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Hebrews 10:1-4

Victor M. Eskew




A.    The cause of all this discussion is sin.

1.      All have sinned (Rom. 3:23).

2.      Sin has separated man from God (Isa. 59:1-2).

3.      To stand in God’s presence, man must be without sin (Ps. 1:5; Hab. 1:13).

4.      How, then, do we deal with sin?


B.      Hebrews 10 has a lot to say about sin. 

1.      We have entitled this chapter:  “Dealing with Sin.”

2.      Keep in mind that the writer is dealing with Jewish believers returning to Judaism.  There- fore, he continues to make contrasts between the system of Judaism and the system of Christianity.


C.     In this chapter, the writer will end the doctrinal details of his discussion (See vs 18-19, 22-24) and begin to make some very practical admonitions to his readers.


Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus…Let us draw near..Let us hold fast, and let us consider one another…


D.    Outline:


i.                    SINS REMAINED (Heb. 10:1-4)  Remembrance of sins

ii.                  SINS ARE REMITTED (Heb. 10:5-14)  Remittance from sins

iii.                SINS REMEMBERED NO MORE (Heb. 10:15-18)  Remembered no more sins

iv.                NO SINS BRING RESPONSIBILITY (Heb. 10:19-25)  Responsibility after sins

v.                  SINS ARE RECOMPENSED (Heb. 10:26-31)  Recompense for sins

vi.                SIN:  NO RETURN (Heb. 10:32-39)  Resolution against sin


I.                   SINS REMAINED (Heb. 10:1-4)


A.    Shadows Can’t Perfect (Heb. 10:1)


For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offer year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.


1.      Shadows

a.      The Law of Moses has shadows of good things to come.

1)      The sun casts shadows of trees, but they are not real trees.

2)      Barnes likens the concept to a carpenter’s sketch of a building.  It looks like the building.  It resembles the building.  But, it is not the building.

b.      The Law of Moses does not contain the very image of the real things.

1)      NOTE:  A shadow is not a real substance. 

a)      The shadow is not effective. 

-          NOTE:  “can never”

-          Strong (3763):  not even at any time, that is, never at all

b)      Only the real thing can accomplish the desired results.

2)      The OT contained shadows of “good things to come.”

a)      These good things to come were the blessings of the gospel.

b)      One of these was the removal of sin which the shadow could not give.

2.      Sacrifices

a.      The sacrifices offered under the OT were shadows.

b.      The actual image was the sacrifice of the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary.

c.       NOTE:  These sacrifices were offered “year by year continually.”  (

1)      The reference is most likely to the year-by-year celebration of the Day of Atonement.

2)      The use of the words “year by year” is an indicator of insufficiency.  He will note this in the very next verse.

3.      Supplicant

a.      “The comers” are those who come to submit to and worship God.

b.      Under the OT, they drew near with their yearly sacrifices.

c.       The sacrifices, however, were not “the very image.”  They were but shadows.

d.      Therefore, they could never be perfect.

1)      Strong (5048):  complete, consummate in character

2)      Thayer:  make perfect, complete, to render a thing full

3)      Those under the Law of Moses were never completely resolved of sin.  They would have to come back next year and make their sacrifices again.


B.      Sacrifices Can’t Purge (Heb. 10:2)


For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  Because that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins.


1.      Sufficiency

a.      A question questions the sufficiency of the OT sacrifices.  “For then would they not have ceased to be offered?”

b.      If the sacrifices under the Law were sufficient to take away sin, they would have ceased to be offered.

c.       The only reason they were offered over and over is because they could not remove sin.

1)      Clarke notes that they did not have “a plenitude of permanent merit” (e-sword).

2)      Wacaster:  “The whole sacrificial system under the Law of Moses was inferior and ineffective.  It could not perfect, it could not cleanse of sin, it could not remove (but only remember) sin, and it could not provide a means by which a man could conquer over sin” (p. 376).

2.      Sanction

a.      If a person is truly free from sin, his conscience no longer convicts him of sin.

b.      He is clean.  He is guiltless.  In fact, his conscience approves of his condition.

c.       Under the Old Covenant, the worshippers were convicted of their sins.  Their hearts were pricked with the idea that they were still in their sins.

1)      Hebrews 9:9


Which was a figure for the time present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did this service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.


2)      Romans 7:24


O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

C.     Sacrifices Bring Perception (Heb. 10:3)


But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sin every year.


1.      There was not cleansing of sin and purging of the conscience under the Law.

2.      There was just the continual reminder, year after year, of the sins of the people (Lev. 16:21-22).


And Aaron shall lay both his hand upon the head of the live goat, and shall confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.  And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited:  and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.


3.      One writer likened it to parole versus pardon. 


“We might liken it to the difference between a parole and a pardon.  When a convict is paroled he must repeatedly report to his parole officer, thus reminding him that he was [not] absolutely free.  His crime was every before him, and his weekly visits to the parole officer were a stark reminder that the penal system still held his crime over his head” (Wacaster, p. 381).


4.      This constant reminder was a burden to the Jew.  It brought shame to his life.  He was reminded over and over that he was a sinner.


D.    Sacrifices Were Powerless (Heb. 10:4)


For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.


1.      It is not possible

a.      Strong (102):  unable, weak, impossible

b.      Thayer:  without strength, impotent, powerless, weakly, unable to be done, impossible

2.      This was the cause of the ineffectiveness of the Law’s sacrifices. 

a.      The shadows were animals. 

1)      They were without blemish.

2)      They were substitutes.

3)      They were innocent of crimes.

4)      Their blood was shed.

b.      But:

1)      They were not of the same nature as man.  They were not humans.  Thus, they could not be substituted for man and fulfill the demands of the law.

2)      They did not voluntarily consent to yielding their lives for others.

3.      Again, it seems the author has the Day of Atonement in mind. 

a.      The scapegoat had sins placed upon it and it was taken away into the wilderness.

b.      The other goat was sacrifice and its blood was shed.  It did not take away sins either.