Perhaps, one of the most familiar blessings known among followers of Christ is His ability to cleanse us from our sin. Most of us, at one time or another, have sung…
“What has washed away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus”, or…
“Are you washed in the blood, in the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Jesus shed blood is the most important and wonderful physical/spiritual element in the entire universe. In addition to its power to cleanse Christ’s followers of sin, we have also discovered in previous posts…
- We are freed from sin and slavery and being bought back with his shed blood
- We are forgiven through His shed blood
- We have peace with God, through the war reparations paid with His shed blood
Today we will look a little deeper into the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, but first let us with joy consider the power of Christ’s blood to continually cleanse us from sin.
As we already have discovered, Christ’s blood was not only the currency needed for the atonement, it is the element which cleanses our account of sin. This is not only a past tense reality, but a present tense truth, as we sometimes stumble after our King.
(I John 1:7-9) If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Hallelujah! Not only are our sins forgiven at the cross, but as when we fail to walk in Christ’s righteousness (from time to time), we have forgiveness and continual cleansing of stain of the sin, as well as the pattern of its unrighteous behavior in our practical life. The only requirements are that we remain in fellowship with one another, walking in the light of truth and continuing with a soft heart to the Holy Spirit, that we may be convicted of sin and confess it upon that conviction.
The reason this reality is possible is that Christ as our great High Priest continually ministers the power of His shed blood in the true Holiest Place in heaven. The book of Hebrews chapters 7-10, beautifully illuminate this truth, as well as revealing another blessing of the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ.
(Hebrews 9:11-14) But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once and for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh (year to year in the O.T. system; my added note), 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?
BLOOD BLESSING #4: CLEANSING OF OUR CONSCIENCE
The answer to the question in verse 14 is that the blood will cleanse the conscience completely. Understanding the nature of our conscience is essential to it being cleansed as God intended. Conscience is the part of our individual humanity that is stamped with God’s image, as we are made in His image. This moral impression of God’s character happens at some point during procreation, where God does what He does.
As it often is with things concerning man, it is Christ Himself, who is the point of our contact with God’s image. In John 1:9 we find Christ as the Light of the world and that “Light is the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world”. When you have time look at Hebrews 1:3, where we read Jesus is “the expressed image of the person of God”; in the study of the phrase “expressed image” you will find another illustrative understanding of this truth.
It is our conscience that calls to us, even though it has been horribly damaged in the fall, when we are stepping over God’s moral law or boundaries. This is what is generally felt in all humanity as that sense of “right and wrong”. When we sin, before being in Christ, we defile our conscience, and it accuses us before God. We either ignore it, or seek to cleanse it ourselves through religion or good deeds or heroic acts, or simply as the president says by “doing better”.
It is the desire to cleanse our conscience, as humans, that leads to so much useless and vain religion. Our conscience knows there is a Day of Reckoning, whether our humanity believes in the One True God or not and like an automatic program will cause our humanity to seek absolution. Consider the Hindu, who makes pilgrimage to the Ganges River to bathe in its “holy waters” for the washing away of sins. This river’s supposed powers are only as good as the person who never sins again, therefore yearly the devout must make the trip to the Ganges “holy waters”, which in actuality is a disease infested body of water, where unwanted and aborted girls, animals, un-buried improperly cremated bodies and other undesirables are dumped.
This is just one of the thousands of ways we humans apart from the only Anointment God provides in Christ, seek to cleanse our consciences. These practices may assuage our guilt, but will never cleanse our God given conscience. Yet by the blood of Christ, if we receive Him by faith, we will find our cleansing of conscience, which is essential to our Christian character (I Timothy 1:5; 1:19, 3:9).
Although Christ’s blood cleanses our conscience by faith the moment we believe, we are called to aid in keeping it so, by refusing to sin and when we do by walking in God’s prescription for ongoing cleansing (I John 1:7-9). Herein lies the problem. As we found in our previous post, Christ’s blood is reparation for war. We are glad we are no longer at war with God, yet sometimes, our humanity behaves and thinks as if God is still against us, as if there has been no peace made. Our passage in Hebrews 9:14 alludes to this when it declares “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?”
What’s happening in the context of this passage, in fact the entire book, is that Jewish believers in Christ are being threatened by O.T. Jews to leave the body of Christ and return to Judaism. The Book of Hebrews is a treatise on the supremacy of Christ over all O.T. religion. Therefore, the holy Spirit is reminding them first and foremost not to return to a system of “dead works” or legalistic religion, for Christ’s blood has cleansed their consciences from them. Despite this fact it was possible for them and for us to begin to feel and think we are not cleansed or at peace with god and return to dead works. This was a regular and harmful intrusion in the early church (Check out Paul’s rebuke of the church in Galatians 3:1-4). When this happens it is spiritual shell shock or P.T.S.D.
When we were at war with God, our battles against Him left spiritual scars in our wounded conscience and mental processes, forging deep patterned memories. Although Christ’s blood cleanses our account, washes away the “dead works” and has provided for healing, we understand its practical implementation is a work in progress. Therefore, when we fail or when bad stuff occurs, we may begin to think in those old wounded conscience patterns…
“I need to make this right with God”
“God must be mad at me, or not love me any more”
“I need to gain His favor back”
“What kind of a hypocrite am I, how can I even share my faith if I keep messing up?”
We may begin a pattern of practice that is seeking to regain our footing, yet falls into a rinse and repeat cycle, that leaves out the rinsing. This spiritual PTSD damages, frustrates, and is the reason many experience little joy in their walk with Christ, fall into more destructive sin behavior, walk away from the church in shame, or even god forbid give up on Christ completely.
Jesus did not shed His blood so that you would believe God is mad at you, is holding out on you, is being unfair to you, or is powerless to enable you to overcome. His blood has never and will never lose its power to cleanse our conscience.
The best safe guard I know is to remember. You and I have never and will never be righteous enough to gain his favor or affirmation. This is why Jesus came in the flesh and God only accepts you in Christ, therefore, until that time you’re good enough or have done enough to surpass Jesus’ perfect works (which it will never happen) reject your old wounded way of thinking, established before you were in Christ, when your conscience was defiled. Receive Jesus’ cleansing blood on your behalf and start living in the power of God’s Spirit.
If you truly believe what the word of God says about the blood, cease to allow your feelings of I am not good enough for them (church) or God, justify living a moral life when it is easy, or even giving in when your flesh wants to live dangerously. Don’t try to be better by the ramping up our bible reading, church attendance and charity. REPENT, walk away from guilt (which really is a sinful choice) and live in Christ. Simply be who you were saved to be by faith and obedience.