“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.”
“The law… can never… make perfect.” I can never achieve perfection by sincere dedication or strict obedience to a set of moral standards. It cannot be done. That’s bad news for the legalist. How then does one gain favor with God? The “law” won’t get me to heaven and, of course, neither will ‘lawlessness’. God takes no delight in deliberate lawbreakers. Thankfully, He has forgiven those of us who’ve gone down that path…
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
“The law” was written by Moses and is comprised of the first five books of both the Christian Bible and Hebrew Scriptures… Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Also known as Torah, this substantial body of work became the foundational standard by which Orthodox Jews measured all right and wrong behavior.
Genesis contains historical narrative pointing to the origin of humankind and the birth of the nation of Israel. The Ten Commandments were recorded in both Exodus and Deuteronomy. The book of Numbers details 40 years wilderness wandering by millions of Israelites after fleeing from the bondage in Egypt. Sprinkled throughout Torah are various rules related to community life: health, diet, money, land ownership, inheritance, worship, and ethical conduct. Contained in Leviticus is an elaborate set of instructions for a system of animal sacrifices designed to appease the wrath of a just and Almighty God.
The author of Hebrews was well acquainted with Hebrew “law”. He taught that neither strict adherence to Torah nor obedience to any other set of religious regulations could ever make the follower right with God.
“…it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice and final solution for the sins of all humankind. He paid for our lawless behavior once and for all…
“…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
So neither the law nor lawlessness solves the dilemma of human sin. Jesus is the only answer! In some mysterious way I may be transformed by the Son of God. “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29) took mine away too. Jesus performed His act of supreme sacrifice and absolute love for my personal benefit. Now my act of simple faith in Him fulfills God’s intention for the Law. I am, by His grace alone, made righteous. My righteousness is conferred and cannot be earned. It is “the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2.8b-9).
No one can achieve perfection by sincere dedication to a set of moral standards. That’s bad news for the legalist and do-gooder. That we may become righteous by the sacrificial offering of “the Lamb of God” is good news for everyone else.
“But my righteous one will live by faith.”