Quieting the Conscience, Pt. 2

Hebrews 8:1-14 “Quieting the Conscience” pt. 2

Every week I approach the next text in the book we are studying (in the main), the same way.

  • I unpack it in the English and Greek (or Hebrew).
  • Then do an inductive investigation, scribbling and underlining and notating all over the English text.
  • Asking all the questions I think you will ask as we move through together during the sermon.
  • Then, I slowly plod through about 12 resources scribbling more notes in the commentaries.
  • Then I try to wipe it all clean and start fresh with a Word document!
  • Make and outline and free type what I think is important to say to form a coherent path to preach and teach from.

I did all that last week for chapter 9:1-14 but only ended up building a sermon through verse 10.

  • Too much there!

Occasionally I am particularly gripped by a chapter from a book, article, or actual sermon on the text I am studying!

  • Where someone thought through and nails the point of a text in an especially powerful way. It happened!
  • You can find this sermon online: The Purging of the Conscience by C.H. Spurgeon.
  • Reposted by Answers in Genesis and I think because of its applications .

I ended up scribbling through this sermon word by word over a two-week period in particular for its applications on having “a purified conscience!”  Through Christ’s blood?

  • Spurgeon preached it, June 21, 1885 from his pulpit at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
  • In his introduction, Spurgeon confessed he was re-preaching this text because his prior focus on “the red heifer” being a type of Christ kept him from unpacking applications.

So, I’m leaning heavily on Spurgeon’s flow of thought and points but today’s sermon comes from my heart through my voice from Hebrews 9:10-14!

I framed up verses 1-14 as a unit under these two headers.

The key is taking this truth from head to heart, quieting our sin stained consciences with Christ’s blood.

1. Israel’s dilemma (vv. 1-10) [Covered last Sunday]

What their high priest could do and not do

2. Our dilemma (vv. 11-14)

What our High Priest did and what we can do

The conscience is our God given inner voice that serves as a moral compass.

  • Last week’s key thought: It is impossible to serve and worship the living God with joy, without a clean conscience!
    • Joy and guilt do not mix.
    • Most Christians live in this conflicted crisis. This great contradiction.

I believe that the chief end of our existence is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever!

  • The point is that joy starts now!

You know what it is like to be made right with God but then the hard part comes with trying to live within the worth of Christ and what He’s given you.

  • To walk in a worthy manner of the Gospel, takes the work of faith that is easily put off!
    • Yet this is exactly what John means when he said, “These things I write to you that your joy may be complete!”

ESV  1 John 1:4 And we are writing these things so athat our1 joy may be complete

  • “It is man’s joy and heaven to live for God!”

Someone said, it would be easy to take the stroke and die for Jesus.

  • What’s hard is being a living sacrifice!
  • To get up on the altar for God and not crawl back off again!

What blocks joy?  What takes us off the altar?  What takes us out of service that is joyful service?  Smiling service!

  • According to our text it’s when our conscience isn’t clear.
  • Specifically clear from “dead works to serve a living God!” (v. 14).

This comes directly from doing the hard work of considering what “dead works” are!

Defining “dead works” in this context, taps into certain temptations and sins that are the effects of doing “dead religion” which hardens the heart.

  • We need our consciences purged from on this level, recognizing religious defilement that prevents heart worship to Jesus.
  • We have to open up and be opened up by the LORD. Do you remember Isaiah’s vision?

Isaiah’s vision begins with historical marker that it was “In the year that King Uzziah died…”

  • This is a bigger deal than a historical marker!
  • This marks the contrast between Isaiah and Uzziah. Uzziah who took Jerusalem’s throne at age 16 had reigned well for 52 years.

ESV  2 Chronicles 26:5 He set himself to seek God ain the days of Zechariah, bwho instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper

  • After this incredible run, pride struck!

ESV  2 Chronicles 26:15-16 In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. 16 But when ahe was strong, bhe grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

  • Acting “above the Law” lifted in pride, ignoring 80 priests who went in after him!

ESV  2 Chronicles 26 17-21 17 But aAzariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor,18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, a"It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, bbut for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God."19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, aleprosy1 broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense.20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.21 aAnd King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived bin a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king's household, governing the people of the land.

  • This context brought into Isaiah 6:1 marks a striking contrast! Isaiah in contrast to Uzziah.
  • Uzziah inappropriately went into the “second section” where the “altar of incense” was (cf. Heb. 9:3-4)!

Isaiah’s motives and response were entirely different!

ESV  Isaiah 6:1-8 In the year that aKing Uzziah died I bsaw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train1 of his robe filled the temple.2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had asix wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3 And one called to another and said: a"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; bthe whole earth is full of his glory!"14 And athe foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and bthe house was filled with smoke.

5 And I said: "Woe is me! aFor I am lost; bfor I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the cKing, the LORD of hosts!"6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.7 And he atouched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for aus?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

  • Both Uzziah and Isaiah went into God’s Presence.
    • Two men with opposite motives, opposite dispositions.
    • Both broken down by the LORD.
    • With two entirely different responses and outcomes!

Hebrews 9:10-14 asks, “Which one are you?”

The key to answering this comes from defining the terms, “Dead works” [vekpwv epgwv].

  • This is a little more sophisticated than just plain sin!
  • “Dead works” are layers beneath the sin.
  • Something considered to be a good thing - a necessary transforms into a “dead” thing!
    • Your prayers.
      • Your praying can be good in form and content but lack authenticity, resolve, and sincerity!
      • You might not persevere. Just going through the motions!
  • This is a “dead work!” A “Uzziah work!”
  • Sermons and bible teaching are no different.
    • Both delivering and listening can deaden the soul.
    • The absolute in preaching is whatever that is said that is accurately Bible!
    • God promises this will not return void!
  • Singing, praying, giving, doing a good deed for the poor or sick all can be “dead” – void of spiritual power!
  • We can bow our heads and be a millions miles from God in our hearts!
  • We need the precious blood of Christ to purge our consciences from this kind of religious death! We instead need life!  God is the God of the living!
  • God doesn’t accept a dead sacrifice but “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1-2).
    • Animals were sacrificed alive!
    • Or, God would not receive them!
  • Lukewarm Christianity is half-Christianity.
  • This is “dead” to God. He throws it up!
  • “I will spue you out of my mouth.”

Spurgeon said, “The Lord cannot endure a worship which is half-dead: all worship must be presented at blood heat; the warmth of life must be there.”

It is easy to ignore concealed sins that do not seem glaring like Uzziah’s sin.

I think the difference between Uzziah and Isaiah was the matter of openness verse closeness!

  • Your door is open or closed on personal matters like your prayer life or your giving motives!
  • How you teach the Bible or why you teach the Bible.
  • You know what’s going on inside to some degree. The Lord Christ knows more!

There is also the matter of sinning just because of wrong influences!  Exposure to our world.

“Can we walk through such a graveyard as this world without being defiled even unconsciously?” In Jewish law, a man who was defiled and did not know it was still under penalty; and when he did discover someone needed the “blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of a heifer even for his sin of ignorance.” [Spurgeon]

The key to cleansing is openness on the level of your conscience.

Verse 13 is a generic way of saying, “there are several methods for purification under the law, but let me summarize.”

  • This kind of external act was so that someone infected by a sins of omission or commission could re-enter the fellowship.
  • This was purifying the flesh but did nothing to cleanse the heart.
    • Ironically, blood splattering from the altar could even stain someone! People did not necessarily want to have blood applied to their foreheads!
  • Blood in and of itself is not something we are cleansed by!
  • The sight of blood can make you squeamish. When an athlete is bleeding like during an NBA finals, he is dismissed to be stitched back together.
  • Only the blood from the Lord Jesus is cleansing.
    • From Him being God and Man!
    • It flows from Him becoming a curse.
  • All other offerings were “shadows” of the true “substance!”
  • Only Christ sacrifice was truly effective.
  • There really was only one real atonement.

This is why verse 14 exclaims, “How much more?”

If the “shadow” cleansed the flesh, how much more shall the substance cleanse the spirit?

The author says, “the blood of Christ” using the term “Christ” for the Savior (v. 14).

  • Paul uses the name Lord with varieties. Why, “Christ?”
  • This name means, Anointed One!
    • Not as a novice trying to find His purpose.
    • Jesus was no amateur but came with a commission!
    • With an appointment and unction from God His Father.
  • His submission to His Father was a glad submission! He went to the Cross with “Joy!”

ESV  Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, awho for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising bthe shame, and cis seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • Jesus came with purifying power from heaven!

The emphasis is not on His life purifying but His death.

  • It was not his prayers that purified!
  • Nor, Christ’s teaching or miracles that purified!
  • The emphasis of purifying power is not even on Christ’s resurrection!

The whole stress for purity is on Christ’s “blood” meaning His death (v. 14).

  • Death with real pain. Death as a true victim.  Death with reference to sin.
  • The Bible says, “Life is in the blood” so this in principle meant, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”
  • The blood of Christ cleanses your conscience from “dead works!”

“Rejoice in Christ’s glory, but put your trust in Christ crucified.  Look with longing to his second coming but for your purification rest upon his first coming.  See in his agony and his death your joy and life.” [Spurgeon]

Christ offered “himself!” (v. 14).

  • Yes, He offered his blood but do not miss that He offered “himself!”
  • There is no stronger way to put this!
  • He is the alabaster box broken for you.

“Without blemish” meaning there was nothing that could be rejected by God!  Perfect sacrifice bringing purification.

“through the eternal Spirit.”

  • Some see this as a direct reference to the Holy Spirit.
    • This makes the emphasis on the work of the Trinity where the focus is on the work of Christ.
  • Through the eternal Spirit means our Lord is eternal as the Godhead is eternal.
    • So, Christ’s offering is of extreme value.
    • This also points to that fact that Christ is divine.
    • To Christ deity was joined the natural life of a perfect man.
  • The Godhead willed for Christ to be put to death and in His humanity He concurred. “So by Christ’s eternal spirit He offered himself!” (v. 14).

In this way: “The blood which he shed was the blood of God!” [Spurgeon]

We need to know and believe that the blackest sins, every sin, can be cleansed by the divine Christ!

  • “What limit can you set to the merit of this One?”
  • This is setting a limit on the Godhead himself!
  • Because Christ is “eternal” This means His offering is of endless value.
  • It can never cease to operate. The purging power is forever.  Jesus is forever – His forgiveness is forever!

ESV  1 John 1:7 But aif we walk in the light, bas he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and cthe blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

What’s important is to be able to take this truth from the head to the heart!

  • Otherwise, this is just a theology lesson.

Back the illustration of “the ashes of heifer mixed with water which were sprinkled on unclean bodies (v. 13).

  • Whether ashes or the blood of bulls or goats sprinkled on the flesh.
  • These material things could not touch the immaterial.
  • Christ through the Eternal Spirit can!
  • Only through Christ can your conscience be touched!
    • An Israelite sprinkled with the ashes of a heifer could only say, “I was made clean by these ashes, because God made it this way by His Law.”
    • But as believers we can somewhat understand the cleansing given to us in Christ! This is the difference for Believers.

“Only believers can truly have a cleansed conscience.”

  • This is factually true and practically true.
  • Practically speaking, only a Spirit-filled believer can by the aid of the Holy Spirit grasp the significance of being forgiven and then apply this for JOY!

“No truth charms the spirit like the truth of atonement by vicarious suffering…I feel my conscience is quieted by every drop of that blood!”

“’We read the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin,’ and our conscience whispers, ‘We are cleansed from all sin.’”

  • All of our conscience. The whole of our conscience feels cleansed.
  • The core of your heart, spirit, mind, memory, thought, intellect, affections are clean. This is what makes us fit to serve!

If you have never experienced this cleansing, perhaps you are still outside of this blood remedy!

  • You are in quarantine!
  • You feel an infection is on everything you do.

For believers we are living sacrifices.

ESV  Romans 12:1-2 aI appeal to you therefore, brothers,1 by the mercies of God, bto present your bodies cas a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.2

2 aDo not be conformed to this world,1 but be transformed by bthe renewal of your mind, that by testing you may cdiscern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.2

How should Christ precious blood work in us?

  • You will sin and stain your conscience as a believer.
  • You will digress back into “dead works.”

The question is, “Will you be willing to stay there?”  NO!

  • God’s will needs to be your will!
  • Christ will cleanse your conscience if you let him!
  • Will you let go of the world or the world’s guilt and say, “Jesus is better!” “Forgiveness is better!”  “Joy is better!”
  • If so, then heaven will come to your heart today!

“How people with a stained conscience can draw near to God?”

  • If you have not yet believed, believe!
  • As a believer, inform and apply Christ’s blood to your conscience, daily.