Sunday, 20 January 2019
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Hebrews 10:3
Verse 10:1 spoke of the “same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year,” and how they were insufficient to perfect the worshipers who made them. Instead, they did exactly the opposite of what the people thought they were doing. They judged themselves free of sin and guilt because of them, but in the sacrifices there was actually a reminder to them that they were sin-filled. As the author says, “in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.” The very fact that these sacrifices continued to be made each year, it demonstrated to the people that they had an ongoing need to have their sins atoned for.
This is exactly what happens in churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples all around the world every day. It is also the same thing that happens in the hearts of the people who deny an all-wise Creator. When they do acts of charity for others – for whatever reason – they are attempting to justify themselves in the presence of God (whether they acknowledge Him as such or not). A good example of incorrect justification is Canon 10 of the Council of Trent, to which Roman Catholicism adheres –
“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”
The claim here is that man is not justified by the work of Jesus Christ alone. Instead, the claim is made that there is more than faith that is “required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification.” It goes on to say that anyone who claims they are justified in this manner (by faith in Christ alone) is anathema. In fact, making this statement is, by default, calling 1) Jesus anathema; 2) Paul anathema; 3) the Bible insufficient as a source for understanding holiness, and thus not God’s infallible revelation to man. Our sacrifices – whether in the temple of old or in our charitable deeds of today – can never justify us, nor add to our justification. Instead, we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Life application: The words of the Roman Catholic church, which state that more than faith is required for “the obtaining of the grace of Justification,” are a logical contradiction. One cannot merit grace. By its very definition, grace is unmerited favor. When listening to, or reading the works of, scholars and theologians, don’t assume that because they have a certain degree, a special title, or speak for a certain church or denomination that this means they are speaking out biblical truth. One of the greatest errors of all is to believe someone simply because they speak in an authoritative way, or because they fill an authoritative position. Proper doctrine comes from Scripture, and from it alone. Commentaries are often a great help in understanding what is being said, but they must be presented in accord with Scripture.
Lord Jesus, let us not miss the mark. We are truly, surely, and completely justified by faith in You and Your work alone. Let us not be so prideful or haughty as to ever claim we could add to what You have done in order to stand right in the presence of God. All glory – every last bit of it – belongs to You alone. Amen.