Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Understanding Grace: Merely covered by the Blood or totally cleansed by the Blood?

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 Depending upon the particular background you hale from, you may or may not have heard the concept that we as believers are covered by the Blood. In many Christian circles this is a popular concept. It appears in some Christian music lyrics. I've heard it taught in sermons. I have seen it in Christian literature. 

 Is this a Biblically accurate concept? Or is this yet another misguided traditional stronghold? Is this one more example of religious misunderstanding of the New Covenant and the Finished Work? What is the importance, if any, in understanding the truth about being cleansed or merely covered? Let's unveil the truth by actually reading the New Covenant.

 Merely covered or completely cleansed?

 In the Old Covenant sin was atoned for not removed or cleansed.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’ Leviticus 17:11

 In the New Covenant we should have a much better means of redemption. The blood of animals could only cover. They could not cleanse. The sin still remained. It was not removed. Let me give you a good illustration of this.

 In my last article I cited the woman caught in adultery. I made the bold claim she was righteous. In the context of the passage I saw the very limited "righteousness" blood atonement gave her. I must add some clarity to my position. There is no righteousness in following the Law. There is no perfect right standing by the blood of bulls and goats.

 This woman, being in the Abrahamic Covenant, being under blood atonement by the sacrifices, had a once a year covering. Now she was still under condemnation and guilt. She still suffered from the shame and fear of punishment for her sins. Jesus showing mercy and grace chose not to condemn her. In this sense only she had a sense of righteousness before Him. 

 This is not the redemption we have in the New Covenant. We are not merely covered by the Blood of Jesus. Our sins aren't simply covered temporarily until we "confess" them. Again, let me be clear on this matter. We never confess sins in order to receive forgiveness. We are already cleansed and forgiven the moment we receive Him. We have a better covenant. We have a better promise in the Finished Work.

 New Covenant redemption in the Finished Work

 The Old Covenant atonement simply covered sins and guilt. In fact the Hebrew word for atonement is the Hebrew word Kaphar. It means to cover. It does not mean to cleanse or remove sin. 

 In the Finished Work of redemption we have our sins cleansed and forever removed from us. At the Cross Jesus once for all dealt with the sin issue. In truth, the "lost" or those without Christ's free gift of grace don't enter eternal separation because of their sins or deeds. They enter there because they freely, and knowingly reject grace. That said, see how the Word confirms our cleansing from sin in the New Covenant.

  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, Revelation 1:5
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  2 Peter 1:9
 Allow the Word of God to be the final authority in this matter. In this New Covenant sin is no longer covered. It is completely washed away. 

Cleansed, washed, made brand new!

 So why should this be important to you? It is exciting news knowing that you no longer are sentenced to a life of guilt and shame. 
12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:12-14
In Christ we are free from shame and guilt. When sin was covered the guilt also remained. That is not a so great salvation.

...can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1b

This is clear. The Law and Old Covenant cannot remove or cleanse or make perfect anyone.
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.For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins Hebrews 10:2-4

 Covering for sins always leaves a trace of guilt. Think of this if you spilt juice on your carpet the stain would always be there if you only covered it. If, however, you applied some industrial strength cleanser to that stain it would be completely cleansed. Not a trace of that stain would remain.

 In the same way the Finished Work accomplished this for us. The Blood so cleansed us that now it is as if sin never even existed within us. Why this matters to you is in your relationship with our Father the enemy cunningly slips thoughts of guilt into your mind. The enemy wants to remind you of any failure or sin. The accuser says you are unworthy.

 When you understand how cleansed you are no accusation, no guilt, no shame can hold you back. You can always have bold confidence with God. He has made you worthy. Rejoice in who you are, you've been remade perfect in Him!

There is a purpose for this cleansing. If you sterilized jars to "can" fruits it would be futile to just have clean jars but not put anything in them. Christ cleansed us so that He could pour His abundant life into us. We now have the very life and nature of God within. We are vessels or carriers of God Almighty. He dwells within us.

 Understanding the New Life in Him

 Now, whenever we miss it, it isn't that we mope around moaning and groaning that we missed it. We shouldn't be plagued with thoughts of guilt and shame, ever. We always have available an open access to receive all God has for us.

 Now as New Creations in Christ, our hearts are different from those of the World. Whenever we miss the mark of the standards of love and honesty our hearts remind us of who we are. In other words, we "feel" it when we miss it. 

 If we get a little frustrated in traffic and find some other words slipping out of our mouth, our hearts don't condemn us. Our Father reminds us of who we are. The New Creation is loving, not impatient. We simply agree with God and grow up further in grace. 

Being cleansed not covered is vital to understand who we truly are. No guilt can reign in your mind. We all can rejoice we have this new life in Him and are made perfect by His blood. 

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