“He takes away the first to establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9, HCSB).
The Hebrews writer explains how the sacrifice of Christ on the cross replaced the Old Testament system of blood sacrifices and burnt offerings.
The Hebrews writer says that the Old Testament law was a representation of God’s reality, not the reality itself: “The law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of these realities” (vs. 1).
In other words, the blood sacrifice and burnt offerings of animals had to be offered continually because they could never actually atone for human sins.
To reinforce his argument, the Hebrews writer asked a rhetorical question: If these sacrifices could atone for sin, then wouldn’t they have stopped being offered once the worshipers were purified by the sacrifices?
God sent His Son, who sanctified us once and for all by His death on the cross. Yes, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.
Jesus wasn’t a representation of God’s reality. He was the real thing! He was God’s reality in the flesh!
So, the sacrifice of His body was “once and for all” (vs. 10). And by the establishment of Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice, the existing sacrificial system under the Old Testament law was repealed or nullified.
In other words, God took away the first to establish the second.
While the first (Old Testament sacrificial system) was good, it was only a representation of reality. And, the second (the New Covenant established by Christ’s sacrifice) is better.
In fact, the second is not just better than the first; the second is best! The second is best because it’s the real reality and because it’s once and for all!
So, this elegant theological argument the Hebrews writer makes has a very real connotation and application in our individual lives.
What Jesus did once and for all, He also did once and for you!
God takes away the first to establish the second! Your former sinful life is eliminated and replaced with new life in Christ and His righteousness!
This means that if the first is not gone, if the old way of life is still in your life, then the second hasn’t been established. Sin has to go before righteousness can come!
The cross of Christ removes sin in your life and starts you down a new path, a new way of life, of living for God in righteousness and holiness. And your old way of life without Christ has been revoked and replaced by a new way of life in Christ!
Once and for all, once and for you!
So, live out the life God has already worked out in Christ!
“But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:13-14, HCSB).
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