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The Freedom of a Cleansed Conscience (Hebrews Sermon 35 of 74)

The Freedom of a Cleansed Conscience (Hebrews Sermon 35 of 74)

July 31, 2011 | Andy Davis
Hebrews 9:11-14
Christian Freedom, Conscience

The Pressure of a Guilty Conscience

All week long I've been looking forward to this moment, looking forward to the joy of preaching the power of the blood of Christ to cleanse a guilty conscience. What an incredible gift we have in the Gospel. And I think if we really have the ability spiritually to perceive the burdens, the pressures of the people around us, we would realize that the issue of a guilty conscience is one of the biggest issues of human life and experience. We have a sense inwardly that we are guilty and it presses on us; it's an affliction. And it comes up throughout culture and music and literature. Some of you perhaps can remember in high school when you were reading Shakespeare's plays and Macbeth, one of the darker plays, but Lady Macbeth urges her vacillating husband to kill Duncan, so that he can seize the throne for himself. And she assures her husband, just a little water will clear us of the deed. But it's not so easy after the man's murder. Lady Macbeth herself afflicted with a guilty conscience, sleep walking at night, having nightmares, rubbing her hands, rubbing them, rubbing them, as if to clean them of some substance and says very famously, "Out, out damn spot, out I say." And she can't get rid of it. Who knew that the man had so much blood in him. She's actually thinking about the actual shedding of the blood, and the murder, and she just can't get it out of her mind. She is absolutely afflicted by a guilty conscience and in the end, she commits suicide.

Or again, Edgar Allen Poe's story, the dark tale, The Tell-Tale Heart, a man murders another man and the neighbors hear some noises, and a policeman comes and he had hid the body under the floorboards of the very room that the policeman and he are talking. And as they're having this discussion, this murderer hears louder and louder and louder the beating of this dead man's heart until, finally, he can't stand it anymore and just rips up the floor boards and shows the policeman where the body is hidden. Well, those are literature tales. I think that I'm preaching today to people who know very well, intimately well, the power of a guilty conscience. And it's my joy and privilege as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to proclaim liberty or freedom for the captives today, in the name of Jesus Christ. And so, what better work could there be of any preacher of the Gospel as we come to Hebrews Chapters nine and 10, I think we really come to the glowing center of this magnificent epistle. This is the theological, the weighty center of the Book of Hebrews.

Context: The Supremacy of Christ in All Things

Now we've already seen the supremacy of Christ. Christ is superior to all of the Old Testament prophets. He's superior to the angels, who were the mediators of the Old Covenant. He's superior to Moses, who was the human mediator, who was just a servant in all God's house, but Christ the Son over God's house. He's superior to Joshua who brought the people into a physical promised land but could not ensure that they stay there. He's superior to Aaron and to Levi and that Levitical priestly system that was set up under the law of Moses, which had no actual power for the cleansing and the forgiveness of sins. He's even superior to Abraham who in some mysterious way, paid a tithe, or Levi paid a tithe through Abraham. And so, therefore, Abraham is seen to be in some way inferior to Melchizedek who represents Christ. So we see the supremacy, the superiority of Christ. But what is the point of all that? It's that this superior Christ brings us a superior covenant by which we are saved.

And the nature of that priestly work of Christ is the focus in Hebrews 9 and 10. And so in this text today, we're going to see the superiority of Christ and His priestly work, superior in it's location as He offers His sacrifice in heaven, not on earth. That the blood itself that He offers is superior. It's the precious blood of Christ, superior to the blood of bulls and goats, and calves. We're going to see the achievement and the effectiveness of Christ's priestly ministry and how it results ultimately in us serving the living God with clear consciences. And so that is the delight that's in front of us today.

I. The Perfect Place: Heavenly, Not Earthly (vs. 11)

Look at Verse 11, as the author gives us this. He says, "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say not a part of this creation."

 So the author is dealing here with the perfect place of Christ's mediating work as our high priest. It is heavenly and not earthly. The author gives us this title "Christ." The word Christ is the Greek word for Anointed One or Messiah. And Christ was anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, the eternal Spirit is going to come up later in this morning's message, but in every case, the Old Testament offices, prophet, priest, and king were anointed offices.

King Saul, King David, King Solomon, were anointed with oil for their office. Elijah anointed Elisha with the oil as prophet in his place, and so the prophet was an anointed office. Aaron was anointed with a special anointing oil as priest. These were anointed offices and the anointing, I think, in every case refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through these offices. And so Christ now, specifically His office as priest, is in focus here and it is an anointed office. When Christ came, it says, as high priest, our anointed high priest. And the word came here, implies in the Greek a certain appearance, when He appeared when He showed up or presented Himself as high priest. A sense almost of a majestic fanfare like trumpets, "Here at last is the high priest, and He is appearing for us." Now, it could refer to His incarnation, when He was born, of the Virgin Mary, but I don't think so. It could refer to the day in which He presented Himself to Israel or John the Baptist spoke and said "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. But I don't think so.

I think here is Christ presenting Himself to our Holy Father. Our Heavenly Father, on our behalf, is our high priest in heaven when Christ appeared in the heavenly realms, and it speaks here of the good things that are already here. Christ the mediator of a new covenant, who has come to bring us as it says in Ephesians, "Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms." Oh, those are good things. Are they not? And they are already here, now that Christ has come. Jesus is the mediator of this New Covenant, which brings us rich blessings. A treasure trove of spiritual things, these good things that are already here. And they've been here now for 2000 years, we are in the new covenant era and Christ came as the mediator of this new covenant. It says He went through a greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made man made. Now, we've already looked at the beginning of this chapter, at the physical tabernacle. The Old Covenant tabernacle. It was a tent made of linen and animal skins and acacia wood poles, and precious metals and different things, but it was earthly it was man made; it was a shadow and a type of the perfect tabernacle that is in heaven.

And so I think it represents the heavenly throne room of God. The true Holy of Holies, the true Holy Place or most Holy Place, where Jesus has now appeared for us on our behalf, this greater and more perfect tabernacle. And it says, He went through this. There's a sense of the movement of Jesus. And so I picture here in some amazing and powerful spiritual way Jesus moving through the heavenly realms. He has passed through the heavens, it says in Hebrews 4:12, He is exalted above the heavens, it says in Hebrews 7:26, Jesus went through this greater and more perfect tabernacle, the heavenly one that which is not part of this creation. So we see the superiority of the work of Christ in the location. He is ministering for us in the heavenly realms before the very presence of God.

II. The Perfect Sacrifice: Christ’s Own Blood (vs. 12)

Secondly, we see the perfect sacrifice of Jesus in verse 12, it says there that "He did not enter by means of the blood of bulls and goats or goats and calves, but He entered the most holy place, once for all, by His own blood." So the question here is this issue of entrance, the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place, definitely picking up on the echoes of that day of atonement, that one day a year in which the high priest was enabled, empowered, permitted to go into the most holy place where the presence of God was. The Ark of the Covenant, the cherubim of glory, sends the picture of the presence of God amongst his people. That one day a year, he was able to enter to go in into the presence of God. By what right did he enter? Well, he brought in the blood of animals under the Mosaic Law, but this high priest, our perfect high priest, did not so enter. He entered by means of His own blood. What right did he have? By what means did he enter? That's the question in front of us. And so the issue there is the perfect holiness of God and the wickedness and sinfulness of man. What right did we have to stand in the presence of God? And this mediator, what right does he have to bring us sinful as we are into the very presence of Almighty God?

Our God is holy. As we saw last week, He is a consuming fire, he sits on a throne, that's all ablaze, it's wheels are all ablaze, Daniel Chapter seven, a river of fire flowing from that throne representing the judgement and the righteousness the holiness of God and what right did this high priest have to enter into His presence? And so there's a sense of the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man and the requirement of blood sacrifice. Blood sacrifice is essential for this high priest to enter, as it was essential for the Levitical priest to enter. And so we must have the blood. And so, the contrast here is the blood of animals versus the blood of Jesus Christ. "He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves. But He entered the most holy place, once for all, by His own blood." And so we come at last to this issue, the necessity, the absolute necessity of blood sacrifice. Now, historically in science, it was Anton van Leeuwenhoek in the 17th century who first started studying blood itself, biologically. Blood cells, the movement of blood and capillaries. And up to that point, the microscope had been somewhat of a toy, but he used it for scientific advancement. He was studying blood and trying to understand the connection between blood and life. But it's not the biology of blood that's of interest to us here; it's the theology of blood.

Blood Necessary for Atonement

And it's very, very plain here in the Book of Hebrews that "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness" of sins. And it goes all the way back to Leviticus 17:11, and there in the Law of Moses, says very plainly, "The life of the creature is in the blood. And I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar. It is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." And so God set up this principle of the connection between the shedding of blood and atonement or forgiveness. There's an absolute connection between the two. And so it is by the means of Christ's own blood that He enters. And what is this connection? Well, it's the death penalty for sin from the very beginning, God commanded forbad Adam from eating of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and He put the death penalty in connection with that, with that prohibition. Said, "You shall not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die." And so it says in Ezekiel 18, "The soul who sins will die." "The wages of sin is death." And so, it isn't just blood per se, but it's the pouring out of blood, it's the death of the substitute that's in view here.

And only by the shedding of this blood can forgiveness be worked, but Christ blood, His own blood is what He had to offer not the blood of animals, the infinite superiority, I say the preciousness of the blood of Christ is what's in front of us in the text. The Apostle Peter puts it this way. "You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but it was with the precious blood of Christ, the lamb without blemish or defect." What is it that makes something precious? I tell you that the blood of Jesus Christ is the most precious substance there has ever been. The most valuable substance. What makes something valuable? I think it's rarity combined with a certain usefulness to the human race or a certain beauty or attractiveness. Gold is precious because it's both rare and beautiful, attractive for jewelry and for other purposes, and so it's precious. So also diamonds are considered precious because they're rare and they're beautiful. And can be used for jewelry or for other scientific purposes. Oil is not beautiful, it doesn't smell good, but it is precious because it's somewhat rare and it's the most efficient energy supply that the human race has ever found. It's tremendously efficient fuel and so it's incredibly valuable. And so we see the preciousness.

Sometimes medications can be incredibly precious if they're difficult to manufacture and they're in demand. I read some time ago about not just the discovery of penicillin, but how it was mass-produced and what a journey it was from when Alexander Flemming first discovered that penicillin could kill these bacteria in the dish. From that observation to when it was actually available as a medicine was a long journey, was very, very difficult; it was extremely expensive to make penicillin. As a matter of fact, the first patient that ever received penicillin was a British man, who cut himself shaving and then got infected and he was dying from the infection, and so they gave him what penicillin they had available, and it was remarkably effective for a while. But they ran out of the supply and in the end, the infection resumed even more powerfully and the man died. And so the big press at that point was to manufacture more and more penicillin. But I tell you in the final hours of that man's life, the most precious substance in the world for him would have been penicillin.

Well, how much more than the blood of Jesus Christ. There not only our physical lives hang in the balance but our eternity as well. It is by the precious blood of Christ that we sinners can stand blameless and unafraid with clear consciences before Almighty God, how precious is that? It is the most precious substance there has ever been on Earth and so it is by faith in the blood of Jesus that we are cleansed of our sins. And Romans 3:25, says it quite directly, God presented Christ, "presented him as a propitiation through Faith in His blood." The word propitiation means, a sacrifice that removes the wrath of God, and it is by faith, by simple faith in the blood of Jesus, that all of your sins are forgiven, that you're not any longer under the wrath of God. And so there is this complete link between the blood and our forgiveness. Now, modern sensibilities recoil from that. The picture of a bloody Jesus on the cross is repulsive. And some churches have chosen to kind of hide that a bit. I was reading once of a church that was trying to do everything they could to make the gospel comfortable to the non-Christians that were invited and so they were trying to take away any offensive images any offensive language.

Well, there was a new worship leader there, and he did a set of songs that all focused on the blood of Christ and this Pastor, this lead pastor actually got up and apologized for all the blood images has said it wouldn't happen again. Dear friends, I will never apologize for the blood of Jesus, it will always happen again in this pulpit because it is only by faith and the blood of Jesus, that we can be forgiven. The picture of Jesus bloody on the cross has never been appealing or attractive. It wasn't meant to be. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. Nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. It says in Isaiah 52 that he was so disfigured and marred beyond human likeness. King shut their mouths and were appalled at His appearance, and "so will He sprinkle many nations." It has never been attractive, the bloody Jesus, but it is by faith in this blood that we are made whole. It is by faith His blood that we are forgiven of all of our sins. And by that perfect means, Jesus enters once for all that most holy place. He doesn't need to enter again and again, the work is done. He has entered and he stands there in our presence, pleading the merits of his blood.

III. The Perfect Achievement: Our Eternal Redemption (vs. 12)

And so we see the perfect achievement of this in Verse 12, and that is our eternal redemption. "He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the most holy place, once for all, by his own blood having obtained eternal redemption." That is the perfect achievement of the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has achieved or attained for us eternal redemption. Now, what does that mean, what is redemption? Well, the idea of redemption is a huge issue in the Bible in the old covenant. The idea is the rescue of a captive by the payment of a price. So in our understanding, you could think about someone that's been kidnapped and being held for ransom, and that person's in captivity, they're in danger, and the price has to be paid to deliver them. Or in the old testament world, there's the issue of slavery, bondage, and so the idea of redemption is of buying someone out of that bondage so that that individual can either be free or serve another master. And so that is the image of redemption. When the Jews were delivered from Egypt.

When God, by His mighty hand and His outstretched arm delivered them, he did it by means of 10 supernatural plagues on the whole land of Egypt and the final plague was the most dreadful, the most terrifying one. God had said to Pharaoh, I told you to let Israel, as my first-born son, I told you let my first-born son go. But since you won't then I will kill your first born son. And so the plague on the first born, all the first born of Egypt, of man and of animals, were plagued. And the implication was clear that the first born among the Jews also deserved to die, but a plan was made whereby the first born could be redeemed, by the blood of the Passover lamb. And so the Passover lamb was sacrificed and they were redeemed from the judgment of God. So that's another issue of redemption, not just gotten out of being kidnapped, or being a slave, but under the judgment of God, to be redeemed from the judgment of God. And so God made it plain from that point on, effectively saying, "I want you to know all of the first born are mine, and they have to be redeemed." And so they would be redeemed either by animal sacrifice or by the payment of a price.

So what is our redemption? It is the blood of Jesus Christ. The valuable blood of Jesus is the price that was paid to redeem us from slavery to sin and death, to free us from guilt, to free us from wrath and judgment. So it says in Ephesians 1:7, "In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." And there in Ephesians 1:7, there's a direct connection between redemption and forgiveness and the cost is His blood. The perfect consistency of the Bible on this topic, we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and we are forgiven. And as a result of that, now having been delivered from bondage to sin and death, we are now free to serve another master. We are not our own master.

No, it says in 1 Corinthians 6, "You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your body." God is our master now. Sin used to be our master, death used to be our master. Now we've been delivered, redeemed from that so that we can serve the living God. He is our new master, and will be for all eternity. It says in Revelation that his servants will serve Him. And so we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

But there is one extra word that I don't want to skip. "Having obtained eternal redemption." Eternal redemption. We are eternally redeemed. If you were forgiven yesterday, you're forgiven today. If you're forgiven today, you will be forgiven tomorrow and for all eternity. God doesn't change his mind on this. You are completely free from all guilt if you are free indeed. And if you have come to Christ, if you have believed in Him, you were free 10 years ago, you're free five years ago, you're free today, and you'll be free for a millennia, yet to come. It is an eternal redemption that Christ has bought for us.

IV. The Perfect Effectiveness: Our Cleansed Consciences! (vs. 13-14)

How valuable is that and see, therefore, the perfect effectiveness of the work of Christ in verses 13 and 14, says there "The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean, sanctify them so they are outwardly clean. How much more then will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death." So we have here the effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice before us and the author is using a "How much more" argument, he's comparing the effectiveness of Old Covenant sacrifices in their time to the effectiveness of the blood of Jesus Christ now, and he's using a how much more argument. So how effective were those old covenant sacrifices?

Well, in order to understand this, you have to understand the issue of ceremonial unclean-ness. Back in the old covenant, there was such a thing as ceremonial unclean-ness. If something happened to you in everyday life, or something in some way had defiled you through sin, could be an accidental thing or it could be a volitional thing, you would be considered unclean and you had to become ceremonially clean in order to enter into the assembly of the people of God and continue to worship with them. You were excluded from the assembly of the worshippers while you were unclean, and so it could be you had an emission of blood or other bodily fluid that would make you unclean, you could have a sore that wasn't healing, and so lepers were continually unclean, they couldn't come into the presence of God. It could be that you touched a carcass that day, a dead body and you were ceremonially unclean. I think there are over 125 uses of the word unclean.

In the Book of Leviticus, Book of Leviticus is about holiness and about unclean-ness. And so if you are priest, you might actually spend a lot of time dealing with the issue of unclean-ness looking at wounds and sores and bleeding things and all that to determine if the person was clean or not and could enter into the assembly of the righteous, and continue to worship. And so what the author says here is that the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer when sprinkled on those who, up to that point had been ceremonially unclean, when that happened, when that ritual happened they were now considered clean and they could actually, in real life, enter the assembly of the righteous, and continue to worship; it was effective. It actually cleans them and enable them to worship the living God. So the author then says, "Well if that's true, and you can see when you've got goats, bulls and ashes, something so low something so earthy compared to the blood of the eternal Son of God," and we can see the argument that he's making. "How much more then will the blood of Jesus cleanse our consciences?" Now, look at this phrase he gives right in the middle here. How much more will Jesus, the blood of Christ who, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself unblemished to God?

What an incredible statement this is. First, just the idea of the Spirit's ministry through Jesus the spirit anointed Jesus he is the Christ anointed by the Spirit and covered him all the way through his ministry from beginning to end, and so it was by the power of the Spirit and He is called here the eternal Spirit. And so we have the doctrine I think of the Trinity here, God the Father is eternally Father God the son is eternally son, and here we have the eternal Spirit, the eternity of God, and so through this eternal spirit, Jesus offered Himself unblemished and so the Spirit is on Jesus from beginning to end, it was by the power of the Spirit that the Virgin Mary conceived, it was by the Spirit that Jesus was baptized when he was baptized by John the Baptist, the spirit was there, and descended as a dove.

It was by the Spirit that Jesus was driven out into the desert to be tempted by the Devil for 40 days and the implication of this phrase, it is by the Spirit that Jesus continued unblemished through his life and so he returned in the power of the spirit after the 40 days, sinless and holy, and it's by the Spirit that He stood up in that synagogue in Nazareth and the scroll of Isaiah was unrolled and by the Spirit, He proclaimed the good news to the captives, so it was by the spirit that Jesus said all of his teaching, it was by the holy spirit that Jesus did all of his miracles, the miracles of Jesus, were by the Holy Spirit of God. But especially in view here, it is by the Spirit that Jesus died on the cross, and by the Spirit, he presents that blood un-blemished presents that blood to God on our behalf, this is a Spirit saturated ministry of Jesus, there is a perfect unity between the Father, the Son and the Spirit and the work of redemption isn't that beautiful, magnificent expression is by the Spirit that He offered Himself unblemished to God. And so how much more will the blood of Jesus cleanse our guilty consciences.

Now, we come at last to this beautiful phrase. "How much more then will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death." So what is the conscience? What are we talking about when we come to the issue of conscience? Well, I think the conscience is hardwired into us as part of our human nature. It's part of what it means to be a human being. And so every human being on the face of the earth has a conscience, and what the conscience does is it learns some system of morality, it takes that system of morality and applies it to your life and it urges you to do what's right and to avoid doing what's wrong.

It's true all over the world. And then judges your behavior after the fact. And so after it's done, then the conscience testifies to you that you're either guilty or not guilty in what you did as far as you understand based on that system of morality you learned. Now, the conscience isn't a perfect guide because if the system of morality that feeds into it is faulty then the conscience will accuse people wrongly for something they shouldn't have been doing anyway. Like a Pagan who fails to offer a ritual sacrifice at a certain time may feel guilty but not before God; God didn't command that. But the issue of conscience is there all the time. Pressing on us, telling us to do what's right and to avoid doing what's wrong or saying you did right or you did wrong. It's right there. Now, of course, also if we continue to sin in a certain way, you can sear the conscience, so it doesn't really speak that much anymore. You don't listen to it. And that can happen, but it's still an issue.

And all over the world, people are struggling with guilty consciences. And I tell you there is only one remedy. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. That's got to involve the guilty conscience. How can I be whole again and feel happy again and be healed, in reference to sin? Only the blood of Jesus. Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow. No other fountain I know nothing but the blood of Jesus and so only by the blood of Jesus can our guilty consciences be cleansed. It's an issue throughout Scripture. It was a guilty conscience that made Adam and Eve run from the sound of God, remember, as they're hiding behind the trees. It was a guilty conscience that may Cain lie about what he'd done with Able; he knew what he did was wrong.

It was a guilty conscience that made David to cover up the sin, by killing Uriah the Hittite, he laid with another man's wife, she conceived and became pregnant and then he tried to cover it up by killing Uriah and then, I believe for probably as much as a year, he hardened his heart and would not listen to God. And so in Psalm 32, it says. "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long, for day and night, your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." That's that the plague of a guilty conscience. It was a guilty conscience that made Martin Luther flee after a lightning storm in Germany and join a monastery and try to work off the guilt of his conscience by good works in the medieval Catholic style. But nothing worked, nothing worked.

And so the guilty conscience... And I say that I'm not speaking just about biblical history or church history, I'm probably speaking about your history. It could be I'm talking to somebody right now who has come in here today with a guilty conscience and you're struggling, and you feel the pressure of it, and the weight of it. And this text says very, very plainly that the blood of Jesus is effective to clear, to clean your guilty conscience. It is a powerful force for the cleansing of a guilty conscience.

V. The Result: Service to the Living God (vs. 14)

So the result of this is service to the living God. Look at verse 14. It says, "The blood of Christ… cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God." The word serve here means worship I think, literally. It's an issue of worship. So it's literal. It means worship. So that we can basically... Now that we're cleansed, enter into the assembly of the righteous, and worship God.

And so I don't think it's just the issue of corporate worship here, but it's your whole life given over to worshipping God, and serving Him, and how much more than when you die, to enter the assembly of the holy in heaven, the spirits of righteous men made perfect and join in the worship there. And so the blood of Jesus is powerful to cleanse our guilty consciences from acts that lead to death from those sinful, wicked things so that we may serve the living God.

So let me ask you directly, how is it with your conscience today? Let me speak first to a non-Christian. It could be that God brought you here today, specifically, to hear this message and to hear the freedom that the blood of Jesus can give you. The text mentions acts that lead to death; those are sins where you violate the laws of God. And perhaps it's something in your past, something you know that is wicked and sinful. You haven't even told people about it, nobody knows, but it's submerged in your life and you feel guilty and you can't get rid of that guilt. You've come to the right place. Come to the cross, come to Jesus. The shedding of Christ's blood is sufficient to free a guilty person from sin.

And so all you need to do is just trust in Jesus through faith in the blood of Christ your sins are forgiven. Well, what about for a Christian? Is it possible for a Christian to have a guilty conscience? And how does the conscience connect to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin? Well, as I said, the conscience is hardwired in. It's part of what it means to be a human being. You don't lose that when you become a Christian. What happens is the conscience begins a new education and a new moral system, a system of God's holy laws, and now it's pressing you to do what's right as it understands the laws of God, and it stands over you and judges you.

But I think in this way, sometimes the conscience needs to be educated. Hey, conscience, I'm free. Hey, conscience, I'm sinless and holy now, you don't need to accuse me anymore, I've already come to the cross. Sometimes you just have to preach to yourself and tell your conscience that you're out from under the guilt and you've come at last you received eternal redemption, not just seven-week redemption or seven-year redemption, you're already redeemed you've been redeem and you're going to keep being redeemed. But does that mean the conscience doesn't have something still the say to us now it does, because Christian still do sin, and when you sin, your conscience will do its work. It'll speak up and say that was wrong and the Spirit will use that. The question is what to do. Do you wallow and guilt? Or do you come quickly to the cross and do you first John 1:9, Confess your sins to God If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And so with this work of the conscience, we also resolve, as Paul says, "I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." He's speaking as a redeemed Christian. He's not speaking as someone who needs to be educated on the atonement; he knows. And he says, because of what Christ has done for me, I strive every day to keep my conscience clear before God of man. In another place, he says, "My conscience is clear but that doesn't make me innocent," so he's not trusting the conscience, but he's striving every day to not do defiling acts, those acts that lead to death, but instead to lead a godly and an upright life.

And so it could be you're sitting here today and you know exactly what's making you feel guilty. Maybe you had an argument with your spouse or a family member. Maybe this week, you've defiled yourself on the internet. Looked at internet pornography. Maybe you have been prideful or angry or selfish maybe you've been unforgiving. Maybe you've bickered. It could even be something that you really have never dealt with years ago and you starting get convicted by the spirit about it and you feel guilty about it; it doesn't mean you do nothing. We bring those things right to God, we bring them in confession to Christ and we say, "Lord, I've done this thing, I'm guilty, I've sinned against you, please forgive me."

And you receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit and assuring you that you are a child of God, that all of your sins are forgiven, the blood of Jesus is sufficient for you. And then by the power of the Spirit you resolve to walk in holy obedience to His commands and the pattern of the New Testament teach you. You're not going to continue to do that same thing. You're going to actually bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance. You're going to fight the good fight of faith and not defile your conscience. Oh, the freedom that this text offers us, how sweet it is to stand today as children of the living God, the joy in our hearts, the accusations of a guilty conscience are addressed through the ministry of the blood of Jesus. Jesus is at the right hand of God and are seating for you, your faith is strengthened by the Word of God. And now we even get to partake in the Lord's Supper.

And when you hold that little cup of grape juice, when you look into that purple fluid, it's supposed to remind you of the blood of Jesus. You're supposed to think about the blood that was shed for you. You're supposed to think, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness; it's just juice. It doesn't magically change into the blood of Christ. But by the Spirit's ministry, by the ministry of the word, as you're looking at that, you can think, powerfully, "Jesus shed His blood for me, the precious blood of Christ, and I am clean." And if you have some work to do with your conscience, do it before you partake. Please don't partake if you're not born again, if you've never come to faith in Christ and testified to it by water baptism, just refrain. But, instead believe the Gospel, trust in Jesus while you're while you're watching others partake and then next opportunity you'll have a chance to partake. But let's praise God now for the joy that we have in Christ of full redemption through the blood of Jesus. Please close this portion with me in prayer.

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