19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 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. (Heb. 10:19-22)
In the Old Covenant, the way into ”the Holiest” or “the “Most Holy Place” in the temple, was blocked with a veil that separated it from the other parts of the temple, consisting of the ”Holy Place” and the ”Outer Court”. Only one person – the High priest – was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place at one occasion each year in order to make atonement for the Jewish people. Since only the High priest was allowed to enter, only one time per year, they tied a rope around his foot, should he happen to die or loose consciousness while inside. This so that they could pull him out without having anyone unauthorized enter to carry him out. This shows how the access to the most holy place was strictly limited.
The author of Hebrews explains that we now – because of the finished work of Jesus – with boldness can enter the Most Holy Place. This because Jesus Christ, our High priest, having entered the Most Holy Place in heaven and obtained an “eternal redemption” (see Heb. 9:12). Because of that, we can now have fellowship with God without boundaries. No veil is blocking the way. We don’t have to approach God through our priest or pastor. Everyone who believes in Jesus – irrespective of nationality or background – can enjoy an intimate love relationship with God.
The way through which we now with boldness can have fellowship with God and enter the Most Holy Place, is called “the new and living way”. Accordingly, we can conclude that there must also exist an “old and dead way”.
The old and dead way refers to the law of Moses and the Old Covenant, which was a merit-based system. Man could relate to God based on how God he/she had been at keeping all of the 613 commandments and rules of the law. In practice, this is also how every world religion functions today.
Every religion teaches that if we only give to the poor, pray, fast, meditate, go on a pilgrimage, or perform other spiritual exercises, this will give us extra favor with God. The relationship with God is based on how good we are at following a set of commandments and rules.
Jesus came to introduce a new and living way to God, that once and for all was going to remove the way of the law and self-effort to the dustbin of history. He came to show that God loves mankind with an unconditional love. He came to introduce God’s grace and mercy. He came to show the world who God really is.
We can’t become righteous, or access God’s blessings, because of how good we have been in ourselves. All we receive from God, we receive by grace through faith, i.e. by trusting in God’s unconditional love for us – because of what Jesus has done for us through His death and resurrection.
The way we walk as we try to deserve our relationship with God, or make ourselves worthy of His blessings through our own performance, is “old and dead”. The new and living way – which is about us trusting in Jesus and what He has done rather than in ourselves – is open for each and every one that wants and believes. On this way, we can boldly and with a clean conscience have fellowship with God, in full assurance of faith in that Jesus has removed our sins and made us holy and perfect before Him (see Eph. 1:4).