The practical conclusion is drawn in this chapter of what is brought out in chapter 9—the unity of the sacrifice; one offering by which the foundation is laid for the new covenant.
Instead of finding a man turned out of the paradise on earth because of sin, it is now a new man gone into the paradise of God in divine righteousness; gone in by virtue of a new title, which man never had before. The consequence is, when He comes again in glory, He has nothing to do with sin. He came once for sin; but when He comes the second time, it will be without any question of sin, to complete the salvation wrought out already. When He returns, it is to bring man into the full blessedness He is in Himself. “To them that look for Him, shall He appear,” etc.; not only for the church, but it is open for the remnant when He appears to the earth.2
The effect on the conscience of His offering for sin is shown in chapter 10. It is not only a statement of facts there. My sin might be put away and I not know it; but Christianity shows us how the conscience is purged, not only the sins put away. If the conscience is purged, there is nothing between me and God. I have the full deliverance from all consequences of sin, and a title to glory, by virtue of the new thing. But what is my present state? My conscience perfectly purged. That the law could not tell us. It could never make the comers thereunto perfect. That was reserved as a witness for the gospel when the work was done. When a man is in the presence of God, the full effect on the conscience is known. There must be a repetition of sacrifice while the sin was outstanding. There was always a question of sin between God and His people under the law. Israel in the last day will get salvation by virtue of the sacrifice; they will be blessed by Him from Heaven; their thoughts will rest on Christ coming on earth to them. He will bring them blessing where they are, but not take them to heaven. That is not our case at all. We are with Him while He is in heaven. The Holy Ghost has come out in consequence of His being gone in. There was no blood taken within the veil, and the sacrifice not taken without the camp, until after the sin of Nadab and Abihu. After that Aaron was not to go at all times into the holiest, but once a year, to sprinkle the blood on the mercy-seat. The veil was not rent then; but sin being brought out, the blood must be taken in. The witness of acceptance for Israel is when He comes out. They cannot have it while He is within. We are associated with Him in heaven by the Holy Ghost coming out and making us know the value of His sacrifice. He will come and receive us unto Himself, that where He is we may be. We are to be associated with Him there.
Up to His death it could not be: God would have put aside the law if the fulness of blessing had been brought in; and the law was given to His own people, not to the Gentiles. The result of Christ’s work is, that my constant state in the presence of God is the conscience purged. There is not a revelation, a prophet needed for that. The worshippers, once purged, have “no more conscience of sins.” How many Christians there are who do not know they have no more conscience of sins! If you do not, you do not know the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice. Are you going to be in heaven with sin upon you? You cannot be there in sins. The old state was that of men living on earth—falling, getting cleansed, and falling again. That is your condition, unless you are in heaven by virtue of that one sacrifice, without sin. The believer is introduced there in Christ—into these heavenly places, cleansed from sin (I am not speaking of what he is as a man on earth, but in Christ). Are you there? That is the question. Are you in the holiest as to your conscience, heart, and spirit, with “no more conscience of sins;” “in the light as He is in the light;” with no remembrance of sin before God? There is remembrance of sins under the law; but here “no more conscience of sins.” Christ has not only entered within the veil, because there is no veil now, but I am in heaven by the veil being rent. What is the rending of the veil? The death of Christ. I get there by His death; then I get in without my sins. I get in through that which takes them away. I am there without them. Remark how God takes up all this as His matter. The whole thing is done without us, by God. The thing is done by Him, and the revelation of what is done is by Him too. It is God’s work, and it is according to the truth of God.
There were three things needed. If I was full of sin, some one was needed to think about me; some one was needed to do the thing required, and then to tell me the effect. “By the which will we are sanctified.” The work of the Spirit in applying the work of Christ, is not spoken of here. But there is, 1st, The will of God—“By which will,” etc. 2nd, The work whereby it is done—“By the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.” Before I was born, it was once for all done. Did I do it? No! “By the obedience of one many were made righteous.” It was by the offering of the body of Christ once for all. 3rd, There is the knowledge of it given to me. Without this my conscience is not purged. I must be justified by faith: that is, my knowing it, not God’s knowing it. Here he says, “the Holy Ghost is a witness to us.” That is the ground of the conscience being purged; it is not the quickening here: we have pardon when we are quickened. Peter speaks of being “sanctified unto obedience,” etc.; renewed to obedience. It is His (God’s) work to quicken my conscience, but besides that, there is the testimony by the Holy Ghost. The thing is settled, and it is not a light thing. We adore Him for it. He says, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” But you say, I sin to-day, to-morrow, etc. God says, “I remember” no more. If there is sin, what can put it away? There is no more offering for sin. If it is not put away, how can it ever be done? If He does remember them, there is no hope for me, because Christ will not die again, and “without shedding of blood is no remission.” It is very important for the conscience to get into the presence of God, and know our whole condition as to sin there. Looked at as a Christian, there is no sin, for this one reason, that Christ has been in the condition in which I was. By virtue of His being in it, the condition has ceased to exist, and He is gone a man into Heaven, by virtue of the condition having ceased. God has said to Him, “Sit on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.” For the sacrifices provided for men in the flesh, there is substituted this one sacrifice of Christ.
Verse 5 “A body hast thou prepared me.” Christ came once for all into the place of obedience to put aside all the other appointments. He took ears as a servant. Whatever man did, in offering sacrifices, he could not get out of the condition in which he was. Another comes in. He takes away the first that He may establish the second. They brought of their voluntary will, under the first: that was man. But in the second, all is of God’s will, and it is obedience to that. As soon as He has the body prepared, it is not His will at all. It was in the counsels of God long before. “In the volume of the book it is written of me,” etc. There was the free-willing of Christ in heaven, to give Himself. He undertakes the whole thing. Then when in it, He goes through all in obedience. “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” There is perfect love to His Father, and perfect obedience at the same time. There is God’s will in all its perfection—Christ offering Himself to be the obedient One, and I get not only the fact in purpose, but all the value of a Divine Being giving Himself up. “Lo, I come to do thy will.” He is in the place of obedience. “Above, when He said, Sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offerings, and offering for sin thou wouldest….not Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” Here I find the will of man altogether set aside. The will of man is wickedness, the principle of sin. A will independent of God is the very principle of sin. At the first, the will of man was disobedience to God. Christ had a free will, because He was God; but when in the servant’s place, He had no will. The horrid pride of man forgets that his independence of God, his will not being moved by the will of God, is rebellion against Him, and that is our natural state. All but obedience to the will of another is sin. We forget we are creatures. Christ came to do God’s will, never His own. This would be independence of man (for, after all, men are the slaves of Satan) is entirely set aside by another Man coming in. He has to learn obedience by the things that He suffered. Every will of His was crossed. There was not a single thing to which He could turn in which obedience was not suffering. He suffered from God, too, for the sins of man. He offered Himself by the eternal Spirit. When tested by Satan’s showing Him good and evil, He gave Himself up (becoming specially the burnt-offering from the time of the conflict in Gethsemane.) The first order of things is gone entirely. If I could have righteousness by the law, I would not have it, Paul says, because I have a better—the righteousness of God. If there could have been any righteousness by the law, there was an end to it now. A new thing is brought in.
Verse 11 “Every priest standeth daily,” etc. They were always standing, because there was always sin there to be put away. What they did to put it away never accomplished anything. They were dealing with offerings for men in the flesh, and they never did anything. But He has sat down. There was a righteousness fit to sit down on the throne of God, and that is where we are. It is on the throne Christ is, for ever. He is not rising up, like the other priests. The sacrifice was completed and He sits for ever. It does not mean eternally but continuously. The other sacrifices could not have that effect; but now, His being there is the proof there is no interruption. The stopping, in some of the Bibles, makes no sense of it. It cannot be one sacrifice for sins for ever. He is sitting, never having to get up again, because the value of the sacrifice is uninterrupted in the presence of God, and the Holy Ghost comes out to show me the result of it. The person who had the sins must be shut out of heaven; then Christ is shut out, if they are not gone, for He took them. But the Holy Ghost is the witness that He is there. If you are reasoning about it, saying, My sins are forgiven to-day, but to-morrow, what I may do may be remembered against me, you are away from God. In the presence of God, this is my whole condition, without my sins. In the presence of God, I am either a condemned sinner, or I have a purged conscience. Away from God we may reason. In His presence, there may be awful distress for a moment, but faith brings into the condition of a purged conscience.
Verse 13 “Prom henceforth expecting.” This is the patience of Christ. The conscience has nothing to do with the waiting. Righteousness has nothing to wait for; conscience has nothing to wait for. All is done. He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Not merely are those sanctified, sanctified by God, but He has perfected them; they are perfectly set apart, perfected by God, by the very thing He has set them apart by. Then such can say, I am perfect for God, and my heart is happy with Him, because I am perfect before Him. It is so settled with Him that we are thoroughly perfected, that He can sit there quietly.
Now the Holy Ghost declares it all to me showing me the practical consequences: “where remission of (sins) is, there is no more offering for sin.” The blood is presented to God, and it abides in unalterable efficacy. This makes nothing, not only of the gross superstitions connected with professing Christianity, but of all forms and ordinances by which men think to attain anything before God. If we are not abidingly as in the presence of God with a purged conscience, we have not got hold of the truth of God about it. When we realize this our place, we have a different estimate of sin; evil is detected, and we know it can have no place, and the good is more understood in the presence of God; sin is judged in a much deeper way, than when there is merely terror and uncertainty.
Verse 19 “Boldness to enter into the holiest.” This rending of the veil is altogether ours. We know it is rent by the perfect love of God, and we go into the presence of God without a veil. The way is made manifest. We go where Christ is gone; the holiness that rent the veil has put away the sin. Verse 21: “having an high priest,” etc. We do not go creeping in all alone; the High Priest who has done the work is there before us. I cannot go within the veil without finding Him there. The apostle is following Jewish figures, becoming a Jew to Jews. There were other priests besides the great High Priest. Instead of, like the Jewish priests, offering incense outside, we go within. There was the washing of the priests, as for us. The anointing is not in question here, but the sprinkling of blood and the washing of water. So, in substance, it will be for Israel by and by.
Verse 22 “Let us draw near,” etc. The next thing, verse 23, is, “let us hold fast the profession of our faith,” etc. The exhortation is to be in communion within, and not to be attracted by the world without, ordinances, etc, to which they were in danger of going back. Then, (verse 24,) I am to think of others, walk in the power of the fruits of the Spirit; and (verse 25) not only to have love to individuals, but to remember the assembly. Christ would praise in the midst of the congregation. A person may say, I am very happy in staying at home; but that will not do. To go to the assembly often brings persecution.
The “day” spoken of here is not the catching up of the church, but the appearing. The more the day approaches, the greater the difficulty of assembling ourselves; but the exhortation is to be found assembling as plain evident Christians. It is not said to hear a sermon, but assembling ourselves. The way of God’s working is not only to make Christians, but to gather together in one the children of God scattered abroad. This is not to be fulfilled in the millennium. There will be different nations then, though they will come up to worship; and in the Old Testament times there was one particular nation, but no gathering together in one—it applies now. Church authority is not what is meant. That is not faith, but assembling ourselves together is faith. Not of man’s will, but Christ’s; who, through His death, has a church or assembly that is not of the world, and that is manifested by our assembling together.
Verse 26 If you say, ‘ I give up this assembling to Christ’—there is none other sacrifice for sin but that He has made. If you trample under foot the blood of that sacrifice, knowing what it is, (I do not say being regenerated,) but giving it up wilfully, your portion is the same as adversaries. A person who sees truth and gives it up, is always more bitter than any—he is an adversary. If they chose sin instead of Christ, there was no more sacrifice. It is a case of openly abandoning the Lord for one’s own will in sin; not failure nor disobedience, but apostacy.
We see throughout this epistle the importance of the place in which we are set, and the responsibility of walk according to it. Christ is ever in the presence of God for us. Consequently, our title is to enter there boldly; our place never changes, though sin, of course, hinders fellowship till it is confessed.
2 The words do not express the fulness of the Church’s hope, which is, the being with Him. This alludes more to the appearing, but it expresses the hope of both, as pilgrims down here.