Do you like cake? I really like cake. Maybe you are a pie person or really go for the ice cream sundae. I bet there is some dessert or other “not so good for you” thing you really like. The thing about cake is you know it is good for you. Well maybe you are torn or don’t agree completely. You know it is pleasing to you to taste and consume and enjoy the delightful sugary, buttery, mouth-watering, delectable, heaven-sent bite after bite. But you also know that if you eat it every day you will have to buy new clothes and spend more time at the doctor and have to go on an exercise regimen and buy a bunch of Under Armor exercise gear and consume some kind of body cleanse fad juice from a southern California diet company… You get the idea. In some ways cake is “good” for you and in some ways cake is “evil” for you. This is exactly what Adam got when he ate from the forbidden tree. He got the knowledge of good and evil. In the original language this is what “good and evil” means. It is a new way of thinking where Adam would decide what was good for him and what was bad for him.
The problem is, apart from God, apart from the Holy Spirit, outside a personal and intimate relationship with the groom you, your “perceiver” is all messed up. We all have this internal perceiver. The Bible calls it a conscience in English. Here is the definition in the Greek:
syneídēsis (from 4862 /sýn, “together with” and 1492 /eídō “to know, see”) – properly, joint-knowing, i.e. conscience which joins moral and spiritual consciousness as part of being created in the divine image. Accordingly, all people have this God-given capacity to know right from wrong because each is a free moral agent.
The word eido is defined as:
eídō (oida) – properly, to see with physical eyes (cf. Ro 1:11), as it naturally bridges to the metaphorical sense: perceiving (“mentally seeing”). This is akin to the expressions: “I see what You mean”; “I see what you are saying.”
This internal perceiver when fueled by bad fruit and a selfish nature says “cake is always good no matter what.” In one way your internal perceiver has been polluted. Still the pure perceiver is living in self-effort and says “too much cake is a bad thing.” This is the conflict that can be inside you especially when you add law to the equation. When you say things like “cake consumption is a sin” then you now are really in conflict. Your internal conflict resolution mechanism kicks in and you start trying to work through all the issues. You add some self-effort to avoid cake. You have a little cake but add some diet to make up for it. You consume tons of cake and then go on a fast with prayer to make it OK. Under the Law of Moses you would bring a perfect sacrifice, an unblemished lamb to pay for your sin so you would no longer have conflict (condemnation). The problem in this entire churn is there is only you and your effort. Your condemnation sends you running for the bushes like Adam and Eve. You hide from God “until you get it all worked out.” Jesus died to set you free from all that junk and slavery of rules and condemnation and guilt. God calls all that stuff, in your effort, “dead works.” They are fruitless and lifeless. Check this out:
Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (ESV)
Under the Law of Moses the people offered a “perfect” sacrifice without blemish. This was so THEY would know all the sin was accounted for. If the lamb (or goat or bull…) did have a blemish then THEY would have doubt about the sacrifice. God sees what is inside. God sees what is outside. God doesn’t see “perfect” like our polluted perceiver does. Our polluted perceiver sees perfection as “without spot or blemish.” Just look at how advertising and super models appeal to your polluted perceiver. God knew this about us so He said we needed a “without spot or blemish” sacrifice so we would know that it was all covered and nothing was missed.
Jesus was more than that. He was sinless in behavior. He was tempted in every way but was without sin. He was also clean inside. His eternal Spirit was perfect inside as He was perfect outside. When they sacrificed the lamb they would “wash the entrails.” This was so they would know that the inside was as clean as the unblemished outside. Jesus was perfect inside and outside. Can you see it?
Now His sacrifice for us cleanses our conscience. The word here is to remove something that doesn’t belong or separate one from another. Jesus’ sacrifice purifies our polluted perceiver so we can perceive rightly again. Our dead works, our lifeless endeavors, our pointless struggles are removed. Our guilt is removed. Our condemnation is removed. Our need for selfishness is removed. Jesus pays it all and God’s Grace provides for it all. There is no more need for self-anything. We can freely surrender to Him.
One last thing, when we are purified in conscience then we can “serve” a life-giving God. This word serve is awesome! It is to select the most qualified person for a task. It is like if you had a plumbing problem and got the master plumber instead of the handyman. You are perfectly and completely qualified to bring exactly what God needs from you: YOURSELF. He welcomes you with open arms ready to give you the most amazing hug. Your polluted perceiver is restored to its original intent in the presence of your Abba Father. Now you see Him and all His goodness and “perceive” just how good He is. That is why you have the perceiver. It isn’t for cake consumption decisions or sin management. It is to see Jesus for all He has done. It is to listen to the Holy Spirit to know how righteous you are with Him. It is to see your Father as the greatest and most giving Father you can imagine and more…
Here is what The Message says. Good stuff.
Heb 9:11-15 But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.