Sanctified by Christ’s Will
“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (v. 10).- Hebrews 10:8–10
The author of Hebrews packs a lot of doctrinal teaching into just a few verses, as we have seen in Hebrews 10:1–7. In this relatively short section of the epistle, we have seen the author argue for the temporary nature of the Mosaic law, the inadequacy of animal sacrifices, and the necessity of the true humanity of Christ. The author develops these ideas further in today’s passage as He explains how the order brought by Christ sets aside the old covenant system.
First, let us recall the necessity of the incarnation as revealed in verses 4–7. Commenting on these verses, John Owen writes: “[God] prepared [Jesus] such a body, such a human nature … of the same nature with ours, for whom he was to accomplish his work therein. For it was necessary that it should be [like] ours, that he might be [fit] to act on our behalf, and to suffer in our stead.” This idea is picked up in verses 8–9 as the author argues specifically that the incarnation and obedience of Jesus, culminating in His sacrificial death, are the means by which the old covenant order is set aside. As verse 8 indicates, God never really wanted the sacrifices of bulls and goats. Of course, the author of Hebrews is speaking of things from an ultimate perspective, for as we have noted, it was the Lord who instituted the sacrificial system. Just consider the book of Leviticus, for example. But the author can say that the Lord never actually wanted the blood of bulls and goats because, from the perspective of the consummation of His plan of salvation, God wanted only the blood of a fit substitute for sinners—His Son Jesus Christ.
The sacrifices were put in place temporarily to point people to Jesus, so when Jesus came to do the Father’s will, they were set aside (Heb. 10:9). It was the will of God that the new covenant order with its perfect sacrifice fulfill the old order with its imperfect sacrifices. And it was the will of God that it would happen through Christ’s keeping of the law, making His sacrifice ultimately effectual.
Consequently, the author of Hebrews can say that through the will of God, according to which Jesus accomplished His appointed mission, we have been sanctified once and for all. Nothing else is required to make us holy, and all the holiness that we grow in is rooted not finally in our efforts but in the continuing application of the blood of Christ to us.
We cooperate with God in our sanctification, seeking to obey Him and partaking of the means of grace—the Word, sacraments, and prayer—but we do not make ourselves holy. That is the work of God, who operates in and through these means to apply the benefits of Christ’s work to us. God has made us holy definitely in Christ, and He is now making us holy in practice. The Lord will make us pure even as He is pure, so let us not lose heart this day.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 6:11