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Godís Open Door
By David A. DePra
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he has 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;) (Heb 10:19-23)
The veil of the tabernacle separated the worshipper from God. It hung between the ark of the covenant, where the presence of God dwelled, and the outer parts of the tabernacle. This veil was representative of all that stands between man and God Ė and is therefore representative of our sin nature. As long as that, "veil," remained, oneness, fellowship, and communion with God was impossible.
It is important to see exactly what this veil represents. It does not represent Godís prohibition of man. The veil is not a barrier representative of the withdrawal of God from man. No. The veil actually represents our sin nature Ė what we are without Christ, as those born in Adam. The veil is representative of the condition of man in his relationship to God Ė a condition which Adam created through sin.
Read the account in Genesis. Adam sinned. Adam hid from God. Nowhere do we see God putting up barriers. Rather, God comes looking for Adam. The fact that Adam lost his oneness with God, and therefore his fellowship, is seen in the veil of the tabernacle. Adam cannot no longer enter into Godís presence.
Now, of course, God must put the veil there for the same reason He posted the cherubim with the sword outside the garden. Otherwise God would be creating the possibility of life outside of oneness with Him Ė which is an eternal contradiction. Therefore the veil represents the condition of man in his alienation from God, yes, but also Godís justice, holiness, and mercy. Man could not fellowship with God. Neither did he want to. But neither could God fellowship with man. On Godís side things, it is not a matter of NOT WANTING TO. He could not, for holiness cannot fellowship with unholiness.
The good news is that the veil is now torn apart. Because of Christ, there is no longer a barrier between God and man necessary. This was pictured on the very day Jesus died. At the moment of Jesusí death, the veil in the temple Ė which separated the holy of holies from the worshippers Ė was rent from top to bottom. Jesus had made, "a new and living way," back to God. Of course, the point is that this new and LIVING way was made possible by His DEATH.
Herein we see the important symbolism of the veil. The veil, says the above passage from Hebrews, was representative of Jesusí flesh, or body. But how so? Well, we have already seen that the veil represents everything about US which stands between us and God. But is it not true that Jesus was bearing in His body all that separated us from God? Absolutely! Therefore, we might say that Jesus took upon His own body of flesh everything represented by that veil Ė our sin nature and sins. Then He died. So when His body was, "rent," so was the veil Ė for He had, at that point, become everything the veil represents.
The death of Jesus rent the veil. From that point forward there was nothing that stood between God and man. The way was opened back to God. But there are many who have either rejected that way, or been ignorant of the finality of it. That is why it is so important to grasp the Truth demonstrated by the renting of the veil.
Sin Taken Away
Which serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, says he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. (Heb 8:5)
According to God Himself, the earthy tabernacle was a physical representation of the REAL tabernacle Ė the heavenly one. Thus, what was going on with regards to the earthly tabernacle was representative of what was going on in the heavenly one. This tells us that when that physical veil was rent, it was only because the spiritual counterpart was rent.
When Jesus died, all that stood between God and man was rent. It was taken away. Jesus was, "the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world." (Jn. 1:29) We see this happening with the rent veil. The veil is SIN itself, and when Jesus bore sin in His body and died, the veil was rent. It was taken away because sin is taken away.
We must see the finality of this. Sin was taken away by the death of Jesus Christ as an act completely independent of anything about you or I. Sin is taken away whether we believe it or not! Now, donít misunderstand. If we donít believe and embrace the death of Christ as our own, then the fact that our sin is taken away isnít going to do us any good. We will be like people, at best, standing there looking at the open holy of holies, but who donít go in.
The question for today is never, "Am I good enough to enter into the holiest place?" No Ė although many of us continue to think that this IS the question. We still think that there is something about us that either qualifies us, or disqualifies us to enter Ė namely our works, etc. But it is basic gospel to realize WE are not the reason the veil was rent. The question is whether we believe the veil is rent because of Jesus, and because of Him, we can enter.
Note the RESULTS given to us by the writer of Hebrews once we realize that entry into the holiest has been made possible by Jesus Ė as an act completely independent of anything about us. He says, "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."
The veil is rent because Jesus died. It is rent whether or not I believe it is rent, or whether or not I know it is rent. It is rent because of CHRIST! Sin IS forgiven, and sin IS taken away. In Christ, forgiveness is final and total. Those are eternal realities which nothing and no one can alter.
Once we believe the veil is rent -- and that this veil represented everything about US that stood between us and God Ė then we must come to terms with why we donít enter into the holiest. The veil IS RENT. God rent it because of Jesus. What is keeping us OUT?
Well, the veil isnít keeping us out. It is rent. So really, there is only one thing that keeps us out of the holiest. It is the same thing that kept Israel out of the promised land: Unbelief. We donít believe the veil is rent. We donít believe, "the land," is ours. We donít believe the victory is finished. We are still trying to win it. In short, we are still trying to rent the veil.
Now, I am not speaking only to the issue of salvation. There is a more general application to salvation in all of this to be certain. But I am also speaking to the issue of saved people who donít realize the finality of what Christ has done. What Christ has done is as finished as it is going to get. But we know we arenít finished Ė in the sense of actual experience. And it is here that we stumble. Some of us wrongly assume that if redemption were really finished for us, that we would be finished, sinless, and be able to live a perfect life. Yet the Bible continually tells us that this is not going to happen.
The revelation of scripture is always that the victory is finished, Godís kingdom has won, and that there is nothing more we need to do to add to it. But we are also told that because of where we START in Adam, that there are going to be battles Ė not to win the victory Ė but to take possession of what Christ has won. Thus, the battle is that of FAITH. Every point of spiritual warfare comes back to whether we believe.
How often we make the battle something else! We try to, "get forgiven." But our problem is that we donít believe we already ARE forgiven. We try to, "get delivered." But our problem is that we donít believe we ARE delivered. I am here not talking about mind games, or the, "mind science," of denying that there is evil or sin in the world. No! I am talking about coming to terms with the power of the Cross and the reality of the resurrection.
Why do we think God says such things as, "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?" That statement would be absolutely amoral if Christians were not already forgiven for all sin in Christ. There is NO condemnation for sin for those in Christ, because all sin is forgiven in Christ! And that is because Jesus died for all sin in our place!
Yet having seen these things doctrinally, we MUST go on to live in them, first, by faith. That is exactly what it means to enter through a new and LIVING way. The way into the holiest isnít opened up so that we can merely sit around developing theological positions about it. We must get up and enter into the things of God. Otherwise, our profession will never become a possession.
Notice what the Truth about the rent veil means in a practically way: It means that God has already done all the forgiving He is going to do Ė because Jesus has already done all the dying He is going to do. In effect, Jesus died ONCE for ALL sin. Thus, in Him, all sin is ONCE for ALL forgiven.
This means that if you are a Christian, you are as forgiven right now as you will ever be. You are not just a person whose sins are forgiven. You are a FORGIVEN PERSON. Get that. A Christian is not a person who bobs in and out of Godís forgiveness, depending upon his works. A Christian is a forgiven person Ė there is no such thing as an, "unforgiven Christian!" That is an oxymoron.
This does not mean we have no sin. It does not mean there are no temporal consequences for sin. It does not mean you cannot squander your inheritance. It does not mean that you cannot walk out of harmony and fellowship with God. But what it does mean is this: God won't walk away from you. God has already removed everything between yourself and Him. If you are saved, you GOT THAT WAY by having your sins forgiven. Once saved, you cannot get unforgiven any more than you can get unborn again. (Although some people try to say you can do both!)
If the death of Jesus Christ rent the veil, then it stands as a perpetually open door for you. There is nothing you can do to hang that veil back up! That is just how complete the forgiveness of God is through His Son. The problem, therefore, is not the veil. The problem is that we donít believe.
The Need for Faith
Again, the real problem is: We donít believe. We donít believe we are forgiven people. Instead we believe we are on probation. We donít believe that all sin, past, present, and future, is taken away by Christ. Instead, we take our sin and put it between us and God, and then blame Him for it. Many of us, as we lament our sins and failures, take a big needle and thread, and sew the veil back up Ė and place a barrier between us and God. And then we blame God for it!
Have we realized that God never takes any sin we commit and hangs it up as a veil between us and Him? Why? Because sin is precisely the veil which Jesus took down! If God takes our sin and hangs it between us and Him, He is actually denying the death of His own Son!
The only VEIL which can possibly stand between us and God is the one WE put there. But not our sins Ė for again Ė our sins are precisely the veil Jesus rent. No. Our unbelief is the only veil we can put up between us and God. If we wonít believe, we wonít enter. That unbelief is therefore what keeps us OUT.
Can we see why it is vital that we believe that Godís door is eternally open to us Ė and that there is nothing about us which can make Him close it? If we donít believe this, God still doesnít close His door. But if we donít believe it, then we wonít walk through!
One of the most difficult things for people to see is how God could possibly forgive us completely Ė for past, present, and future sins. To many of us, this would surely open the door for license. Well, if all that Christianity is, is a LEGAL position, that is exactly what it would do. For we would then be legally forgiven for sin, but given no provision for holiness. Thank God Christianity is more than a legal position! You see, we are not only forgiven by the death of Christ. We are given NEW LIFE Ė His life in us. And that changes everything.
When we believe, we are not only IMPUTED with the righteousness of Christ. We are IMPARTED with His very life. Unless this is true, Christianity IS only legal in nature. In that case, we would have NO resurrection life in us. There would be no real new birth as a new creation. Yet millions have believed that justification by faith is legal only. It is not. God cannot, if He is moral and holy, legally impute righteousness to people without making provision for them TO BE righteousness! There is always a living counterpart to the legal realities in Christianity.
My point is this: People need to understand that Christianity is a new birth. This solves the concern over license. It does away with any notion that if God has already forgiven us for all sin that it will lead us, "to continue in sin that grace might abound." Why so? Well, if you are truly born again, you GOT THAT WAY by repenting of sin. You cannot emerge from TRUE REPENTANCE OF SIN with the intent, "to continue in sin that grace might abound." You canít. Your flesh might, "want to sin," and you might sin through habit or ignorance, but if you are born again, the, "real you," wants to obey God. Again Ė this is so because you are BORN AGAIN. It is now your NATURE to want to obey God.
But you see, we have not been taught. Despite the fact that Jesus has already taken away the sin of the world, and has made forgiveness final, people still think that the new birth is a new lifestyle, "getting religion," or just a legal term for being saved. But no. There is no such thing as a born again person who is anything but a totally forgiven person. The two are as one. And God knows that if we are born again, we have in us HIS LIFE.
The Sin Which Has No Forgiveness
Once we know that our sin is taken away in Christ and refuse to embrace that reality by faith, we are then in danger of being guilty of the sin which has no forgiveness. The only sin Jesus could not die for was the sin of refusing His death as payment for sin. The only sin, therefore, which God cannot forgive is the refusal of His forgiveness. To forgive the refusal of forgiveness would render Jesusí death meaningless.
When Jesus died, everything that separated us from God was taken away Ė or, "rent." There was therefore, "a new and living waywhich he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." What this tells us is that access to God through Jesus is just as open right now for each of us as physical access was open to the holy of holies at the moment of Jesusí death. But if we wonít walk through that way in Christ, we arenít going to have life. And once we know we can walk through, and donít, then we are guilty of what we might call, "a new sin." We have committed the one sin that has no forgiveness.
I call the unpardonable sin, "a new sin," because it is not a sin with which we are born. By natural birth we donít know the Truth. The unpardonable sin is only possible if you do KNOW the Truth. The unpardonable sin is unpardonable because for it there is no excuse. We are refusing the totally free way OUT of sin.
Why Many Wonít Come
Aside from the unpardonable sin, there are many reasons why people donít come to God through the new and living way that Jesus has made for us. All of them, of course, end up coming back to some form of unbelief.
Some people donít come because they donít know to come. They have no clue. They are ignorant. Many of these people know they need SOMETHING, but they arenít to the point where they can choose. They havenít yet seen the open door.
Others donít come because they are deceived. They have been told that they are IN the holy of holies. But they have settled for a counterfeit. Where did they get off the track? They never came to Jesus. They came to religion about Him. They have been duped into thinking that believing that The Door is there equals walking through it. To these folks, believing doctrine is faith.
Then there are a whole bunch of people who based entry into the holy of holies upon their works, attitudes, and spiritual merits. They think God opened the veil to them because of something about them. But what they donít understand is that they have been invited into a false holy of holies by the enemy. In this false holy of holies, they operate upon the same basis by which they entered: Their own good works.
A counterpart group also base their entry into the holy of holies upon their own works. But they think their works are keeping them OUT. Every time they sin, they see the sin as a new veil which God hangs until they make some sort of religious amends or atonement. The veil keeps going up and down in their lives Ė depending upon their works. Nothing is finished. Everything is tentative upon THEM, and not upon Christís finished work.
Another group of people are those who donít know much about The Door, but COULD know. They have seen the open door, but the closer they got to it, the more uncomfortable they became. The light was just too bright. At some point they realized that the holy of holies really IS holy. And that exposed them as unholy. Rather than simply confess what they are, in the light of who Christ is, they stepped back into the darkness. These are those who, "loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil."
God never tells us that we must be worthy to enter the holy place. Rather, He tells us that we must be convinced we are absolutely unworthy. But that is not all. He tells us that we must then come into the holy place solely on the basis of what Christ has done. Indeed, unless that IS the basis upon which we enter, we are not entering the real holy place, but one which the enemy has offered as a substitute.
Again Ė until we see that everything is finished in Christ Jesus as a reality that is completely apart from us Ė we will continue to keep trying to finish what is finished. And our unbelief will be the veil that we hang back up. And then we will blame God.
We must come to terms with the fact that coming to Christ, "just as I am," is not an option. It is the only way I CAN COME. Indeed, unless I see this, I wonít be coming, "just as I am." I will be coming, "just as Iím NOT!" Ė in an attempt to find a find to get the veil rent all over again.
But no. The death of Jesus Christ took away all the sin of all humankind forever. Yet it is only those who believe who will enter into the holiest place. We are to enter with, "boldness." This means OPENNESS Ė not on the basis of what we are Ė but upon the finished reality of what Jesus has done.*
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