“For the law made nothing perfect; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:19).
Have you ever noticed how it is so easy to fall back in to old habits? Often without even really realizing what is happening, we will find that we have slipped back to a former pattern in our lives and just can’t figure out how we got there. Sometimes this shows up as bad habits… But sometimes this goes a lot deeper… Sometimes it shows up in the sense that we begin to “buy in” to a lie that we believed in the past… And sadly, often for believers what we tend to buy in to is the idea that we need to perform. We will say over and over again that we are saved by grace through faith, but when it comes down to what we actually believe, it seems like we just can’t kick this internal desire to save ourselves. And as you read this, you might be shrugging it off or thinking that this couldn’t possibly be referring to you. Or maybe you read this and are feeling discouraged because you know that is exactly where you are. Either way, it is important for us to consider what this might look like in our lives.
Maybe for some of us it looks like this. There can be this thing that happens where when we are saved, we see the way that a certain church or group of people or even an individual person does things, and then we just kind of try to mimic what we see them doing because it makes sense to us that they are doing what they do because it is what Christians are supposed to do. So we got saved, and then start trying to perform… We start trying to jump through Christian hoops that we hope other people see, and ultimately we hope that God sees, and we start trying to conform ourselves to this list of expected Christian behaviors thinking that somehow if we are more like that, if we somehow can live up to the list we have made, then it must mean we are closer to God. We start trying to conform ourselves to this list we have made, and don’t even realize that we are trying to conform ourselves to a list rather than allowing ourselves to be transformed more into the image of Christ. We begin to work towards it and begin to master it, and where we can’t master it, we begin to pretend to master it. And as we do this, we grow more and more and more in the knowledge about God and wake up and can’t find Him anywhere. We get to this head knowledge point where we know all the “good answers” and can spout out things about Christ all day long, but at the end of the day, in the darkness of ourselves, Jesus is nowhere to be found… And we get discouraged, and then think we must be failing to perform somewhere, all the while missing the point.
That is what makes this message in Hebrews so incredible. “The law made NOTHING perfect”. Our “Christian list”, which is really just our supplement to the law, will never make us perfect; it will never save us. But the thing that is so wonderful is that it doesn’t need to. We are not graded on our performance; we are judged only by Christ’s performance if we are truly His, which is the best news we can ever hear as people trapped in a pattern of the law.