I need fresh reminders of the good news, for I am prone to disbelieve how good the good news really is. Prone to disbelieve that the good of the good news is that it is done. For that is what news is, isn't it? It most frequently is a reporting of something which has happened in the past (as opposed, say, to advice).
You know...that doesn't really get it quite right. For the "fresh" reminder I've been turning over and over in my mind and heart the past few days isn't fresh at all. Actually, it is quite ancient. It is thousands of years old. This ancient reminder is what God meant for me to hear. Knew I needed to hear. Knew I needed to see and believe.
This good news:
...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14, ESV)
Friends, have you bowed the knee to King Jesus? Then you have been made clean and pure and set apart as holy, because over 2,000 years ago, your King, the Son of God, Jesus, offered up his own body and died on a cross - once, for all.
A single sacrifice for sins.
A single offering.
There is no longer anything that you need to offer for the sin you committed yesterday, the sin you committed two minutes ago, or the sin you will commit one hour from now. There is nothing that you can offer - bulls and goats won't work, nor will any of the personal effort you wish to place upon the altar. It is literally impossible for you to do anything (Hebrews 10:4).
You see, the work is already done. "It is finished."
By the offering of his body, he has perfected (past time),
for all time,
those who are being (present time) sanctified (Heb. 10:14).
I like to say that verse a slightly different way to people, "God had to make you perfect, before he could make you good."
Scratching your head on that one? Yeah, I know. But I love when God talks that way in the Bible! And here is why - it hits where I really live. For the only way that I can rest inside of the uncomfortable process of fighting my ongoing sin and becoming more like Jesus , is to know that in Jesus I am already made perfect. I have been justified, so that I can be sanctified.
Let the writer to the Hebrews continue:
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
So, even though the old covenant has been replaced by a new one, there are still laws. Specific rules and regulations remain - all that Jesus has commanded us (Matthew 28:20) - that stipulate the boundaries of my living, and define my obedience. And the Holy Spirit will tatoo my heart and mind with these things. When I break the commands, when I cross the boundaries, I will know I have sinned. What then?
The Holy Spirit also adds,
God will remember your sins and your lawless deeds no more.
Could that possibly be true?
For I feel like I remember every failing, every sin, every horrible mistake I've ever made. I feel the weight of those sins. I feel like I need to make up for these deficincies in my following, these breaches of loyalty to my King. How is it that he will not remember?
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Ah, back to the King himself! Back to that single offering,
This offering is what brings the forgiveness of my sins and lawless deeds.
For my sins.
Perfected, so that we may be perfected.
But friends, would you bear with me a little longer?
If you are at all like me, when you've sinned, and done wrong, and broken fellowship, the part of the forgiveness you really long to taste, is the restoration of the relationship to the one you have offended. To be close again. To feel their embrace, love, and the comfort of their presence.
Which is exactly what the offering and the forgiveness open up the path to.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22, ESV)
By Jesus' blood and through his flesh, because that offering was made, once, for all, we are sprinkled clean. Clean! From an evil, sinful conscience. Our filthy bodies have been washed. Cleansed. With pure water.
O my friends, all of this has taken place that you may now draw near.
The way that has been opened is the way through the curtain. The curtain found in the tabernacle and the temple. The curtain that separated the presence of God from his people. The place that the high priest could enter only once per year, after having gone through an elaborate process of sacrifices and cleansings and washing, so that he could enter into the most holy place where God dwelt. So that, protected in this way, the priest would not be incinerated by the holiness of his God.
A place where only this priest,
at only this time,
would come into the presence of his God.
But not you.
No, not you.
You live in a new and better age.
Jesus died once, for all.
The perfect sacrifice.
And you are washed in his blood.
Clothed in his righteousness.
Bathed and thus forgiven.
So that now you can draw near. You may enter into the presence of God, your Father, and you don't have to be afraid. You may draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, and commune with your Father. And know his acceptance and love. And bask, and delight, and dance in the fullness of this good news.
For. All. Time.