Epistle to the Hebrews (9:16-22)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal.For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats,along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:16-22

The point of these verses is to prove that without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The author uses the old testament to show that it was how the old covenant was inaugurated. Blood also shows the gravity of sin because lives of animals had to be sacrificed. Blood was used to purify and was sprinkled on the book of God’s law and on people. It was not because God’s law was unholy that it had to be purified by blood.  But if God’s law was to be applied, man’s blood would have to be shed. I guess it was symbolical because the law which intended to protect God’s people from God’s wrath was now standing as witness against them. The law which tried to make man live right before God was now accusing man. No man could ever do everything the law required. The Jewish/Mosaic law was not bad or evil, it just revealed how sinful and incapable we were to meet God’s standards.

As Paul puts it:

Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.” Rom. 7:7

Man has this inner desire to taste what is defended. Let’s get back to Eden. If God had not said to Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, the tree would have probably gone unnoticed  for a while by Eve in this big garden. But curiosity to taste what is defended is innate in man. When the law tried to say adultery and stealing are wrong in God’s eyes, man will naturally be willing to rebel against God’s orders. If not, man will play on the very border of the sin.

For example, if the country’s law says that the speed limit is 110km/hr, man will try to drive at 105 or even rebel by driving at 120 because no one is seeing.  I bet if there were no indications, the driver would have comfortably drove at 80 or 90 without having this thought that he is perhaps late.

The intention of God’s law was to put it clearly what was right and wrong. But by doing so, it aroused all kind of covetous desires as Paul described. You want to rebel against God because you think He is silent and does not say anything. You think that Big brother is not watching you. Paul perfectly describes this point in Romans 7. I will just quote some self-explanatory verses:

“…So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill meBut still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.  But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes. So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it... I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another powerwithin me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 7:11-25

After describing how sin took advantage of God’s commands to make him more sinful, Paul found himself damned. He now knows what is right and wants to do what is right. But because he also knows the opposite side i.e. what is wrong, he struggles because his flesh is naturally inclined to sin. It’s a hard for man to fight between his conscience and his sinful desires. Without Jesus, no man would have been able to resist his sinful desires for long. Jesus did not bring a temporary solution to deliver man from sin, He buried the old man.

Those who want to escape sin  fall in asceticism and isolate themselves like hermits to reduce the risk of their exposure to sin. But you cannot escape sin for you’re sinful by nature. Even if you go to Mars alone, you’ll still sin in your thoughts.

So we have seen that the Mosaic law could not free men from sin but only showed them what was right and wrong. The policeman will not reward you if you do what the law requires but will send you to jail if you disobey it no matter how many good works you have been doing in the past. The policeman just applies the law and his role is not to help you fight your evil desires. This is how the law works. As long as you obey it, you never hear about it. But when you disobey it, you’re in trouble.  Your obedience to the law cannot counterbalance your disobedience to it. So the same law who taught us the right way to take will stand as judgement against us when we take the wrong way. There is no one righteous and all deserve to be annihilated.

But as Paul asked: “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord

We will see some more details about the answer Paul is talking about in the coming verses.


Posted March 10, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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