13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The word “for” gives the grounds for the blood of Christ obtaining eternal redemption.
if (assumed true)
The “if” here begins a lesser-to-greater argument. The conclusion is found in the next verse. The contrast is between ceremonial cleansing and the ultimate cleansing by Christ.
the blood of bulls and goats
Thus, the argument here is from the lesser to the greater. If the blood of animal sacrifices can make people ceremonially clean, how much more (He 9:14) did Christ’s blood deal with our personal sin?
and the ashes of a heifer,
The phrase “ashes of a heifer” refers to the ritual cleansing of those who physically contacted a dead body (Nu 19).
sprinkling the unclean,
The “unclean” here are ceremonially unclean Israelites. Ceremonial defilement demanded a ritual that did not cleanse from sin per se but was a type of cleansing from sin. This ceremony was always available and not just on the Day of Atonement. It was a ritual cleansing or ceremonial cleansing from defilement of touching a dead body. Old Testament sacrifices could only ceremonially cleanse people.
sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
Old Covenant rituals made the individual only ceremonially clean. It was an outward cleansing of the “flesh” or ritual defilement. This had to do with preparation for worship in the nation Israel. The purifying of the flesh here is not the spiritual cleansing of eternal redemption. One is bodily cleansing and the other spiritual and eternal cleansing.
how much more shall the blood of Christ,
The blood of Christ can do “much more;” it is superior to any other sacrifice. Animal sacrifice could cleanse only ceremonial defilement. There is a contrast here between ceremonial cleansing and the true and eternal cleansing that Christ offered.
who through the eternal Spirit
The “eternal Spirit” here is the Holy Spirit. All three members of the Trinity are involved in redemption. Christ as a member of the Trinity consented to give His life to redeem those who would believe on Him. This was a decision made in eternity past in God’s eternal counsel. It was a decision of eternal nature to die for mankind.
Animals of Old Testament sacrifice did not offer themselves; they went involuntarily to the sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice was antitypical in the sense that He sacrificed Himself voluntarily. Animals sacrificed had no decision in their sacrifice. They did not concur with the giving up of their lives; there was no consent to their sacrifice. Christ offered Himself; it was a matter of His consent. Jesus said that “no one takes my life from me, I lay it down of myself.” His sacrifice was voluntary because He “offered Himself.”
without spot [unblemished] to God,
Christ’s person had no blemish, much more so than the lamb without blemish in the Old Testament (He 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pe 1:19). Jesus’ sacrifice was spotless or without sin in His life.
cleanse your conscience
“Conscience” is our ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This word is used five times in Hebrews (He 9:9, 14; 10:2, 22: 13:18). Old Testament believers cleansed only the outward physical or ceremonial aspect of man whereas Christ cleansed the inner man.
from dead works
“Dead works” separate a person from God. These “dead works” are probably Levitical rituals. Rituals can never impart spiritual life (He 6:1). It is completely improper to return to rituals when Christ has once for all paid for sins.
to serve the living God?
A “living God” requires living worship and service (Jn 4:24; Ro 12:1–2). God is “living” because He is eternal.
Christ’s sacrifice should affect the way we serve God.
Christ’s sacrifice has infinite value because of the unblemished sacrifice of Himself. Levitical sacrifice acted as formal ritualistic expiation, but Christ cleansed the inner person. Dead works of ritual cannot do what our Lord did.
The result of Christ’s death in contrast to animal sacrifices was spiritual, not ceremonial. Whatever sacrifices under Israel were, they were temporary. The sacrifice of Christ through the eternal Spirit was permanent.
God is neither unhappy nor angry with us, because Christ offered Himself unblemished to the Father in our place. God’s justice makes no further demands on us (Ro 8:1). Christ’s sacrifice removed our guilt from sin.