Compare Hebrews 13:9; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 4:16; and Hebrews 6:19-20. Where is grace obtained? How are our hearts strengthened?
The relationship between false teachings and foods, touched on in Hebrews 13:9, probably does not refer to the distinction between clean and unclean foods.
First, Paul does not seem concerned in the epistle with the distinction between clean and unclean foods. We know from Acts chapter 15 that the early Christian church affirmed both that believers are saved by grace (Acts 15:7-11) and that they should continue to observe some food regulations (Acts 15:19-20). The distinction between clean and unclean foods and other biblical regulations are not opposed to grace. In fact, Paul argues that the new covenant has put the law in the heart (Hebrews 8:10-12). What the author makes very clear, however, is that animal sacrifices and the Levitical priestly mediation in the sanctuary have been superseded by the superior sacrifice and priestly mediation of Jesus (Hebrews 8:4-5; Hebrews 10:1-18).
Second, the context suggests that Paul is criticizing the audience not for abstaining from certain foods but for partaking of them with the hope of somehow obtaining grace or merit (Hebrews 13:9). He is probably warning against participating in Jewish ritual or cultic meals that were celebrated as an extension of the animal sacrifices in the temple and which were supposed to provide spiritual benefits, or grace. But grace is not mediated through these meals; grace comes only through the sacrifice and priestly mediation of Jesus Christ. Believers “have an altar” (Hebrews 13:10), the cross of Christ, from which they can eat (John 6:47-58).
In Hebrews, “grace” comes from the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16). This grace, mediated through Christ, is an “anchor,” “sure and steadfast,” that is fastened to God’s throne itself (Hebrews 6:19-20; compare with Hebrews 4:16). It is this grace that we receive through the sacrifice of Christ, which provides stability and assurance to our hearts. When the heart has been “established” in this way, it will not be “carried about” by new doctrines (Hebrews 13:9), nor will it “drift away” from God (Hebrews 2:1, NKJV).
|Dwell on Christ’s complete sacrifice. Why, then, is the idea of anything that we do “adding” to this sacrifice contrary to the gospel and the grace that is found in Jesus?|