‘… by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.’ (Heb. 10:10)
Hebrews is a glorious book, filled with the promises of God and reassurances of the salvation Christ has won for us. The writer has spent several chapters exploring how Jesus, as perfect God and perfect man, is both the only qualified saviour and the ultimate high priest before we reach our verse in Chapter 10.
After explaining that the old ways of the law were merely a shadow of the truth of the gospel, the writer quotes Psalm 40, where David speaks prophetically about Jesus saying:
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired… I have come to do Your will, O God” (Ps. 40:5, 7).
And by that will, he goes on to explain in Psalm 40:10, we have been sanctified.
To sanctify is “including a person or thing in the sphere of what is holy”.* The process necessitates both a cleansing and setting the thing or person apart from other unholy things to maintain its usefulness for God.
In the Old Testament, priests had to wash themselves ritually to be fit for service and then were consecrated by the blood of a sacrifice being sprinkled upon them (Lev. 8). However, the law is only a shadow of what Jesus would bring. By the offering of his body, and the shedding of his blood, we have been cleansed and brought into the sphere of his holiness.
We have been consecrated to serve God as priests, representing God to men and men to God, but priests must keep themselves holy. Old Testament priests could become unclean if they touched unclean things and would have to wash again with water. The testimony of the blood still stood, but the washing needed to be repeated (Lev. 22:1–9).
Christ’s offering has marked us for all time as holy to God, but in practical day-by-day living we must be conscious of what may make us unfit for service, confessing daily our sinfulness, and set ourselves apart in our minds each day for God’s service.
Richard Hutchinson, The Church of God in Vancouver