When Hebrews says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin,” it means without Christ’s blood. If we deny Jesus and his death on the cross, we have no forgiveness. We stand guilty before God himself, and we will bear the wrath we deserve. Many years may now stand between you and your greatest sins, but time does not erase guilt. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. You might think you can come to a point where your good deeds will outweigh your evil deeds. It will never happen. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.
When the author of Hebrews makes the negative case concerning the blood of Christ, its significance is far-reaching. Throughout the book, he makes the positive case that Christ’s blood can cleanse us from dead works. Still, later he says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Heb. 9:22). By saying it this way, he cuts off any other options we think we might have, yet we live in a world that believes there are many roads to God.
Earlier in the chapter, he tells us that God makes no covenants with man that do not require the shedding of blood. He goes on to say that almost everything was cleansed with blood in the Old Testament. The Tabernacle, the Book of the Law, and even the people were sprinkled with blood (Heb. 9:21). There could be no ceremonial cleanliness in the Old Testament unless a death had occurred, and these Old Covenant ceremonies were types and pictures of actual heavenly realities (Heb. 9:23).
Blood was required under Old Testament worship because the wages of sin is death. If God was going to paint a picture of the only way man could be right with God, death was a necessary component of that illustration. However, the pictures themselves were not sufficient. The blood of bulls and goats cannot take our place in bearing the wrath of God. They are not valuable enough to pay our debt.
If it was necessary for the Old Testament copies of the things in heaven to be cleansed with blood, how much more the heavenly things themselves, with a better sacrifice (Heb. 9:23). Christ did not enter an earthly copy of the Holy of Holies on our behalf to put away sin, he entered the presence of God (Heb. 9:24).