"THE SHADOW versus reality"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 12/10/89a.m. Hebrews 10:1-18
PROPOSITION: The guilt of sin remains, even after endlessly trying to remove it with sacrifice, but the will of the Father is that we be forgiven, and made perfect forever, through faith in the eternal, returning Jesus Christ.
- LAST Sunday morning we talked about that drive within the human heart to be new, a drive that can only be satisfied in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
* II Corinthians 5:17 says:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
- THIS morning I want to talk about a drive that is more powerful than the drive to be new, and that is the drive within each of us to be approved by others.
- YOU and I have an insatiable appetite, to be approved in what we say and what we do, by those who are in our lives. We will go to any lengths, make any sacrifices, just to win the approval of significant people in our lives.
- IT is the fuel that drives the advertising industry:
* We dress, for the approval of others.
* We work hard, for the approval of others.
* We diet, for the approval of others.
* We drive certain cars, for the approval of others.
- AND the sacrifices we make along the way, to win this approval are incredible.
- EVEN some of the feeble gestures made by many of us at appearing to be independent, are designed to win the approval of those who admire independence.
- NOW, while this inner drive to win the approval of others, is an inescapable fact of life, the tragedy of it all is that most of us spend our whole lives never measuring up....but trying all the harder.
- I REMEMBER the first time that my parents visited Cedar Rapids, and how hard I tried to pastor the way that my Dad would have pastored that church.......and, though no fault of their own, not quite feeling like I measured up.
* I knew that I didn't preach like my Dad, we have different ways of expressing ourselves.....but, while he was there, I would work hard at approaching subjects the way he would.
* I knew that I didn't dress the "pastor role" the way that my Dad did......but I would try, so as to win his approval.
* I knew that I spent more time administrating than my Dad thought was necessary.
* I knew that he did not approve of my selection of elders in the church.
- WE would all get in the car, after a service, and I would wait to hear their comments about the service. "Good message son"......and then we could relax for the rest of the trip home.
- AND if they didn't say anything, I would try and interpret the silence.
* Were they just in awe of how the service had been?
* Or were they in shock?
- MY parents are no different than most. They don't mean to wield such influence over me. But it goes with the territory of being authority figures.
- AND we all come under its impact, as we struggle and strain, day after day, year after year, to be approved, to be right.......making whatever sacrifices are necessary to achieve the endorsement of others.
- THE source of this desire to please is good. You and I were created to please God, to bring pleasure to Him through our love for Him, our worship, and our service of love.
- WHEN the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, they were really asking how they could go about pleasing God. Jesus' answer, in Luke 22:37, was:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
- SO we were created to please God, to be approved of Him in the way we love Him.
- BUT, being that we are human, we are exhausting ourselves trying to win God's approval, and the approval of others, in our own human effort.
- DAY after day trying to be and do what others will, might approve of/
- IT is a terrible load to be under.
- THIS is the battle that the Jewish Christians were facing in Hebrews 10:1-18.
- ONLY for them, observing the Old Testament sacrifices was their way of trying to win the approval of God and their countrymen.
- LET'S look at how it worked for them.
ii. still guilty, after endlessly repeated sacrifices
- LET'S read the first two verses of Hebrews 10:
"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. If it could, 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."
- THE first observation that I want to make this morning, from verses 1-2, is that the feelings of guilt remained, even after the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year BY THOSE WHO WOULD DRAW NEAR TO WORSHIP.
- THESE people wanted to please God. They wanted to win His approval. And so every opportunity they would repeat the same sacrifices.........AND NEVER FEEL ANY BETTER FOR IT.
- STILL GUILTY, after all those sacrifices.
- NOW, the problem for you and me this morning, is not that we are trying to please God and man with the blood of bulls and goats.......but the drive to win the approval of God and man is still there, and just as strong.
- SO we make sacrifices of our own, to measure up to what we perceive to be the expectations of God and the people in our lives.....hoping that our sacrifices will win their approval.
* So we run off to college, not to better equip ourselves for life, but to try to please those in our lives who approve of education.
* Or we chose a career, not because it is what we really want to do with our lives, but because it is what we believe our parents want, or because we believe it will win the approval of others in our lives we want to impress.
* Or we attend church services, not because we want to be in God's presence, and worship with other believers, but because we want to be approved by those who are there who are significant in our lives.....and win God's approval by our attendance record.
* Or we put our money in the offering, giving our tithes, not because it is a simple gesture of our love for God, but because we hope to earn His approval if we do.
* Or we teach Sunday School, or sing in the choir, or serve in leadership, not because it flows spontaneously out of a heart full of love for God and man, but because we hope to earn His approval, or the approval of others.
- AND so we go, day after day, year after year, making the same sacrifices, repeated endlessly, doing things that are not us, being things that are not us, all the while trying to win God's approval and, says verse 2, still feeling the guilt of our sins.
- IN other words, for all our trying, the approval we were trying so hard to find, was not there.
iii. holy (forgiven), by the will of the father
- THE second observation that I want to make from this passage, is found in Hebrews 10:3-10.
"But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, "Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-- I have come to do your will, O God."' First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
- HERE it is! It is impossible to win God's approval, no matter how many sacrifices you and I may make in this life......we are still left with our guilt.
- WHY? Because it is impossible to please God with our sacrifices.
- HE doesn't even desire them as payment for our sins.
- WELL how can we win God's approval.
- BECAUSE I somehow feel that if we can resolve this one issue, then we can be free to deal with others in our lives without these unreasonable expectations that we put on ourselves.
- WELL, verse 10 has it:
"......we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
- IT is already done. We have already been approved by the sacrifice of Jesus....once for all.
- BUT there is something so exciting about this approval that I want you to see in verses 9 and 10.
- IN verse 9, Jesus says that He came to do the will of the Father.
- THEN, in verse 10 it says that it is by that will we have been made holy.
- IT is the will of the Father that we be holy......that we be approved.
- HE WANTS IT MORE THAN WE DO.
- WHEN we win the approval of other people in our lives it is usually by doing what they want for themselves......but in this case it is what God wants for us.
- OUR desire to be approved is fully met in Jesus' sacrifice, by the will of the Father. HE wants it that way.
iv. made perfect forever, by the eternal, returning christ.
- HERE is my last observation.
- AND it comes back to the last point in last Sunday's message.
- IT is found in verses 11-18:
"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. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: '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.' Then he adds: 'Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.' And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin."
- THERE is coming a day, very soon, where the enemies of the kingdom of God will be made God's footstool.....They will come under the feet of His wrath and judgment.
- BUT what about us when that happens? What does this prophetic passage have to say about us and our approval at that time?
- BECAUSE of that ONE sacrifice made by Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God, we are made perfect forever (verse 14).......no further sacrifice is necessary (verse 18).
- THE sacrifice that Jesus made for you and me, lasts for all eternity.
- HE is the eternal, returning Christ......and in Him you are made perfect forever........into all eternity.
- NO more striving to win the approval of God and man.
- NO more endless, tedious sacrifices made day after day, that never succeed in removing the guilt.
- NO more anxiety about never measuring up.
- NO more performance anxiety.
- YOU are free.
- JESUS has won, by the sacrifice of His life, once for all, the approval of the Father for you.
- IT is yours by faith in Him.
- IT is a gift. You don't have to earn it. You can't earn it.
- IT is His will that you be approved by faith.
- YOU are perfect forever.
- THERE is nothing that you or I could do that could improve on that.
- SO you are free to serve God and serve others with an open heart.
A PERFECT HEART