This whole section of Hebrews could be called a study in comparisions. Each chapter is filled with comparisions.
Everyday life is filled with comparisions. Advertisers use comparision to sell their products by comparing one brand or model with another. The one is good, but theirs is better.
Comparision functions in many ways.
Comparision can produce jealousy or it can be used to motivate. Such as the humorous story of the rooster who found an ostrich egg. Calling all the hens together, he rolled out the ostrich egg and said: "I'm not complaining girls, I'm simply showing you what they are doing in other places."
Comparision can be used to give clarity and understanding. For example: Tell your wife that she is pretty and she will appreciate your compliment. But tell her that she is prettier than someone who she knows is pretty...then great is your reward.
Comparision can be used to bring new perspective. Such as the story of the man from Johnstown, PA who died and went to heaven. St. Peter told him that as a newcomer he would be asked to give a testimony about something God had helped him survive on earth. Well, the man from Johnstown said: "I think I'll tell them how God helped me survive the Johnstown flood." St. Peter said: "That's fine, but I think I should warn you that Noah will be in the audience."
Comparision can lead to heartache and insecurity or to spiritual pride and boasting. That's the wisdom behind Paul's words in 2 Cor. 10:12 that teaches us that it is not wise to compare ourselves, favorably or unfavorably with others.
Comparision is also a great teaching tool. Jesus used it in telling parables: "What shall I compare this generation to...OR...What shall I compare the Kingdom of God to...?"
Paul used comparision in teaching about future glory in Romans 8:18 saying: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
In the book of Hebrews, comparision is the teaching tool used most often by the Holy Spirit. The old and the new are set before us. Comparisions are made and the superiority of new covenant over the old is declared. In chapters seven through ten we will note these comparisions.
In the earlier part of this chapter we saw a comparision between Old Testament tithing and New Testament tithing. The greater and the lesser are compared. Now a greater than Abraham has come, a greater than Moses has come. His Name is Jesus. We pay tithes to Him....but much more....we receive blessing from Him.
From Jesus we receive blessings that the law and the Old Covenant could never produce. We receive the blessing of the righteous and perfect life of Jesus.
Verse eleven tells us that the O.T. priesthood and law could never produce perfection. In chapter two we learned that one of the meanings of the word perfection was design. We noted that God had a special design and plan for each of our lives which is revealed to us in Jesus.
Then in chapter five we learned that another meaning of the word perfection had to do with maturity. We were taught how seriously God views spiritual immaturity and that God's plan for us to "grow up" is revealed to us in the maturing process that worked in the life of Jesus.
Here in chapter seven we are taking a look at the word "perfection" in relationship to that which is complete and that which is pure.
I. PERFECTION AND PURITY
If the Old Testament system could have brought to completion the plan of God for our salvation, then there would not have been a need for a new and different priest to come.
If the priesthood of Aaron fully satisfied the holy requirements of God and fully satisfied the spiritual needs of humanity then God would never have sent His Son. We would not be celebrating the birth of Christ, because His coming into this world in order to complete God's plan would not have been necessary.
Paul explains it this way in Galation 4:4-7:
"But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father'. So you are not longer a slave, but a son; and since your are a son, God has made you also an heir."
You see, God's plan was not complete or perfect until Jesus enters the scene. Then the plan comes together, then it is made complete or perfect.
Comparisions are made in these verses. Jesus is of a different priesthood. He is of a different tribe. He is of a different order.
The Holy Spirit wants it made clear that in Jesus we are recieving Someone new and different. Changes are being made in how God relates to His people and how His people relate to God. God completes His plan for us in Jesus. God's plan is not complete in Buddha, Mohammed, Maharishi, or any cult of new age leader. God's plan is only complete in Jesus. And it is not only good, it is perfect!
So the word "perfection" used here has to do with completion.
The word "perfection" used here also has to do with purity. The law was able to reveal our sin and our need. The law was able to reveal God's righteous standard. The sacrifices given under the law provided a temporary covering for sin. But the law was powerless to produce any personal purity in our lives.
The purpose of God's plan was to provide a way for a person to come into the presence of a holy, holy, holy, God with a clean conscience and a pure heart.
It was this perfection that the old covenant was not able to accomplish. Year after year, it failed to bring inner purity and cleansing. And so year after year it served to remind one of their sin, but had no power to solve the sin problem. Note the comparision!
ILLUSTRATION -- You probably know someone who has this amazing ability to remember all your sins and short-comings. And at just the right moment, they slip in their reminders...just so you won't forget what you did. And to make sure you don't feel too forgiven! That's how the law worked.
When I need to be reminded of my sin, please let it be by someone who has the power to do something about my sin!
When the Holy Spirit brings conviction to remind me of unconfessed sin...unrepented sin...He also leads me to the answer. The answer is Jesus!
Jesus has the power to cleanse a guilty conscience! Jesus has the power to bring inner purity!
We have looked at perfection, completion and purity, and to that we add:
II. POWER AND PRESENCE
The comparision is made here between the old and the new. The old covenant served as a teaching tool showing how one day the restoration of relationships between God and the believer would actually take place.
This reconciliation would be by the one perfect sacrifice of His Son. The law could not accomplish this because it was too weak. It takes divine power to purify a heart, not just a law-book! ILLUSTRATION Human history proves it. In the beginning, one law: "Do not eat of this tree." Then ten laws. Today, libraries filled with thousands of volumes of laws.
And is mankind's heart condition better now? Do people not cheat, steal, and murder anymore because it is against the law? Do people of different races and cultures now love each other because it is against the law to discriminate?
Do people no longer gossip or lose their temper because the law of God says this is sin? Do people no longer lust or commit sexual sins because God's Word judges such behavior? NO! Because as good and as necessary as the law is...it cannot change the heart. It has power to teach us what is right and wrong. It has no power to change our hearts, to make us pure, to cause us to desire what is right and reject what is wrong.
The old system could reveal sin. It could even cover sin in a certain way and to a certain degree. But it could never remove sin. So it gave no inner security, no inner peace, no clear conscience, and no power to say "NO" the next time temptation came knocking.
Here are four comparision:
1. I can live my life always looking over my shoulder worried about when my sins will catch up with me. OR I can live my life with a consciene that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus knowing that He took the penalty for my sin.
2. I can live my life always looking for ways to cover up...like Adam in the garden...I can always be hiding from my true needs and live in denial of my condition. OR I can live a life of open confession before the Lord knowing that His power not only exposes my sin, but also overcomes my sin. Thus my true inner needs can finally be met in His presence.
3. I can live my life with shame always looking for ways to pretend, but still feeling shame deep within my soul. OR I can pour my shame out to Jesus and be released from it's hold by the power of a High Priest who lives to make intercession for my need.
4. I can try and try in my own efforts to live a good life and do good things always knowing that somehow my best is never good enough. OR I can open my heart to God's power given to me freely in Jesus, knowing that Jesus is God's best given to me; good enough to meet God's holy requirements, and that His power meets my need for right living.
Folks, in Jesus we have all the power of God working for our redemption. Verses 16 and 17 tell us that in Jesus we have a forever High Priest whose priesthood is built on the power of an indestructable life. Then in verses 18 and 19 we are told that in Jesus the weakness of the old system has been set aside and we are given a better hope and are now able to draw near to God.
In plain terms, you and I have access to God Almighty! Jesus has done for us what no priest could ever do. He has opened the door for us into God's presence.
ILLUSTRATION -- Sometimes people say to me: "You are a pastor, you have a direct hook-up with God." No, that's old covenant thinking regarding the Old Testament priest. WE ALL have access to God through Jesus.
One priest -- access for all!
The new has come! A new hope has been introduced. A much better hope by which we may draw near to God. The deep hunger of every person for spiritual satisfaction, for intimacy with God, for a personal relationship with God is satisfied in Jesus.
My conscience is purified, and my sin is cleansed so that I need not hide from God in shame, rather as we read earlier from Galations 4 the Spirit He has sent to my heart calls out to God as "Abba Father".....My Father...My Daddy.
This is God's gift to you and me in Jesus. It is a gift without comparision.
God's desire for all humanity is that we come to Him. His desire for His children...for us as believers....is that we continue to draw nearer to Him.
All that God does for us is designed to bring us into His presence. We could say that drawing near to God is what true Christianity is all about. Having access to His presence, coming into His presence with "nothing between...nothing to hide...no shame to cover" being accepted in Christ Jesus.
This is God's desire for us. This is our highest experience...our highest purpose...drawing near to God.
I want to encourage you today to look again at Jesus our great High Priest. Look beyond the cultural expectations people place on Jesus such as: He will make me happy, He will make me successful, He will give me what I want, He will make me secure, etc.
Look beyond the first steps you took in Jesus. The steps of salvation and the assurance of heaven. Look and see a High Priest who is calling you to draw near to God.
See Jesus as more than heaven's security blanket. See the open door where I come into the throne room of God Himself and become consumed with His glory and presence. See in Jesus a perfection and purity which God offers us. See in Jesus the power of God and presence of God offered to us. See in Jesus a Great High Priest blessing us with undeserved grace. See that in Jesus your soul shall be satisfied. See that in His presence you are offered intimacy with God!
None of this was ever offered to Old Testament believers, but it is offered to you and me.
This is God's desire for us. This is our highest experience...our highest purpose...drawing near to God...entering His presence, enjoying fellowship, calling Him "my Father", partaking of His life, and being changed by His power.
What a gift! Thanks be unto God for His indescribable gift! OR as the Amplified bible words II Cor. 9:15 "Now thanks be to God for His Gift, precious beyond telling -- His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift!"
Other sermons by Pastor John.