Summary: How is your debt ratio with God? Do you walk around feeling the weight of your sin, past present and future, around you neck? Learn what it means to live a guilt free - debt free life.
Americans are racking up credit card debt at a record pace. Now, don’t worry, this isn’t a message about being a good steward and owing no man or anything like that. But while our financial debt soars, no one talks much about the spiritual debt we owe to God. I know for myself - every time I review my credit card statement I cringe. But how often does the average person realize that with each day they mount up debt for the way they live their lives in rebellion and opposition to God? Do we feel guilty about that? Not most people.
Some people do, though - but they assuage their guilty conscience by trying to go back and cancel out each individual debit by a corresponding credit. They go to church - bing!. They tithe - bing! They don’t go to movies - bing! Then they smash their finger with a hammer and say a curse word and bong! - they get another debit.
Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to feel guilt? To feel really pure on the inside? That’s what Jesus offers - and it is a much better way than offered by the Jewish system, which gave you a covering - but not a permanent wiping away of sin - and not only that but like getting a rebate - we get huge bonuses!
So in the last half of chapter 9 we see three things in verses 11-28 -
1- A purified conscience (vs 11-14)
2- A promised inheritance (vs 15-22) and
3- A sure salvation (vs 23-28).
1. A Purified Conscience (11-14)
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 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
In verse 9 of this chapter, the author of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices made by the priests could not "perfect the conscience of the worshiper." The conscience is that thing inside of us that helps us tell right from wrong. It is, some scholars say, a leftover from creation - an innate sense of the character of God.
Paul in Romans 2 (vs 14) talks about how even without the Law we humans can "by nature" obey or disobey the Law - which is simply a codification of God’s character.
Now the fall has definitely affected the conscience - it can become too sensitive - focusing on micro-ethical issues that are not important to salvation. In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul talks about the "weak" consciences of some believers. It means they are incomplete - they hadn’t yet been able to unhook from their pagan, idol-worshipping past. It can also become insensitive. 1 Timothy 2 talks about the conscience being "seared as with a hot iron" so that you can no longer feel its urgings.
In the Old Covenant, God did not wipe away sin - He simply covered it over through animal sacrifices - with the blood sprinkled on the articles in an earthly representation of a heavenly place - God’s presence.
These sacrifices can only make us feel good for so long. As soon as someone messed up after a sacrifice had been made - they would feel guilty until the next sacrifice. It’s a yoyo relationship with God - near then far, close then separated, sinful, then covered.
Jesus, it says in verse 12, provides us with "eternal redemption" by placing His own blood on the articles in the heavenly Tabernacle one time. The sacrifices in the Old Covenant were for the "sanctification of the flesh" or for the covering of ritual defilement. For instance - if someone became "unclean" they could not participate in the Jewish religious life until they were made "clean" by the ashes of a red heifer (described in Numbers 19). Ceremonial cleansing is not the same thing as the literal washing away of sin - which gets back to our conscience.
The animal sacrifices only made people acceptable to God ceremonially - they did not actually cleanse their hearts - or give them a new nature. In a way, and this is just a rough metaphor - it’s like the difference between putting on a new coat of paint, as opposed to building a new house. The Old Covenant put a new coat of ceremonial clean paint on the old house. The New Covenant in Jesus tears down our old house - and builds us a new one that will never need repainting.