When Sin Will Be No More
Scripture: Hebrews 9:24-28
Text: Hebrews 10:1-18
Sermon by Rev. Harry Bout
Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Bowmanville, Ontario, 1985
© Burlington United Reformed Church; The Preacher, Vol. 2, No. 11
This sermon may be used in worship services for free; please state the author and church above.
Congregation, beloved of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Our text today is from the latter verses of Hebrews 10, beginning from verses 15-18. “Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us, for after that He had said before, (we read that earlier in Jeremiah), this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord. I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now, where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
As you are aware, there are various uses of symbols or pictures in scripture that depict certain truths. One of those often used in scripture is the relationship of a husband and a wife to show the kind of relationship that there was between God and His people, and between Jesus Christ and His church, the believers for whom He died. That is a very apt and appropriate figure, because when a husband and wife love one another, there is a tremendous amount of communication between them, not only on a physical level, but also on a soul level. It is not just the physical contact in terms of being in one’s presence, and for the wife to be a help to a husband and to be able to provide for the wife and to hold hands and that sort of thing, but it goes much, much deeper than that. There is also a contact with the soul, with the spirit of the person. It penetrates very, very deeply and if that is already there on a sort of a surface form before you are married, then it deepens and becomes much, much richer as the years go by.
Now, that is a very beautiful picture of the way in which also the church is related and is in a relationship with Jesus Christ, because the thoughts of a husband and the thoughts of a wife have a tremendous effect on the other person. A husband’s actions and work, and the kinds of things that trouble him, the kind of pressures and tensions that are upon him, and the words that he speaks to his wife in every situation have a tremendous effect on his wife. If he is on top of things, very joyful and successful, that affects his wife. And so it is when the Lord speaks to His church. That permeates the church. It really gets inside of her and it does something to her.
That means, of course, that we first of all have to understand what this marriage relationship is all about and we have to lay that foundation before we come to our text, because it is Jesus Christ who has life in Himself. He is the mediator between God and man, but, as the last Adam, He is also the one who has the quickening, life-giving spirit, and so He is the one who imparts life to those whom He will.
He is the one who gives life and we see that in two ways, in terms of the way in which scripture speaks about that. We see that already from I Corinthians 7. The children that belong to a holy person, a saint, are holy and precious in the sight of God, and that points to the covenant that is mentioned both here and so often in the Old Testament. Covenant children are placed in a very special relationship with the Lord already from birth. But there are also those who are outside of the church, and they too may be touched by the Lord in a very special way and then they are brought into that relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now, whether you come in from the outside or whether you are born and raised within the church as a young person, as a infant baptized then already, the point is that you both need the work and the presence of the Holy Spirit and it is Jesus Christ who sends the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts and the lives of each one of his children because you were chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world, says Paul in Ephesians 1.
So whether you come to that particular knowledge later on in life, or whether it’s already a child which has no ability at that point to even think very much about those things, it is really the same thing. It is Jesus Christ who sends the Holy Spirit to work. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God. You certainly can’t exclude children from that because we know from scripture that the Lord says that very clearly.
How does the Holy Spirit lead his children? The Holy Spirit permeates that child or inhabits that older person, the child of God, in much the same way as that husband and wife relationship, except that the Holy Spirit penetrates much, much deeper. The Holy Spirit has a much more powerful effect than any husband or any wife might have on the other because the Holy Spirit enables you to know things and do things which you cannot do of yourself. A husband and wife may take the best care for one another, they may be most understanding, they may just provide for one another in a wonderful way and they may use all the gifts that they have to support their partner, but the Holy Spirit equips you and does something to you that is far, far beyond that because the Holy Spirit enables you to be obedient and submissive to your Lord, Jesus Christ. Your natural heart rebels against that. The natural heart with which all are created will have nothing to do with Jesus Christ writing His law on your hearts. You don’t want to be written on by the Holy Spirit naturally.
But the Holy Spirit, in His regenerating power, takes hold of the powers of your very soul as it were, and in a very dramatic way sometimes, He can change a person’s life, especially if they’re converted later on in life. When that Holy Spirit begins to write the law of God on your hearts and your minds, you begin to behave differently. You begin to think differently, and you begin then to act differently also. Your whole soul and being is taken up by the Holy Spirit. He inhabits the whole person the same way in which the husband and wife also have that kind of claim on one another, except that the Holy Spirit goes far, far beyond that. That doesn’t mean that you become a robot, or that you are in some sort of a trance and that you’re somehow walking in a cloud, and you’re being led around by the Holy Spirit. Certainly not.
Also, when you’re married, you still have your own responsibility. You make your own decisions. You, as a particular individual in spite of the influence that the other person has on you, and so it is with the Holy Spirit. You are still responsible for your actions and yet, the Holy Spirit takes a hold of your life and makes those changes that you, yourself, cannot do and cannot make.
Your whole life is shaped and molded by the Holy Spirit. He permeates your heart. He dwells in you and walks in you. II Corinthians 6: “Ye are the temple of the living God, as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” That is something that only the Holy Spirit can do that you cannot possibly do out of your own strength.
Besides this picture of husband and wife, there’s also the picture of the father and the son relationship which teaches us something. Fathers and mothers, you can look at your sons and daughters and see that genetically they have inherited something from you -
certain traits -
the way they look, or the way in which they think, or something about their personality. There is a lot that they have from you. As fathers and mothers, you have given that to your children. Now, of course, we are not natural sons and daughters of God. We are adopted sons, but nevertheless, the Holy Spirit also, in this relationship, brings home to the children of God the attributes of God, and applies and works the attributes of the Father in the children so that they again actually conform to the image and likeness of their Heavenly Father. Even though they were created in the image of God and really became messed up in the fall into sin, nevertheless, when that Holy Spirit begins to work, there is something of a restoration, again, of those qualities of the Father, and they become visible in the children. They are being restored.
Along with the father and son relationship, you are also being restored in a sense that the father has an inheritance for his children. How rich that inheritance is, so that once again you are, even though you lost that position, in all of creation now again the Lord enables you to understand the particular place that you have in this world also, in this creation. You can say, “These are the things that my Heavenly Father has made.” You can point to all the animals and trees and say to those around you, “These are the things that my Father has made. These are the things that have come from His hand. He is the one who has created all these things.” Then of course, as a father also, He demands obedience from His children as sons. Listen to this remarkable statement in Isaiah 56, “Thus says the Lord to the eunuchs, those who were servants before Him. ‘If you keep my sabbath and you choose the things that please Me and take hold of the covenant (and take hold of the covenant, notice), even unto them I will give my house and within my walls, a place and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name and they shall not be cut off.’” That is a prophecy concerning the Gentiles, who were not sons and daughters but who were eunuchs, who were servants, and yet also the Lord extends His grace to them if they will take hold of the covenant. If they will hear the Father’s voice, there will also be a place for them.
We see, both in the husband and wife relationship, as well as the father and son relationship, what the Lord expects from His children, and how we become children. It is only through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Paul also says in Romans 5, that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us.” He is the spirit of adoption. He is also the spirit of faith, according to II Corinthians 4:13. “I believed, and therefore have I spoken.”
This is just by way of background coming to our text where the Lord says that He is going to write the laws upon the hearts of His people. We see very clearly now that it is the Holy Spirit who is going to write those laws on the hearts and that it is then not just kind of a message that sort of touches you, and comes to you, but actually the word that is used is that He inscribes those laws on your hearts. He gets right inside of your heart, you see, with his spirit.
Then, as Isaiah already prophesied, what will happen is something very unique and very special. “Because my covenant with them,” says the Lord in Isaiah, “is that my spirit will be upon you and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth.” When the Lord decides that He will write his law on someone’s heart, He’s not going to come to you and ask you for permission. He’s not going to come and say to you, is this all right if I do this? He doesn’t need your consent and He’s not going to ask for your consent.
He will simply begin to write those laws on your hearts. He will carve them right into your hearts and into your minds. Remember, the Old Testament covenant people were to inscribe and carve and write on the door posts so that they would be surrounded by the will of God.
And what is the will of God? What is the law of God being written on our hearts? That is the revelation of God himself. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is going to write those words on the hearts. In other words, now the Holy Spirit is going to reveal Himself. He is going to reveal God’s will to you in a very, very personal way. And Isaiah says that those words will not depart out of your mouth. Now surely that’s what happened to the apostle Paul, isn’t it?
Did he have any choice on the road to Damascus? No, the Lord confronted him in a very dramatic way at a moment when Paul hadn’t even dreamt of it. Did Paul ever forget the words that the Lord wrote on his heart, the revelation of God himself? No. You see, that’s what happens to all those who are classified as believers. Faith has to do also with God’s word and God’s revelation of Himself being inscribed on your heart and your mind. That is not man’s doing. Faith is not something that is of yourself, but that too is the work of the Holy Spirit, because it is the Holy Spirit applying that word to your heart so that you believe it. That is God Himself working His will in your life.
As Paul says in Philippians: “It is God working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” This is how the Lord writes the law on your hearts. He doesn’t only give you the ability to believe, but He produces the will to believe and He acts out that will in your life because your hearts are naturally dead but when that Holy Spirit comes, then there is a quickening that is a life-giving spirit, and because He is writing that on your hearts, that’s when you come alive.
We are His workmanship created in Jesus Christ unto good works. You see, that’s also why all those to whom Christ sends the Holy Spirit to do His work can never fall away. No matter how far they may slip at some point in their life, they will never, ever be able to slip away altogether. That’s what we call the perseverance of the saints. It would be better called the perseverance of the Holy Spirit in the saints because if the saints can slip away, then they can also save themselves. But you see, even as no saint, no matter how godly can ever save himself, so he cannot fall away, because the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life is not of himself, that is of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will never abandon those in whom He has begun a work of regeneration.
Both those who have sinned without a law and those who have sinned with a law again referring to the Gentiles and the Jews and those outside of the church and inside of the church, those without a law and those with a law regardless of how you have come, there is only one way in which you can be forgiven. There’s only one way in which you can be made spotlessly clean, and that is through the one offering, the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is the one that cleanses you, verse 14. “For by one offering, he has perfected forever the sanctified.” This is the witness of the Holy Spirit.
By one offering, He has perfected. That is in the perfect tense, complete once and for all. It cannot be changed. They are sanctified.
Congregation, if we did not have the testimony of God concerning the work of the Holy Spirit and concerning the work of Jesus Christ, then we would be without comfort whatsoever. Just imagine the terrible tension that a wife would be living under if her husband would beat her every time that she did something that was not quite to his liking, not quite suitable to his will. Can you imagine the kind of terrible tension a wife would live under with that kind of sword hanging over her head?
Or, imagine if she would have to plead for mercy and plead for her life every time that she would make some kind of little mistake. Can you imagine living like that with a husband? And then imagine if she was a cripple, or if she had arthritis in her hands, or if she was blind, or she had cerebral palsy. Imagine then having a husband who cannot live with your imperfections.
What do you think of a husband who would beat his crippled wife because she couldn’t move fast enough? Or, use the other picture, what about a father who ridicules his retarded son and who makes fun of him because he doesn’t quite do what he wants him to do, or doesn’t respond as quickly as he should. And then beats him because he is retarded. Doesn’t just the thought of that make you sick. Doesn’t that make you angry? Righteously indignant?
Well, now, you see, that would be exactly the same if Jesus Christ would treat us that way. There isn’t any one of you here, myself included, who is not a cripple in some way. Or who isn’t partly blind, or who isn’t odd. There isn’t one son of God on the face of the whole earth who is not somewhat retarded. There isn’t one of you that has reached perfection or ever will, or even come close to it and as the years go by, and even as you grow in grace, and in spiritual maturity you realize more and more and more how weak and how inadequate and how crippled you really are.
Ask any saint of God and they will tell you the very same story. Really, at best, we are but severely handicapped cripples who need the grace of God every day in our lives. Who need the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. You see, even to come to see yourself in that way, is because the Holy Spirit is inscribing that law of God on your hearts and then you begin to see yourself through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, then you see yourself the way you really are.
Just look at Hebrews 4, verses 12 and 13, if you want to see yourself through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. “Who uses that word for the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit of joints and marrow, it is the discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
Now, you see, that’s the way it is. That’s the way we are. Moment by moment, the Lord deals with us, but does He deal with us according to our sins and our iniquities? Praise God, no. He deals with us according to the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and what Jesus Christ has accomplished on the cross. And otherwise, you would have to live in perpetual fear that God’s going to punish you because it’s impossible to be perfect in the way that we should be and in the way the law demands it of us. You are perfected by that one offering, verse 14, “forever in Jesus Christ is your perfection.” You see, and then verse 18, is very, very liberating and just breathtakingly beautiful. “For where there is remission of these,” referring to verse 17, sins and iniquities, “there is no more offering for sin.” There is no more offering for sin necessary. When sins are forgiven, there is no further offering necessary. There is only one offering, and that one offering is all you need for the forgiveness of sins.
And that was the one offering which perfected forever those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus. And now God does not see the cripple with all his sin and his imperfections. He doesn’t see all those who act so retarded because how sin has distorted their lives in so many ways. In Christ, God sees you perfect and therefore, you see, you can rejoice. You do not have to live in perpetual fear of punishment. He remembers your sins and your lawlessness no more. And there’s sins and there’s iniquities I will remember no more because of Christ. And then with all your imperfections, you may still live in peace. Your heart can be filled with praise and thanksgiving because of what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Someone might say, “But if we see forgiveness of sins in that way, will that not lead to a misuse of God’s grace?” Do you know what happens to a cripple when he thinks that he can run? He’s going to fall all over his feet. You know what happens to a blind person when he thinks that he can see? He’s going to fall into a ditch. That’s what scripture says. Pride comes before the fall. If we are going to take the grace of God for granted, then we will most certainly fall. Because really, taking the grace of God for granted means is that we think that we can live without the grace of God, but we can’t. Not even for one moment can we live without the grace of God.
Sometimes even God’s children think that they can. We know too well from so many biblical examples. That’s why David cried out, “Take not your holy spirit from me.” That’s why Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. But the Lord holds His own. He will not forsake His own.
Congregation, how is it with you? Do you find it hard to admit that there is something wrong with you, or is it always the other person? Have you been hardening your heart so that it’s becoming so hard that the Holy Spirit can’t inscribe that law on your hearts? Are you so hard that you’re no longer sensitive to the Holy Spirit working in your heart?
Is that how your conscience has become seared? Are you no longer sensitive then to the revelation of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit as He comes to you again and again in so many different ways. Or are you at the other end of the continuum. Do you think that you’re a hopeless case? Do you think that you’re too far gone, that the Holy Spirit can’t reach you where you are any more because He is somehow powerless to save you?
You can see how wrong all of that is. The Holy Spirit not only heals cripples and blind people, but He raises you from the dead. You’re dead in your trespasses and sins. You’re nothing in yourself. Want to have a good look at your picture, good picture of yourself? Just go out after the service and grab a handful of dirt. That’s what you are and that’s what you’re going to return to.
It’s the Holy Spirit who was sent by Jesus Christ, your mediator, who’s the Quickening Spirit, who gives life. If you are alive, it is because of Jesus Christ. Jesus has made you alive.
He has given you the spirit. And He’s not finished. He has a lot of work to do and finally He is going to form a beautiful body for you, a body in which you may serve your Savior perfectly forever and ever. Out of His love and His affection for you, you will be able to continue to dwell in His presence with that kind of body, perfect in every way. Why? Because already now, He remembers your sins no more. Your sins are gone in Jesus Christ.
Do you trust Jesus Christ as your only Savior? Do you look to Him only for life? Have you prayed for the Holy Spirit to dwell in you so that you might live? Congregation, that is the only way in which you can live. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you. Amen.