Christ? Are you in possession of it? Do you enjoy its perfection and protection? Or are you still living provisionally in fear?