The End of Sacrifices for Sin (Wed. Dec. 30)

The word of the day is “sacrifice.” In today’s reading of Hebrews 10:1-18, the apostle announces the end of sacrifices for sin. He writes, “For by one offering He [Christ]  has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (vs. 14). Therefore, there is no longer any need for more offerings for sin.  All that is necessary for our redemption has been fulfilled.

A One-Time Offering

The apostle argues at length that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were ineffective because they had to be repeated again and again (vs. 11).  But Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “once and for all” (10).  The proof of its efficacy was that Christ “sat down at the right hand of God” after He had finished His mission (vs. 12).  His “sitting down” with God the Father signified that He had completed His work of redemption.  It also showed that God the Father had accepted His sacrifice.  That is, the  purpose of the Lord’s offering of Himself was accomplished, and we were “set apart as holy” (vs. 10)  (Strong’s  #37).

A New Standing Before God

By His one perfect offering, the Lord “brought us to “perfection.”  In this case, “perfection” is the goal of entering the state of grace (Strong’s  #5048).  By the cross, we have entered a new standing with God.  Now in this new covenant, we are “being sanctified” that is, we are growing in holiness and righteous.

The offering for sin fulfills the prophetic promise that God will no longer remember our sins (vs. 17).  Instead, there is “remission” of transgressions. The Greek text simply says that there is “forgiveness,” that is,  release and pardon (Strong’s  859).

 For Reflection

The assurance of our forgiveness through the blood of Christ rests on the non-repeatable character of His giving Himself up for the Life of the world.  If it were not “once for all,” then more would have to be accomplished.  Sacrifices and offerings for sin would have to continue.  But when would they be enough?  Rather, God’s forgiveness is total and complete.  It does not demand anything more than repentance and faith in the grace of God.  If God remembers our sin no more, then we also should let God cleanse it from our hearts and put it out of our minds.

Offerings for sin are no longer needed.  But there is another kind of sacrifice that responds to the “once for all” sacrifice on the cross.  It is the sacrifice of praise. The apostle writes, “By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:15).  Christ’s self–offering marked the end of animal sacrifice. But it made it possible for us to “present our bodies” as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).  In this way our entire lives can become a “sacrifice of praise” to the One who redeemed us His once-for-all sacrifice for sin.

 

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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