Cleansing the Conscience — Guilt and Cleansing — Conclusion

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.”

About jamesallman

Jim Allman is a Bible teacher living in the Dallas, TX area. He taught 18 years in Memphis, TN at Mid-South Bible / Crichton College, and has been at Dallas Seminary since 2000. He is married to Jan and has three married children, Jill, Jim, Jr., and Julie, and six grandchildren, Hannah, Sara, Gabriel, Miles, Asher, and his little brother, Asa.
This entry was posted in Blood, cleansing, conscience, Hebrews, Lord's Supper and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cleansing the Conscience — Guilt and Cleansing — Conclusion

  1. Stephen Heron says:

    Dr Allman:
    I’ve been considering the initial comment you stated regarding Eph 2:7 with regards to the record of our sins even in heaven. After reading your comments on glory I think it makes more sense that in Heaven I’ll be less concerned with my track record and more with God’s grace. It seems that the verses that hint at God’s ‘forgetfulness’ (Ps 130:3, 103:12) pertain to releasing us from the penalty of sin? and not perhaps the knowledge of sin.

    What about Jeremiah’s comments in chapter 31 that seem to link God’s forgiveness with a choice to “remember their sins no more”? Does Jeremiah have in mind the “record of debt” that the Law brings and that Paul deals with in Col 2:13?

    With respect to our subjective guilt when coming to the Lord’s supper; it seems that our faith in Christ for the cleansing of justification is the same faith that we bring to the Lord’s supper to cleanse our sense of unworthiness in sanctification. It is by faith from first to last.

    Thanks for all your work on these topics, they are a great help to those of us who are teaching others to wrestle with the depth and wonder of the gospel.

  2. jamesallman says:

    You are right on target. Thanks for your comment, Stephen. Good to hear from you, too.

    When God “remembers our sins no more,” the expression is a metonymy, a figure of speech in which one idea is renamed by an idea related to it. Forgetting is a category error for a person who is omniscient. God never forgets, in Scripture, but we do read that He doe not remember. This gives us the appearance of the action (metonymy of the adjunct). He refuses to use His knowledge of our sin against us to punish us. Jeremiah gives the promise; the NT gives the rationale, the work of Jesus. He has paid the penalty in full so that God may permanently set aside punishment. “Mah favorit professah” once said that as God’s children we are “pastless and future-full.”

    And yes, the faith with which we come to the Supper is essentially the same as the faith by which we participate in justification. I either trust Jesus or I don’t!

  3. Richie Simmons says:

    This is so good. Love this sentence: “We must determine whether to believe our sin or Jesus.” That’s it!! Exactly! Who do I trust? What God says is true through the work of Jesus or my perspective? Thanks for saying this and reaffirming this truth.

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