The Daily Word of Righteousness

Clearing the Conscience of the Worshiper

This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. (Hebrews 9:9)

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. (Hebrews 10:1,2)

The Book of Hebrews states that the new covenant is superior to the old covenant, to the Law of Moses. It often is expressed that the new covenant is superior because it includes a better forgiveness. Although under the Law of Moses the worshiper supposedly was forgiven through the shedding of the blood of bulls and goats, in actuality the forgiveness of the old covenant merely looked forward to Calvary. Now, however, under the new covenant, we really are forgiven, it is claimed.

Thus the Christian salvation often is perceived as a perfect, eternal forgiveness unrelated to the behavior of the believer. We believe this viewpoint proceeds from an incorrect interpretation of the Book of Hebrews.

The two passages above could very well lead the investigator to perceive the new covenant as a means of removing guilt from the conscience of the believer, whereas under the Law of Moses the providing of the animal sacrifice did not remove guilt from the conscience.

Based on this conclusion, the several instances in Hebrews where it is claimed the new covenant takes away our sins, whereas the old covenant did not take away our sins, must mean the reference is to the guilt of our sin. The blood of bulls and goats did not take away the guilt of our sins. However, the blood of the Lord Jesus actually removes the guilt of our sins, it is thought.

It only is one short step, then, to view the Christian salvation as a perpetual, eternal forgiveness issued by Divine sovereignty that brings us to Heaven apart from a radical change in our behavior. We just keep believing the doctrine of eternal forgiveness and even though we are leading a careless Christian life, even though we are continuing in the deeds of the sinful nature, there is no need to be disturbed.

Because we have been eternally forgiven, saved by unmerited favor, there is no reason to be overly concerned about living victoriously over worldliness, lust, and self-will.

While such a conclusion is understandable, it is incorrect. We know it is incorrect because of the warnings issued by the Apostle Paul concerning the spiritual death that will result from our living in the sins of the flesh.

It must be we are misunderstanding the writer of the Book of Hebrews. In fact, the entire Book of Hebrews is one long warning to seasoned Christians about the disastrous results of not pressing forward into the rest of God. If the Christian salvation were an eternal forgiveness unrelated to our behavior, then the warnings of the Book of Hebrews would be so much unnecessary nonsense.

To be continued.