“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14)
“For the Law…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?” (Hebrews 10:1-2).
Wow, what huge verses those are. Let’s first consider what these strange “dead works” are. Two very important clues: 1.) It is the conscience that needs to be cleansed of them, and 2.) The cleansing agent is the blood of Christ. I believe these “dead works” are works that are done based on the voice of the human conscience.
Let me explain further. Dead works aren’t evil, they’re simply dead. Dead works could be ministering to the poor, going on missions trips, etc. These things can be called “dead” because “life” is something that ONLY comes from God and is a spiritual reality, while the conscience doens’t connect with God and isn’t spiritual at all. God sees anything that isn’t spiritual as “dead,” no matter how good and “alive” it seems to men. God is pleased with obedience, which stems from relationship and communication, not “good works” which stem from man’s religious conscience.
Now check this out: in both passages quoted at the top, the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus is being discussed. The word “conscience” in the first passage is the exact same Greek word as “consciousness” in the second, and the same with the word “serve” in the first passage and “worshipers” in the second. These passages are examining intertwining issues hindering intimacy with God but which are remedied by Jesus’ blood; namely consciousness of sin and dead works. Combining these verses, I think one could say: Through the power of the blood of Jesus, God intends to both purge the conscience from dead works and purge the awareness of sin, in order enable true service and worship to Him.” Honestly, that’s huge.
The first passage, Hebrews 9:13-14, exposes two contrasts: dead vs. living, and works vs. service. Dead works, stemming from the conscience, by definition have no connection to a living God. The conscience is based on the human soul, while the living God is entirely spiritual. Work refers simply to expending energy on a task. Anyone can do “work.” But service (the Greek word also means “to worship”) can ONLY come from relationship.
You can’t truly serve someone if you don’t communicate with or know them. If I had a butler at home (hahahaha!), I wouldn’t him doing what he thinks I want, or what seemed good to him. He wouldn’t really be serving me in that case, but at best his own image of me. Instead, I would simply want him to listen to me and follow my directions. If he did so, I would feel as if he valued me. This is admittedly an imperfect analogy of God and His people, but I trust it makes some sense.
Jesus’ blood serves a purpose far bigger than getting people into heaven. The way has been paved for men to truly know God in the spirit realm, inherit His Kingdom as a son, and follow Him from love, not fear. It begins now. But first, the conscience has to be cleansed, once for all.
I may expand on some ideas here in a later blog, there’s a lot that ties in with these things. Don’t you love truth? : ) God bless you.