Hebrews 9:22. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Christian, what do you do when you sin? What is your procedure or practice for dealing with your moral failings? Your faults and mistakes? Your transgressions of God’s law of love? And what about your iniquities? Your heart sins? Bad attitudes? Doubts? Fears? Anger? How do you make recompense for those?
If you’re like millions of Christians around the world maybe you go to a priest for confession, seeking absolution from him. Then comes penance – a good deed to make up for your sin. This will bring you pardon from God. Now you can take the eucharist again (partaking of Christ’s body and blood), which will keep you from “daily faults” and protect you from “mortal sins.”
If you’re a Protestant reading this you’re thinking, “Gee, I’m glad I don’t have to go through all of that to obtain forgiveness for my sins.”
But let’s be honest, most of the Protestants I talk to do all the same sorts of things, they’ve just de-centralized it from the church and internalized the guilt-pardon process in their hearts. And so sin management becomes the daily struggle of the Christian life. “Keep short accounts with God.” Re-dedicate your life to Christ. Try not to be out of fellowship with God. We might not call it “penance” but how much ministry do we do from guilt? And how many poor Protestants are living not knowing if they’ve been absolved of their sins because they didn’t hear the priest declare it? How many are left wondering if their bed side confession was heart felt enough? If they were contrite enough? Resolute enough? And did I even remember to confess every sin I committed today? Or did I possibly miss one or two (or two dozen)?
All of this leaves a whole lot of Christians living with a whole lot of guilt, and a whole lot of not knowing where they stand with God. And the Christian who lives in such guilt will only move further and further away from God and his brother, not closer. Just ask Cain. His brother brought a blood sacrifice to God because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Abel brought a sacrificial life to God. But Cain brought the fruits of his own labors. He brought his own knowledge of good and evil to God. And God rejected his self-righteous offering. His atonement by works. And you know the rest of the story – Cain couldn’t control the power of sin in his heart, and so, moved by guilt and jealousy, he murdered his brother.
This is what sin management does to us. It makes us murderers. Murderers? Yes. Isn’t this how James describes us when we compare ourselves to others and fail to come to God humbly, without any self-righteous pride?
James 4:2-8. You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask…[but] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Praise God for his grace. Praise God that from the beginning he has made a way for us to draw near to him, without the guilt of sin, by the shedding of blood.
God’s economy has always been a blood economy. Blood is how God has always dealt with sin. From Cain and Abel to Moses and the Israelites. How did a wilderness wandering Israelite know that their sins were forgiven? How did they deal with their sin? Good works? Penance? Turning over a new leaf? Make a list and check it twice, and then beg for forgiveness? Nope. Blood. They watched the High Priest take the blood of the lamb and sprinkle it on almost everything. The people, the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy seat. Practically everything was covered in blood.
So let me ask you, when you sinned yesterday, did you kill an animal and sprinkle its blood on yourself, your house, your car, your computer, your fridge (wherever the sin occurred)? Did you bring a basin of blood to church last Sunday? Why not? Don’t you know Hebrews 9:22? Without blood there is no forgiveness. How on earth are Christians dealing with their sins without shedding blood? Why do we think that more contrition, more resolutions, more pleading for forgiveness, keeping shorter lists of sins, more praying, more serving, more confessing will earn us more absolution? Only blood will absolve us.
Only Christ’s blood will absolve us.
And Christ’s blood sacrifice has cleansed us once-for-all-time. Not repeatedly. Not a little bit at a time. Not in part but the whole.
Hebrews 9: 25-26. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Praise God! “To live is Christ” means no more sin management. No more wondering if we’re forgiven. No more keeping an account with God, because he does not keep an account with us. Once for all forgiveness! Every sin put away. There is no greater gift. There is no greater love.
How have you been trying to manage your sins?
You in Christ
What does it mean to you to know all your sins are fully forgiven?
Christ in you
How might knowing your forgiven allow you to move toward God and others today?