Most Christians believe that God can do anything, but are not sure that He has done much so far. Many put forth great efforts to persuade God to move, to touch, to heal, to send revival and to bless, while seemingly blinded to what Jesus has already provided. In short, many Christians don’t know what we have. There is a poignant expression, “once for all”, found several times in Hebrews chapters nine and ten. “Once” leaves no room for misunderstanding. It means that the matter spoken of is not to be repeated, something which occurred at a specific time in history. ”For all” eliminates any questions; no one is excluded, regardless of culture, religion, ethnicity or gender. What Jesus did, He did once for all.
The gospel is sometimes described as the “too good to be true news”, but it is true.
Jesus’ death dealt with the separation between God and man, which was due to human sin. Contrary to popular thought, God never turned his back on people because of sin, rather sin made people withdraw from God. God lovingly sought for Adam after his sin, while Adam hid himself. God never left the first murderer, but rather Cain “left the presence of God.” (Genesis 4:16) John tells us that if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Alternately, when our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence towards God. (1 John 3:18-20) God knows that the sin which condemns us has already been paid by Jesus. While we may doubt, and as a result lose our confidence, God doesn’t view us differently because of sin. The gospel is sometimes described as the “too good to be true news”, but it is true.
No matter what you have done God looks at you in love. Does that mean we should continue to live in sin? Certainly not! Sin destroys our lives and damages our soul. When our heart condemns us we lose our boldness. However, no matter what we do, God’s heart towards us remains unchanged.
The enmity between God and man was the law of commandments which were nailed to the cross and put away by Jesus once and for all. God dealt with the sin issue for the whole world. (1 John 2:2) His grace has appeared to all people; it is universally applied, and those willing to receive it are saved. When we respond to what Jesus has done God makes us a new creation in Christ. Then the new life in us affects our emotions, marriage, relationships, finances and every area of life. He is the new creation life in us, which makes us live holy.
“But Christ came as High Priest… Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:11-12)
What futility in relying on our own effort, when Jesus has once for all redeemed us. Our inability to redeem ourselves is evident. James 4:17 tells us “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Again we read, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) No one can live up to this standard. Being 99% obedient doesn’t help us, we are still “guilty in all.”
There is no proportional blessing. If we are 10% obedient, we don’t get 10% blessing. If we are 90% obedient, we don’t get 90% blessing. In fact, if we are 99.9% obedient, we get 100% of the curse. This ought to make everyone capitulate and exclaim that we need God’s grace, which is precisely why the Law was given. Sometimes I am asked, “Peter, don’t you believe in God’s Law?” Of course I do, I believe in the law for the purpose for which it was given. The Law was not to make us holy, but to make us recognize that we are hopeless without God’s grace. Many today abuse the Ten Commandments by suggesting that they are instruments to make us holy and righteous, while Paul tells us that those very commandments arouse in us a desire to sin. It is Jesus in us who causes us to live righteously.
The Hebrew writer continues, “…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14) The blood of animals did purify the Jewish people, but that purification was very time limited. Contrast this with the blood of Jesus, which cleanses our conscience from dead works. Notice the cleansing occurs in our conscience! What is it that we are no longer conscious of? Our “dead works”, which simply means our own religious efforts whether prayer, church attendance, Bible reading, giving, or any spiritual exercise which we think will make us holy.
Sin consciousness is regrettably present among Christians. Many grovel before God, with prayers like “Oh God, I am so sorry, I am such a failure! I come humbly before You with all my shortcomings.” You notice how these words are full of self, focusing on our own inabilities. The blood of Jesus was shed to cleanse us from self-consciousness, and from looking at our own efforts. Instead, our attention is totally turned to the only One able to save us.
“…but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)
There is a tabernacle in heaven, which Moses built a replica of. We read about the morning and evening sacrifices, burnt offerings, sin offerings, Day of Atonement offerings, all presented in the tabernacle. Every offering was designed to deal with the sins of the people, though on a temporary basis. Now in stark contrast we see a provision that deals with sin once for all. The temporary sacrifices in the Old Testament could never “make those who approach perfect” (Hebrews 10:1), while Jesus’ sacrifice has made us “perfect forever.”
Instead of concerning ourselves with getting God to do something, why not look at what He has already done.
Instead of concerning ourselves with getting God to do something, why not look at what He has already done. We put such focus on what we do, our spiritual efforts, while sadly, we know so little of what God has done in Christ. Jesus anticipated every sin we would ever commit and paid for it in advance. Does that mean sin is harmless? Not at all; sin will ruin your life, your business and your family. The Biblical admonition is clear: “do not sin.” Notice how I interject this time and again in my teaching, just like Paul did in his. When you teach the gospel, as good as it is, some will think you are making an excuse for sin, or legitimizing sin. Many preachers never have to pause in their sermon and explain, “I am not encouraging you to sin.” That is because most preachers do not preach the gospel that Paul preached. When we fully preach the finished work of Jesus on the cross, we need to remind ourselves from time to time, that we are not saved to sin but from sin. Those who teach a message that mixes law and grace never need to make such explanations.
“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14)
What about holiness? We hear so much about grace, don’t we need to talk about sanctification also? Well, here you have it: we have been sanctified by what Jesus did once for all. Sanctification comes the same way as salvation; it is a work of God. Notice the obvious inferences in the following verses:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
Who will sanctify you completely? Who will preserve you blameless? Who is faithful? Who is the One who will do it? The answer is the God of peace; He will do the work.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.” (Jude 24-25)
Who is able to keep us from stumbling? Who is able to present us faultless? Jesus Christ is the One! What is our part? To give him glory and praise, now and forever. Jesus has done all that needs to be done for our sanctification.
Stop condemning yourself. Stop saying prayers that disregard what God has done. Sometimes I hear people pray, “God, don’t take your Spirit from me, come and be with us, let your Spirit move, and hear our prayers. ” What kind of prayer is this? This is Old Covenant thinking. Of course you don’t have to beg for God not to take His Spirit from you. Jesus has already promised that His Spirit would remain with you forever. You don’t need to ask God to be with us; Jesus Christ is in us! Of course God is not going to deny your prayers, since Jesus has already provided the answers for that which we pray for. People say, “Oh God, come and visit us.” God visited people in the Old Testament, but not anymore. He now lives permanently in us.
Acknowledge that Jesus once and for all has put away your sins, redeemed you, and made you holy. He has made you holy and perfect. If you find that these provisions of Christ are not happening, then focus more on Jesus. Turn to Him, He will complete it, He is faithful.
Real holiness, dedication and righteous living doesn’t come from focusing on our effort. In fact, we are to fear and tremble that we take matters into our own hands, instead of letting God work in us. (Philippians 2:12-14) When we keep our focus on Jesus, He is working His life in us.
Lean on Jesus, rest in Him; He will complete the work in you!