“Why Did Christ Come? To Give us a Clear Conscience.”
By Pastor Chris Arch
Over the years I have seen at least one desire that has effect both the old and young alike: the desire for a clear conscience. I have seen this desire in the earnest eyes of a child, seeking forgiveness for an offense and the accompanying restoration the cleansed conscience brings. I have also see this desire in the pleading eyes of the elderly, not long for this world, seeking reconciliation and restoration before entering the next.
The problem of a dirty of blemished conscience is as old as man himself. Was it not our first parents, Adam and Eve, who through their sin in Eden brought on the ruinous guilt of sin and its accompanying defilement of conscience? What was the result of such a plagued conscience? Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God (Gen. 3:8). The defilement of conscience ruined Adam and Eve’s relationship with not only God, but each other – they blamed, as well as the internal peace they had experienced – for the first time they felt shame.
All throughout the Old Testament, conscience was an issue that plagued man. A system of sacrifice was incorporated, and yet, the sacrifice of animals never could cleanse the conscience of the guilty offender (Heb. 9:9-10). In foreshadowing the coming work of Chris t, God accounted the blood of the animals as sufficient for cleansing the flesh – the ceremonial, but never the conscience.
As I alluded to earlier conscience is an issue individuals still struggle with today. In some religions, their devout adherents cut themselves, others cast their offspring into a “sacred” river, or spend hours of effort in various forms of penance. Others may attempt to assuage their conscience through giving massive amounts of money to organizations such as the United Way or Salvation Army. Some may attempt to find their fix through acts of service or community involvement: helping out at the homeless center or volunteering at the public library. All of these activities may in their own right be good, and yet no matter how much we attempt to do or give in order to cleanse, the stained conscience remains.
The old hymn offers the only sound advice that cleanses the conscience as effectively today as it first did 2000 years ago: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” (1) All of our pride, our envy, our jealous, our strife causes us to look to Someone or Something outside of ourselves and our dead works. When we see the Man of Calvary dying in our stead we realize the truth of Heb. 9:14 and how it applies to my own life: “How much more will the blood of Chris t, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (2)
1. Lowry, Robert; “Nothing But the Blood”; The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, Word pub., Nashville , 1986.
2. Piper, John; The Passion of Jesus Chris t, Crossway Books, Wheaton , 2004.