Think carefully about Jesus’ work on our behalf. Christ, the perfect human, took upon himself the consequences of our sin and suffered in our stead. The Old Testament contained this prophecy hundreds of years before Christ was born. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Jesus’ absolute perfection was demonstrated completely through His suffering on our behalf. Sanctify means to make something holy. Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins is the basis for our holiness. Apart from that, there is no holiness. All our own righteous deeds are as polluted garments. They have no “holiness” in and of themselves. Christ is the one who makes us holy. There is only one source of holiness. It’s Jesus’ holiness and not our own!

This is another reason why Jesus and His work on our behalf make Him more important than the angels or the prophets. The author says in Hebrews 2:10-11a, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.” The holiness of Christ is attributed to all believers and as the writer of Hebrews will say later on in Hebrews 10:10, He does that “once for all.” There is only one “source” of righteousness with God; His only begotten Son, Jesus. You have no righteousness of your own. I have no righteousness of my own. The blood of Jesus cleanses us all from our sins and binds us together as family. That’s why we are often referred to as “brothers and sisters in Christ.” We are all children of God, declared to be righteous (sanctified), through the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. We are all equal! No one is better or worse than anyone else. The truth is, we’re all sinners, saved by God’s grace based on God’s love. Steadman says, “But it was love for the lost human race that drove both Father and Son to choose that process.”[1]

When this truth is the central theme of church life you have a body of believers who understand that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. No one stands higher than anyone else. The unconditional acceptance by God based on the unconditional love of God becomes a foundation that fosters love and acceptance in the whole body. When the central theme of church life is your own works of righteousness, being more committed or dedicated, or trying harder, you develop cliques of those who do more than others. You have competition to prove one’s worth or efforts to measure up to the acceptable standards of church life. What one does, what one gives, and how one serves, become the measures of one’s value in the church. This fosters strife and contention rather than love and acceptance.

[1] Ray C. Stedman, Hebrews, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 1992), Heb 2:10.