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.
In some books that appear in the Old Testament, a theme emerges about God’s view of sacrifices. God expressed time and again that He wasn’t interested in empty sacrifices which were not backed up by lives of obedience. If worshipers were not interested in loving their neighbors, caring for the poor, or working for justice, then they could leave their sacrifices at home; God didn’t want their worship. Psalm 40:6-8 reflects this attitude: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but my ears you have opened burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God.”
In these verses, the psalmist uses a bit of hyperbole. It wasn’t that God didn’t actually desire or require sacrifices. God is the one who asked for sacrifices earlier in Scripture. Instead, the psalmist comes to realize that God is interested in more than ritualistic acts of worship. God wants us to obediently do His will.
In Hebrews 10, the writer of Hebrews applies this passage to Jesus because Jesus fulfills it in some profound and unexpected ways. First, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, these verses no longer contain exaggerated statements or claims. God truly doesn’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings because Jesus’ sacrifice has made them unnecessary. Second, Jesus’ sacrifice was no mere ritual. In obediently offering His life for us, Jesus has given us the purest expression of what it looks like to do God’s will.
CHRIST’S SACRIFICE ONCE FOR ALL
1 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. 2 Otherwise, 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. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’ ”
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the
second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 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. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “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.” 17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Read Hebrews 10:9. What do you think is meant by, “He sets aside the first to establish the second”, in reference to God’s covenants?
Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Through His death and resurrection, Christ made His believers perfect in God’s sight. At the same time, He is making them holy in our time on earth. We should not be surprised that we need to continually be growing. How can we encourage this growth process in our lives? In what ways do Scripture, discipline, and surrender play a role in our spiritual growth?
God wants our obedience and a right heart, not empty compliance. In fact, Scripture talks about “lukewarm Christians” who say they are in a relationship with God, and might even act the part on Sunday morning, but in actuality aren’t fully committed (Revelation 3:15-16). God doesn’t want half-hearted, nominal believers. He wants obedient, all-in, fully surrendered commitment. So, how would you describe your obedience—is it lukewarm or fully-committed? Describe how obedient you are to God with your time? With your resources? With your gifts, skills, and abilities? What needs to change?