by Mike Ratliff
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:10-11 ESV)
As has been clearly shown, the easy-believism “gospel” as well as any version of it that either calls for more works (i.e. piety) on the part of the believer over and above believing the Gospel and receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour or suggests that the saving work of Christ on the Cross was not “sufficient enough” to cover the sins of the those He came to save, therefore they must somehow achieve perfection on their own or enter into some form of purgatory after death to make up for that, are perversions of what is clearly taught in God’s Word. They are based on the presupposition that God has created salvation in a man-centered, law-based, works-righteousness oriented way that is found nowhere in Sacred Scripture. The correct presupposition, being Biblically based, we will explore in this post and will focus primarily on Hebrews 10:1-18.
Here is Hebrews 10:1 from the ESV, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.”
Here is Hebrews 10:1 from the NA27 Greek text, “Σκιὰν γὰρ ἔχων ὁ νόμος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων, κατ᾽ ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις ἃς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς οὐδέποτε δύναται τοὺς προσερχομένους τελειῶσαι·”
The word the ESV translates as “a shadow,” is the noun σκιὰν, which is the Accusative, Singular form of σκία or skia, “a shadow, a fore-shadowing, a vague outline. It is in distinction from a perfect image or delineation or reality.” The author of Hebrews and, therefore, the Holy Spirit, is telling believers that the law is not the reality that contains the good things, but only a foreshadowing of those good things. It is like the shadow of a person. The shadow is not the person, but only a vague outline of him or her. The person is the true person. So, God is telling us that the law is only but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of those realities. The law and its sacrifices were never intended to bring perfection to anyone, but only to be a foreshadowing of what is to come. Notice also in this verse the need and requirement. We do all have that desperate need to draw near unto God, but none of us can because we are not holy while God is. Only those who have been made perfect can draw near and the law and its sacrifices are unable to do that.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:2-4 ESV)
In vv2-4 we see the clear reasoning that shows us why the law and it sacrifices were done away with when the Gospel came. The annual sacrifices did not cleanse anyone’s conscience. They did not do away with the need to repeating the need of the annual sacrifice and we see why in v4. What is needed instead of the blood of bulls and goats to take away our sins?
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I aid, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-10 ESV
Here we see that Jesus Christ came to live a perfect, sinless life, that is, to do the will of the God, to become the perfect living sacrifice acceptable to God to be propititiation for those He came to save. In doing this, He did away with the need of the shadows. Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, the debt was paid. This is why heresies like purgatory are so heinous. I have also had people contact me and tell me that I have been preaching heresy and leading people on with all this Gospel stuff because, “What about when these people sin the next time?” Well, doesn’t Hebrews 10:10 settle that? That verse tells us that those who are justified by Faith (saved) are also sanctified (positionally) in Christ. That means they are holy in God’s eyes because they are hidden in Christ and posses His holiness not their own. His Holiness was imputed to their account.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:11-18 ESV)
My brethren, carefully read this passage. Christ’s work is 100% finished. All that remains is coming in the fulfillment of His Kingdom until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet, but that work of redemption, the atonement on behalf of His people is DONE. There is no purgatory. There is no work of further redemption on their part they have to do. Yes, this passage does talk about our progressive sanctification, but that is talking about our spiritual growth and maturing in Christ and becoming more humble and less and less like the world. Notice also, that those in Christ do have God’s laws on their hearts and minds and they are totally forgiven. Therefore, there is no need for any temple with a sacrificial system where there are animals being slaughtered to cover our sins. That was only a shadow of what we have in Christ right now my brethren.
Therefore, as we share our faith we must have the correct presupposition of the Gospel and that is that the Law and its sacrifices were only a shadow. We use the Law to show us our need for a Saviour and that need was totally fulfilled in Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!