"Let us draw near to God with a sincere [“true” in KJV] heart…having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience." (Heb. 10:22 NIV)
Hebrews is a reasoned treatise explaining how Christ fulfilled all the Levitical law in offering Himself as a sacrifice for sin. On the basis of all that Christ did for us in opening a new and living way (10:20), the exhortation follows: Let us draw near to God.
I have been impressed so often with this thought and have mentioned it enough that our daughter Heather made a cross-stitched sampler of this verse which now hangs on my bedroom wall. I am still hoping and waiting for someone to put it to music because it sings in my heart, and I think it needs expression.
I have been so taken, however, with the thought of drawing near that I have neglected the part of the verse that gives our responsibility in the drawing near. We are to draw near with a sincere heart. How are we to have a sincere heart? “Having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.”
Isn’t this the source of many of our spiritual problems? We do not desire to draw near to God because of our guilty conscience; or if we try to draw near to God, we are aware of a barrier, and we become discouraged. The Psalmist recognized this when he questions in Psalm 24:3,
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?We cannot approach God with unconfessed, unforgiven sin in our hearts. Again the Psalmist said in 66:18, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart.
The only way to a pure conscience is found in Hebrews 9:14: “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.”
We recognize that our acceptance by God initially is by His blood, but it is a continuous process as well in our day by day acceptance by God.
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin” (1 John 1:7). There is a continued need for cleansing as we walk in the light and a continued provision for cleansing.
Let us begin to sing with Charles Wesley,
O for a heart to praise my God
A heart from sin set free
A heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
So freely shed for me.