This morning, the Lord directed my attention to Hebrews 10, particularly verses 1-18. (emphasis added)
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
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 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For 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, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
(Hebrews 10:1-18, NIV)
These verses prompt a chorus of Hallelujahs, yes, even in Lent!
Are you tempted to consider and fall into the trap (as I was beginning to) that it is your Lenten sacrifices, YOUR efforts that are somehow making you holy and perfect, (and then DESPAIR because you are falling so far short in following through in your spiritual disciplines)?! NO!! It is only Jesus’ sacrifice that justifies and purifies us, and makes us holy and acceptable in the Father’s sight.
Today I am rejoicing in that freedom and grace, even while asking for grace to be more faithful in denying myself certain comforts, dying more to my flesh and its desires…
Heavenly Father, help us this Lent to understand more of Jesus’ perfect once for all sacrifice and never be tempted to think our own “sacrifices” make us righteous or holy. Somehow they should create is us a more perfect appropriation of all Christ has done. Oh Lord, help us in our weakness and help us not to trust in our own Lenten sacrifices. They are nothing. You are everything, Jesus! Hallelujah, yes…. even in Lent!
A good song to accompany this devotional and express my worship is Matt Redman’s Once Again. (lyrics and chords).
Our “sacrifices” repeated once again, over and over each day do not save or sanctify us. But looking at Jesus once again, again and again, and remembering His cross, His death, His resurrection, HIS sacrifice, that changes us!