There it was. That all too familiar, painful twinge of grief that easily gives way to guilt and shame. I had just been graciously and lovingly called out by my wife for some particular sin. So what’s the next step? Draw near to God and repent, of course. Easier said than done. But why is it so hard? Why is the very sinfulness that first drove me to the throne of mercy and grace now tempting me to stay away? Once again, I find myself in need of a gospel refresher. As Christians, we have confidence that Jesus’s blood is sufficient for us to draw near to God, our loving Father, even in the day of our sin.
The book of Hebrews exhorts Christians to confidently draw near to God: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need” (Heb 4:16). At what time are we more in need of mercy and grace than when we have sinned? When we sin, we rightly feel grief and the discipline of our loving Father (Heb 12:5–11). However, we often allow our initial, right reaction of grief to give way to sinful guilt and shame. In turn, we lose our confidence to draw near.
The Sin of Unbelief
As Christians, when we don’t draw near to God because of our sin, we are in effect saying that Jesus’s blood is not enough. This is unbelief in the work of Jesus. Thus, losing our confidence to draw near to God because of guilt and shame over sin is itself sinful. Our confidence to draw near to the throne of grace does not rest in ourselves or our worthiness, but in Jesus, his work, and his worthiness. Again, Hebrews makes this clear: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God . . . For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (Heb 3:12, 14).
So one of the primary reasons we should draw near to God is to repent of our sin. But one of the primary reasons we are tempted to not draw near to God is because of our sin. Thankfully, because we are so prone to wander, God graciously gives us remarkable reminders of why we should draw near.
The Great Gospel Reality
While Hebrews exhorts us to draw near, it also supplies reason upon reason for why we can. Indeed, perhaps no other book of the Bible heralds the astounding nature of gospel reality like the book of Hebrews. The author goes to great lengths to remind Christians that Jesus along with his work is far superior to anything we could hope to offer ourselves. One way the author does this is by showing the superiority of Jesus’s offering for sin.
Draw Near Because . . .
Jesus offered one sacrifice for all sins, for all time. Before Jesus, every priest under the old covenant had to repeatedly offer sacrifices for sins—every day. Further, these sacrifices “could not even take away sins” (Heb 10:11)! However, Jesus “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (10:12). Moreover, Jesus’s offering for sins inaugurated the New Covenant which promises that God will no longer remember the sins and lawlessness of his people (10:17). As if he knows how much convincing we as fallible Christians need, the author drives the point home by writing, “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (10:18). Jesus’s blood covers all sins—past, present, and future.
Draw Near Because . . .
Jesus’s sacrifice opened a new and living way into God’s presence. Because of Jesus’s offering, we as Christians have confidence to enter into the throne room of God (10:19). Before Jesus’s sacrifice, only the priests could enter into God’s presence. If outsiders approached, they were to be put to death (Num 18:7). However, Jesus’s blood opened a “new and living way” for us into God’s very presence (Heb 10:20).
Draw Near Because . . .
Jesus has sprinkled and washed us clean. Before Jesus, even after the people of God were sprinkled with blood and washed with water, they could not fully enter into God’s presence (Heb 9:18–20; cf. Exod 24:1–2; 7–8). Indeed, all the sacrifices before Jesus could never cleanse one from an evil conscience (Heb 9:9). However, we can draw near into God’s very presence because by Jesus’s sacrifice we have “hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” and “bodies washed with pure water” (10:22).
So Draw Near
God holds out to us his people the greater gospel reality that we live in. Jesus’s blood is sufficient for us to draw near to God even in the day of our sin. Let us no longer give in to the sinful guilt and shame that would hold us back from drawing near to God.
• Jesus’s offering means that there is no longer any offering for sins left. So when we sin, let us remember that it was for that very sin that Jesus died, and let us confidently draw near.
• Jesus opened a new and living way for us to God. So when we sin, let us remember that we have the undeserved privilege to access the throne of grace at the time of our need, and let us confidently draw near.
• Jesus’s sprinkled and washed us clean. So when we sin, let us remember that Jesus’s blood has cleansed us and made us worthy because he is worthy, and let us confidently draw near.
Though we rightly feel the pain of grief from sin, we know we have a loving Father who receives us as his children (Heb 12:5–11). So Christian, because Jesus’s blood is sufficient, in the day of your sin, draw near to God. He welcomes you into loving arms as his child.