Jesus equated looking lustfully at a woman with adultery in order for the religious leaders to grasp the depth of their sinfulness. He also equated hatred, some argue the word should be translated as “animosity”, toward another with murder. Jesus wants us to recognize the depth of our sinfulness, not only the fact that we have sinned.  This is true repentance. Many preachers today speak as if sin is something outside of us that we must fight to keep from coming in. Jesus assures us that it’s not what goes into a man that defiles him. It’s what comes out. In Matthew 15:19 Jesus explains, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” This is an affirmation of Jeremiah 17:9 which describes the nature of man. He writes, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” I know it’s wrong to harbor bitterness against those who have wronged me, but my wicked and deceitful heart won’t let go. Thus, I sin intentionally.

This is important because it helps us understand Hebrews 10:26-27. It says, “26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” If we refuse to take Jesus as the payment for the penalty of our sins we must pay for them ourselves.  The sin being addressed by the author is nothing less than the rejection of the full sufficiency of Christ.  Tanner says, “The faulty translation ‘keep on sinning,’ misses the point altogether. The context suggests that the author is thinking of a particular sin rather than a lifestyle in which one continues to sin.”[1] If the sacrifice of Jesus isn’t enough, nothing will do. If we turn from Jesus’ gracious provision there is nowhere else to go. If we reject his gracious provision for us, no religious expression or sacrifice will make us right with God. Since all blood sacrifices look to Jesus nothing but his sacrifice avails. If all religious ritual and practices prefigure Jesus’ work, no practice or recitation will satisfy God. Since everything in the Old Testament focuses on Jesus, the deliverer who will fight our fight, take up our cause, deliver us from evil, anything and everything outside of Jesus is inadequate.

The day of atonement made sacrifice for the “unintentional sins” of the people according to Hebrews 9:7. Jesus is the only sufficient sacrifice which atones for the inborn sinfulness of mankind. He became the complete fulfillment of the sacrificial offerings, practices, rituals and observances of all religious systems. No ritual of any religion can relieve our consciences of sin except the one and only, once and for all, sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. Everyone born of man sins intentionally and unintentionally. Nothing can atone for the wickedness of man but Jesus. Absolutely nothing but the blood of Jesus will suffice.

[1] J. Paul Tanner, “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 1074.