But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? -Hebrews 9:11-14
The phrase I really want to focus on this morning is that last half of verse 14: “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” There is a cleansing work of God going on in my conscience that will remove everything that keeps me from serving God. I find it interesting that my conscience is not being cleansed here of sin, but rather dead works. It is not the “evil thoughts” but dead works that are being cleansed. It has me wondering what that means. Is it speaking to the things I think I need to do to have a clean conscience? Coming in a paragraph about the priests and the tabernacle, about the animal sacrifices that had to be offered over and over again by the nation of Israel it makes me think of how futile any attempt to serve God is apart from the cleansing blood of Jesus sacrifice. I can never be good enough on my own-just full of “dead works.” Well, of course…and yet, let me really consider for a moment how my conscience holds onto guilt and shame for sins of my past. I know very well my salvation is not works based and yet I catch myself thinking I need to earn favor with God somehow. I am rather shocked this morning that my conscience is still acting as if I do not believe the work of Christ on the cross was sufficient to cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness. It is hitting me this morning that I am often still stuck in a works based salvation-one that wants to offer to God various things to try to somehow remove the guilt and shame I still feel over my sin. I need to be cleansed of those thoughts-they are dead works. With them out of the way I will find a new freedom to really serve the living God. And I love that He is the “living” God in contrast to those dead works.
Grace, Peace, and Mercy,