Sermon 1846. The Purging of the Conscience
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JUNE 21, 1885,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying ofthe flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purgeyour conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:13,14.
SOME of you may remember that six years ago I preached from this text, principally dwelling upon the type of the red heifer."The Red Heifer," No. 1481, Vol. 25. We then tried to show how, in these ashes of the heifer, laid by in store and appliedto the unclean with water, God gave to His people in the wilderness a purification of the flesh whenever they had defiledthemselves by touching any dead thing. This was the great instrument by which they were delivered from a ceremonial quarantineunder which they were kept apart till they had been purified. I am not going to enlarge upon that type today. I felt, whenpreaching upon it, that I had not reserved due space for the latter and more important part of the text-it is my purpose tomake amends this morning. May we be helped by the Spirit of God to yield our earnest attention to the deeply important subjectnow before us. The red cow may roam out of notice and the Christ of God shall, alone, be seen!
"To serve the living God" is necessary to the happiness of a living man-for this end were we made-and we miss the design ofour making if we do not honor our Maker. "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." If we miss that end, weare terrible losers. The service of God is the element in which, alone, we can fully live. If you had a fish here upon dryland, supposing it possible that it could exist, yet it would lead a very unhappy life-it would scarcely be a fish at all!You could not tell of what it was capable. It would be deprived of the opportunity of developing its true self. It is notuntil you put it into the stream that the fish becomes really a fish and enjoys its existence.
It is just so with man-he does exist without God, but we may not venture to call that existence, "life," for-"He shall notsee life; but the wrath of God abides on him." If he lives in pleasure, yet he is dead while he lives. He is so constitutedthat to develop his manhood, perfectly, as God would have it to be, he must addict himself to fellowship with God and to theservice of God! Many ways have been tried by men to make themselves perfectly content, but they cannot find satisfaction outof God. When a man gets to serve God and, in proportion as he thoroughly does so, he is peaceful, restful and happy. Man isa fallen star till he is right with Heaven! He is out of order with himself and all around him till he occupies his true placein relation to God. When he serves God, he has reached that point where he serves himself best and enjoys himself most. Itis man's honor, it is man's joy, it is man's Heaven to live unto God!
God's idea of what a nation should be was set forth in the camp in the wilderness. If God's command had been fully carriedout, the desert would have exhibited a scene of highest blessedness. We would have seen a holy people surrounding the centralabode of the Holy God-a people, everyone of whom was a servant of God and a priest for His worship- a people whose ordinaryeveryday life was sanctified by the Presence of God. We would have seen a people whose shadow by day was God in the cloudand whose light by night was God in the pillar of fire-a people to whom God was Leader, for whom God was the vanguard andfor whom God brought up the rear. There would have been a people who lived upon the Bread of Heaven-a people who drank ofwater which leaped by Divine power from the Rock-a people having God to be their glory and their defense. Happy had they beenif they could have carried out the Divine ideal! It would have been well with them in the highest degree.
Alas, they were always seeking to be as the evil nations around them! They could not rest till they had descended to the levelof the common mass of mankind! If only they could have risen to God's intent, so that the Divine purpose of love had beenfully carried out in them, they would have been the happiest of all the sons of men! We, ourselves, as a Church, if we canfulfill the type-if we live with God in the midst of us, if He is our dwelling place throughout all generations, if we fetchour supplies from Him, if we move only at His bidding, if we intensely love Him-we shall be a people to be envied by all whoknow us!
But, alas, a great difficulty comes in the way-and of that I am going to speak this morning-in order to the removal of it.Our text very plainly points out the sad hindrance in the way of our service-we need that our conscience be purged from deadworks or else we cannot serve the living God. Secondly, our text leads us to consider the true purgation from this evil-ifthe blood of bulls and of goats purged the flesh of men so that they could draw near to the visible Tabernacle of God, muchmore shall the blood of Christ purge our conscience from all that spiritual defilement which prevents our heart-worship ofGod! When these two things are spoken of, I shall ask you, in the last place, if time does not fail us, to consider the kindof service which we ought to render if we have been cleansed by such a costly purification and purged from all conscienceof dead works. Oh, living Spirit, help us, now, to think living thoughts and so to carry on the worship of the living Godwhile we are hearing Your Word!
I. First, then, let us briefly consider THE SAD HINDRANCE WHICH LIES IN THE WAY OF THE SERVICE OF GOD. In the camp in thewilderness, the Law was that if a man touched a dead body, he was made unclean by that touch. No, if he only stepped upona dead bone in his daily walks, he was polluted by his accidental contact with death. If any person died in his tent, allthe family and the tent, itself, became at once defiled-and they must undergo purgation before the inhabitants could minglewith the rest of the congregation, much less could go up to the holy place of assembly. My Brothers and Sisters, we are allunder the ban by coming into contact with spiritual death. The Apostle does not say, purge your conscience from evil works,because he wanted to turn our minds to the type of defilement by death and, therefore, he said, "dead works." I think he hada further motive, for he was not altogether indicating willful transgressions of the Law, but those acts which are faultybecause they are not performed as the result of spiritual life. I see a difference between sinful works and dead works whichwe may, perhaps, be able to bring into light as we go on. Suffice it to say, for the moment, that sin is the corruption whichfollows necessarily upon spiritual death. First, the work is dead, and soon it rots into actual sin.
Upon our consciences there rests, first of all, a sense of past sin. Even if a man wishes to serve God, until his conscienceis purged, he feels a dread and terror of God which prevent his doing so. He has sinned and God is just and, therefore, heis ill at ease. The Law is not to be trifled with-it is sent into the world armed with terrible sanctions-and the conscience,when awakened, makes us know that we cannot sin with impunity. "God is angry with the wicked every day, if he turns not, Hewill whet His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready." The sinner, knowing this, asks, "How can I serve this terribleGod?" He is alarmed when he thinks of the Judge of all the earth, for it is before that Judge that he will soon have to takehis trial. He is as a man in chains, reserved unto the hour of terrible execution-how can we serve this dreadful God?
We tremble in the Presence of an angry God, for that anger threatens us with destruction! Sin, like a dark cloud, darkensour spirit and shuts us out from joy. It is impossible for any man to rightly serve God with a living, loving worship whilehe is conscious of guilt. Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, we need the atoning Sacrifice of Christ to purge the conscience,for the Lord will not be served by convicted criminals, neither can condemned rebels wish to serve Him. He cannot look uponthe rebellious with any pleasure till their iniquity is put away and their sin is covered. You see, then, that the first hindranceto holy service is our sense of guilt and from this we must be wholly delivered-we must receive a new consciousness-a consciousnessof perfect pardon and complete reconciliation, or else we cannot serve the living
On the back of this comes the consciousness that we, ourselves, are sinful and inclined to evil. We say, and say rightly,"Who shall bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." How can we, whose will is obstinate, whose judgment is darkened,whose affections are depraved, whose desires are selfish, whose thoughts are evil-how can we stand in the Presence of Himbefore whom angels veil their faces as they cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty"? Men who know that they are forgiven,are yet, nevertheless, seized with trembling in the Presence of the Divine purity. They cry,
"Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips!" How shall we bear the vessels of the Lord if we are not clean? And we are notclean by nature. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place?"
We feel that we have not that perfect purity of heart and cleanness of hands which would fit us for the Holy Place. Nor canwe ever be saved from this fear so as to take up our heavenly priesthood and serve God till the precious blood of Christ shallbe applied to the conscience-nor until we feel that in Christ we are accounted righteous. Happy are we if we are Believersin Jesus, for He has washed us and we are clean every whit! Even our feet, though travel-stained, are now made clean becauseHe has taken the ewer and the basin and has washed our feet and has said to us, "you are clean." We may now enter into theMost Holy Place without the slightest fear, since the Great High Priest of our profession has, Himself, purified us! We areaccepted in the Beloved-"Christ is made of God unto us righteousness."
But, besides this consciousness of sin and sinfulness, we are conscious of a measure of deficient life. About us there isa body of death. Dead works are the things we most require to be purged from. Dead works need not be, in themselves, worksof willful sin. As the renowned Dr. John Owen has said, there were many things that the Jews would have to do about the deadwhich could not be censured, but, on the contrary, were to be praised-and yet, even these acts brought ceremonial defilement.A person is dead. Someone must lay out the corpse. Someone must array it for the funeral. Someone must lift it into the coffin.Someone must dig the grave and cover up the poor clay with its fellow clay. These last offices must be attended to, yet theydefiled all who performed them! Although they were works of humanity and of necessity, yet, according to the Law, all whoperformed them were, thereby, rendered unclean.
Without going into what the world calls actual sin, you and I may come into contact with spiritual death, no, we carry deathabout us, from which we daily cry to be delivered! For instance, in prayer. Our prayer, in its form and fashion, may be rightenough, but if it lacks earnestness and importunity, it will be a dead work. A sermon may be orthodox and correct, but ifit is devoid of that holy passion, that Divine inspiration without which sermons are but mere pomp- it is a dead work! Analms given to the poor is good as a work of humanity, but it will be only a dead work if a desire to be seen of men is foundat the bottom of it. Like the almsgiving of the Pharisee, it will be a mockery of God! Without a spiritual motive, the bestwork is dead! I confess that I never appear before you without a fear that my preaching may be a dead work among you. It mustbe so, as it comes from myself-its life must depend upon the spiritual power with which the Lord clothes it.
Do you not think that very much of common Christian conversation is dead, or very near to it? You stand and sing, but yourhearts do not sing! You bow your heads in prayer, but you are not praying! You read the Scripture, but it is not inspiredto you, so as to breathe its own life into you! Even our meditations and thoughts about God's work may be mere intellectualexercises and so may be devoid of that power which, alone, can make them living works, fit for the service of the living God.Beloved Friends, we need the precious blood of Christ to purge our consciences from this death and its working-and to liftus into holy and heavenly life! God is not the God of the dead, but of the living! God accepts not the dead sacrifice, butthe living sacrifice. Even of old there were no fish presented on His altar because they could not come there, alive-the victimmust be brought alive to the horns of the altar, or God could not receive it. We must not bring our dead faith or our deadwords as an offering to God! Our prayers without emotion; our praises without gratitude; our testimonies without sincerity;our gifts without love-all these will be dead and, consequently, unacceptable. We must present a living sacrifice to the livingGod, or we cannot hope to be accepted-and for this reason we greatly need the blood of Christ to purge our conscience fromdead works.
Do you not, sometimes, fear concerning your services that they have been altogether dead? When we are lukewarm, we hold thegolden cup to our God, but He receives it not when our service is dead and chill. Indeed, He says of us when we are lukewarm,"I will spue you out of My mouth." The Lord cannot endure a worship which is half dead! All worship must be presented at bloodheat-the warmth of life must be there. Do you not fear that even when, as a whole, it is alive, large parts of our servicemay be dead? Even in the living body of our prayers, may there not be a dead bone? Even in the living body of our praise,may there not be mortification in parts? God help us! What poor creatures we are! Is there one good thing about us? Are wenot imperfect in our best works? Are not the sins of our holy things glaring before our consciences this day? Unless we arepurged of this, by the blood of Christ, who offered up Himself without spot to God, how can we serve this living God and beas priests and kings unto Him?
Once more-I told you that the Israelites were defiled by even touching a dead bone-and this teaches us the easiness of beingpolluted. We have to come into contact with evil in our daily dealings with ungodly men. Can we think of them, can we speakto them, can we trade with them without incurring defilement? Even if we grow indignant with evil practices, may there notbe sin in our indignation? And when we reprove the custom of the trade, may we not become Pharisees in that very act? We areseldom exactly right. In avoiding one sin we drop into another-we flee from the lion and a bear meets us! To keep the middlepath of perfect holiness is difficult!
No, I go farther-do we, as Christian men and women washed by Christ, ever associate with one another without a measure ofdefilement? Can we meet together at our homes and feel, when we separate, that everything we have said was seasoned with saltand ministered to edification? Is there not some taint about our purest friends and does not the touch of that corruptionwhich still remains, even in the regenerate, tend to defile us? Can we walk through such a morgue as this world without beingdefiled, even unconsciously? Remember, under the Jewish Law, the man who was defiled and knew it not was still under penalty!And when he did discover it, he was made to bring his sacrifice. He needed the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes ofan heifer even for his sin of ignorance. If we have heard an evil thing, or read an evil thing, it has probably left somestain upon us though we perceive it not. All the more surely it may be so because we do not see it, for that may but provethat the judgment has been depraved and the heart infected. The water of purification and the blood of Atonement are neededday by day. Without these, we cannot hope to minister before the Lord our God with acceptance.
II. Now, I want to show, in the second place, WHAT IS THE TRUE PURGATION FROM THIS EVIL. Under the
Law there were several methods of purification, but the Apostle was not of a mind, on this occasion, to speak particularlyof any one of them and, therefore, he summed them all up in these words-"The blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes ofan heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh." These things did purify the flesh, so that theman who had formerly contracted impurity might mix with his fellow men in the congregation of the Lord. Now, if these matterswere so effectual for the purifying of the flesh, well does the Apostle ask, "How much more shall the blood of Christ purgeour conscience from dead works?" Why does he say, "How much more?"
First, because it is more truly purifying. There was not really and truly anything of purification about the blood of bullsand of goats. Speaking very literally, the blood of bulls and of goats might defile a person! Falling upon any man, it splatteredhis garments. Who cared to have a smear of blood upon his brow, or on his hands? It was not, in itself, a thing that couldactually purify. All the prescribed purifications were types and shadows of the true Propitiation for sin. Now, when the LordJesus Christ took upon Himself our human nature and lived a life of perfection-and then made an offering of Himself in death,as the Just for the unjust-then there was a real Sacrifice made unto the Most High God. When the Lord Jesus gave His body,soul and spirit. When, in His entire Nature, He made Himself a Sacrifice for sin, "being made a curse for us: for it is written,Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree"-then in that deed there was a real Atonement made-a true and effectual Expiationwas offered. Therefore James says, "How much more?" If the shadow cleansed the flesh, how much more shall the Substance cleansethe spirit?
Moreover, our Lord Christ offered a much greater Sacrifice. Why does the text, here, show the term, "Christ"? The ApostlePaul uses the name of our Lord with considerable variety. It is sometimes, "Christ," sometimes, "Jesus," sometimes, "our LordJesus," sometimes, "our Lord Jesus Christ," sometimes, "Christ Jesus." But there is a reason for the use of each name whereverit occurs. It would be an instructive study for you to try to find out why, in such a place, our Lord is called, "Christ,"and not, "Jesus," or, "Jesus," and not, "Christ." In this passage the name used is, "Christ." One reason why the preciousblood has such power to put away sin is because it is the blood of Christ, that is, of God's Anointed-God's Messiah-the SentOne of the Most High. Our Lord came not as an amateur, but He came with a commission. He came with an appointment and unctionfrom the Holy One! If, therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is offered as a Sacrifice for us, He is appointed to that end by GodHimself and, therefore, He must be accepted of God. There is no will worship about Christ. He says, "Lo, I come to do Yourwill." He did not come to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him and, therefore, there is a peculiar purifyingpower about all that He did because He did it as Christ, the Anointed of God.
Notice, it is not put concerning Christ that His life is purifying, though it had a wonderful relation thereto-nor is it saidthat His prayers are purifying, albeit everything is ascribable unto the intercession of our risen Lord-nor is it
said that His Resurrection is purifying. The whole stress is laid upon "the blood of Christ," signifying thereby death- deathwith pain, death as a victim, death with reference to sin. "The blood is the life thereof" and, "without shedding of bloodthere is no remission." It is by the blood of Christ that you and I have our consciences purged from dead works! Rejoice inChrist in Glory, but put your trust in Christ Crucified! Look with longing hope to His Second Coming, but for your purification,rest upon His first coming! See in His agony and His death your joy and life! It is the blood of Christ that, alone, can makeyou fit to serve the living and true God!
Note what it was that Christ offered and be sure that you lay great stress upon it. "How much more shall the blood of Christ,who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself!" What a splendid word that is! Did He offer His blood? Yes,
but He offered "Himself." Did He offer His life? Yes, but He specially offered "Himself." Now, what is "Christ"? The
"Anointed of God." In His wondrous complex Nature, He is God and Man. He is Prophet, Priest and King. He is-but time wouldfail me to tell you what He is-whatever He is, He offered Himself. The entire Christ was offered by Christ! "He offered Himself"You cannot put it so strongly by the use of any other word. "He, His own Self, bore our sins in His own body on the tree.""Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it." Not His life on earth; not His life in Heaven; nor His abilities and Histhoughts and His works-but He gave Himself. This is the alabaster box which was broken, the precious ointment of which perfumesboth Heaven and earth and makes the saints sweet unto the Lord their God-who smells upon them a sweet savor of rest in theoffering up of Christ. He offered "Himself"! Dwell much upon that word.
It is said in our text that this offering of Himself was "without spot." The sacrificial act by which He presented Himselfwas a faultless one, without spot. There was nothing in what Christ was, Himself, and nothing in the way in which He offeredHimself that could be objectionable to of God-it was "without spot." Now you see, Brothers and Sisters, why it is that ithas such purifying power for us. God sent the Christ-this Christ offered up Himself-and He offered Himself without spot. Andso we, for whom this wondrous Christ was sent, for whom He made this matchless offering, for whom He made that offering withoutspot, we, I say, are accepted in the Beloved made perfect in His perfection!
Further, it is added that He did this, "by the Eternal Spirit." This does not refer to the Holy Spirit, otherwise the Apostlewould have said, "by the Holy Spirit." It says, "By the Eternal Spirit"-and the meaning is this-that His eternal Godhead gaveto His offering of Himself an extreme value which otherwise could not have been attached to it. He, by the power of His Godhead,offered up Himself without spot!
Observe, then, the Sacrifice was a spiritual one. You must never look at Christ's Sacrifice in a carnal way, as though themere drops of literal blood, as a material substance, could have virtue in them for the purging of sin. Do not know Christafter the flesh. Be no longer children, but understand spiritual things. It is true that our Lord had a material body andpoured forth material blood, but the essence of His Sacrifice lay in His will, intent, motive and spirit. I once heard a dissertationupon what became of those drops of blood which fell to the ground on Calvary. I felt that it was foolish talk! By the bloodof Christ, we mean His suffering unto death, the obedience which made Him yield His life-and especially the will of His soulto suffer-and the object of His mind in suffering. When the bullock was brought up, its blood was poured out. But the bullockcould not be a sacrifice in spirit-the bullock had no intention to die and no understanding of the reason of its death. Thebullock was not willing to die and, therefore, it presented no sacrifice by the spirit. But Christ knew what He was and whyHe was there-and why He must die. And He gave His willing assent. He entered with His whole heart into the Substitution whichinvolved obedience unto death. "For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross." It was by His spirit that He offeredup a true and real sacrifice, for He says, "I delight to do Your will, O My God; yes, Your Law is within My heart."
But then you must not forget that this spirit was Divine-"by the Eternal Spirit." The spirit of Christ was an Eternal Spirit,for it was the Godhead. There was, conjoined with His Deity, the natural life of a perfect Man, but the Eternal Spirit wasHis highest Self. His Godhead willed that He should die and concurred in the death of the Manhood, so that, by the EternalSpirit, He offered Himself. The blood which He shed was the blood of God, for thus we read-"Feed the Church of God, whichHe has purchased with His own blood." Of course, "blood," as a physical, material thing cannot be the blood of God. But viewingit as what it means-His suffering, His grief, His woe-these were consented to by the Divine Spirit of Christ and so, by theEternal Spirit, He offered Himself to God.
Because He is the Second Person of the adorable Trinity in Unity, the suffering and death of His humanity had in them a potencyof purgation by which He cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Brothers and
Sisters, I never feel it hard to trust my sinful soul with the great Sacrifice of Christ. I feel, on the contrary, that ifI had all your souls within my body and all your sins heaped upon me-and all the sins of all the redeemed blackening my con-science-Icould now readily trust to that Divine Sacrifice for the taking away of all that guilt! What limit can you set to the meritof One who, by the Eternal Spirit, offered up Himself? What limits can there be to a Divine Sacrifice? You can no more seta limit to our Lord's Sacrifice than to the Godhead, itself!
Once more, I must call to your notice the use of that word, "eternal"-"who by the Eternal Spirit"-for it gives to the offeringof Christ an endless value. It can never cease to operate, for He offered up Himself by the "Eternal Spirit." There is asmuch purging power in the death of our Lord, today, as in that hour when, for the first time, He appeared in the Presenceof God for us. The blood of the bullock was a temporary thing. The "ashes of an heifer" could not last forever. But the meritsof Christ are the merits of One who always lives! His merits always abide, for they are the merits of an Eternal Person who,by His own Spirit, offered Himself up as a Sacrifice for sin.
Now, all this tends to make us feel how clean they are who are purged by this Sacrifice which our Lord offered once and forall to God. Need I call your attention to the fact that He offered Himself, "to God"? Yes, I must, for of late some have blasphemouslysaid that the Sacrifice was made to the devil! To mention such profanity is to condemn it!
Once more upon this point-as I have shown you that the Sacrifice of Christ was more real and greater, so I want you to noticethat it was better applied, for the ashes of an heifer mixed with water were sprinkled on the bodies of the unclean and theblood of bulls and of goats was sprinkled upon the flesh-but neither of them could reach the heart. It is not possible fora material thing to touch that which is immaterial! But the sufferings of Christ, as I have explained them, offered up throughHis Eternal Spirit, were not only of a corporeal but of a spiritual kind-and they reach, therefore, to the cleansing of ourspirit!
That precious blood comes home to us in this way. First, we understand somewhat of it. The Israelite, when he was purged bythe ashes of the red cow, could only say to himself, "I am made clean by these ashes because God has appointed that I shallbe, but I do not know why." But you and I can say that we are made clean through the blood of Christ because there is, inthat blood, an inherent efficacy-there is in the vicarious suffering of Christ on our behalf, an inherent power to honor theLaw of God and to put away sin. Because we can somewhat understand the cleansing given us in Christ, it has a greater powerupon our conscience-and that better prepares us to serve God.
Then again, we appreciate and approve of this way of cleansing. The Israelite could not tell why the ashes of a red heiferpurified him. He did not object to it, but he could not express any great appreciation of the method. We, as we see our Lordsuffering in our place, fall at His feet in reverent wonder. We love the method of salvation by Substitution! We approve ofexpiation by the Mediator. No Truth of God charms my own spirit like the Truth of Atonement by vicarious suffering, that sufferingpresented together with His death by our Lord Jesus Christ. I feel my conscience is quieted by every drop of that blood! Themethod of Federal Headship commends itself to me! I see righteousness and Grace commingled in it and thus I am helped to servethe living God.
Further, Brothers and Sisters, it comes home to us this way-we read in the Word of God that, "He that believes in Him haseverlasting life," and we say to ourselves, "Then we have everlasting life, for we have believed in Him!" We read, "The bloodof Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin," and our conscience whispers, "We are cleansed from all sin!" Consciencefinds rest and peace and our whole consciousness becomes that of a forgiven and accepted person with whom God is well pleased!Our conscience, instead of condemning us, perceives the justice of the way by which we are absolved and leads up our peaceof heart into full assurance of faith. So you see, Brothers and Sisters, that what the blood of bulls and of goats could notdo, the blood of Christ has done! It has passed beyond the flesh, which, indeed, it has never touched in our case-and it hassanctified the heart and calmed the spirit-thus preparing us to serve the Lord. The blood of Christ has purified us to thecenter! It has purged the core of the heart! It has cleansed our spirit, our mind, our memory, our thought, our intellect,our affections-and we are clean! And, therefore, we are meet to exercise a holy priesthood before the living God!
III. This brings me to my last head, which is this-consider THE KIND OF SERVICE WHICH WE NOW RENDER. After so much preparing,how shall we behave ourselves in the House of God?
I am not speaking to you who have never been purged from dead works by the application of the precious blood of Christ, foryou cannot serve God-you are forbidden to come into His Presence or to stand among His saints. You are in
quarantine, even as lepers put forth from the camp. Go home and set a red cross upon your door and write over it, "Lord havemercy upon us." That would best befit your unclean condition! As Joshua said to Israel, even so say I unto you, "You cannotserve the Lord: for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God." You must be born again before you can be acceptable unto Him,for as you are, an infection is upon all your works and you may not hope that He will accept anything at your hands.
But to you who have had that blood applied to your conscience by the Spirit of God, to you I speak. You should present untothe Lord the constant worship of living men. You see it is written, "Purge your conscience from dead works to serve the livingGod." You are not, at this day, likely to die in order to prove your love to God. But if you are ever called to it, you mustbe prepared to lose your lives for Christ's sake! But what you have to do is to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,acceptable unto God." Now, a living sacrifice is much more difficult of presentation than a slain one. I believe there arethousands of men who could go to the stake and die, or lay their necks on the block to perish with a stroke, for Christ, who,nevertheless, find it hard work to live a holy, consecrated life. The act of one moment, however painful, must be much easierthan that service which is to run through a series of years until life, itself, shall close. But if the Lord Jesus gave Himselffor you, will you not give yourselves for Him? If He died for you by His Eternal Spirit, will you not live for Him by thatnew Spirit with which He has quickened you? Are you not under bonds to serve Him? From this time, forth, you should not havea pulse that does not beat to His praise, nor a hair on your head that is unconse-crated to His name, nor a single momentof your time which is not used for His Glory! Yes, Brothers, Sisters, it must be a lifelong sacrifice that we now presentunto Him that lives forever!
Should not our service be rendered in the full strength of our new life? Let us have no more dead works, no more dead singing,no more dead praying, no more dead preaching, no more dead hearing! "Oh," said one, when he heard a sermon, "it was very good,if it had been alive." Dead-and-alive Christianity is poor stuff! No dish ever comes to table which is so nauseous as coldreligion! Put it away! Neither God nor man can endure it! Let us have cakes hot from the oven, manna fresh from Heaven, LivingWaters leaping from the Rock! Stale godliness is ungodliness. Let our religion be as warm, constant and natural as the flowof the blood in our veins. A living God must be served in a living way.
Are we, therefore, to be excited,? Yes, if need be. What can excite a man like the grand sublimities of eternity? But if youare not excited with any carnal excitement-if principle rules rather than passion-it will be so much the better. Yet let itbe living principle-principle alive with love. There is such a thing as an excitement which is spiritually dead. The furyof the flesh is not the life of God. Energy of mind is a distinct thing from being strong in the Lord. We need a steady, healthypulsation of spiritual life to keep us to such service of the Lord as becomes saints and is worthy of our high calling. Thiscomes only from having our conscience purged from dead works.
And, dear Friends, keep in mind that you are, henceforth, to "serve the living God." You that are acquainted with the Greekwill find that the kind of service here mentioned is not that which the slave or servant renders to his master, but a worshipfulservice such as priests render unto God. We that have been purged by Christ are to render to God the worship of a royal priesthood!It is ours to present prayers, thanksgivings and sacrifices. It is ours to offer the incense of intercession. It is ours tolight the lamp of testimony and furnish the table of showbread. You that are the sons of God are all the sons of Levi thisday-yes, you are the true seed of Aaron! The priesthood is with you, even with you who worship God in the spirit and haveno confidence in the flesh. You that believe in Christ and are made pure by His blood, it is for you to live as if you worethe snow-white robes of the priests of the house of Aaron-your garments should be vestments and your conversation a perpetualpriesthood unto God!
I close by noticing how this precious blood of Christ will work all this in us. It will operate upon us thus-when our conscienceis perfectly pure from sin and we know that we are forgiven and accepted in the Beloved, then how happy we shall be! And thereis no service so acceptable to God as that which is joyfully rendered. When it is a joy to us to serve Him, then it is a joyto Him to be served! When it is a delight to us to honor God, then God delights in such honor. He seeks not slaves to graceHis Throne! When we know that we are perfectly forgiven, then we are full of gratitude-we then feel that we must serve God,not because of anything we are to get for it, but because we long to do so. This unselfish service He gladly accepts! To giveplay to our emotions, we feel that we must glorify Him-then we truly serve God, for that which is born of love is living!Loving works are living works! When His glorious name is honey in the mouth and music in the ear-and Heaven in the heart-thenwe worship Him in the manner which He accepts, even in the same
manner as the angels in Glory who see His face and do His commandments. It is the cleansing blood which brings us near enoughto do this.
This precious blood of Christ has now given us perfect peace with God and, therefore, we can serve Him without fear. You cannotserve an enemy-while you hate him, you cannot please him. But our enmity to God is slain-He is our Friend, our Father andour God. His will is our will, His designs are our designs. As far as the little can keep pace with the great and the minutewith the infinite, we run parallel with God! And if we ever quit the lines, for a moment, we are in misery till we get backagain! What the Lord aims at we aim at. What He desires we desire. Is Christ's coming God's ultimatum? So it is ours and wecry, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!" Shall "the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ"? Itis our last, best, highest prayer! Thus are we truly serving the Lord.
See you not, then, how the washing of the precious blood has made us partakers of the service of Heaven? How close it hasbrought us to God! In what amity and accord we walk with Him! With what sympathy we enter into all that He does! With whatintense delight we joy in Him through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we also have received the Atonement! How I wish thatevery soul here believed in Jesus! O that you would do so at once. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Hebrews 9:1-28; 10:1-22.