Chapter 18 The Taking Away Of Sins

Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28).

We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

He…offered one sacrifice for sins for ever (Hebrews 10:12).

By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).

The law given to Moses prescribed many sacrifices. The one of special value was a once-a-year offering on the day of atonement. If these sacrifices had been able to pacify conscience, they would not have ceased (Hebrews 10:1-2). They had, however, the very opposite effect. They brought sin to remembrance every year. The only sacrifice which could effectually remove sin and blot it out was our Lord’s sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross. He alone is God’s appointed Lamb of sacrifice, accepted of God for that end.

The Conditions for the Taking Away of Sins

The matter is of great importance. The blood of bulls and goats could not effect this. But sin had to be taken away if man was to be saved and restored to God. If God were to allow sin to go unpunished, His own honor would be lost. The eternal death of the sinner was necessary to clear the holy character of God. How, then, could the salvation of sinful man harmonize with the holy character of God? The answer is that sin must be taken away. But the blood of bulls and of goats could not do this. Thus it was that God sent His own beloved Son to do what none other could do.

First, the Lord Jesus was made subject to the law of God. The law of God was first written on the tables of men’s hearts. It demanded obedience—a creature must obey his Creator! God cannot be, save on the throne of rule over His created ones. Death—eternal death—was the penalty of transgression. Adam proved a tottering reed, and the command given to test him was broken. From him, all the human race receives the spirit of disobedience.

To save man, God could not relax the requirements of His holy law—for the law of the Lord is perfect, and death is the righteous penalty of broken law. But in the fullness of time “God sent forth His Son … made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). He came under His own law and kept the whole of it intact. Thus He proved the law honorable—holy, just, and good.

Secondly, He bore the penalty of broken law. “Death passed upon all men,” so that “in Adam all die”—all generations being in his loins. But taking away our sins was the work for which the Son of God was born in Bethlehem, lived on earth, died at Calvary, descended into the grave, rose again from the dead, mounted to Heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God. By such, our Lord became Surety for the guilty. In His sufferings and death the law was magnified and the penalty it imposed was fully paid. Thus the law can no longer accuse those who are in Christ.

Thirdly, He fulfilled the whole law. Man had dishonored God’s law. It was necessary, therefore, that man should fulfill all its righteousness before God could restore him to favor. This, too, was accomplished in His dear Son. Thus He is able, not only to take away sin, but also to clothe the sinner with His own perfect righteousness. This is the robe of righteousness which now covers a true believer. It is this which beautifies and adorns his naked soul.

“There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). This mediation—this channel of communication—is founded on the work of atonement. The Lord Jesus is able “to bring us to God” because He “gave Himself a ransom for all.”

His blood has purchased us and delivered us from hell; His righteousness buys all Heaven, and clothes us to stand in Heaven perfect before God. His righteousness is the only robe fit for such a holy place. All His redeemed ones are made beauteous in holiness. All shine in purity. All are white in spotless perfection. The eye of God rests on each with pure delight. He finds no blemish in them. They are counted worthy to sit on thrones of glory.

The Consolation in the Taking Away of Sins

The consolation of believers rests in our Lord’s eternal priesthood. In Hebrews 10:10 we see believers are sanctified or set apart. The means to effect that separation is the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus—a sacrifice done “once for all.”

The writer to the Hebrews goes on to show that the priests of Jewry stood—stood daily—and offered the same sacrifices. The reason for the repetition was that the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin. But our Lord’s sacrifice was “once for all” and “for ever”—after which He “sat [down] on the right hand of God” in token of redemption completed.

There is need in salvation for the sinner to have his sins remitted and his heart cleansed, and this can be effected only through the sacrifice of Christ. “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). His remission is everlasting. There is, through our Lord, not only pardon of sins but moral cleansing. Without this, we would return to folly, and it would be impossible to do that and still keep God’s favor. He therefore sanctifies those who are forgiven.

Finally, under the old dispensation there were altars, priests, sacrifices—the Holy Spirit “thus signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” (Hebrews 9:8)—that sin had not been taken away. But in this new dispensation we need no altars, no priests, no sacrifices—the Holy Spirit signifying by this change that sin has been taken away and is never to be remembered, that is, no altar, but Christ; no priest, but Christ; no sacrifice, but Christ!

No blood, no altar now,
The sacrifice is o’er!
No flame, no smoke ascends on high,
The lamb is slain no more,
But richer blood has flowed from nobler veins.
To purge the souls from guilt, and cleanse the reddest stains.

We thank Thee for the blood,
The blood of Christ, Thy Son:
The blood by which our peace is made,
Our victory is won:
Great victory o’er hell, and sin, and woe,
That needs no second fight, and leaves no second foe.

Horatius Bonar