In Theological discussions we hear about how we are “justified” by God’s grace through faith in Christ. That means our sins have been removed and we are seen as Christ is himself, blameless and pure. Then we talk about “sanctification” and explain it as the process by which God works to make us “holy” or better people by actually conforming us to the image of Christ in reality. But the writer of Hebrews seems to see our justification and our sanctification accomplished for us by Christ once and for all time. Hebrews 10:8-10 says, “When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

We have been “sanctified” once and for all! The literal rendering is to be “made holy.” We often think that sanctification is a process that takes time and effort on the part of a believer. But this verse seems to say that like justification, sanctification is a once and for all action accomplished apart from our works and is based on the finished work of Jesus. Steadman writes, “The Greek expression for made holy indicates action with a lasting effect. We have been made holy by the death of Jesus, and we remain holy even though we struggle with daily weakness and sin. This should be borne in mind when we come to the statement in 12:14, ‘without holiness no one will see the Lord.’ It is a holiness obtained by faith, not by self-righteous effort, and it is not lost by momentary failure. ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!’” (Rom 8:1).[1]

Quoting again from the Old Testament, Jesus expressed his purpose for coming into the world. It was to “do God’s will.” None of us could ever accomplish that! We’re all conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Only the anointed one could have done that. We are not David, the anointed one of Israel who fought the battle against the giant and won the victory on behalf of all the people. David was the chosen one to accomplish that feat. His story is a shadow of the real “anointed one,” the “messiah” who took up our cause and fought the battle for us. Only Jesus satisfied God’s demand under the law. Only in Jesus can we ever find any holiness. Man has failed in his quest to “do the will of God.” As Hagner says, “For it is Jesus who has come to do the will of God, and in agreement with the teaching of the Scriptures: ‘it is written about me in the scroll.’ All of the OT in one way or another points to or prepares for the fulfillment of God’s saving purposes accomplished through Christ.”[2]

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

[2] Donald A. Hagner, Hebrews, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 156.