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Saved From Our Sin

Not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
–Hebrews 9:12

In Luke 18:13, the tax collector prayed, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” Did you know it is possible to be sorry for your sin without ever being saved from your sin? The tax collector was sorry for his sin, but he also requested God’s mercy to cover his sin.

In Greek, the word for “be merciful” finds its root in the temple–specifically in the holy of holies. That was the place where God was thought to dwell. In the center of the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant. Inside the ark was a copy of the Ten Commandments, and on top of the ark was a rectangular lid made of gold called the mercy seat. On either side of that lid were replicas of two cherubim that guarded the holiness of God. And it was thought that God met His people in the center of the outstretched wings of the cherubim.

The picture was very clear: God was looking down on the law, which His people had broken, deserving His judgment upon their lives. But once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the holy of holies with the blood of an innocent animal and cover the mercy seat with the blood. So when God looked down, He no longer saw the broken law and His people deserving judgment. Instead, their sin was covered by the blood of an innocent animal.

All of that was a picture of what Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, would one day do for us. We cannot cover over our own sin. But by Christ’s death on the cross, His blood covers our sin. When you ask for God’s mercy, God no longer looks at you and sees His law, which you have broken; instead, your guilt is covered by the blood of His Son. That is why the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 9:12, “Not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” The problem with the Old Testament system was that it was never done–the high priest had to go in year after year to make sacrifices for the sins of the people. But Jesus Christ, the perfect High Priest, entered the gates of heaven not with the blood of an animal but with His own blood and made a once-for-all sacrifice for our sins.

When the tax collector said, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” he was saying, “Lord, cover over my sin. I am not capable of atoning for my guilt. You are going to have to do that for me.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Other Story About The Two Sons” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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