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The Bible is God’s Word. All of it. And once completed, the canon of Scripture was meant to be read as a whole. We cannot now detach or read the Old Testament without the light of the New Testament any more than we can read the New without the background of the Old. Countless errors crop up when we do either of those things.
But in reading the whole of God’s Word, we also need to note how and when certain things change. The Apostle Paul in Romans spends a lot of time helping his readers understand what remains constant between the two, and what changes. This is bound up in understanding that much contained in the Old are types, shadows and promises, which in the New are finally brought into fullness and completion. And one of the places Christians really need to grasp this is fleshed out for us in Hebrews chapter 10. The glory of a perfected conscience.
We’ll talk a bit more about that today on Through the Word in 2020. I’m Reid Ferguson.
As Hebrews 10 unpacks the reality that the promised New Covenant of Jeremiah 31 has now come to pass, the Writer references how under the Old, Mosaic covenant, Believers, even the most devout and punctilious could never be made “perfect” – as vs. 1 says.
Of course that raises the question – in what sense was the one who sacrificed for his or her sin not “made perfect?” And in what sense is the Believer in Christ NOW made perfect?
Under that old system, as they made their sacrifices according to the Law, they received forgiveness. But that is not the same as having their guilt removed so as to be pronounced righteous in the eyes of God. The forgiven are still guilty, only pardoned.
But Christ has come that guilt itself might be removed. This is why Paul in Philippians 3 can say that he counts all of his previous religious life as completely worthless. Why he counts all of his old law-keeping rubbish. He does so so that he might gain Christ – and being found in Him having a righteousness that is not his own. But instead, have that righteousness, the guiltlessness that comes through faith in Christ – the very righteousness of God Himself.
We receive a perfect, not a provisional righteousness.
Oh glorious Christ!
John MacArthur draws a good analogy to help us understand something else of inestimable value here. He likens the old system to taking medicine. As long as I have to keep taking it, I am not cured, but being treated. But once I am cured, I no longer need to take the medicine.
The OT sacrifices had to be taken continually. But Christ has died once for all. The cure has been wrought.
But! – I hear some say: “We still sin don’t we?”
Yes we do.
Some of the symptoms of our old condition linger. Some of the after effects of the sin remain. But we need to remember that the cure has been received, and from this moment on, all is recovery. We are no longer being treated for our inherent sinfulness.
Christ the cure has been received by faith. We are in full remission. Sin can never again be the fatal disease it once was, even though great damage has been done.
Now, the blessed Spirit is administering all sorts of measures to bring us to where even those remnants are being reversed. And Christ’s promise is to complete the work He has begun in us. Until the perfect righteousness of Christ which is ours by faith, is at last completed in bearing His image without spot or wrinkle.
Rejoice in that today Christian.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.