The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.
If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.
But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year.
For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.
You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”
First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses).
Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.
But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet.
For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD : I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”
And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.
And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,
let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.
There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.
For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.
For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The LORD will judge his own people.”
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.
Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.
You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”
But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.