Have you come out of the shadows of the law into the reality of the New Testament of grace?
The writer of Hebrews continues to distinguish the New Covenant (New Testament) from the Old Covenant (Old Testament) – “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10: 1-7)
The term ‘shadow’ above refers to a ‘pale reflection.’ The law did not reveal Christ, it revealed our need for Christ.
The law was never intended to provide salvation. The law increased the need for the One who would come and fulfil the law. We learn from Romans – “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3: 20)
No one was made ‘perfect’ or complete under the Old Covenant (Old Testament). Perfection or completion of our salvation, sanctification, and redemption can only be found in Jesus Christ. There was no way to enter God’s presence under the Old Covenant.
The continual need for the blood sacrifices of animals under the Old Covenant, revealed how these sacrifices could never remove sin. Only under the New Covenant (New Testament) would sin be removed, as God would remember our sins no more.
The Old Covenant (Old Testament) was preparatory for Jesus’ coming into the world. It revealed how serious sin was, requiring the continual shedding of the blood of animals. It also revealed how holy God was. For God to come into fellowship with His people, there had to be a perfect sacrifice made.
The writer of Hebrews quoted above from Psalm 40, a Messianic psalm. Jesus needed a body so He could offer Himself as our eternal sacrifice for sin.
Many of the Hebrew people rejected Jesus. John wrote – “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 11-14)
Jesus brought grace and truth into the world – “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1: 17)
Scofield writes “Grace is the ‘kindness and the love of God our Savior…not by works of righteousness which we have done…having been justified by His grace.’ As a principle, therefore, grace is set in contrast with law, under which God demands righteousness from men, as, under grace, He gives righteousness to men. Law is connected with Moses and works; grace, with Christ and faith. Under law, blessings accompany obedience; grace bestows blessings as a free gift. In its fullness, grace began with the ministry of Christ involving His death and resurrection, for He came to die for sinners. Under the former dispensation, law was shown to be powerless to secure righteousness and life for a sinful race. Prior to the cross man’s salvation was through faith, being grounded on Christ’s atoning sacrifice, anticipated by God; now it is clearly revealed that salvation and righteousness are received by faith in the crucified and resurrected Savior, with holiness of life and good works following as the fruit of salvation. There was grace before Christ came, as witnessed by the provision of sacrifice for sinners. The difference between the former age and the present age, therefore, is not a matter of no grace and some grace, but rather that today grace reigns, in the sense that the only Being who has a right to judge sinners is now seated on a throne of grace, not imputing to the world their trespasses.” (Scofield, 1451)
Scofield, C. I. The Scofield Study Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.