Last Sunday morning we read Hebrews 10v1-14 as we prepared to share the Lord’s Supper together. I was struck by the implications of part of verse 2 – the animal sacrifices offered within the old covenant couldn’t cleanse “once for all” and therefore left the people still feeling “guilty for their sins”. The clear inference is that Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself “for all time” (v12) not only completely cleanses us but should also remove our feelings of guilt.
Do you believe that you’re forgiven of all your sins and yet still feel guilty? I confess that at times I do – and this can lead to all sorts of legalism (“if I just do … / stop doing … then God will really forgive me and I’ll feel good”), doubt (“am I really forgiven?”) and joylessness (“how can I rejoice in my salvation if I’m not actually sure of it?”)
As elsewhere in the Bible, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to focus on Jesus Christ and not our feelings – in very simple terms the Bible message is that we should exercise faith in Jesus and let our feelings follow. (Think how often the psalmists effectively tell themselves to worship / praise the Lord, irrespective of how they feel.)
In fact Hebrews 10 gloriously sets forth Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself and categorically states in one of my favourite verses “by one sacrifice He has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy” (v14). In Christ I am perfect, now and for ever, yet I’m still a ‘work in progress’. The writer then goes on to spell out aspects of such work, all in the form of “let us” statements:
- 10v22 – “let us draw near to God”;
- 10v23 – “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess”;
- 10v24 – “let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds”;
- 10v25a – “let us not give up meeting together”;
- 10v25b – “let us encourage one another”;
- 12v1 – “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”; and
- 12v1 – “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”.
(To remember the above you may wish to reflect on God’s call to each of us to be a lettuce.)
However, in Hebrews 12v2 the writer adds one more overarching “let us” statement – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus”. Let us seek to obey all of these “let us” instructions – especially this latter one – and I believe that our feelings of guilt will diminish, if not disappear.
Peace and Grace