Turn with me in your Bibles to Hebrews 9. We are going to be reading verses 11-14.
While you are going there I wanted to let you know that this is the last week of our “Fix Your Eyes” series. We have looked at many aspects of who Jesus is, and what he does. We have seen how he reacted to various people in scripture, and how he was involved in creation and such. Our purpose, as I have said just about every week is two fold. One is that we want to know how He lived so that we might live like him, but most importantly, we want to know and understand who he Is so that we might worship Him more accurately. You see, there are a lot of people who worship “Jesus” but their view of who He is and what He does is either skewed, lacking, or outright wrong. Over the past couple weeks, a clip of Victoria Osteen has been circulating the internet where she makes the statement that when we do good things, we are kinda doing them for God, but really we are doing them for ourselves. She made the statement that God is happy when we are happy, and so we need to do good things for ourselves so that God will be happy, or something to that effect. Now, her basic premise was that God’s happiness is dependent upon our happiness. If that is the case, God is an emotional basket case. What she is encouraging people to do is pursue their own happiness, and by doing so, you will make God happy. Now, just like any deception, there is some truth in this. She indicates that doing good for God brings a measure of happiness. While there is happiness in serving, and worshipping the Lord. The Joy of the Lord is not found in the act of worship, it is found in our satisfaction with God being God. Happiness is fleeting, it is circumstantial, but joy is abiding, and lasting, and not based on circumstances. So, when our joy is based in God alone, and not something that we do for HIm, we can serve Him, and worship Him out of that joy. And, when we truly are finding all of our joy in Christ, the more we forget about ourselves entirely, and really, it is in that sense of being totally wrapped up in God, that we forget ourselves, and find the most Joy. That is when true worship occurs. It is an amazing thing.
So, my hope for this summer has been that each one of us would grow in our understanding of who God is, so that we would worship Him more fully, and would become more wrapped up in who He is, than in our own lives, and issues.
Ok, so Hebrews 9:11, Let’s read.
A little bit of context here. The book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrew people, doing very much what we have been doing this summer, it is a book about Jesus, explaining to the Hebrew people how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the laws and such of the Old Testament. In fact, if you want to understand how Jesus fits into the OT rules and commands, read Hebrews.
The writer of the book just got finished explaining the earthly Holy place and how the tent was prepared, and there were particular elements there in the holy place, and then what was in the Most Holy place, and how priests would regularly go into the holy place to preform their ritual duties, but only once a year would the High Priest go in the the Most Holy Place to offer blood for sins. The section finishes with verses 9-10 saying essentially, that those ceremonies were really only outward signs, but didn’t deal with the conscience of a person. So, lets think for a minute, at some point in your life, maybe as a kid, maybe as an adult. What is your response when you have a guilty conscience? You know, I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago because it was Chloe’s birthday. While checking out, the lady said, you have someplace to get to don’t you, or you are in trouble… i said, these were for my daughter for her birthday. We had a little laugh at her joke, but under it is a reality isn’t there? When we have hurt someone, or done something we shouldn’t have done, the response is usually outward action, which kinda makes sense. he only problem with that is that out outward reactions only reveal what is in our hearts. so the real issue is a heart problem. SO, in a real sense, the writer of this book is dropping a huge bomb for all of us here. He is saying that you cannot fix a conscience with external cleansing! If you have committed a sin, and have hurt someone deeply, or even in a small way. They shouldn’t be as concerned with your external actions going forward, what they desire is for your heart to be changed. Because you can modify your behavior for a little while, but unless there is a heart change, it is only a matter of time before you are back in your old hurtful habits. He is saying that when you do wrong, it is not an outward issue, it is a matter of the heart, so to deal with a matter of the heart with outward cleansing does nothing. And we are all in that same predicament. As I have said before, all sin at its core is a worship issue, and therefor rooted in the heart. So, if you have an addiction to alcohol, or drugs, or anger, or lust, or pornography, or food, or gossip, or golf, or good works, you dont need to worry as much about changing your actions as much as you need to be concerned with changing your heart. Unless you have really heart change in any issue you deal with, you will never see lasting behavioral change.
So the question i want to answer that I hope you are asking right now is this. What do we do then, this seems hopeless? Well, the writer of Hebrews lays out this amazing truth that we ned to understand. When Jesus went to the cross, He went as our high priest. But not just any high priest who would go into the the most holy place once a year and take the blood of goats and sheep to purify the outside of people for a year, he went in with His own blood. Thus securing an eternal redemption.
He went to the cross it is saying here not to secure a temporary stay of execution, but an eternal redemption.
In this passage, there are five parallels that I want you to see here that apply to many areas of scripture. And we need to have these categories as we approach people in our lives. Either people at work, or church or in our families. we need to understand these parallels.
Place of Worship: The earthly tent and the heavenly tent: When God set out instructions for the israelites to make the tent of meeting with the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place, he was not having them create the place of worship, he was giving them a copy of it…
The mediator of worship: The Earthly High Priest and the Great high priest…
The sacrifice of our Worship: The blood of goats and calves and the blood of Christ: …
The purity of our worship: The purification of flesh, and the purification of spirit:…
The Acts of our Worship: Dead works and true service…
In all three of these parallels, we need to understand that the visible was not the real. The Holy Place was not in the tent. The blood of goats and calves had no real effect, and the outer flesh was not really what needed to be cleansed.
So, for us today, I want to shift our thoughts about how we approach our actions, and our works as Christians, because you see in the final verse it says that Christ’s blood purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. I really have the sense that there may be someone here who has committed something in their past, or even may be struggling with something right now that they are ashamed of. You have a guilty conscience, and have been trying to work hard to atone for the things you have done. I really dont have any idea, but I have a strong sense that there may be someone here who has struggled with that, and no matter how hard you try, your conscience is still guilty, and you cant clean it up. Well, the problem is that you have been trying to clean your conscience with dead works, and you need the real work of Christ to cleanse you concience. So let me encourage you in this time as we celebrate communion, and sing a song to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That your conceience is clean, not trough your works, but through the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our great High priest, who went into the Most Holy place by His own Blood to cleanse the conciseness of tose who would trust in Him for salvation.
So, if that is you, what I want you to do is this, Repent, and turn to Jesus. Stop trying to clean yourself, and allow Him to cleanse you. If you feel comfortable coming down for prayer, please do so during the last song. No matte what, dont focus on your external actions as much as you deal with your heart. external actions should and will follow a heart change, they are evidence of change, not the cause of change.