In the last Dear Co-Laborer” Issue, I noted that counseling can provide tourniquet for the pain of life, but it cannot provide a cure. Only Jesus does this. Pain is one product of sin that can only be healed by acknowledged that we sin against God and God alone. In this Issue I will develop this thought more completely.
CLEANSING THE CONSCIENCE
Five times, in Hebrews 9:9, 14; 10:2, 22; and 13:18, the author discusses the conscience. In
Hebrews 9:9 he says that the Old Testament Levitical system could not “perfect, as pertaining to
the conscience” It. Hebrews 9:14
Let us draw near with a true heart in full measure of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The dictionary defines imputation as ‘to ascribe to or charge (a person) with an act or quality because of the conduct of another over whom one has control or for whose acts or conduct one is responsible. To attribute (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to a person or persons vicariously.”
When we say that Christ died for our sins, it means that God imputed to Christ the sin of the believer and imputed to the believer the righteousness of Christ The Apostle Paul state, this beautifully in II Corinthians 5:21:
For he hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin that we. May be made the righteousness of God in Him.
The fact that God imputes the believer’s sin to Christ means that He was legally guilty, but morally innocent. The fact that God imputes Christ’s righteousness to the believer means that the believer is legally innocent, but morally guilty. In other words, a double imputation touches both Christ and the believer.
The legal imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us not only satisfied the justice of God but also our sense of justice as well. If God had not demanded justice, then we would be insecure in our relationship with Him. God said, “The soul that sinneth, it shal1 die.” If God did not demand death as the payment for sin, we could not trust His Word.
So also, if God did not demand justice against sin, the believer would feel dirty and guilty, knowing that God had not properly dealt with his sin. In order for the believer to commune with God, he needs both justification and sanctification. The propitious death of Christ effects the first; the regenerating word of the Holy Spirit the second.
We saw In Hebrews 9:14 that the death of Christ cleansed the conscience from dead works. These are the works that we perform to atone for our sins. They are dead in that they cannot reconcile us to God. But they do serve to show that we oil feel the need to do works in atonement for our sins.
The reason they can never cleanse the conscience is, we are never sure how many such works are necessary to make the wrong right, even if we assume that such works in fact can atone. Our consciences would still be haunted by the fact that, once committed, we can never make the wrong right.
For example, let’s say that you are on a hunting trip and accidentally kill your best friend. His death leaves a widow and four children. How do you forgive yourself for the accident? You can provide for the financial needs of the family for the rest of their lives, but bow do you replace their husband and father; the rest of your life your conscience will be haunted – unless, that is, you understand what the Bible teaches on this subject.
Hebrews teaches that Jesus, the Supreme Judge and Arbitrator of all (MISSING) declares His Blood sufficient to right the wrong. Because He is the Supreme Court, the issue is settled. From here you merely have to ask whether you believe Him.
KING DAVID, THE MURDERER
All are familiar with the narrative in II Samuel 11, where David kills Uriah after committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba. In Psalm 51:4 declares:
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou, judgest.
Notice that David did not say that he had sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, or the nation of Israel, or anyone other than God. The sin was solely between David and God. This is critically important to understand if God is to MISSING our consciences.
Let’s assume that Uriah had brothers and sisters who knew what David did. Let’s assume further that they were bold enough to remind the king of what he did. Everywhere David went, they called attention to the fact that he was a murderer. Even though he knew that God had forgiven him, David may still have a guilty conscience.
Unless, that is, David knew that Uriah went to be with Jesus right on schedule. David was a negative instrument in accomplishing the will of God, but he did not shape Uriah’s destiny, in His sovereignty God delegates that to no one!
Once forgiven by God, David could proceed with his life, head upright for his conscience was clean because he understood that although he was responsible for killing Uriah, ultimately God decreed that Uriah’s time had come to go from this life to the next, and David, the sinner, did not alter Uriah’s destiny. David sinned against God alone.
By way of summary, in order to have a cleansed conscience, you must understand the legal basis through which the works of Jesus Christ alone satisfies Justice and believe that it is not through your own works. The conscience must be ‘purged front dead works’. Christ imputes to you His righteousness and In His death satisfies time justice of God for your sin. You sin against Him and only Him. This is the reason you can have a clean conscience.
Secondly, you must understand that you cannot shape another’s destiny, This means that you cannot legitimately have a problem with another person. Although you are responsible for your actions, and God will judge you on the basis of them, you cannot hurt another person, and others cannot hurt you.
If you feel that what you do cleanses your conscience, you will never know how much is enough in rectifying the wrong committed. This doesn’t mean that restitution is unnecessary. The will of God, however, determines restitution, not the conscience of the sinner or the offended party. You never alleviate guilt by restitution. The guilt is removed solely because Jesus paid the demands of Justice and has forgiven the sin.
We see the grace of God, then, not only in Justification, but also in Sanctification, in Justification Christ paid the penalty for my sin. In Sanctification Christ cleanses my conscience from all sin.
Rejoicing in grace,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
(1 John 1:9)