For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified… Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 10:19–23
What is this “new and living way”?
Under the old covenant God’s people had to make regular sacrifices for their sins. But Jesus died once for everyone, covering all sin for all time.
It can be easy to get stuck in a “works” mindset. This is where we walk around with a deep-rooted sense that we need to do certain things for God to accept us, and refrain from doing other things. Of course this can be either conscious or subconscious. While it’s very important to listen to our consciences, it matters immensely what we do with our feelings of inadequacy. We can know the theory that God accepts us not because of what we’ve done but because of what Jesus has done – in spite of what we’ve done – but still have a niggling sense that God really can’t be that pleased in us.
This begs the question: Which part of the cross was insufficient? Not one bit of it, of course. But sometimes we still beat ourselves up, effectively living our lives with the attitude that Jesus’ death really wasn’t good enough. Who are we to scorn the blood of Jesus like that?
We must realise that God’s grace goes much further than forgiveness. Forgiveness is the removal of something. Forgiveness removes guilt and shame: past, present and future. However, in His grace God has gone far further than this. God doesn’t just wipe our slate clean, He accepts us. He adopts us as His own children. We become His heirs. Christ took on himself everything that was rightfully ours, and in return through faith we can take on ourselves what is rightfully Christ’s.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
Grace means full acceptance. We are forgiven, but we are also accepted. Us poor, evil, broken sinners can become “the righteousness of God”. Acceptance is harder to grasp than forgiveness. He accepts you, but can you accept that?
While forgiveness, as an expression of God’s mercy, means our sin is removed, God’s grace is a free gift, it’s something added. God hasn’t lowered His standards but has made them achievable through grace. Through God’s free gift of forgiveness and acceptance God’s new life works in us. Living as accepted and thankful people we find our hearts are rewired. We have new desires.
God already treats us as the people He is making us to be (Hebrews 10:14).
This is very good news indeed.