The great thought and purpose of the true sanctuary, its priesthood, and ministry, is that God shall dwell in the hearts of the people. What now is the great thought and purpose of His dwelling in the hearts of the people? The answer is, Perfection. The moral and spiritual perfection of the worshiper.
Let us consider this: At the close of the fifth chapter of Hebrews, immediately following the statement that Christ, “being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:9, 10), it is written: “Therefore,” that is, because of this, for this reason, “leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” (Hebrews 6:1)
Next it is shown that perfection is attained only through the Melchisedec priesthood. And it is shown that this was always so and that the Levitical priesthood was only temporary and typical of the Melchisedec priesthood. Following this, in discussing the Levitical priesthood, it is written: “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood,… what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11) And again, in the same connection, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did [or “but it was the bringing in of a better hope,” margin]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (v. 19)
By these scriptures it is perfectly plain that the perfection of the worshiper is that which is offered and which is attained in the priesthood and ministry of Christ.
Nor yet are these all the words on this thought. For, as already quoted in the description of the sanctuary and its service, it is said that it “was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.” (Hebrews 9:9) That none of this could make him that did the service perfect is its great lack. Therefore that the priesthood and ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary can and does make perfect him who enters by faith into the service is the great thought and the goal of all.
That earthly service “could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.” “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:11, 12) This sanctuary, priesthood, sacrifice, and ministry of Christ’s does make perfect in eternal redemption every one who by faith enters into the service and so receives that which that service is established to give.
Further, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13, 14) The blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean in the Levitical service and the worldly sanctuary did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh: for so the word concerning it continually declares. And that being so, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,” sanctify to the purifying of the spirit and “purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
What are dead works? Death itself is the consequence of sin. Dead works therefore are works that have sin in them. Then the purging of the conscience from dead works is the so entirely cleansing of the soul from sin, by the blood of Christ, through the eternal Spirit, that in the life and works of the believer in Jesus sin shall have no place; the works shall be only works of faith, and the life shall be only the life of faith, and so be only the true and pure “service of the living God.”
Again it is written: “The law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1-4)
This again shows that though perfection was the aim in all the ministry that was performed under the law, yet perfection was not attained by any of those performances. They were all simply figures for the time then present of the ministry and priesthood by which perfection is attained; that is the ministry and priesthood of Christ. Those sacrifices could not make the comers thereunto perfect. The true sacrifice and the true ministry in “the sanctuary and the true tabernacle” do make the comers thereunto perfect, and this perfection consists in the worshipers having “no more conscience of sins.”
But since it is “not possible” for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, it was not possible, though those sacrifices were offered year by year continually, so to purge the worshipers that they should have no more conscience of sins. The blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean could and did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, but of the flesh only. And even this was “but a figure for the time then present” of “the blood of Christ,” which so much more purges the worshipers that they have no more conscience of sins.
“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Hebrews 10:5-9)
Here are mentioned two things: “the first,” and “the second.” What are these two things? Which is “the first,” and which “the second”? The two things mentioned are sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and offering for sin—all as one—and the will of God. Sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and offering for sin—all as one—are “the first,” and “the will of God” is “the second.” “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.” That is, He “taketh away sacrifice, offering, burnt offerings, and offering for sin,” that He may establish the will of God. And the will of God is “even your sanctification” and your perfection. (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 4:8, 12, 13; Hebrews 13:20, 21) But this could never be accomplished by those sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, and offering for sin which were offered by the Levitical priesthood—they could not make the comers thereunto perfect. They could not so purge the worshipers that they should have no more conscience of sin. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.
Therefore, since the will of God is the sanctification and the perfection of the worshipers; since the will of God is that His worshipers shall be so cleansed that they shall have no more conscience of sin; and since the service and the offerings in that earthly sanctuary could not do this, He took it all away that He may establish the will of God. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)
The will of God is “even your sanctification.” Sanctification is the true keeping of all the commandments of God. In other words, this is to say that the will of God concerning man is that His will shall be perfectly fulfilled in man. His will is expressed in His law of Ten Commandments, which is “the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) This law is perfect, and perfection of character is the perfect expression of this law in the life of the worshiper of God. By this law is the knowledge of sin. And all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God—have come short of this perfection of character.
The sacrifices and the service in the earthly sanctuary could not take away the sins of men and so could not bring them to this perfection. But the sacrifice and the ministry of the true High Priest in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle do accomplish this. This does take away utterly every sin. And the worshiper is so truly purged that he has no more conscience of sins. By the sacrifice, the offering, and the service of Himself, Christ took away the sacrifices and the offerings and the service which could never take away sins, and by His perfect doing of the perfect will of God He established the will of God. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)
In that former earthly sanctuary and service, “every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” But in the service in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, “this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:11-14)
Thus perfection in every respect is attained through the priesthood, the sacrifice, and the service of this our great High Priest at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens in His ministry in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:15-18)
And this is the “new and living way” which Christ, through the flesh, “hath consecrated for us”—for all mankind—and by which every soul may enter into the holiest of all—the holiest of all places, the holiest of all experiences, the holiest of all relationships the holiest of all living. This new and living way He “hath consecrated for us through the flesh;” that is, He, coming in the flesh, identifying Himself with mankind in the flesh, has, for us who are in this flesh, consecrated a way from where we are to where He now is, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens in the holiest of all.
In His coming in the flesh—having been made in all things like unto us and having been tempted in all points like as we are—He has identified Himself with every human soul just where that soul is. And from the place where every human soul is, He has consecrated for that soul a new and living way through all the vicissitudes and experiences of a whole lifetime, and even through death and the tomb, into the holiest of all at the right hand of God for evermore.
O that consecrated way! Consecrated by His temptations and sufferings, by His prayers and tears, by His holy living and sacrificial dying, by His triumphant resurrection and glorious ascension, and by His triumphal entry into the holiest of all, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens!
And this “way” He has consecrated for us. He, having become one of us, has made this way our way; it belongs to us. He has endowed every soul with divine right to walk in this consecrated way, and by His having done it Himself in the flesh—in our flesh—He has made it possible, yea, He has given actual assurance, that every human soul can walk in that way, in all that that way is and by it enter fully and freely into the holiest of all.
He, as one of us, in our human nature, weak as we, laden with the sins of the world, in our sinful flesh, in this world, a whole lifetime, lived a life “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” and “was made” and ascended “higher than the heavens.” And by this He has made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can in this world and for a whole lifetime, live a life holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and as a consequence be made with Him higher than the heavens.
Perfection, perfection of character, is the Christian goal— perfection attained in human flesh in this world. Christ attained it in human flesh in this world and thus made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can attain it. He, having attained it, has become our great High Priest, by His priestly ministry in the true sanctuary to enable us to attain.
Perfection is the Christian’s goal, and the High Priesthood and ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary is the only way by which any soul can attain this true goal in this world. “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” (Psalm 77:13)
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:19-23)
“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:… But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:” (Hebrews 12:18-25)
(To be continued)
(This article was taken from pages 76-85 of the book, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, by Alonzo T. Jones. Some editing has been done for this publication. Editor)