Online Bible Commentary
Being Made Holy
Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, 'Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-- I have come to do your will, O God.' " 8 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). 9 Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NIV)
In the preceding passage the writer of Hebrews proclaimed the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrificial system. He wrote “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”. Animal sacrifice only covered sin, making it possible for the people to come to God for worship. It did nothing to remove sin, or the guilt that comes from sin in our lives.
So in this passage, the writer gives us the remedy for the problem. The remedy presented itself “when Christ came into the world” (v. 5a). Verses 5b-7 are taken from Psalm 40:6-8. This Psalm, written by David, is classified as a Messianic psalm. A Messianic psalm clearly refers to Christ, either quoted by Christ himself or by a writer identifying it as depicting Christ in the Old or New Testament. In this case the writer of Hebrews clearly identifies this psalm as depicting Christ.
Christ is identified as saying that God never desired “sacrifice and offering” (v. 5b) of the Old Testament system of animal sacrifice. It was never God’s long term solution. God was not pleased “with burnt offerings and sin offerings” (v.6). It was inadequate to remove sin and guilt. It was not a permanent solution, but it would have to do until the real thing came along. It was not yet the time in history for Christ to come.
But then, at the perfect time in history, God moved. He prepared “a body” (v. 5c), the incarnate body of Christ, to be the permanent sin sacrifice, once and for all. The great “I am” (v. 7a) came, Christ Himself. He came “to do your will, O God” (v. 7b). He came to be the perfect sacrifice. God was not pleased with animal sacrifices, but “the law required them to be made” (v. 8). But now, with the coming of Christ, God could replace the inadequate system of the Old Covenant, the Old Testament. The word for covenant and testament is the same Greek word, “diatheke”. The Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant. God set “aside the first to establish the second” (v. 9).
Under the Old Covenant men could not become holy. They could not be sanctified. Animal sacrifice had no power. It was only ritualistic, symbolic of the real sacrifice to come. It did not have the power to change hearts. The cleansing was an outside cleansing, not the inside cleansing of the heart. So Jesus came to do “the will” (v. 10a) of the Father.
By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (v. 10b). The phrase “once for all” refers to the sacrifice, not the sanctification. Christ was sacrificed once for all those who believe in Him, for those who make Him the Lord of their life and their Savior.
To be “made holy” means to be sanctified. The sanctification referred to here is “positional” sanctification. We also are “progressively” sanctified throughout our Christian walk as we approach perfection, holiness, through the progressive work of the Holy Spirit within us. As we walk in obedience to the Lord, the Holy Spirit is able to work in our lives to progressively sanctify us. Perfection, holiness, is never completed in this lifetime. We only reach holiness in Heaven.
This is not to say that we should not attempt to become as holy as possible in this lifetime. That is God’s will for us. However, disobedience stalls that work. The work of the Holy Spirit is quenched by sin in our lives. Sin slows our progression and grieves the Holy Spirit who wants to perform a good work within us. So we should always have as our goal to walk in obedience. It all starts with reading and studying the Bible so that we know what to obey. It always comes back to the word of God, the Bible.