Friday, June 4

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 11

From Hebrews:
But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:26b NET)
This statement tells us that Christ's death (or His sacrifice) was "to put away sin". That seems like a simple enough statement, but what does that statement really mean in the context of the book of Hebrews?

One of the main points of the book of Hebrews is that the new covenant instituted by Christ in His death is much better than the old covenant with it's sacrificial system. Hebrews was written to faithful Jews who had embraced Christ, but were being pulled back to the old ways--to the old system. One of the things the writer wanted to accomplish was to spur these Jewish believers to leave the old completely behind, and to accept Christ's way as God's final way, and to not be tempted to drift back into the old familiar ways of the old system. In order to encourage them to unreservedly embrace the new, the author contrasts the old system with the new one instituted in Christ, showing that the old system functioned not as the real thing, but as something that pictured and pointed forward to the real thing that had now come through Christ.

The old system was not effective for taking away sin. It did some sort of outward cleaning, but was unable to cleanse inwardly (Hebrews 9:13, 14), and what it did do was temporary, and served more as a reminder of the sin problem, rather than a solution to the sin problem (10:1-3). The bottom line is that the blood sacrifices of the old covenant were unable to take away sins (10:4). The old sacrificial system served only as a shadow of--or a picture of--the real thing that was going to come.
For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself. (10:1)
The old things were merely "sketches of the things in heaven" (verse 23).

Now, in Christ, the real deal has come. Christ was the one who was offered "once to bear the sins of many (9:27)." No more repetitious sacrifices were needed; no more constant reminders of sin. The deal is done, and sin is finally, truly, put away, because Christ "has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice."

Another of the purposes of Christ's death is to once and for all time put away sin.
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