Lesson 20: "Their Sins. . .Will I Remember No More" (Hebrews 8:12)
Hebrews 8:6-13 continued
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome again! This is lesson #20. Before we begin our study, may I take a moment to say: congratulations! congratulations on your continued Bible study. I hope you are enjoying your investigation of HEBREWS. It takes effort to hang-in-there as you are doing. You are to be commended. It is my prayer that you may find these lessons worthwhile, stimulating and helpful. I appreciate any feedback or pointers you might give to me. Or, if you need more information on any point that I might personally be of help, please feel free to write to me. Beyond that, may I personally solicit your help in getting these lessons to your friends and neighbors? This effort has now spread through about 48 of the 50 states and even beyond that to a few foreign people. In some states we have hundreds enrolled. It has been passed on almost entirely by those, like yourself, taking courses and passing on enrollment cards and encouraging others. A few have gone so far as to help us financially in this work. May I simply express my appreciation for your help. Please help us get it to others...pass it on! Include enrollment cards in your correspondence with others. Place cards in strategic locations where others will find them, doctor's offices, laundromats, etc. Who knows? Only eternity will tell how much Bible study you may instigate. And, may I say in advance, "thanks" for your help and your study. Thank you!
In our last lesson, we read the last eight verses (in Heb. ch. 8), which was a verbatim quote from Jeremiah (ch. 31), a prophecy of the O.T. concerning the new covenant...i.e. the way God deals with those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the Christian age since the time of the cross. This was foretold hundreds of years before Jesus died on the cross and before this new covenant came into force. Now, let's back up and touch on another point or two that we didn't have time for in our last lesson. In v.6, it is said very clearly, this is a BETTER COVENANT and this new covenant WAS ESTABLISHED UPON BETTER PROMISES. Now, there is one sense in which this covenant is not any better than the covenants or dispensations before it. All of these agreements or covenants were made by God and imposed upon us (His creatures) as free moral agents. Each covenant served God's purpose in preparing HIS PEOPLE for eternity. Thus, in this sense, it cannot be said that one covenant is/was better than another. Therefore, the HEBREWS writer is NOT saying God was disappointed with his own work, i.e. in His instituting of any former covenants. God loved those people of prior dispensations just as much as God loves us. We are not exclusive in this sense. Then, how can it be said that the covenant in the Christian dispensation is BETTER? How can it be said this new covenant is established upon BETTER PROMISES? God has required obedience in every generation. It was true in the days of Adam, it was true in the days of Noah, it was true in the day of Abraham, it was true in the days of Moses, it was true in the days of David, it was true in the days of the apostles and God still requires obedience today. In the household of Cornelius, Peter preached: "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). In turn, we are taught in Jas. 2:1, that we must not have "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." So, again, I ask the question: how was the old covenant faulty? V.7 (here) starts by saying: "For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second." Does this not imply, yea, it says very clearly, the first covenant was faulty in some way. Now our question is simply, in what sense was/is that true? And there is a sense in which it was/is true. Obviously, that's the writer's point of view. That's the point of view we want to get. When God created man, God had a plan! God could see the end product from the very beginning. Paul in writing to his Ephesians brethren said it like this: "God...hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing...in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Paul goes on there to say: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we SHOULD BE [should be! should be!] holy and without blame before him in love..." God has chosen us! Not in the sense that one individual is predestined to be lost and another is predestined to be save. God made us free moral agents. God would like to direct us to eternal salvation; but, God does not force us. He created us and made us free...it's a little like freeing a bird from a cage. That bird is invited to come back to its master for fellowship and blessings prepared for that bird or it can forget its master forever and accept the consequences. This thought is presented and this point is made over and over. Jesus said to Nicodemus (John 3:16), "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him SHOULD NOT perish..." Should not perish! Should not perish! It shouldn't happen! But, it's up to each individual, you see! In Acts 2:47, Luke said beginning on the day of pentecost: "the Lord added to the church daily SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED." Such as should be saved! Such as should be saved! Do you get it? God doesn't force us! If you want to be lost, then that's within your discretion. If you want to be saved, then that's within your discretion; but, YOU must take the initiative. God does not force you. God has set up certain agreements, certain covenants (if you will) that will ultimately lead those who volunteer to serve him to salvation, or you can accept the consequences. You must take the initiative. Now God did not burden man with all this information at the very beginning. God leads man. God does not force man. Adam and Eve disobeyed in the garden. God brought on a change and certain restrictions. Every man and every woman must henceforth die physically. But, they may choose their own destiny spiritually. Sixteen hundred years later, at the time of Noah, mankind became so wicked, his thoughts and imaginations so evil, "it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth..." (Gen. 6:6). In the next verse, Moses who wrote that, said: "And the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth..." God saved eight persons out of that old antediluvian world and started over. Peter (in his book) said it like this: "eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (I-Pet. 3:21). The very flood waters that drowned millions back there also buoyed up (or floated) that ark that saved eight people. God applies the same standard to all people. It was not God's desire to destroy those people in the flood. Gen. 6:6 says: "it grieved him at his heart." Yet, it was not part of God's plan that such wicked people should live eternally. They had been warned. Those that were lost chose to depart from their creator and accepted the consequences. Paul told the Corinthians: "Now all those things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (That's I-Cor. 10:11). To the Galatians, Paul said: "the law [i.e. the Law of Moses] was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24-25). The law of Moses served its purpose. It taught us about condemnation. The law was added for that purpose. To the Galatians, Paul said: "it was added because of transgressions" (that's another word for sin) till Christ should come (Gal. 3:19). It was part of God's tutoring process. The law did not make any one righteous. The law condemned those who broke God's law and thus condemned all because no one could keep it perfectly AND, don't miss this: there was not a saving, positive side to the ten commandment law. Oh! They were promised rest...but they could not enter in because of unbelief (do you remember Heb. 3:19?). The law was given to make us aware of sin. The law emphasized and developed a knowledge of sin (this is said in Rom. 3:20). But, there was no provision for salvation in the law of Moses...I'm talking about the heavenly aspect. That did not come through the law. Salvation, came by the blood of Christ. Every man shall be judged and rewarded according to his works (Matt. 16:27, II-Cor. 11:15, Rev. 2:23). This is according to God's grace, this is according to God's good pleasure. Even those people who lived back under the Mosaic dispensation and those who lived in the Patriarchal dispensation were saved by the blood of Jesus. The HEBREWS writer confirms this...we'll get to that. Those people had spiritual laws to live by, just like we have spiritual laws to live by. OUR spiritual guide is the N.T...called "a better covenant" in v.6 ...called the "second" covenant in v.7...called "a new covenant" in v.8. Getting back to our question, how is this "new covenant" better? This covenant (called the N.T.) has a provision for sin removal. "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" saith God (8:12). There is a provision in this new covenant for complete, thorough, and immediate sin removal...called "remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). In instituting the Lord's supper (Matt. 26:28), Jesus said: "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." As the writer Luke ended the book of Luke, he told of Jesus opening the understanding of the apostles on this point. Jesus said, "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." And the apostles were witnesses of these things. (That's Luke 24:45-48). This covenant, the N.T. is a BETTER covenant in that under it, sins are removed, remitted, gotten rid of, released, we are freed from sins (Rom. 6:7) by baptism. This provision was not in the law of Moses and prior covenants. In Rom. 3:20, we have this reading: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Thus, our covenant is better in this sense. Do you get it? Now, that does not mean that all people under the law of Moses (for example) were lost. They were required to offer sacrifices for their sins, animal sacrifices and other sacrifices. They were required to obey certain commands in that covenant just as we are required to obey certain commands in the covenant we live under. But, in those Mosaic sacrifices there was a remembrance (Heb. 10:3), that remembrance continued all their lifetime, until Christ died on the cross. Christ died for their sins, just as Christ died for our sins. Their sins were finally removed at the time of Christ, i.e. if they obeyed and worked righteousness and did the offerings as they were previously instructed. However, our covenant, is a BETTER covenant in that sin is removed immediately. God said: "I will be merciful to their unrighteouness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb. 8:12). It was prophesied before the fact. Sin removal is immediate in our day, i.e. when you have faith in Jesus, when you repent and confess Jesus, and are baptized for the remission of sins, you sins are removed immediately. Jesus' blood was shed for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:28). John the apostle, the writer of the book of Revelation said: "Christ... loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Rev. 1:5). We contact the blood of Christ in baptism. We are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). In that sense we "wash away our sins" by contacting the blood of Jesus in baptism (Acts 22:16). From baptism, we rise from that watery grave to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Sincerely submitting to that watery grave called baptism is a re-enactment of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. It's obeying the gospel (I-Cor. 15:1-4). It's like a rebirth (in one sense) as Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:3). Or to say it another way, we are born by the will of God (John 1:13). By this same act of baptism it is said in I-Cor. 12:13, that we are all baptized into one body, that body being the church as is defined later in that chapter (v.27-28...I-Cor. ch. 12). This is done by the Spirit...i.e. by the Holy Spirit "we are ALL baptized into one body", (this is said in I-Cor. 12:13). When our sins are removed, our sins are removed forever...God simply does NOT remember those sins against us any more (Heb. 8:12). You don't have to worry about those sins any more. We are to have a clear conscience concerning sins that are remitted...i.e. blotted out (Acts 3:19). In this sense, "Baptism ... save[s] us." Baptism is "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (I-Pet. 3:21). How could it be said plainer? Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 8:6). It was better in the opinion of the HEBREWS writer and I trust you will agree. Christ's covenant WAS ESTABLISHED upon better promises. Do you get it? It pleased God to do it that way. Now, after you are baptized for the remission of sins (i.e. alien sins) and those sins are remitted (or blotted out) and you become a Christian, i.e. you are added to the Lord's church (the only church mentioned in the N.T.); don't miss this: you still have the capacity to sin, we still commit sins. And, by sin(s), we can be separated from God (Isa. 59:1-2). However, the blood of Christ, the only sin-cleansing agent known to man, can remove the sins of Christians also, if you will only apply that cleansing agent, the blood of Christ. This is discussed (in I-John 1:9)...i.e. we are not talking about alien sins, we're talking about the sins of Christians ...children of God. These sins are remitted by the blood of Christ also through confessing our sins and through prayer.
Alright, perhaps you have noticed, we have not read any new scripture in this lesson and perhaps you have noticed our time is out. We'll begin by reading Heb. ch. 9 in our next lesson. But, get your perspective as we bring this lesson to a close. At the beginning of what we call Heb. ch. 7, our writer began what we have called a shadow-type (or type-antitype) discussion of the connection between the O.T. and the N.T. or we might say between the old covenant and the new covenant. Christ is our High Priest; but, not after the Mosaic order. At the beginning of what we call Heb. ch. 8, our writer stopped and did a review or summary...he said: "of the things which we have spoken this is the sum." Christ, our High Priest is sitting "on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens...[this is] the true tabernacle," (v.2). That old tabernacle in the wilderness was merely a shadow of this true tabernacle (v.5). God gave the pattern for the Mosaic system and God gave the pattern we must follow also, it's a new covenant. Then, as part of this summary (in ch. 8), our writer began a comparison of the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant. He said the N.T. covenant is a better covenant, "established upon better promises." Then, quoting from Jere. 31:31ff, our writer shows how God's covenant with us is better, "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more," saith God. The new covenant was established (v.6). The old was then "ready to vanish away" (v.13). On the next tape, I'll be with you in lesson #21. Have a good day!