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Off with the Old, On with the New

Hebrews 10:16-27

 

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds, [17] [He adds]: I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. [18] Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. [19] Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, [20] by the new and living way that He has inaugurated for us, through the curtain (that is, His flesh); [21] and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, [22] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. [23] Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. [24] And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, [25] not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. [26] For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, [27] but a terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.” (HCSB)

 The writer of Hebrews begins a summation of his previous teachings by quoting Jeremiah 31:33-34 about the new covenant.  God writes this one on the hearts of His people, not on a stone tablet, and it offers permanent forgiveness of sin “I will never again remember their sins” the text says.

 Previously he makes some watershed statements that lead to this summation.  In Hebrews 9:22, he wrote “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”  (NKJV)  This was true in the old covenant as well as the new.  The old covenant involved animal sacrifice for the remission of sin, but the writer of Hebrews says it didn’t bring forgiveness, at least not permanently.  Hebrews 10:4 says, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” (NKJV)  In the new covenant, a sinful priest didn’t sacrifice an animal for the temporary forgiveness of sin; instead, Jesus Christ, the sinless High Priest sacrificed His own sinless life for our eternal salvation.  Hebrews 10:12 says, “But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God's right hand.” (NLT)

 We say this so often that it is easy for its impact to escape us.  Jesus died for us.  John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” (NKJV)  Something Michael Costello was willing to do for Gareth Griffith. While on vacation in Florida, Griffith, decided to try sky diving. He was jumping in tandem with Michael Costello, an experienced instructor. 
 Something went wrong.

 The main chute failed to open. No big deal, they had a back up chute. The back up failed too. The two men went into a violent spin as they plummeted to their destiny. The instructor corrected the spin and regained control of the fall. Griffith was on bottom and the instructor was on top.

 As they neared the ground, the instructor, folded his arms and legs, causing the pair to rotate, in doing so, the instructor hit the ground first, cushioning his student's blow.

 Griffith survived. Costello wasn't so lucky.  (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
 Jesus sacrificed His life for us, but it wasn’t just to show His love for us, it was to provide a way of escape—it was so we could live.  The new covenant is our only chance.  If we sin by rejecting Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we have no hope.  Verses 26 and 27 say “For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, [27] but a terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.”

 Christ sacrifice was so we could experience eternal life, which is not a reward for living well, but the result of the effectual working of Christ’s death on the cross.  Grace is the only provision for our salvation. 

 Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, [9] not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (NKJV) In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes, "Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous or clean; accepting God's love will.  The ability to accept God's unconditional grace and ferocious love is all the fuel we need to obey Him in return."  (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 Our good works result from accepting God’s grace.  Under the new covenant, our salvation comes through Christ’s sacrifice, not through any works we do.

 Christ sacrifice, under the new covenant empowers us.  It enables us to live in community with one another. Verses 24 and 25 say,  “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, [25] not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

 We don’t come to church to earn our salvation, but because we have a need to receive and give encouragement.  Tom Hanton flew over 135 missions in Vietnam before the enemy shot him down on June 27, 1972.  He spent nine months in a POW camp in Hanoi. Hanton said, "Conditions for the prisoners of war became somewhat more lenient in the final two years of the war. After an attempted rescue at a prison camp in Son Tay by American GIs, the POWs were all placed in one area of the Hanoi Hilton, dubbed Camp Unity. Much of the mental anguish was relieved simply because the prisoners could all see and speak with one another." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 There is something inside of me that yearns to be with you—I’m incomplete when we’re not connected.  We cannot survive our constant battles in the world if we don’t come together.  Actually, we start looking more like the world and become more comfortable in it if we don’t come together.

 We are at our best when we come together and when we work together as a team.  One of the best examples I’ve ever heard of this happened in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens Greece.  At the Olympics, American swimmer Michael Phelps won a record eight medals, but really, he did so much more than that.  Phelps made an unbelievable sacrifice for the good of his team.

Phelps gave his spot on the 400 meter rely team to Ian Crocker, whom Phelps had just beaten in the 100 butterfly. Ordinarily, the winner of 100-meter butterfly gets a spot in the medley final, but Phelps allowed Crocker to swim instead. 

Crocker was excited about the opportunity to swim in the 400 medley. He said, "I'm speechless. It's a huge gift. But difficult to accept. It makes me want to go out there and tear up the pool." The U.S. Team won the gold medal with Crocker swimming in Phelps' place.

Phelps said, “It’s tough to give up the relay. It really is."  Speaking of Crocker he said, "He’s one of the greatest relay swimmers in the world."  Phelps added, “We came into this as a team. We'll leave here as a team." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 I like that attitude, don’t you?  I especially like it when I see it in people in the church. 

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