Having our conscience cleared
Ever feel like God won’t accept you because you’re not being good enough?
Have you ever been afraid that if you do one more bad thing God will reject you?
The truth is…those feelings do not represent reality. Why? It’s all because of Jesus, and the effects of His significant sacrifice. Check this out:
After establishing that Jesus the High Priest is greater than any high priest which served under the old covenant, the author moves on to another example – this time an illustration using the tabernacle:
Now the first covenant also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was set up…with these things prepared like this, the priests enter the first room repeatedly, performing their ministry. But the high priest alone enters the second room, and he does that only once a year, and never with out blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
This is the way the old covenant worked. One mediator, one messenger, the high priest (on one day per year), who had to offer sacrifices for both his sins and the peoples’ sins. The author then points out that
The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing. This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper’s conscience. They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of the new order.
Just as Jesus’ priesthood is greater than previous high priests, so is his interaction with the original, Heavenly tabernacle:
But Christ has appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God?
And that is the point – the old covenant’s sacrifice was essentially skin-deep, its activities were done for the purification of the flesh and to maintain the relationship with God. However, since Jesus gave his own, most-valuable blood, His sacrifice has a greater, deeper effect. Christ’s sacrifice isn’t just skin-deep, it cleanses all the way down to the level of our consciences.
Because of Jesus, we can now live life free from the guilt of our dead works that were never good enough, because everything we did was always tainted with our selfishness. Notice too, the author’s contrast to the dead works – instead of doing dead activities, we’re now free to work for and with the living God!
Complete service to and partnership with God was obstructed under the old covenant, due to its limitations. The previous covenant was limited in that it couldn’t remove sin from humanity, it only covered the sin…until the Greater Messenger of the Greater Covenant came. In case you missed the author’s point in verse 14, he reiterates:
Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Remember that the author has previously established in this letter that the promised eternal inheritance is the future partnership with Jesus in His kingdom. And it is possible to aim for it only because our high priest has fully paid for and removed our sins.
With our sins fully removed, we can have our consciences cleared from dead works…leaving us ready and available to do everything God created us to achieve.
What has Jesus freed you to do? How will you serve the living God?