Since the time of Christ, people have stumbled over the doctrine
that Christ had to shed His blood to atone for our sins. When
Jesus announced to the twelve that He had to go to Jerusalem
where He would suffer and die, the apostle Peter rebuked Him,
saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This should never happen to You!”
The apostle Paul
wrote, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who
are perishing….” He went on to say, “but we preach Christ
crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles
foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and
Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor.
theologians hate the idea of Christ’s blood paying for our sins.
They have called such views “slaughterhouse religion.”
They ridicule Christians who believe in a God who would be petty
enough to be angry over our sins, and pagan enough to be
appeased by blood. The playwright, George Bernard Shaw, bitterly
attacked the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, saying,
saturated with the ancient—and to me quite infernal—superstition
of atonement by blood sacrifice, which I believe Christianity
must completely get rid of, if it is to survive among thoughtful
people” (cited in “Our Daily Bread,” 8/79).
But from the
start of human history, God has made it plain that forgiveness
of sins is only possible through the shed blood of
an acceptable substitute. When Adam and Eve sinned, they became
aware of their own nakedness and sewed fig leaves together to
try to cover their guilt and shame. But God did not accept their
approach. Instead, He clothed the guilty couple with the skin of
slaughtered animal (Gen. 3:21). In so doing, God demonstrated in
a graphic way the horrific penalty of sin, but also His great
mercy in providing an acceptable substitute....
have always practiced appeasing the gods or spirits through
blood sacrifices. Sometimes they have even gone so far as to
offer human sacrifices, including their own children. But we
would be mistaken to think that the Jews adopted their
sacrificial system by copying the pagans. Rather... 'all the
heathen sacrifices were corruptions, which had derived their
origin from the institutions of God'....
has always been a master at counterfeiting God's word, mimicking
His promises, and masquerading as an "angel of light."]
sins comes only through the blood of Christ. ... He is the
mediator of a new covenant (see 8:6)....
the old covenant with blood in accordance with God’s command.
But Jesus inaugurated the new covenant with His own blood. Thus
our salvation (our inheritance) rests securely on the new
covenant in Christ’s blood, which is far
better than the blood of animals. Consider three things:
needs forgiveness of sins because our sins have alienated us
from God. ...you can deny guilt and become hardened to
the point that your conscience no longer bothers you; but if
God is holy and if you have violated His holy standards, you
stand legally guilty in His courtroom. So the main issue with
guilt is not just guilty feelings, but actual forensic
liability. If God condemns you in the day of judgment, your
guilt becomes eternal. God’s decreed final penalty for sin is
eternal separation from Him in the lake of fire (called “the
second death,” Rev. 20:14).
deny their need for God’s forgiveness by diminishing
the holiness and justice of God and by magnifying their
own goodness or merits. They wrongly think, “Surely... a loving God wouldn’t send a good person like me to hell.”
But the Bible is
clear that God is absolutely holy and just. He will
punish all sin. His love does not mean that He sets aside
or His justice. The Bible is also clear that we are far more
in God’s presence than we ever imagined. We are born alienated
from God because Adam’s guilt was imputed to us. We quickly
added our own sins to Adam’s guilt! We incurred guilt by
God’s holy standards, both by our deeds and thoughts.
Being alienated from God, we need a mediator to reconcile us
to Him. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5). “He is the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 9:15).
you have ever been involved in a legal dispute, a mediator may
the two sides come to a satisfactory agreement. He listens to
terms of both sides and tries to work out a solution.
God’s absolute holiness. He also knew man’s enormous debt of
sin. He took on human flesh, lived in complete conformity to
God’s holy standards, and then offered Himself as the price of
that God’s justice demands. In so doing, He brought
both sides together (see 2 Cor. 5:18-21).
[-- not by compromising God's law, as would many human
mediators, but by fulfilling it on our behalf]
Sometimes people wonder how those who lived before Christ
were saved. The answer is, they were saved in the same way that
are saved, through faith in the shed blood of Christ. The
that they offered symbolized or pictured the sacrifice of Christ
would offer Himself as their substitute. Isaiah (53:5-6, 11)
"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being
fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us
like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own
way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on
Him…. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it
and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My
Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their
Thus the Old Testament sacrifices postponed the penalty for
sins until Christ paid for them at the cross. The salvation of
saints before Christ was, so to speak, on credit, until Christ
bill. Paul says the same thing in Romans 3:23-26,
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being
justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which
is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a
in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His
righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed
over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I
say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would
be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
The fact that everyone is a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness
means that you can offer the gospel to every person knowing
that it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who
You may feel intimidated because the person you’re talking to is
highly educated and intelligent. He may launch off into
or science to try to prove that there is no God. Don’t be
Just keep in mind that this guy is a sinner who is going to die
and stand before a holy God. He needs a mediator to reconcile
to God before that day. Jesus Christ is the only such mediator.
shed blood is the price of redemption for sinners who trust in
2. God’s uniform method for the forgiveness of sins has
been the shedding of blood.
God decreed that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). In
Leviticus 17:11, God explains why blood must be shed:
life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on
altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by
of the life that makes atonement.”
God’s justice demands the
payment of the penalty, which is death. In His mercy, He will
the death of an acceptable substitute in place of the death of
the sinner. The system of animal sacrifices under the old
pictured and pointed ahead to Christ, the lamb of God who would
take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Note three things:
A. Sin leads to physical and spiritual death.
God told Adam and Eve that in the day that they ate of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die
(Gen.2:17). But they ate of the fruit and did not drop dead that day.
not? At the moment that they ate of the fruit, they died
Previously, they had enjoyed intimate fellowship with God, with
barriers between them. But instantly they were alienated from
Him and tried to hide themselves from His holy presence.
On that same day, the process of physical death set in. Although
in God’s providence and purpose, those early humans lived
for hundreds of years, they all died. Their bodies became
aging and disease. Sin resulted in death through murder and war.
All of the ugly horrors of the world, whether the ravages of
the atrocities of crime, terrorism, and war, or the
devastation of the world’s resources, are the result of sin.
When I have read stories about missionaries going into savage
tribes with the gospel, I have marveled that these tribes had
annihilated themselves centuries before. Their histories are one
long account of one tribe wronging the other tribe, and then
tribe taking revenge in brutal ways. Then the other tribe
and the cycle goes on and on.
The same thing is true, however,
more “civilized” parts of the world. The entire history of the
is a history of battles over territory or resources. Proud men
over other proud men, until they are overthrown. Sin is at the
of all of the physical death in the world. And sin results in
person being spiritually dead, alienated from the life of God.
B. Blood graphically pictures the costliness of sin.
The word “blood” occurs six times in verses 18-22, plus
“death” or “dead” three times in verses 15-17. Have you ever
thought about how gory and messy the Jewish religion was?
was sprinkled with blood. The priests slaughtered dozens
and sometimes hundreds or thousands of animals at the altar.
took bowls full of blood and sprinkled it on the altar. The
were burned on the altar, so that the smell would have been
I’ve never seen the slaughter of a bull or
sheep or goat. I buy my meat pre-cut and shrink-wrapped in
at the grocery store. To be transported back in time and witness
the sacrifices at the tabernacle would be a shocking experience
for most of us. The blood graphically pictured the cost of sin.
C. The old covenant was inaugurated with blood, because
death is God’s decreed penalty for sin. The author mentions details in 9:19 that are not included in
the account in Exodus 24.There is no mention there of goats,
scarlet wool, hyssop, or the sprinkling of the book.
mention some of these things in other rituals (Lev. 1:10;
Num. 19:6, 18). Either the author is collectively gathering up
these rituals into one, since he is dealing with the general
all things in the Old Testament being cleansed by blood (so
and John Owen). Or, he may be relying on oral tradition, with
which all of the Jews were familiar. But, his point is,
the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood”
The exception was that a poor man could offer a grain
instead of an animal sacrifice (Lev. 5:11-13). But the exception
did not negate the rule, that “without the shedding of blood
there is no forgiveness.” God was making the point that death is
His decreed penalty for our sins.
Thus every person needs forgiveness of sins. God’s uniform
method for the forgiveness of sins has been the shedding of
3. The death of Jesus inaugurated the new covenant with
Jesus’ blood, of course, is a figure of speech referring to His
death. While Jesus’ physical sufferings were bloody and awful,
was what He went through spiritually that redeemed us from the
curse of the Law. As Paul put it,
“He made Him who knew no sin
to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the
of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21)....
A. Forgiveness comes to us as heirs of Christ.
To receive an inheritance, you have to be included in the will,
and the person making the will must die. Those whom God calls
(9:15) are the heirs. The emphasis here is not on men calling
God, but on God’s calling of men. In other words, He is the
of the estate, and He makes up the will, choosing the heirs. He
a specific list, not a sign-up sheet. But once the will has been
up, it is not put into effect until the death of the testator.
We all know this principle. Ray Stedman (What More Can God
Say? [G/L Regal], p. 139) tells how he was at a meeting with a
group of people where the director of a Christian conference
was explaining the procedures for securing additional properties
to expand the ministry. He described an arrangement that the
had with a widow, where they paid her an annuity until her
death, and on her death her property would be deeded over to the
conference center. One man immediately raised his hand and
asked, “How healthy is she?”
The question was in bad taste,
but it illustrates the truth that wills are of no value to the
until the death of the testator.
So the question you need to answer is, “Have you heard
God’s call in the gospel and responded with faith in Jesus’
He died to inaugurate the benefits of the will for the heirs. If
are an heir of Christ through faith in His blood, you have the
of forgiveness that His death secured.
B. Forgiveness comes only through the blood of Christ.
If there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, then
the opposite is also true: with the shedding of blood, there is
As we saw from 9:9, these Old Testament sacrifices could
not make the worshiper perfect in conscience. They sanctified
the cleansing of the flesh, but “how much more will the blood of
Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without
blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve
the living God” (9:13-14)!
We would not associate sprinkling blood on things as cleansing
them (9:13, 22), but rather, as staining them. If you’ve ever
gotten blood on a nice shirt, you know that you need to rinse it
quickly or it will permanently stain your shirt. To think of
blood and sprinkling the book, the people, the tabernacle, and
the sacred vessels seems like it would dirty them, not cleanse
medicine (of which the ancient Hebrews had no clue) has revealed
how accurate it is to speak of the cleansing property of blood.
Dr. Paul Brand, who specialized in the treatment of leprosy,
wrote (...Christianity Today
[2/18/83], p.13) about how the blood is designed to cleanse the body of
and wastes that are built up in the tissues:
"No cell lies more than a hair’s breadth from a blood capillary,
lest poisonous by-products pile up…. Through a basic
chemical process of gas diffusion and transfer, individual red
blood cells, traveling slowly inside narrow capillaries,
release their cargoes of fresh oxygen and absorb waste
products (carbon dioxide, urea, and uric acid). The red cells
deliver these potentially hazardous chemicals to organs that
can dump them outside the body."
He goes on to tell how the lungs and kidneys, plus the liver
and spleen, work to cleanse the blood of these poisons to keep
system cleansed and healthy. Each red blood cell can only
the sequence of loading and unloading these chemicals for about
quarter million circuits. Then they are broken down and recycled
by the liver, while the bone marrow releases new red cells to
the process (about four million cells per second!).
God designed this as a beautiful picture to show that just as
blood cleanses our bodies from poisons, so the blood of Christ,
applied to our hearts by faith, cleanses our souls from the
poison of sin.... The blood of Christ was shed
to provide the cleansing from sin and forgiveness that we all
Have you applied it to your soul? It is God’s only way for
© 2008 by
Steven Cole. Used
Personal note from Berit: These
Biblical guidelines recognize our human weaknesses, faults and
failures. Though we long to live in total and consistent
obedience to our beloved Lord, we stumble and fall. But all the
more, I thank Him for faithfully convicting me of my sins,
reminding me of the cross, bringing me to repentance, and
restoring to me the joy of His presence.
"If we say that we have no
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we
confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1
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