A Sacrifice of Nobler Name
When we feel estranged from God, others, and even ourselves, we can often trace this sense of angst to a guilty conscience. Despite the passage of time and despite all of our endeavors, somehow or another we find ourselves unable to relieve ourselves of this heavy burden, this deepening sense of unworthiness. The Bible teaches that we are created with an innate sense of right and wrong—that we are moral beings and that so we understand when we’ve violated God’s moral demands. We may sear our consciences, but we cannot erase them. The word of God, then, comes to our troubled consciences not to dishearten us but to direct us to the Savior who can cleanse us from our sin and guilt.
The Old Testament sacrificial system, while divinely prescribed by God, was meant only as a shadow and copy of the reality to come. Even with all the various ceremonies, washings, and external regulations, access to God was still restricted, cleansing was only partial and temporary, and pardon was limited. Those sacrifices could only do so much. They could not take away the real barrier between God and humanity: our sinful hearts, which need to be cleansed before we can enter the presence of a holy God.
Here, though, is the good news of the gospel! Since no amount of external work can save, forgive, or cleanse a guilty conscience completely, God’s promise to “be merciful toward [our] iniquities and … remember [our] sins no more” through Jesus’ atoning death is an absolutely mind-blowing, life-altering reality. It wasn’t just the death of a man that paid for our sins; it was the death of the incarnate God. And so there is hope for the individual who is haunted by remorse, who is driven by failure, who longs for a cleansing from sin that is full and complete. As the hymn writer puts it:
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away,
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.
When you are prepared to admit that you have unrelieved, unmitigated guilt for which all of your best endeavors can provide no satisfaction, true peace awaits. There is a way to have your sins forgiven—the sins of yesterday, the sins of today, and all the sins of tomorrow. Is there something you need to bring to the cross and confess and ask forgiveness for? Do so now, and know with joy that He remembers your sins no more.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1Have mercy on me,1 O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right2 spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
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