Conscience: Seeking A Good Conscience

Man, in the Old Testament, was reminded of his sins each year.  Consider: (1) Hebrews 9:7, 9 – “Into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance… It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience.”  (2) Hebrews 10:1-3, “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  For the worshippers, once purified would have no more consciousness of sins.   But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year” (Hebrews 10:1-3). [ Notice the word “perfect”  ( Hebrews 7:19; 9:9; 10:1; 10:14), and the word “conscience” (Hebrews 9:9; 9:14; 10:1-2; 10:22)]

Man, today, can have a conscience free from past sin.  This is possible because of the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ can “cleanse your conscience from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22).  Sprinkling in the book of Hebrews refers to the sprinkling of blood (Hebrews 9:13; 9:19; 9:21; 11:28; 12:24).

Man, today, can Biblically receive a clear conscience by being baptized.  Consider: (1) Baptism is “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21 NKJV).  The NASB and the ESV read that it is: “an appeal to God for a good conscience.”  Let’s define the word translated “answer” or “appeal.”  Vine’s says: It was used by the Greeks in a legal sense, as a ‘demand, or appeal.”  Arndt and Gingrich indicates that the word can mean, “request, appeal… an appeal to God for a clear conscience, 1 Peter 3:21.”   (2) The heart sprinkled from an evil conscience is joined with the body being washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).  Sprinkling refers to the blood (Hebrews 9:13; 9:19; 9:21; 11:28; 12:24).  Washing refers to water (Hebrews 10:22; Ephesians 5:26 cf. Acts 22:16).  This washing is said to be with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).  Why does it read “pure water”? (a) View one, this refers to purifying water. Wayne Price has written “But just what is signified by the use of the adjective ‘pure,’ which describes the noun ‘water’? …if clean water were to be understood literally in this verse, then baptisms in the Jordan River and other streams would have to be delayed until the muddy season had passed.  If literal clean water were meant, then would not distilled water be purer still?   This phrase is apparently figurative, referring to the inner part of man being purified when one obeys the Gospel” (Price, Pure Water, Beautiful Feet, and Clean or Holy Hands, The Gospel Journal, Feb. 2001, p. 23).  There were better waters than the Jordan river (2 Kings 5:12); yet, the Jordan was used for baptism, in the days of John (e.g. Matthew 3:5-6,13; Mark 1:5,9). I believe that this refers to the purifying ability or effect of this water (cf. Ezekiel 36:25). Man is washed in the blood or Christ (Revelation 1:5; 714).  Man is washed in baptism (Ephesians 5:26 cf. Acts 22:16).  These things go together, because man is baptized into the death of Christ (Romans 6:4). (b) View two, this refers to unmixed water. E.M. Zerr offers this thought, “Pure water has no reference to the subject of sanitary conditions. The word means ‘unmixed’ and is a contrast from the water of purification used under the law. The water was mixed with the ashes of animal (Numbers 19:1-22)” (Studylight.org). The water does not need to be prepared with a mixture (cf. Acts 8:36-38).

The point is: A good conscience is possible.  It is possible through the blood of Christ.  It is possible through New Testament baptism.

Examine the scriptures.  Can you, according to the scriptures, say that you are totally free from past guilt of sin?  Jason Jackson suggests that there are four possible experiences of guilt: (1) I am guilty, and I feel guilty (cf. Acts 2:36-37).  (2) I am guilty, but I feel no guilt (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Timothy 4:2).  (3) I am not guilty, but I feel guilty (One needs to learn to forgive self, and trust what the Bible says about forgiveness).  (4) I am not guilty, and I feel no guilt (This is where we want to be. See-Acts 3:19; 8:39; 16:34) – (Jackson, Stronger Than Ever, pp. 74-78)  Which describes you?

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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