For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? (Hebrews 10:1-2 ESV)
Here it is again. As people who have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf we are to have no consciousness of sin. We have been cleansed and can approach God without hesitation. One thing that can help us think about this is on how we think about our Sunday gathering, especially the taking of communion.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ESV)
Anyone who has attended services where a communion talk proceeds the taking of communion will be very familiar with these verses. What does it mean to eat or drink in an unworthy manner? I think there are two possibilities and Hebrews points us to one rather than the other. One view suggests that I come to communion and focus on my sin. In the extreme of this view I must take communion each week because I have sinned each week and partaking of communion in some way cleanses me of those sins. Communion has now become a duty and takes on much of the character of the old covenant sacrifices.
I would like to suggest another view. I come to communion and focus on Jesus, the wonder of the incarnation, and his love expressed on the cross. I come recognizing that all this has resulted in my cleansing. I can share in the meal with confidence and gratitude. Now communion is really a love feast to enjoy and celebrate. This should not diminish my appreciation for the blood shed on the cross. My hope would be that this would increase as my focus is on Jesus rather than me.
14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:14 ESV)
This is another one of those now and not yet situations that we encounter so often in the New Testament. The work of cleansing us of our sin has been done. The challenge for us is living into that reality.