The No-Chocolate Pledge

Hebrews 9:8 “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most High Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was standing” (NIV).

Observation: The first tabernacle, built at God’s direction under Moses’s leadership, had been intended to serve as the locus of worship for Israel. Once the temporary, tent-based tabernacle had been pitched, priests ministered in the outer room around the clock, “but only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance” (Heb. 9:7, NIV).

Application: The tabernacle had been a place made by human hands, so the sacrifices offered and rituals performed there could never offer lasting forgiveness. Rituals had to be constantly repeated through the spilling of great rivers of blood. There was no once-and-for-all forgiveness possible because, as Paul said in verse 10, the gifts and sacrifices offered there were merely external regulations. They had no ability to profoundly, permanently move the human heart into deep relationship with God.

In such a setting, how could any among us ever be certain we had been made ready to spend eternity in the presence of a holy God who can tolerate not a modicum of sin? What should we do? Shall we write more checks, impoverishing ourselves through lavish philanthropy we desperately hope God notices? Shall we walk the aisle yet again? Since I showed so little self control yesterday should I vow to never again eat chocolate? How about bowing toward Mecca five times daily? Might self-flagellation work?

Salvation is found in none of that. Everything I can think to try, all the solutions I can conceive, are mere externals, having no ability to transform my heart. But once the first tabernacle gave way to Christ, my striving could cease. Worry about eternal security has been replaced by confidence that the salvation He brings is never based upon sacrifices of goats and calves, but upon His once-and-for-all sacrifice of His own blood and body.

I have no part in producing my eternal security. No hollow ritual, no amount of self-sacrifice improves upon what He has already accomplished. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5,NIV).

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for once-and-for-all salvation.

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