So what is the conclusion of all that we have been saying? Cleansing of the conscience is the solution to the problem of guilt. The cross delivers us from the penalty of sin (from objective guilt). But the problem of our personal sense of guilt remains unless God has made other provisions; and He has. The blood of Christ, that is, an effect of the work of Christ on the cross, is to cleanse our conscience. He removes the sense of blameworthiness that assails us in the wake of our sins. Of particular interest in our studies on the Lord’s supper is the role of the cup in this ministry of cleansing. Through the cup, in symbol, Jesus applies His blood to our inner person. The symbolism, drawn from Exodus 24, means that He has fitted us for fellowship with and ministry to the living God.
The issue for us, then, is that we must decide what to believe. When praying about our sin, or when participating in the Supper, we must decide whether to trust the conscience (which is formed and determined by our culture, though it is a gift from God) or the Work of Christ. We must determine whether to believe our sin or Jesus.
The effect of the cleansing is that we know our sin. We have not forgotten the sin that has blighted our life. But sin no longer defines our life. Jesus, His work and righteousness, defines us. In fact, we can and must calm our souls before Him. I may rightly deny to myself the “luxury” (sick as this is) of wallowing in guilt and allowing guilt and sin to keep me from the joy that Jesus ministers, and the joy of ministry to and for Him. This is the point of Hebrews 9.14: “How much more shall the blood of Christ … cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”