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The Blood And The Believer’s Access
The Blood has satisfied God; it must satisfy us also. It has therefore a second value that is manward in the cleansing of our conscience. When we come to the Epistle to the Hebrews we find that the Blood does this. We are to have “hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22).
This is most important. Look carefully at what it says. The writer does not tell us that the Blood of the Lord Jesus cleanses our hearts, and then stop there in his statement. We are wrong to connect the heart with the Blood in quite that way. It may show a misunderstanding of the sphere in which the Blood operates to pray, ‘Lord, cleanse my heart from sin by Thy Blood’. The heart, God says, is “desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9), and He must do something more fundamental than cleanse it: He must give us a new one.
We do not wash and iron clothing that we are going to throw away. As we shall shortly see, the ‘flesh’ is too bad to be cleansed; it must be crucified. The work of God within us must be something wholly new. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).
No, I do not find it stated that the Blood cleanses our hearts. Its work is not subjective in that way, but wholly objective, before God. True, the cleansing work of the Blood is seen here in Hebrews 10 to have reference to the heart, but it is in relation to the conscience. “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience”. What then is the meaning of this?
It means that there was something intervening between myself and God, as a result of which I had an evil conscience whenever I sought to approach Him. It was constantly reminding me of the barrier that stood between myself and Him. But now, through the operation of the precious Blood, something new has been effected before God which has removed that barrier, and God has made that fact known to me in His Word. When that has been believed in and accepted, my conscience is at once cleared and my sense of guilt removed, and I have no more an evil conscience toward God.
Every one of us knows what a precious thing it is to have a conscience void of offense in our dealings with God. A heart of faith and a conscience clear of any and every accusation are both equally essential to us, since they are interdependent. As soon as we find our conscience is uneasy our faith leaks away and immediately we find we cannot face God. In order therefore to keep going on with God we must know the up-to-date value of the Blood. God keeps short accounts, and we are made nigh by the Blood every day, every hour and every minute. It never loses its efficacy as our ground of access if we will but lay hold upon it. When we enter the most Holy Place, on what ground dare we enter but by the Blood?
But I want to ask myself, am I really seeking the way into the Presence of God by the Blood or by something else? What do I mean when I say, ‘by the Blood’? I mean simply that I recognize my sins, that I confess that I have need of cleansing and of atonement, and that I come to God on the basis of the finished work of the Lord Jesus. I approach God through His merit alone, and never on the basis of my attainment; never, for example, on the ground that I have been extra kind or patient today, or that I have done something for the Lord this morning. I have to come by way of the Blood every time. The temptation to so many of us when we try to approach God is to think that because God has been dealing with us—because He has been taking steps to bring us into something more of Himself and has been teaching us deeper lessons of the Cross—He has thereby set before us new standards, and that only by attaining to these can we have a clear conscience before Him. No! A clear conscience is never based upon our attainment; it can only be based on the work of the Lord Jesus in the shedding of His Blood.
I may be mistaken, but I feel very strongly that some of us are thinking in terms such as these: ‘Today I have been a little more careful; today I have been doing a little better; this morning I have been reading the Word of God in a warmer way, so today I can pray better!’ Or again, ‘Today I have had a little difficulty with the family; I began the day feeling very gloomy and moody; I am not feeling too bright now; it seems that there must be something wrong; therefore I cannot approach God.’
What, after all, is your basis of approach to God? Do you come to Him on the uncertain ground of your feeling, the feeling that you may have achieved something for God today? Or is your approach based on something far more secure, namely, the fact that the Blood has been shed, and that God looks on that Blood and is satisfied? Of course, were it conceivably possible for the Blood to suffer any change, the basis of your approach to God might be less trustworthy. But the Blood has never changed and never will. Your approach to God is therefore always in boldness; and that boldness is yours through the Blood and never through your personal attainment. Whatever be your measure of attainment today or yesterday or the day before, as soon as you make a conscious move into the Most Holy Place, immediately you have to take your stand upon the safe and only ground of the shed Blood. Whether you have had a good day or a bad day, whether you have consciously sinned or not, your basis of approach is always the same—the Blood of Christ. That is the ground upon which you may enter, and there is no other.
As with many other stages of our Christian experience, this matter of access to God has two phases, an initial and a progressive one. The former is presented to us in Ephesians 2 and the latter in Hebrews 10. Initially, our standing with God was secured by the Blood, for we are “made nigh in the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). But thereafter our ground of continual access is still by the Blood, for the apostle exhorts us: “Having therefore... boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus... let us draw near” (Heb. 10:19, 22). To begin with I was made nigh by the Blood, and to continue in that new relationship I come through the Blood every time. It is not that I was saved on one basis and that I now maintain my fellowship on another. You say, ’That is very simple; it is the A.B.C. of the Gospel.’ Yes, but the trouble with many of us is that we have moved away from the A.B.C. We have thought we had progressed and so could dispense with it, but we can never do so. No, my initial approach to God is by the Blood, and every time I come before Him it is the same. Right to the end it will always and only be on the ground of the Blood.
This does not mean at all that we should live a careless life, for we shall shortly study another aspect of the death of Christ which shows us that anything but that is contemplated. But for the present let us be satisfied with the Blood, that it is there and that it is enough.
We may be weak, but looking at our weakness will never make us strong. No trying to feel bad and doing penance will help us to be even a little holier. There is no help there, so let us be bold in our approach because of the Blood: ‘Lord, I do not know fully what the value of the Blood is, but I know that the Blood has satisfied Thee; so the Blood is enough for me, and it is my only plea. I see now that whether I have really progressed, whether I have really attained to something or not, is not the point. Whenever I come before Thee, it is always on the ground of the precious Blood. Then our conscience is really clear before God. No conscience could ever be clear apart from the Blood. It is the Blood that gives us boldness.
“No more conscience of sins”: these are tremendous words of Hebrews 10:2. We are cleansed from every sin; and we may truly echo the words of Paul: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin” (Romans 4:8).
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