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Friday
Jun152007

Seven Statements about the Son: One Who Mades Purification for Sins

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Hebrews 1:2b-3 give us seven statements about Christ, the Son of God. In this post, it’s the sixth statement we’re examining: He made purification for sins.  Starting at the beginning, then.

  • Made Purification
    Christ brought about cleansing from sin. Other places in Hebrews tell us more about exactly how Christ accomplished that, but the emphasis here is that the job was done. Sinful people are cleansed by what Christ did.

    Have you noticed that this statement is a bit different from the others? For one thing, none of the others require the incarnation, but this one does. The only way Christ could make purification for our sins is by becoming one of us1. So the sustainer of the universe, whose word alone created all living things, and whose word alone keeps all living things alive, leaves heaven behind so that he could die to purify us from our sins. How’s that for a contrast?
     
    In addition, except for the statement that Christ created the world, all of the others are present tense, indicating that they are continuing right now and will continue forever. But this one? It’s is a done deal. The verb tense tells us this purification accomplished by Christ is a completed action.
     
    Later in Hebrews we learn that Christ offered himself “once for all” time.”2 Christ’s made complete purification in his one act of sacrifice, and that complete purification cleanses sin for all time, in contrast to the Old Testament sacrifices that had to be offered over and over because they never really did the job. The old sacrifices were a surface cleansing only, but the source of the dirt was still there, continuing to dirty things up over and over and over again. But Christ’s sacrifice is a deep cleansing: it cleanses the conscience and puts away sin forever, so that there is no need anymore for perpetual cleansing.  The cleansing is completed; the work is finished.
     
  • For Sin
    There are many ways to look at sin, but in this case, used with the word purification, the emphasis is on sin as defilement. Sin makes us impure or unclean, and we are in need of cleansing if we are to be in the presence of a holy God. 
The five previous statements have been an affirmation of Christ’s deity. This one is less clearly so, although I do think it argues for his deity, too, but in a more round about way. In Hebrew 7, our writer argues that bulls and goats and human priests are inadequate to make permanent purification for sin and give us unhindered access to God. What’s required is a perfect human sacrifice and a perfect human priest1, but also, a priest who is the Father’s equal.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.3
No only does our priest need to be human and sinless, he also must be exalted above the heavens. Christ is uniquely able to fulfill all the requirements as the one sinless God-man. So the statement that Christ made purification for sins does affirm the diety of  Christ, since it was necessary for the “once for all” sacrifice to be God.
 
However, I’m not sure it was the writer’s intent for this phrase to stand alone as an argument for Christ’s deity. It is an argument for deity, but it’s not as obvious as the others, is it? The more I look at these statements, the more I think this one is meant to coupled with the next statement that tell us that Christ “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”, making one complete statement. The whole statement, then, is, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… .”, and it is a very straightforward affirmation of Christ’s deity.
 
But that’s enough of that for now. I’ll explain in the next post the primary reason I think these two last statements are really two halves of one statement.
 
So what does it mean for us that Christ “made purification for sins.”
  • It reminds us that sin isn’t something that a holy God can simply overlook. The defilement of sin must be removed before we can be in the presence of a holy God.
  • Taken together with with the previous statements, it gives us an idea how far Christ stooped to perform his redeeming work. This should make us extremely grateful for what he’s done, since without his cleansing work, we would be unable to have access to God.
  • Because the purification for sin is a done deal, nothing needs to be added to what he has already accomplished. Not only is Christ’s work necessary for us to have access to God, it is entirely sufficient to provide access to God. Nothing any other human being or any institution has done or will do is of any help in this matter, because Christ has finished the job. This should cause us to rest in his work alone for cleansing and forgiveness for sin.
  • We can draw near to God with confidence—with full assurance of faith—because Christ’s finished work has purified us and it is trustworthy.

Can you think of other things to add to the list of what this statement means for us? Is there anything else you’d like to add or discuss?

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Reader Comments (2)

At the risk of appearing to be a shameless sycophant, I have to tell you how much I am enjoying this series, as always.

You have a wonderful way of writing about the deep truths of God. You make them not only understandable, but thought provoking at the same time.

Thank you!

June 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKim from Hiraeth

I'm glad you enjoy reading them. I really enjoy doing them!

June 16, 2007 | Registered Commenterrebecca

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