5/5/16

A clear conscience and victory

Hebrews 9:13-17

Hebrews deals with the finality of the work of Jesus Christ. Aaron's priesthood was a priesthood of repetition: year after year, the sacrifice of atonement had to be repeated. The sanctuary had a ritual that had to be precisely followed, or there would be no atonement. No matter how closely the rituals were followed nor how holy the high priest might be, they could only point to the coming sacrifice of the true High Priest. Every action in the old tabernacle was only a dim shadow of that which was to come.

The rites, rituals, all the ordinances had meaning only because they pointed to the true High Priest. Hebrews is showing that the repetition had to give way to the final and totally efficacious atonement; the Levitical high priest and his sacrifices were only a pale shadows of that which was to come. Though rights, rituals and liturgy appeal to the baser nature of man, they can never replace reality. They can only foreshadow or represent reality.

But men love ritual over reality, for they may believe that something they can do makes them more spiritual and closer to God. Some even think those activities might merit heaven. Vain repetitions are condemned by the Heavenly Father. (Mat 6:7)

Parentheses: The Father and Son are one, Isaiah 9:6, John 10:30, 17:20, 1 John 5:7. Thus, the Father knows “the feelings of our infirmities” through the infirmities the Son endured. Explain the Tri-Une God… We will never be like God, so his workings will forever remain a mystery to us, but we will be satisfied when we see the Son in all his glory.

Men prefer forms and shadows over reality. Forms and shadows can produce pleasant spiritual feelings, and can be molded according to what will produce the best feelings; however, the reality of the requirements of the Living God thorough the atoning sacrifice of the Son cannot be re-molded according to man’s desires: this is the way, walk ye in it.

Vv. 13, 14, the “handwriting of ordinances” required by Leviticus 16 & 19, had value, but only as they pointed the reality of Christ’s work on the cross. There he fulfilled them, making them of none effect. (Col 2:14)

Vv. 13, 14 refer to the yearly sacrifice on the day of atonement which had to be repeated yearly.

Only a shadow, those various ordinances could only provide outward cleansing and limited access to communion with their covenant God. (He was their God because of the covenant-promise made after the fall.) The offering of animal blood could only cleanse the outside; only the work of Christ could “purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer could purify the flesh, how much more can the blood of Christ purify the spirit; that is, the conscience. The purpose of that purification is that the elect can serve the living God.

The Hebrews had been told several times that the risen Lord will have all things subdued under his footstool by the sword of the Spirit being used by his people:

Eternal spirit… Or the eternal priesthood of Christ, of which Aaron’s was only a dim and corrupt shadow. From eternity past, the covenant between the Father and the Son was the atonement; it was Christ’s calling and purpose in order to redeem his people, and equip them to wage an effective warfare against the dark powers of this world; the eternal spirit removed, or wiped out the transgression of the elect from the beginning of time to the end. All atonement from the time of Adam depended upon Christ’s atoning work.

Among the covenant promise made to Adam, and further developed through Abraham are:

1. His seed would be a blessing to the world.
2. His seed would possess the gates of his enemies.
2. His seed would be the heir to the word.
3. His seed would be without number, and would include every nation and tongue.
4. His seed would be the only ones to enter the eternal city of our God.
5. His seed would be victorious over the enemies of the King.

The Seed is Christ. (Gal 3)

The above are among the many promises contained in the will that could not be placed into effect until the death of the one who wrote the will.

The death of Jesus Christ opened and put in force the will, or promise that was made with Adam. Revelation 5ff, shows us that at his death, the seal on the will, or on covenant-promise, was opened, and put into effect. His death released a great and bitter warfare by the powers of darkness to separate his people from their promised inheritance of victory over them. It is a bitter yet futile war on the part of the enemy, for His is the promise of final victory:

Re 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

In some way, the eternal Spirit of Christ produced the good conscience in the saints of old, enabling them to write and confront the evil powers of their day. The context implies this eternal Spirit is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that works in his people today. The Three are One.

This is a very pointed letter to the Hebrews who were desirous to forsake the eternal sacrifice of Christ and return to the sacrifice of animals. They are asked why would they abandon the cleansing blood of Christ for the useless blood of a sacrificial animal.

The Temple sacrifice could not put the covenant promises into effect, only the death of the One Who made the promises could put the terms of the will into effective.

V. 15, He is the Mediator of the new testament There was no proper reason why our translators should render d?a???? by testament here, when in almost every other case they render it covenant, which is its proper ecclesiastical meaning, as answering to the Hebrew berith, which see largely explained, {#Ge 15:10?}, and in other places of the Pentateuch. …
Of the new testament The new contract betwixt God and the whole human race, by Christ Jesus the Mediator, distinguished here from the old covenant between God and the Israelites, in which Moses was the mediator….
How frequently the Gentiles are termed ?? ???t?? and ?? ?e???µe???, the called, all St. Paul’s writings show. And they were thus termed because they were called and elected in the place of the Jews, the ancient called and elect, who were now divorced and reprobated because of their disobedience. (Clark OLB)

A new covenant:

First, under both the old and under the new covenants, which will last until the end of all things, Christ’s redemptive work covered those who are the called according to his purpose.

Second, the new covenant makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile.

Third, the new covenant replaced the reprobate Jewish nation with a new nation of God, the Gospel Church.

Fourth, new covenant is mediated by Jesus Christ, rather than by Moses as in the old.

Fifth, the old covenant was sealed with the blood of the blood at the Mount. The new was sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ at Mount Calvary.

Sixth, the old covenant could not produce a cleansed conscience, which is required to wage an effective warfare.

Vv. 16, 17. for where a testament is…

“[T]he efficacy of the sacrifices of the two arrangements. … The point of comparison is not that Moses made a will or testament which could be of force only when he died, and that the same thing was required in the new dispensation, but it is that the former covenant was ratified by blood, or by the death of a victim, and that it might be expected that the new dispensation would be confirmed, and that it was, in fact, confirmed in the same manner. (Barnes)

The issue in Hebrews is the false claim by the temple and the synagogue to be the only mediator between God and man. Obviously, there was great amounts of money involved, for the temple priests were using every means at their disposal to rob the people who sought to worship God.

The author tells the Hebrews that though the Temple rituals might be attractive to the natural man, they are against the crucified Christ. The useless rituals cannot purify the conscience, leaving the man powerless in the war against the dark powers.

The fulfillment of his covenant-promise to Adam of victory over the serpent could not come to pass until His cleansing blood was presented to the Father.

V. 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

It is the righteousness of Christ applied by grace through faith that produces a clear conscience, and boldness to attack the gates of hell. (Matt 10:28, Luke 12:4)

1 Timothy 1:18-20 tells us that faith and a good conscience is required in order to fight a good warfare against the enemy. That cleansed conscience is only available through Christ, and is the key element needed in order to serve the living God: 2 Corinthians 10, Ephesians 6, 1 Thessalonians 5, 1 Timothy 1, 1 Peter 3:16, &c.

Conclusion:

First, how many churches exalt rituals over the Word of God? (I was on the staff of a church where the song leader felt the singing was the priority. He would spend about an hour singing and special music; he would then leave maybe leave 20 minutes for the preaching. We had a “children’s church”, and would be ready to dismiss before the preaching even started.)

Second, Guilt is one of the most common tools to control people.

By the “church”:

A. How many churches, preachers, keep the people under a load of guilt, maybe to motivate the people to “work” in the ministry to try to cleanse their conscience? (I have been in such churches.)

Exalting "church work" over Christ dishonors Christ.

B. How many preachers use guilt to get his people to give more money? (“Faith Promise” giving places guilt upon the people if they are not able to give accordingly.)

The church that exalts itself dishonors Christ. We have been told He alone cleanses our conscience, so we can stand before God and man with a clear conscience. But both the church and the word seek to impose guilt upon us in order to make us their slaves.

The church has been guilty of exalting the institution over its Lord, so rather than the Lord’s Army having clean consciences before God in order to wage and affective warfare under the "Captain of the Lord’s Host”, they are defeated.

C. How many churches use guilt to get the people to make their priorities “church” first, (meetings, &c.) even over their own families? I was on the staff of a pastor who used guilt to raise money for building. He used guilt to get a good attendance at their semiannual "revival” meetings. Using guilt, he wore the people out.

D. Preaching against sin without clearly offering the redemptive work of Christ as the remedy leaves the people burdened under the load of guilt.

By the “state”:

A. The "White Europeans" who settled this country are really the problem, so they must be made to pay to fix the problems.

B. The "Global Warming" faith demands that everybody be guilty, so the followers of that faith can have a good income.

C. We see pictures of starving people all over the world. Most of those images are not set in a Christian context, so it appears that their purpose is to make people feel guilty, which will produce a good income for those posting the pictures.

One person can make another feel guilty, and as a result, the "guilty" person will feel obligated to do the other person’s bidding.

The list is endless as to how a guilty conscience can be used to bring others under control, and obtain the following desires of others.

Church and state, society in general, the films, all the media are intent upon putting a guilt trip on people. And then they offer their own remedies for absolution:

“Do what we say, give where we say to give”, and they are able to milk the people because they have first place them under a load of guilt.

Hebrews clearly tells us that the purpose of the atonement is to give a clear conscience before God. A clear conscience is to know that while we were yet sinners we are saved by grace and the atonement blots out our sins and transgressions.

 

Hebrews tells us that the sacrifice of Christ purged our conscience from dead works so we can serve the living God with fear and trembling.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

We live in a fearful time because the most horrible kind of slavery is slavery within; that is, slavery to a guilt-ridden conscience.

Extra comments

God’s Soldier in North Korea

WHEN "Ji PARK" first crossed the icy Tumen River from North Korea into China, he did so only to save himself.
Desperate to escape North Korea's repressive communist regime and widespread famine, Ji chose to risk his life in an attempt to flee the country rather than slowly wasting away inside.
The second time Ji crossed the Tumen — in the opposite direction — he did so to help save others. Armed with 200 gospel tracts, he returned to North Korea to share the hope of new life he had encountered in a Chinese church. Ji's decision to return to his home country eventually cost him years of his life. But he felt like he was following orders.
"I'd never been in the army, but 1 felt like I was a special soldier," he said. "1 am God's soldier. I am a special soldier for God's evangelism work." …
What I know about God needs to be followed with my actions…

(Voice of the Martyrs, 2/16

Ji was caught, imprisoned for preaching the gospel, freed for good behavior, imprisoned again for preaching the gospel, but this time facing serious torture. He and another prisoner escaped to South Korea, where he married, and is training to be an evangelist with VOM. He plans to North Korea.

Observe that most Western Christian refuse to acknowledge that we have been called, “drafted” into the Lord’s Army.

Quote from a Confederate Chaplain
 
“Now, here is this world full of wickedness. We Christians are struggling against the power of darkness, and striving hard to make the world better. And there you stand, looking on indifferently at their hand-to-hand fight with sin and the devil, and criticizing the plan of the campaign! Man! it is neither sense nor decency. If you are of any account, stop your foolishness and take hold like a man and help in the fight.”
 
Chaplain James Conway Hiden
(1837-1918)
Wise’s Legion & Charlottesville Hospital