Well, in last week’s audio entitled “The Son is Better in Every Way, Part 3,” Jim and I spoke about the Hebrews reversion back into animal scacrifices that were being openly touted as a way to remove sins. Jim, with what was going on in Israel back then I find it very similar to the many different thoughts and feelings that arise in all people living here in this day age as well. Those same impulses have risen up in US who have knowledge [be it outward] of the name of Jesus and His sacrifice for sin once and for all. Not only does the natural mind in darkness attempt to insert supposed ‘down to earth’ or ‘applicable’ additions to the sacrifice itself but, it also has the impulse to detour any living in view of its reality in daily life. Jim your thoughts?
The similarities in today’s Christian culture show themselves in various sin-conscious rituals, habits, or practices. Just because you or I may not bring an ox, a goat, or even a turtle dove to be slaughtered upon the altar, I have to wonder why altars still continue to take center stage in most Christian churches.
Roman Catholic — unbloody sacrifice of Christ for sins
Protestant — altar calls, communion, baptism, dedications
Considering the demand found in the letter of Hebrews that — because of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ — there remains no more sacrifice for sins, let’s take a look at the interesting twist offered regarding how one may now view sacrifices:
Hebrews 13:7-16 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
The better factor: Christ’s sacrifice for sin demands the fulfillment of the shadow that was provided in the Law. This is in no way a re-instating of the old covenant sacrifices back into our worship services but rather the living perspective of sacrifice. It is no bearing on sin whatsoever! This must be understood as a given, otherwise everything written concerning Christ becomes relegated to a Christian form of the Law’s ineffectiveness.
Imitating their faith — how were they regarded? Thrown out, denounced by the system, not of this world or its institutions
Not in or part of the tabernacle made by man, or its Christian counterpart, the Church — “outside the camp”
What is our altar? Christ, and him crucified — “not by foods”: stuff of the physical altar from which the priests feasted (how about “Bring your gifts and offerings to the altar”?)
“With such sacrifices God is well-pleased” was never meant to bring us into bondage, it was offered as the reality of the new and living way that cannot be contained or understood by anything of this world!
Well this weeks audio is entitled: A New and Living Way of the Cleansed Conscience
Jim I find it absolutely stunning that every mention of the things accomplished in Christ have been completely misread, miscommunicated, misinterpreted and generally removed of its power. Not that it [the Gospel] is IN FACT removed of its power but, only in the sense that the natural mind can not conceive of its actual power. The Hebrews were living as if bound to a powerless mention of the Christ while at the same time really putting all their belief in something that could never make oneself perfect but, rather could only have brought wrath into the picture once again. Do we think that Hebrews only depicts a circumstance unique to THOSE people only at that specific time? Well in one way I would say it does but, in another I would wholeheartedly say that letter describes us in the place we have come to today. [and all the time leading up to today]
Adam, you are totally correct regarding the powerless message of Christ held to by a large number of Christians today. And I fully agree that it is NOT a problem with Christ and his good news but with the old covenant revision many have accepted today. And this is just like what was going on with the Hebrews. I mean, in our Christian churches, we often talk about how to find freedom from sin, guilt, and shame. Just because the name of Christ is mentioned in our equations or invoked through our rituals, he may not have anything whatsoever to do with what we’re hoping to bring about, does he?
* At some point the actual POWER of the Gospel and forgiveness of sins HIT those that were the minority actually believing in Him.[amongst the Hebrews] It broke the cycle of reflecting total unbelief in the power of God through the Gospel found in The Lord’s Christ.
You use the phrase broke the cycle and that’s not an overstatement, as a simple consideration of how Jesus and his apostles dealt with the people, their messages often slammed into the false perceptions held among the followers of Jesus. On the outside it may not come across as an earth-shattering event, but I can testify that the good news has caused some dramatic shifts within my perceptions. The words crash, break, slam, or shake well describe my own experiences as my fleshly reasonings were exposed by the freedom of Christ and him crucified!
* The religious mind of man projects the idea that this ‘guilty conscience’ described by the believer writing to the Hebrews is as simple as occasional feelings of guilt for stealing the” proverbial cookie”. But it goes deeper than that. No, its whole logic and whole operating system has been recorded in our bodies.
Example: When something goes wrong: God is a God of retribution-He is letting the ole’ “what goes around comes around” principle come back at you. His lack of punishment goes only SO FAR-says the darkened mind.
Yeah, we’ve been raised to view everything according to sins rather than sin itself. We can examine ourselves to discover and expose those stolen cookies, but how were we to understand that sin was not the accumulation of all of our sins? Sin is just too doggoned vast because it sums up everything of the natural mind, but under that reasoning we surely understand offenses, for those in the world are driven by them. The fleshly mind is on the lookout for these offenses against itself because it is so caught up in its own desire for retribution. The religious mind justifies itself by its attempts at imitating God’s retribution, but did we ever really understand the vengeance of God according to that logic. Something tells me that with all our posturing, we did not.
Romans 12:16-21 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Is it possible that we’ve read this passage according to what we learned in this world? Do we think Paul wrote “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone” simply because we need to let God pay back evil for evil? You know what this says to me? It tells me that any attempt at revenge, that is to pay back evil for evil is not of God, but of one who is haughty in mind. It tells me that the mind of God is all about overcoming evil with good.
Taking one’s own revenge is understood according to fleshly reason, aka the mind of man. It is only within this mind, this perception that men think they understand God’s vengeance, God’s judgment … but it is not according to this reason that we can see anything of God’s judgment. We may think it makes sense to pay back evil for evil, but the mind of Christ totally throws that reason out the window.
*Living in view of the Gospel’s reality: Living a life of no condemnation or living free from it has the appearance of evil to the natural mind. In living free from the guilt that captivates this world in our dealings with people, ourselves and the things in this world can only be seen mostly as “arrogance# irresponsibility# stupid-dense#uncaring# ungood# #lacking morality#self riteous# in terrible error and therefor in terrible;e danger of Godly wrath!
And Hebrews testifies to this very thing, for those the writer said to imitate were the very ones who were ostracized by the religious establishment.
False perception of religious leaders. They were just like those in the church today. Not all around bad guys. Seemed good, fair, generous, etc.
A life of no condemnation cannot be understood by the natural mind. It only understands what it knows, and it only understands condemnation.
The Cleansed Conscience — Perfect in Conscience
Hebrews 8:12 And I will remember their sins no more
..We try so hard to force this reality into a natural, relatable outward meaning don’t we? We are thrashing around with this in an understanding based on temporary interpretations. One will ask: “Doesn’t this mean that He would remember THEIR sins no more? Meaning it was only for those guys, not us!” “It was only the chosen ones of THEIR time”.
The truth is that as Gentiles, we were outsiders to the promises of God.
Galatians 2:11-13 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands– remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
That we have been included testifies to the grace of God!
Another might ask “Isn’t this just a technical forgiveness that just keeps God nearby in some remote way? That way He can be somewhat involved with us to help us ‘work on our sins”.
I most certainly understand this, for I used to carefullly hold it all together under the premise of positional truth versus reality. For me, everything fit within the distinction between salvation and service. Where we are versus where we’re going. We dealt with sins from the perspective that we would no longer be sent to hell because Christ paid for them, but in real time we had to take care of business.
What DOES this remembrance of sins mean anyway? The masses are in conflict over this, no one agrees. Both Christians and non Christians have tried to adopt it’s meaning to their everyday lives, fear has cropped up because of various mishandlings and misunderstandings.
It seems that our perceptions have turned God into a senile old man who simply cannot remember. Perhaps we view God as being a split personality — one side of him is never satisfied, the other part is, like the two-sided masks where one is happy, the other mad.
One of the biggest challenges to embracing the reality of the forgiveness of sins is the fact that the statement in the Bible says “remembrance of sins”. It sounds so utterly wiped out that we fear the natural minds response to it…”“god will forgive me anyway? with respect to future sins. So our focus jumps ahead to the next time we might sin. “is THIS forgiven too?” “Well are just saying we don’t have to repent and turn away from our sin then?”. “Are you saying that we are just forgiven end of story?” “No way! God the one who demands the highest moral character would NEVER set up things that way!” [What shall we say then?] But what if just like the Truth of our bodies being holy through the washing of the water in Christ, that our sins are also always removed from us? What if we are indeed clean but, that we often don’t view ourselves in this manner? I mean if we were encouraged by the hearing that we are clean right after committing a sin what would that do????? It would be the truth and the truth shall what?[set you free] Could we misinterpret it and go into more sin? Sure! We COULD. But, all flesh DOES this temporal distortion thing all the time! It is the power of the Gospel that actually has power.
Hey you might see a person wallow in much sin for a very long time before the meaning of Life gets through to them. For others it might be instant. Paul probably knew this and spoke the word to their edification.
Hebrews 9:1-14 Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Outer tabernacle = present time? If the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle (present time) is still standing, what does that say about our entering into the holy place? Are we stuck outside until this present time is no more? Like, are we really not IN Christ until the heaven and earth are gone?
Death and resurrection: removed from the first through the body of Christ to be brought into the new creation. Old covenant versus new covenant.
The sacrifices of the old covenant cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience. What does this say about the cleansed conscience in Christ?
Hebrews 10:18-22 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience!