I’m pretty excited. I just got a reminder that God doesn’t want us brooding over our failings. C’mon. How many of us find our failures distracting, playing them over and over in our minds like some kind of masochistic looping video? But it’s totally clear that God doesn’t want sinners who follow Jesus to worry about their sins!
Yes, that’s right! The writer of Hebrews helps us to see this as he explains how the old animal sacrifices weren’t enough to make people perfect. He writes that if they could have made people perfect, then sacrifices would have ceased to be offered, “for the worshipers once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins” (Hebrews 10:2). So that was God’s goal? That people would no longer be conscious of their sin?
Whoa. Wait a minute. Push pause. I sin. Daily. But this writer is inferring that God doesn’t want His people conscious of their sins. He writes of a people who are purified by a better sacrifice that he’s about to discuss – namely, Jesus Christ – and who are supposedly undistracted by the sin in their lives! Read on.
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:11-14).
So the reason God’s people don’t have to be distracted by a consciousness of their own failings is because Jesus’ sacrifice has fully satisfied what God requires as a consequence for sins, and those who accept that sacrifice as being for themselves are considered “perfected” [Greek word: teleioō, meaning to complete, to finish, to fulfill, to make perfect] even as we’re still being “sanctified” [Greek word: hagiazō, meaning to be made progressively holy or purified]!
So then, even though it’s pretty obvious that we’re works in progress that are clearly still being made holy, this passage says that God considers believers in Jesus already perfect and complete! New creations! No wonder Christ’s sacrifice means we no longer need to be conscious of our sins! There’s no need to self-consciously beat ourselves up for sinning if God considers Christ’s sacrifice as fully sufficient to account for our sins.
Certainly we want to be conscious enough of our behaviour to turn from sin when God makes us aware of it, but God’s message to us in Jesus Christ is that there’s no need to live in any conscious regret of our failings when God has declared us perfect before Him and is daily helping us to increasingly live that way as His Spirit works within us!
So rather than dwelling on our sins, God wants us celebrating and enjoying the wonderful work of life-altering grace He has accomplished – and is continuing to accomplish – in our lives!
© 2015 by Ken Peters