A Cleansed Conscience…

Today is Yom Kippur… The Day of Atonement

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.” Hebrew 10:1-3

Otherwise stated…  “Had the Law been sufficient to ‘perfect’ those who draw near, they would have been perfected once and for all and would no longer have had any consciousness of sin.” Of course, not only did the Law fail to perfect the worshipers once and for all, but actually served as a reminder of their continual sinful state.

Or yet another alternative, by substituting “Jesus” in place of  the “Law”…  “Since the blood of Jesus has perfected those that draw near once and for all, they no longer have any consciousness of sin.” That is the good news. Those who believe that should be free from any consciousness of sin. Are you surprised? Do you object? Is it not the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of sin? Let Him do His work, He doesn’t need your help.

Is that our experience? We say we believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Easy schmeezy. But do we really? How often do we suffer from, or are hamstrung by, a guilty conscience? When, if ever, should a follower of Jesus suffer from a guilty conscience?

If I find myself living under guilt and shame, a “guilty conscience”, it can only be because I have succumbed. I have either missed the mark, transgressed or committed iniquity anew or I have been deceived. Those are the only two alternatives.

The first should be considered the world’s response to guilt: utilize devices in order to repress, ignore, or evade the voice of my conscience. The distractions could be sex, drugs, alcohol, money, or just general busyness. Anything to keep me from dealing honestly with my sense of guilt and/or shame. Or, in the alternative, one may simply harden their heart such that their conscience becomes “seared”, which has as its correlate an insensitivity or inability to hear the voice of God.  Over the long term that track produces “death on the installment plan”. Unfortunately, far too many who call themselves Christian fall into this trap.

The second, not surprisingly, is the far better choice and is only available to those who have called upon the name of Jesus. It’s really quite simple, perhaps so much so that we stumble over it.

Once I realize that I am laboring under a shroud of guilt and/or shame I need to ask myself a question, or perhaps I need to ask Jesus a question. Have I erred, transgressed or committed iniquity? (Those are actually distinct Biblical concepts.) If so I need to own it and respond accordingly. This may take some time, some introspection and some action depending on what I have done. Whatever it may be the Holy Spirit is faithful to convict and to lead us to a Godly repentance and, ultimately, to restoration. Jesus lives to make intercession for me and is my advocate, my lawyer if you will. Through his advocacy I can secure my pardon in the courts of heaven and then stand firm against the accusations of the evil one, freed from a guilty conscience. (Ephesians 6:13-14)

It may well be that I am merely accused, but not guilty at all. In such a case I need simply resist the evil one and he shall have to flee. (James 4:7)

There you have it. So celebrate this Day of Atonement by appropriating the work of Jesus on the cross. Live free from guilt and shame.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19-25)  Amen and amen.

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