READ: Hebrews 9:1-10:18 

You have probably watched those TV commercials where the pitchman asks a woman if she would like to try a new laundry detergent. She protests by saying that she is satisfied with the detergent she has been using for years. But the guy is persuasive enough to get her to look at two very dirty articles of clothing. He then puts a dirty cloth, along with her standard detergent in one dish; and puts the other dirty garment in a dish with the “new” product. Minutes later both pieces are removed and the pitchman asks, “So which one do you think is cleaner?” Sure enough, it’s the garment pulled from the new detergent dish. The point of the commercial is this: “Don’t go back to your old cleaner, when the new detergent is far better.” 

I risk trivializing an essential biblical truth with the illustration above. But here’s the problem. We too frequently settle for “religion” rather than Jesus. We put our trust in religious activities and practices rather than the glorious triumph of Jesus on the cross. And it all has to do with how “clean” we are. Let me explain, assuming you have read our text for the week, Hebrews 9:1-10:18.

It is important to notice what the biblical writer was doing. 

He begins the passage in Hebrews 9:1-10 by referring to what happened in the Jewish tabernacle. There were several pieces of “religious” furniture carefully arranged throughout. And most important, there was a second section known as the “most holy place.” The writer makes the point that only one person could enter the second section, namely the high priest. In fact, he could only go into the most holy place once a year. 

The second part of our text is much longer and serves as a contrast to the first section. It begins in Hebrews 9:11 and goes into the next chapter, ending at verse 18. The writer focuses attention on Jesus. And notice all that he says about our Lord:
  • Jesus is residing in a better tabernacle, having offered a better sacrifice. 9:11-14 
  • Jesus has also inaugurated a better covenant, namely the long promised New Covenant of Jeremiah 31. 9:15-22 
  • Jesus has also sacrificed once-for-all, meaning that no other sacrifices are necessary in order for one to come before God. In fact, Jesus doesn’t have to come back to planet earth to sacrifice for sinners again and again.  
  • What He did in the incarnation was sufficient and perfectly acceptable to God. 9:23-28 

And perhaps most important of all, Jesus has ended the sacrificial system, so that all believers can go directly to God the Father through Him. 10:1-18 (Notice especially Hebrews 10:9-10.)

My guess is that for most of us, reading these verses in Hebrews 9 and 10 seems irrelevant. After all, we don’t go about offering animal sacrifices as part of our worship. But we do take our eyes off of Jesus to focus on lesser things. For instance, how often do you find yourself saying:
  • “Today, I have to ____________”?  (I’m not talking about your responsibilities at work or in the home. I’m talking about things motivated by varying degrees of guilt.)
  • “I have to visit Mary in the hospital, otherwise she will be upset…and God will too!” 
  • “Ok, I’ll teach the 5th Grade Sunday School Class. If I don’t, John will be upset with me…and God won’t like it either.” 

Fill in your own “have-to’s.” Chances are you have gotten embroiled in religion rather than a relationship with Jesus. There is a better way. INSTEAD OF RELYING ON RELIGION, GOD WANTS US TO REST IN THE PERFECT SACRIFICE OF JESUS.

What does that mean? It means that if King Jesus is your Savior, then He has paid for ALL of your sins with FINALITY! And if you do anything—anything that might have spiritual overtones—do it as an act of worship towards our Lord. The good news is that in Jesus you are completely…CLEAN! Your cleansing is not partial. It’s 100%! Stop beating yourself up over how many times you’ve blown it. Stop thinking that something you do in or out of the church can cover your sins. ONLY JESUS can cleanse you completely. So rest in what Jesus has already done, rather than what you think…YOU…have to do. Rest and rely on the Savior—not religious activity.

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