Article 10

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"The Law: A Shadow of Good Things to Come"

Hebrews 10:1-4.

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins."

The law of God, especially the worship and service and sacrifices of the Levitical system, are said to serve as: "example and shadow" (Heb. 8:5); "patterns" (9:23); and "having a shadow" (10:1). What does this mean? Simply put, it means these things pointed to something else or something "better" and "good" which were to come. These things symbolized the redemption purposed by God in Christ. The inability of the legal sacrifices to "take away sins" and "make the comers perfect" is clearly seen in two ways according to the text: (1) Their continual offering year by year, (2) The conscience being reminded every year that the sins yet existed. The reason for this clear testimony in the law about the law itself is also given here: The impossibility of the blood of those sacrifices to take sins away. Thus the Levitical sacrifices were not another way to God, nor the way to God at one time, for they had not "the very image of the things" but HAVING only a shadow of the good things to come.

First of all, there were comers who were said to be worshipers. To truly come was to come worshiping! Nevertheless, even their worshipful coming thereunto did not take away their sins because of the law’s inability to do so. All who were justified then were justified by God in Christ who was yet to come! They looked for the coming Christ or Messiah! They offered sacrifices in obedience to God as things which pointed to His redemption (Gen. 3:15; 4:4 cf. Heb. 11:4; Ps. 40:5-8; Jn. 5:45-47; Lk. 24:25-27). Christ has now come and fulfilled the law in its examples and shadows. Thus, we come unto Him to worship Him without any of those sacrifices. To attempt to come to Christ apart from the worship of Him is an affront to God (Heb. 1:1-6; Jn. 5:22-23). Some have "come to Christ" but do not worship; others "worship" but have not come to Christ. The elect come to Christ and worship Him! Moreover, redemption is not by our works. Thus, we do not come to Christ and worship Him so that He will take away our sins but we come to Him and worship Him because He HAS TAKEN away our sins!

Second, what about this matter of sins? The scripture says: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). However, there are few who confess out of actual experience that they have sinned, and even fewer who will confess to BE sinners. Sins are not mistakes or weaknesses but the out flowing effects of a sinful nature which is in rebellion against God. To truly have a conscience of sins is vital before one will ever come to Christ as a worshiper of Christ who took away sins. Such a conscience of sins comes not merely from knowing us having done something wrong toward God but that our whole nature is opposed to God. Not only did the blood of Christ take away our sins but Christ "shall" through His blood "purge YOUR [those called (Heb. 9:15); the many for whom He died who also look for Him (9:28)] conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (9:14). That one who had a truly guilty conscience comes to Christ and worships Him as the only one who took away sins. Believing Christ took away sins purges the conscience of dead works (works done to try and take sins away, whatever those works were) and that one serves the living God in the realm of Christ as all they need to approach God (10:19-23).

So then, since the Levitical system itself "made nothing perfect" (Heb. 7:18-19), and this system was ordained of God for that time as a shadow of good things to come, how much more "weak and unprofitable" are the systems of men which were never ordained of God? Since those altars had no redeeming power and did not bring men to God what about the so-called altars of today? Since those sacrifices did not take away sins what about all the "sacrifices of works performed" by men today? Since obedience to the sacrificial law given by God did not make one person perfect how can obedience to the commandments of men do so? The systems of men are not only weak and unprofitable but they are an assault against the glory of God in Christ! Men and women will readily flee to every conceivable thing which the human imagination can muster, but they will not flee to Christ for hope. However, everlasting consolation and a good hope exist for all who are chosen by God and called by the gospel of Christ (II Thess. 2:13-17).

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