We live in a time when, in many places on this earth, the true Church of Jesus Christ is being tested and tried just as it had been during the times of the early church. The Scriptures promise that we, as faithful followers of the Messiah, would never be left alone and we would never be without the power of God’s indwelling Spirit to deal with whatever is thrown in our path. God’s promises cover any and all circumstances, whether they be the temptations of sin or whether they have to do with persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ. One of God’s promises to us is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
A second instruction from the Lord is found in Revelation 2:10:
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
History tells us that the early Church went through terrible persecution from ten Roman emperors. This is what the “ten days” in this passage is referring to. The Church, instead of being eliminated, grew and received strength that could not be broken by man or devil. This is the promise for the true Church of Jesus Christ today as well. In Revelation 3, we have an encouragement given to the Philadelphian Church in what Jesus said to them:
I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it, for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name…Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God…Revelation 3:8,10-12a
Now, as we begin to examine our chosen passage of Scripture in Hebrews 10, starting at verse 19, let us look at what it says:
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Verses 19-22
PROVISION FOR BELIEVERS
As believers, it is important for us to recognize the honors and privileges that were bought for us through the price that Jesus paid. We can enjoy these blessings and yet give Him all of the glory for them. What has been provided is of infinite value as it was something that can’t be earned nor bought by man. What is it that has been given to us? It is called a “new and living way.”
- We have been given the right to be bold as we enter into the Holy presence of Almighty God. In the Old Testament it was only the high priest who could ever enter the Holy of Holies of the Temple, and that was only once a year on the Day of Atonement. In order to do this, the proper prescribed sacrifices had to be made. Not only did the people have to bring the prescribed sacrifices, the high priest himself had to make sure he had properly prepared himself according to Moses’ law for this moment. If he did not, God would strike him dead before he ever left the room.
- The high priest, who could only go into the Holy of Holies once a year was only a temporary priest and was replaced when his time as high priest had come to an end. After the Messiah came the first time, He became the permanent high priest. He would never be replaced. This is because He gave His own blood to pay for the sins of the world. From the time of His death and resurrection, the blood of animals, which had really only served to cover the sins of the people, was never required again. Many religions in the world today still try to provide inferior sacrifices to try to cover sins so that favor can be bought with the divine. None is sufficient because there is only one perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Holy Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
- The true followers of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, were given direct access to the throne of God after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. It was after Jesus declared, “It is finished,” that we were given direct access. The payment had been made in totality. Right after Jesus released His spirit, there was a three hour eclipse of the sun. At the same time there was a great earthquake and the veil within the temple, the 6-inch thick, 30-foot wide, and 60-foot tall veil that separated the Holy of Holies from everything else, was torn in two. At that moment the Mercy Seat within the Holy of Holies was totally exposed to anyone within view! Can you imagine the shock of the Jewish priesthood? The point God was making was that, just as the flesh of the Son of God had been torn, so was the Veil of the Temple torn, signifying that from now on there was direct access to the throne of God through the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
- That direct access means that we have communication with our Lord and Master at any time. God is never too busy and He is never on vacation! Just as the priesthood in the Old Testament was able to go into the Holy Place of the Temple which was just outside of the Holy of Holies, and fellowship with the Spirit of God at the Table of Shewbread, so can we now freely go in and fellowship with Him, any day and any time. How does God hear the prayers of many millions at a time? Because He is GOD. He is All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Ever-Present, which means He is present everywhere all at the same time. He has fellowship with each individual follower as if there were no one else on His mind but you! He is the High Priest over the whole house of God.
In verse 22 we are told that because of this great provision, we should make a point to draw near to Him. In what way do we draw near?
- With a true heart
- In full assurance of faith
- Our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience
- Our bodies washed with pure water
Having a true heart means that we first of all realize and accept the fact that Jesus truly is the Messiah. There is none other. There can be none other! All others who claim to be wise, good, or even chosen fall short. There are many prophets, there are even many who claim to be messiahs, but there was only one who was able to make the claim that He was God in the flesh and prove it. He was also the only One who died for the sins of the world and then rose from the dead. He was the only one that ever lived a sinless life. He is the only One who promised to come back as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords. All others have died and stayed dead. Buddha does not live today, neither does Muhammad, Confucius, Baha’u’llah, Reverend Moon, or any others of the many self-proclaimed messiahs or false prophets that have come and gone. It is totally against human reasoning to accept that there is only one way to be reunited with God, but that is the truth of the matter. This is why Jesus was so bold as to say, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6
Having a true heart also means that it is a committed heart–100% committed. Not partially committed to God and His Word when it is convenient, allowing for other things to take priority when it suits us better. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. I believe in our day and time, it is a rather small percentage of Christians that really live by that principle. This scripture in Hebrews 10:22 reminds us that it takes a true heart to be a genuine follower of Christ. Anything less will not satisfy the longing in our soul.
Having full assurance of faith is an enormous blessing! So many religious belief systems teach that a person cannot know for sure if they have earned heaven / paradise / nirvana until they have died and are standing before the Judge. This is the common teaching throughout the world’s religions and belief systems, with the exception of one! Christianity! How is this assurance guaranteed? Because it was Almighty God who stepped in to pay the price that no man could ever pay. A lifetime of good works would never, ever solve the problem of sin and its consequences. The real problem is in the genetics of all human beings. Sin is the catastrophe of human nature. It is important to understand this. The biggest problem is not the acts of sin we do like stealing, adultery, or killing. The biggest problem is that every human is born into the death of sin. This sin/death is carried through the bloodline to everyone. As we know, a newborn child carries the blood of the father. This is why Messiah Jesus had to be born of a virgin. It was the Holy Spirit of God that overshadowed Jesus’ mother Mary, planting the Seed that was not infected with sin at birth so that He could become the perfect sacrifice…the Last Sacrifice. This is what was promised in Genesis 3:15:
…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise (or crush) your head and you shall bruise His heel.
The Seed spoke of here is the Messiah who was to be born about 4000 years after God spoke these words to Eve in the Garden of Eden. God here in the Genesis passage said that Satan would bruise the Messiah’s heel, referring to what would happen at the cross, but the Messiah would eventually crush the head of Satan. It will be a glorious day when Satan has been permanently disposed of! The Bible tells us that there will be one last rebellion following the 1000-year millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Here is what was shown to the Apostle John:
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10
Once this happens, Satan will never rise to do his evil work again. His ultimate defeat is decreed by our God, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all things.
So, as we continue examining what is taught in Hebrews 10:19-22, we are reminded once again that our assurance and complete faith are not in our ability to live sinless lives, but rather in the price paid by the Sinless One, Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb of God. It is He who gave His life for the salvation of the world–for anyone who will accept His free gift.
Verse 22 goes on to say that our evil consciences are sprinkled. The evil consciences has to do with the fallen nature we are born with. We are cleansed from all of our guilt, filth, sinful fear and torment, aversion to God and our duty, ignorance, error, superstitions, and whatever evils our consciences are subject to because of sin. But, just as the sacrificial blood was sprinkled in the Old Testament to deal with the issue of sin, so our conscience is sprinkled with the Blood of Jesus. Because of this, we become new creatures in Christ. Old things pass away and all things become new. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in the teaching letters he sent to the churches. Below is a passage from Exodus written by Moses and then a passage in 2 Corinthians written by Paul.
And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ”All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” Exodus 24:6-8
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new, now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. for He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
The covenant God made with the people in the Old Testament was filled with ritualistic sacrifices. If the people were going to have their sins covered, it would only be through God’s prescribed atonement. Now that the Last Sacrifice has been offered and these ritualistic sacrifices are no longer necessary, all that is required of man is to acknowledge who the true Messiah is and ask Him for forgiveness. The never-ending series of sacrifices of the Old Covenant are no longer effective or necessary. The benefit of the New Covenant is that the “sprinkling of the Blood of the Sacrifice” does much more than just “cover” sin. It removes it entirely! That is why a person who had been dead in sin becomes an entirely new creation. Death has been replaced with life!..and all through the Blood of Jesus Christ the Last and Final Sacrifice.
Then, verse 22 adds that our bodies will be washed with pure water. An observance that should be followed as soon as feasible after giving one’s life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, is water baptism. Water baptism does not wash away sin. This is done at the point of commitment to Jesus, but the act of being baptized in water is a sign before witnesses of the commitment that has already been made. After this though, there is another “washing of the body.” Once we have submitted ourselves to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master, we become His. This is what submission is all about. From that moment on, our life no longer belongs to us. Here is how it is described in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
…Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
This is a Scripture that not many really live up to. The meaning of this passage is that our entire life, after covenanting with God, belongs to Him. We, as HIS people, constantly try and take part of ourselves back after we have submitted to Jesus, our Messiah. We have thoughts that come to mind that do not belong in the mind of a true follower of Jesus, and instead of refusing to entertain the evil thought, we allow it to infect our minds and soon it takes root and brings about a physical fulfillment of the unholy thought. God has given us the power to deal with these thoughts. It is not true that “the devil made me do it”, as so many say as an excuse for flagrant sin. Others will go as far as blaming God for the temptation. Here is what the Apostle James said in his epistle:
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James 1:12-16
God has promised us everything necessary for us to live the Christian life. This is promised in many Scriptures. The Apostle Peter puts it well:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4
This passage of Scripture confirms to us how God has provided everything to live the true Christ-following life, both physically and spiritually. His promises are a covenant that He will never break and they are so powerful in how they work in our lives that we can even participate in His own nature, a truly Godly nature. This is absolutely impossible for fallen man to do. Only true disciples of Jesus Christ have access to this amazing provision. But, it takes a decision on our part and the discipline to follow through and not let the old carnal nature rule how we think and how we live. We must live an intimate walk with our High Priest, the Mediator of our Reconciliation. This walk with the Master is a “living” walk. It is not the dead religion of just following a collection of religious rules in which a person struggles day after day to add together enough “good works” so that they outweigh the bad ones at the end of life, hoping that it will be enough on Judgment Day. No! We are already on our covenanted way to heaven on the very day we commit ourselves to Jesus Christ. That is what settles our eternal destiny, not our works. The “works” come naturally as we commune with our Lord because we have fallen in love with this One who saved us from an eternal death.
Continued in Part 2