Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hebrews 10 & 11

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1
For by a single offering he (Jesus) has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14.

As I read chapter 10, the word that jumped out to me was "perfect." It's mentioned twice in this chapter. In verse 1 we learn that the law could not make us perfect. In verse 14 we learn that Christ's sacrifice could do what the law could not do - make us perfect. So what does this mean? I did a little word study on it. The Greek word here is τελειόω, which can be translated as follows: "to make perfect, complete, accomplish, finish one's work." This word is also used in Hebrews 2:10, in referring to the fact that Jesus was made perfect by the Father through his suffering, as well as in Acts 20:24, where Paul speaks of finishing the work that God called him to.

Some might be concerned that a word like this might cause us to think too highly of ourselves. However, I think we need to be more concerned about the opposite. We of course have not reached a state of perfection at this point. We still live in a fallen world, and we have the capacity to become slaves to sin rather than slaves to righteousness (Romans 6, Galatians 5). What we need to digest is the fact that Jesus has taken care of it all. I love the phrase that's used "once for all." Because of this "once for all" sacrifice, we are clean before God. When God looks upon us, He does so in light of His Son's perfect sacrifice for us. And what does He see? He sees a people who are holy, sanctified, clean, perfect.

On Sunday I spoke at Church Without Doors, a ministry to the homeless in downtown Memphis. I made the statement that what we think about God is critical, and what we think God thinks about us is also critical. In light of this passage, I'll say it this way: How we think God sees us is critical. And here's another phrase that I try to challenge myself with everyday: The image of God that we carry around in our heart and mind affects the way that we live.

Father, help me to see myself the way You see me. I've done nothing to warrant the way You see me. It's all because of Jesus' work on the Cross. For that I am eternally grateful. But I know that You desire for me to accept that work, and one of the ways that I accept it is to see myself in light of that work. I ask for the grace to do this today, knowing that it will affect the way that I live today.

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