Jerry Seinfeld poked fun at laundry detergent commercials in one of his comedy routines. He’s particularly amazed at the commercial that boasts in the power of Tide. Tide is so powerful it can remove even the toughest of bloodstains – to which Jerry Seinfeld responds, “Hey, if you’ve got bloodstains on your clothes, laundry detergent isn’t your biggest problem”.
Lets’s review a bit about Hebrews 8 and then examine what questions we will answer in Hebrews 9.
1. Our High Priest is a Minister – to God first, then to Man
2. He Delights in Bringing Us into the Majesty
His delight is to bring man into the Majesty. As we will see, God’s desire has always been to dwell among men in righteous fellowship. While He cannot do that until this world is finally redeemed and transformed, Jesus makes it possible for us to dwell with God in righteous fellowship. Jesus Christ brings us into the presence of the majesty. He doesn’t just bless us like the old Priest did. He places God in us! In the Majesty, we enjoy God’s concern and blessing. All because of our Minister. His ministry is founded upon better promises and a better covenant.
The practical & powerful effect of Christ’s “better ministry” is given in these words, “to purify your conscience from dead works”. The problem that is faced in this passage, therefore, is how to handle a guilty conscience.
3. WHAT IS OUR PROBLEM?
Our problem is the effect our sin has upon our conscience. You may think the conscience is:
- “That still, small voice that makes you feel smaller still.”
- “It is that which feels bad when everything else feels good.”
- Conscience is that internal voice that sits in judgment over our will.
Conscience is described in the New Testament as Good, Clear, Evil or Seared:
- Pure Heart & Sincere Faith is anchored by a Good conscience (1 Tim 1:5)
- Your conscience can shipwreck your faith (1 Tim 1:19)
- Faith flows from a clear conscience (1 Tim 3:9)
- Seared conscience produces liars (1 Tim 4:2)
- Clear conscience is foundation of honorable behavior (Heb 13:18)
- Good conscience is the best defense against slander (1 Peter 3:16)
- Our conscience bears witness with our heart when we transgress God’s moral law (Rom 2:15)
- Our consciences can sense the truth of a minister (2 Cor 4:2)
- Pure conscience is power in prayer (2 Tim 1:3)
- Someone with a good conscience sees the good. An evil conscience produces unbelief and agnosticism (Titus 1:15)
- A Conscience can’t be cleared by gifts or sacrifices or good works (Heb 9:9)
- Only the blood of Jesus can clean us of an evil conscience (Heb 10:22)
Clearly God designed our conscience to be much more than what we normally think it is. I believe that our conscience is key to our mental health, our depression, even some conditions such as bi-polar and other psychoses. The world attempts to deal with our conscience through pills, drugs, music, sex and possessions. However, nothing works with the power of the Blood of Christ!
The sad truth is that our conscience can be conditioned, which the Bible describes as becoming “seared” and even “evil”.
4. How Does Christ Deal With Our Problem?
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14
The problem with the Hebrews is not wrongdoing, but dead works. They know how to confess their sins. That aspect of a troubled conscience can easily be taken care of by Christians as they accept the forgiving grace of God. But the problem here is a conscience plagued with guilt over good left undone – not sins of commission, but sins of omission. They have launched a program of intensive religious activity, which may range from bead counting and candle burning to serving on committees, passing our tracts, and teaching Sunday school classes. But as anyone who has become super busy in churchy activities, they never really satisfy, and indeed, they can leave us wanting more. We may even find ourselves wondering what did it accomplish, what good was done.
but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:7-10
What difference is there in a pagan who crawls endlessly down a road to placate God, and an American Christian who busies himself in a continual round of activity to try to win a sense of acceptance before God?
“I don’t know what the matter with me is. I do all I can to serve the Lord but I still feel guilty, and then I feel guilty about feeling guilty”
It is discouraging to think that much of our activity is “dead works” and that such effort is not acceptably serving God. The problem is not what we do; it is not the activity itself, because under the Law, there was a God authorized place of activity.
5. How Shall We Worship and Work for God?
a. Look Beyond the Fleshly Substitutes!
In the tabernacle everything points to the holiness of God & the sinfulness of man! – In fact, no one could enter God’s presence without the shedding of blood! The very first thing you saw as you entered the court of the Tabernacle was the Brazen Altar, with the continually burning fire, the smell of burning flesh, the copious amounts of blood. To enter the Tabernacle was to be confronted with your sinfulness!
The 1st part (The Holy Place) – Lampstand (menorah); Table of showbread. (also the golden incense altar). Behind the 2nd veil (the Holy of Holies) – Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark was the
- Pot of manna – God’s miraculous loving care to feed them in the wilderness for many years. God’s (Hesed) Steadfast Love!
- The Stone Tablets of the Law – God’s (Mishpat) Justice!
- Aaron’s rod that budded – God’s (Tsedaqah) Righteousness that brings Life!
In the Ark was Testimony to the three things that God Practices here on Earth (Jeremiah 9:24)!
b. Every Part of the Tabernacle Breathed Jesus Christ!
- Tabernacle (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us);
- Lamp stand (light of the world);
- Showbread (I am the bread of life);
- Veil (which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh);
- Mercy seat (redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation);
- Manna (I am the bread of life);
- Loving provision from God-Mercy
- Tablets/stone (perfectly fulfilled) – Justice God’s Way
- Word of God
- Aaron’s rod (Jesus the High Priest); – Righteousness
- Life from death
- Ark stepping into the Jordan River
6. Realize there can be no faith in works to clear your guilt (6-10)
What an endless repetition of sacrifices & ritual. Every day, & year by year…which meant nothing permanent was ever accomplished!
a. We see limited access & limited efficacy (effectiveness!)
- Regulations only benefited the body-no change in the inner man.
- Regulations are of no value to God. God has no delight in rituals-Heb 10:6
- Result was continual labor in search for peace.
- Like a man who buys new clothes every time he needs a bath.
- Total Worthlessness of Outward observances.
- David saw it in Ps 51:16-17 (Man after God’s Own Heart)
b. (vs 9) Their consciences would know no relief!
“Many people have only their bad memory to thank for their clear conscience!”
“The disease of an evil conscience is beyond the practice of all physicians of all the countries of the world.”
Albert Speer was once interviewed about his book on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Speer was the Hitler confidant whose technological genius was credited with keeping Nazi factories humming throughout WWII. In another era he might have been one of the world’s industrial giants. He was the only one of 24 war criminals tried in Nuremberg who admitted his guilt. Speer spent 20 years in Spandau prison. During the interview, Speer was asked, “You have said the guilt can never be forgiven, or shouldn’t be. Do you still feel that way?” The look of pathos on Speer’s face was wrenching as he responded, “I served a sentence of 20 yrs, & I could say, ‘I’m a free man, my conscience has been cleared by serving the whole time as punishment.’ But I can’t do that. I still carry the burden of what happened to millions of people during Hitler’s lifetime, & I can’t get rid of it. This new book is part of my atoning, of clearing my conscience.” The interviewer pressed the point. “You really don’t think you’ll be able to clear it totally?” Speer shook his head. “I don’t think it will be possible.” – For 35 yrs Speer had accepted complete responsibility for his crime. His writings were filled w/contrition & warnings to others to avoid his moral sin. He desperately sought expiation. All to no avail. (Charles Colson; Who Speaks for God”; pg.76, 77)
7. Step into Guilt Free Worship and Service – through the Power of the Blood of Christ (11-15)
The Good News of Christ means the need for copies is past! We are to embrace the “reality” that the Holy Spirit points us toward-full forgiveness of sins through the New Covenant. This results in intimacy with God, the Majesty, for we are in Jesus Christ! This guilt-free worship is dependant not upon my works, but the works of Jesus Christ!
- Activity adds nothing to our acceptance before God.
- God Loves us because He is Love and He loves His Son!
- God accepts you only if you are in His Son!
SERVING IS NO MORE DUTY, IT IS DELIGHT!
8. ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THE BLOOD OF JESUS COMPLETELY SATISFIES GOD ABOUT YOU!
- What He offered! – His own blood (12).
- Where He offered it! – In Heavens Tabernacle (11, 12).
- How often? – Once & for all (12).
- With what Results? – Eternal Redemption & Eternal Inheritance (12, 15).
His Blood provides 3 Eternals! – Eternal Redemption! – Eternal Spirit! – Eternal Inheritance!
It was so with Jesus Christ. It was his death on Calvary that made him the master of our souls. “There is power in the blood.”
Jesus Christ is both our Passover Lamb and our Scapegoat. He has satisfied the Holy and Righteous demands of Jehovah God through HIs sinless sacrifice. He also took upon Him all our sins, as our scapegoat!
9. So NOW, How does the Blood impact our Worship and Service?
Continually cleanse your conscience – in the Blood of Jesus.
You only be cleansed once, because He only offered ONE sacrifice. After your initial justification, you need only live in the power of the Blood of Christ. All you need do is acknowledge the truth of God’s Word and the truth of your failure to obey, and know that the you Minister Jesus Christ is faithful to continually forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, for that is the Power of His Blood!
Instead of constantly focusing on our failures, we should focus on Jesus Christ, as we walk with our Minister. As we walk with Him, we will find continual cleansing through the power of His blood!
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus 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 to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7-9
Your conscience acts as a barrier to God’s presence. Satan uses it to accuse you and diminish your confidence in God. Your conscience cannot be nullified by your will or your efforts. You can muffle it for a time. But it can only be silenced with Christ’s cleansing! Satan is speechless in the presence of the Holy One!
Rev.21:3, 4 “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Today…Lay your hands on Jesus’ head as your scapegoat! Confess your sins. He will take them away today! He will continually take them away, because He is your Minister and His delight is to bring you to the Majesty!
Jesus Christ took the impact for our sin, and his blood now permanently covers our lives.
 John Stott
 Jeffrey Ebert in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.