I can’t stop reading Hebrews lately. The certainty of my salvation, so dear to me, has never completely kept me from shame. It’s easy to rejoice in the concept that my sins are forgiven–cast as far as the east is from the west, as far as God is concerned (Psalm 103:12). Yet the remembrance of sinful deeds, thoughts, and attitudes plagues me and causes me pain. I’ve heard the standard blather: “So your standards are higher than God’s? You know it’s prideful to hang on to something that God has forgotten.” “Shame isn’t from the Lord; you need to give that up and rejoice in your salvation.” Funny how the stereotypical “Christianese” just doesn’t meet my need, the deep need for cleansing.
But here comes the author of Hebrews to give me hope: “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? Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 9:13-14, 10:19-22).
He saves my soul, yes. But He also cleanses my conscience.
God built us, atom by atom. He knows every wonderful and every destructive piece of me, and He knows how salvation meets my eternal–but not always my immediate–need. When I am in the depths of self-loathing, when I am oh-so-very-aware of my sin, He makes a way for me to be clean.
Let me draw near, Father. Sprinkle me clean and wash away the sting of my sin, the sting that continues to bite long after Your grace has paid my eternal account in full. Cleanse my conscience that I might serve You more fully.
It’s bath time.