Online Bible Commentary
A Life of Victory
Hebrews 10:11 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. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 "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." 17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." 18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. (NIV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews completes the subject of the superiority of Christ over all things Judaism with this passage. In recent passages he has been proclaiming the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice. He ends that topic with this passage.
Verses eleven and twelve contrast the work of the priest to that of the high priest Jesus Christ. The Israelite priests, from the family of Levi, were in charge of watching over the fire on the altar of burnt offering which sat in the courtyard close to the door of the tabernacle, and later the temple. The fire would burn day and night. The priests would make sacrifices each morning and each evening on the altar. Each sacrifice included a meat offering and a drink offering. These were their “religious duties” (v. 11b). It was hard work, and the same drudge “day after day” (v. 11a). It also could “never take away sins” (v. 11c). It was simply a ritual, performed in order to comply with the Law of Moses. The sins were never removed, and neither was the guilt.
But then Christ came along. In contrast, He offered “one sacrifice for sins” (v. 12a). His sacrifice of Himself paid the penalty for all the sin of the world forever, past, present, and future. With His work complete, “he sat down at the right hand of God” (v. 12b), the Father, in Heaven. He now “waits for his enemies to be made his footstool” (v. 13), when He returns to rule the world and every knee bows to Him.
Unlike the earthly priests, Christ does not need to continually offer sacrifices “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (v. 14). One sacrifice was enough, because His sacrifice had the power to remove sin along with the guilt that accompanies it. Those who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior are “made perfect”, or Holy. This is called positional sanctification. Christians are seen as being sanctified even though it is a process that continues throughout their walk with God.
Next, in verses 15-17, the writer quotes from the words of the Holy Spirit as given to Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34). The Holy Spirit spoke of the New Covenant of Christ which replaced the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. The New Covenant of grace changes hearts and minds, so that obedience follows. The Old Covenant, the one God made with Moses on Mount Sinai, sought to reward obedience with blessing, and failed. It failed because the Israelites broke their part of the agreement, the covenant, through disobedience. “There is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (v.18), because Christ has already done that work for us on the cross.
The New Covenant is a covenant of grace. Through God’s grace He forgives and forgets our sins when we profess our belief in Him as our Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit then works in our hearts and minds to make us the people God wants us to be. We become a new creation. Our behavior changes, and soon our habits change. We no longer want to do the things we did before.
Soon we begin to see sin as God does, dark and destructive. Soon we do not want to have any part of sin, because we know how it grieves our Lord. Soon it grieves us also, and we grieve for those who are caught up in sin. We want to help them escape from their sinful lifestyles and so we attempt to tell them about our Lord. We are not better than them, we are just better informed. We have been there, done that, and we know that there is a better life to live. That life is one of following Christ, living the Christian life in obedience to Christ. It is a life of victory.