How Can the Blood of Christ Wash Away Sin?
October 3rd, 1982 @ 7:30 PM
HOW CAN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WASH AWAY SIN?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-3-82 7:30 p.m.
You ought to be here tonight in the First Baptist Church. This is the third night that I have seen this auditorium, this sanctuary packed. And it is wonderful just to look at you. This is the second night of our nine nights of revival. The general theme is "The Great Questions of Life and Eternity," and the question tonight: How Can the Blood of Christ Wash Away Sin?
We invite all of you with us here in the sanctuary in the First Church of Dallas to turn to Hebrews chapter 9. Hebrews chapter 9; Hebrews chapter 9, and we are going to read out loud and together verses 13 through 22, 13 through 22, Hebrews chapter 9:13-22. And the message is a homily on those verses. Now let us read them out loud together, verses 13 through 22, all of us:
For in the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctified to the purifying of the flesh:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
There is something awesome about just the looks of blood. That is true of all mankind and of all humanity. Blood has a voice that speaks. I can easily imagine Adam and Eve when they first looked upon the blood of the first sacrifice. I can easily imagine the sorrow of heart when they looked upon the blood of Abel [Genesis 4:8-11], the crimson of life poured out on the ground, clotted on the murderous weapon. There is something about blood that cries against the stabbing of life and the wreckage it leaves behind of God’s holy creation. It was that that God intended in the sacrificial system of the old covenant, the old law, the Levitical sacrifices. There is something in God and God’s creation – and we’re a part of it – that cries for expiation and atonement in wrong, in sin. I’ll give you an illustration today.
Is there anybody in America, or in the world who knows of it, who does not feel that the man who laced that painkiller with cyanide and caused already six deaths in Chicago – and others, in trepidation and fear – is there any one of us who does not feel that such a criminal ought to be brought to justice? It is right that he be brought to face the iniquity, and the evil, and the hurt, and the murder of his kind. That is of God; sin demands expiation and judgment. That’s the way God is. That’s the way we are. That’s God’s whole creation.
So it was that in the ritual services of the tabernacle and of the temple that God was teaching humanity, the awesomeness of sin that finds its expression in blood. When you think of the tabernacle, think of the temple, it was a slaughterhouse, it was a shambles. There were thousands and thousands of victims that were slain there at the altar. The priests stood literally in gore, and their white garments were crimsoned with the blood that was shed. All of this was the teaching of God that sin demands atonement and expiation. "The wages of sin is death" [Romans 6:23], and "The soul that sins shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20].
There is a text in the Old Testament that is expressive of all of the words of God in the old covenant. It is Leviticus, chapter 17:11: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" – "for the life of the flesh is in the blood."
That is not just something God has written in the old covenant. We feel that ourselves. On one of our expressways, a boy somehow got on the thing with his bicycle. And a heavy truck ran over the lad and crushed him beneath its wheels. And by the time the father arrived, an ambulance was just leaving with his boy. And the father was standing there in the expressway, stopping those cars, and guiding them around to the side. And the police car came up and the policeman got out and ran to the father and said, "You must be crazy! Don’t you know you’ll be run over by these fast-moving vehicles? What is the matter with you?" And the father pointed down to the expressway and said, "Sir, look at that. That is the blood of my son, my boy! And shall I stand here and see these wheels run over the blood of my boy and smear it up and down this expressway?" He lost his balance, but I can understand, looking at the blood spilled out on that expressway. "That’s the blood, that’s the life of my son, my boy!"
Isn’t that what God said? "For the life of the flesh is in the blood" [Leviticus 17:11]. It represents human life. I can pick out a text, no less, in the New Testament. It is the theme of the new covenant; Matthew 26:28. Matthew 26:28: "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins." And all of the rest of the New Testament is but an expatiation upon, an extension of that text; "This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins," rising, rising to the text of the Apocalypse, Revelation [1:5-6]: "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood. . .to Him be glory and honor and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Or the fifth chapter of the Revelation, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, for He hath redeemed us by His blood, out of every family and tribe under the sun," [Revelation 5:9, 12].
Blood – God says it is the blood that makes atonement for our souls. Now look at how the author of Hebrews will write it. Hebrews 9, beginning at verse 19: "When Moses had spoken every precept. . .he took the blood. . .and sprinkled it upon the book," the book – this Book. Every page is stained with His blood. And every paragraph and sentence is inspired by His sufferings. He sprinkled it on the book. He sprinkled it upon the people [Hebrews 9:19].
In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus, when the law was given to the people and they received it as from God, Moses built an altar at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and took the blood, and half of it he poured out at the base of the altar [Exodus 24:6]. The foundation of our fellowship with God is the blood of atoning grace. And he sprinkled the other half upon the people [Exodus 24:8]. They were a marked people. They were a blood-bought people; Illustrated no less in the night of the Passover. It was a marked house when the death angel passed over. They were under the blood [Exodus 12:7, 13, 22-23]. And he sprinkled it upon the tabernacle [Hebrews 9:21]. Our place of meeting is filled with the love and grace of God expressed in the atoning blood of our Lord. And he sprinkled it upon all the furnishings of the tabernacle, upon the altar [Hebrews 9:21], representing the sacrifice, the cross of our Savior; upon the horns of the altar [Exodus 29:12, Leviticus 16:18], representing our source of power. As Revelation 12:11 avows: "They overcame him by the word of their testimony, and by the blood of the Lamb."
The power of our testimony lies in the atoning grace of our blessed Savior. Upon the furnishings – sprinkled upon the golden altar of incense [Leviticus 4:7], even our prayers are not perfect. Somehow, atonement must be made for the lack in our worship and in our intercession, and finally, sprinkled upon the mercy seat [Leviticus 16:14-15], that covered the ark that contained the Ten Commandments, covering our transgressions with the grace of God’s mercy in atoning love.
Then look how the author of Hebrews applies this to Christ – its meaning in Christ: "For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled upon the people, sanctified to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ?" [Hebrews 9:13-14]. He doesn’t say. He just exclaims: How much more? He doesn’t say how much more. It is infinite – the atoning blood of our Savior, God’s Son, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unto God [Hebrews 9:14]. Those victims in the Old Testament imagery and typology, symbolism, they had no idea of the spiritual meaning of their sacrifice. A goat, a bullock, a calf – had no idea of what the sacrifice meant.
But Jesus our Lord, filled with the Spirit, moved by the Spirit, a part of the Holy Spirit of God, when He offered Himself, conscious of the meaning of His sufferings and His atoning blood – offered Himself without spot to God – the perfect and sinless Christ purged your conscious from dead works [Hebrews 9:14]. By dead works, he means all of those things that human people do in order to reach God. All of their rituals, and all of their ceremonies, and all of their works, and efforts: "They are dead works," he says. They don’t bring us to God. We are purged in our conscience by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Now when you come to that, you come to our human experience. The blood of Christ purges our souls, purges our consciences – purges our life from iniquity and sin [Hebrews 9:14]. I say, when he speaks about that, he comes to human experience, where we are. If it is true, we can affirm it. If it is not true, we are competent to deny it.
Does the blood of Christ cleanse us, wash us, remake us? Does it? There is a wonderful book, sometimes, in the library. Check it out: Twice-Born Men – men who were in the depths of despair and sin, lifted up into the image of God. We can see it, then testify to His saving grace and the power of God’s Son to save us and to remake us.
I was walking down a street in Chicago when I was a youth. And I heard Christian singing, I was surprised. And I turned and walked into the building where they were singing gospel songs. I didn’t know it, had no idea of it, but I had walked in the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago where Billy Sunday was saved. I grew up in a little tiny town in West Texas, and I had never seen anything like that.
The service was the testimony of those people. I never saw such people. It looked as though they had crawled out of the sewer system and out of the gutters of the city. One stood up, and he had written a song about Jesus, and he sang his song about the Lord Jesus. Another stood up, and he’d been wonderfully converted, and he told them of his conversion. Another stood up and recounted a marvelous thing that had happened to his family. I sat there and listened and watched those people in astonishing amazement.
My brother, test it and see for yourself if there is not power in Jesus Christ and His atoning grace to change, to save, to wash clean and white. We had here in our pulpit Charles Colson. He was a renegade; he was in prison, he was convicted. He had no God, no experience with Christ. And in those tragic days, he bowed his head and found a new life in Christ and has been going from city to city, and place to place, all over America describing what Jesus has done for him. My brother, look around you. Look at your neighbor; he testifies to the same loving grace of the Son of God.
We have here these missions, there are fifteen of them. One of them you see at the 10:50 service on Sunday morning. Clarence Bentley asked me today at our dinner – when the deacons had us for dinner – he said, "Are there those who after they are saved, do they continue in the faith?"
Some of them, of course, are drifters, but many of them have a new life, and a new home, and a new hope in Jesus Christ. The drunkard lifts up his head in honor. The harlot is redeemed to a life of preciousness and purity. The prodigal boy comes back home in a new sense of love for family and God. And the whole world sings a song of redemption.
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Oh, praise to the Father, oh, praise to the Son,
Oh, praise to the Spirit, the great Three in One!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
["Saved by the Blood"; S. J. Henderson, 1902]
There is not a man who knows Jesus but that knows of His wonderful power to wash and to cleanse and to save.
He continues, "For this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament" [Hebrews 9:15]. Then he uses the word in two ways – diatheke, diatheke . Diatheke can be used in two ways. It can refer to a will, a testament, by which a man who is dying bequeaths property to somebody else, a testament, a will; or, it can mean a compact, a contract, a covenant between two parties – and he use it in both ways here.
He first uses it – diatheke – as a compact between God and His Son. And it is remarkable how he uses it. "He is the Mediator of a new compact" – a new covenant, a new contract – "that by means of His death, for the redemption of those who were judged sinners under the old testament," under the old law – "they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" [Hebrews 9:15].
What a thing that is! The compact, the contract, the covenant, he says, is between God and His Son. God swears, because there is no one greater than Himself, God swears by Himself [Hebrews 6:13]. And the Son pledges in that compact, His blood and His death. And then in a compact, God says to His Son: "I will give You a people, a called-out people, who will belong to You forever. They shall be Your eternal inheritance if You suffer and die for their sins."
And if you have been called, if you have been enrolled in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God Himself has made you a present to the Lord Jesus Christ. "You suffer and die for the sins of the world, and," God says to His Son, "I will give you a people." That’s one of the most comforting things you have heard me say in all this world when I preach. Not that everybody is going to respond, but God will always give us some, always give us some. That’s the first use, he says here, of diatheke.
The second use begins at the verse 16: "For where a diatheke is" – where a compact is, where a will, a testament is – "there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is a force only after men die: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth" [Hebrews 9:16-17].
If I have a will, a testament, as long as I’m alive, it is not in force. But if I die, immediately it becomes valid, viable, living. It’s my will. It’s my testament. It’s my diatheke. And that’s what the author here says about the death of Jesus. All of the promises of God’s gracious Book are included in that will and in that testament, in that diatheke, sealed by the blood of the Crucified One. All of them are valid in the death of Jesus our Lord.
When I open God’s Book and read there a promise that is a part of the will and testament of my Lord. When I read another promise, I can say this is a codicil to the will and testament of my Lord. He gives it validity and viability by His death on the cross. His blood seals it forever.
Just one other thing in that: does it matter in the compact – in the contract, in the covenant, in the diatheke – does it matter whether the one who is blessed by the will and the testament, does it matter whether that one is poor, or unlearned, or weak, or sick? Not at all! Not at all! If the will and the testament gives to that somebody a bequest from the one who is dead, who has died, whether he is weak or unlearned or untaught doesn’t matter at all. He’s blessed by the diatheke – the will and the testament. That’s the way it is with us. Aren’t you glad? Aren’t you glad?
Man, it isn’t because I’m smart, or wise, or trained, or educated. It’s not because I’m rich. It’s not because of anything about me that I become rich in the will and testament of my blessed Lord. It is because of His great grace and His abounding love for me that I inherit all of these wonderful things written in that contract, written in this Book. Every promise is mine because of His abounding grace and His illimitable love. Thus, has God been good to us! Oh dear, precious, wonderful people, how could a man so steel himself and harden his heart to say "No" to such grace and mercy and goodness as God has extended toward us?
I’m going to be standing right down there on that side of our table of love and communion. I’ll be standing right there. And our people are going to sing a song. And we’re going to pray, and we’re going to ask God to give us you. If God has called, you’ll hear His voice in your heart. You belong to Him. Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Answer, "Lord, here am I. When the roll is called, I’ll answer to my name." God bless you as you come. May we stand and may we pray?
Our Lord in heaven, what a marvelous, glorious, wonderful thing Jesus has poured out the crimson of His life for us, that we might be washed in the blood of the Lamb; that atonement might be made for our sins; that our iniquities might be washed away; that we might stand some day in Thy presence, clean and white without spot and without blemish. Oh, bless the name of God that in His mercy and grace, He has he reached down and touched our souls, lifted us up, sent us on our way with a song on our lips and with praises in our hearts. O blessed God, how could we ever praise Thee enough? And, our Lord, we pray for the families here tonight, and for the couples here tonight, and for that one somebody here tonight, that this will be the night they answer with their lives.
And while our people pray and wait just for you, in the balcony round, down one of those stairways, in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, God has spoken to me tonight and I’m coming. Here I am. I give my life in faith, in love, in repentance to the Lord Jesus, and here I am. I’m coming." "I believe in Him and His ableness to save and to keep, and I’m coming." And our Lord bless those, who moved by the Spirit of God, answer with their life tonight God’s call in their souls, and we shall love Thee and praise Thee for the grace that extends each to us, in Thy saving and keeping name, amen. A thousand times welcome, may angels attend you in the way as you come. Bless you.
HOW CAN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WASH AWAY SIN?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Blood an awesome thing
B. The school of the Jewish law
1. Sin demands atonement and expiation (Romans 6:23, Ezekiel 18:20)
C. The great text of the Levitical system (Leviticus 17:11)
1. Great text of the New Testament(Matthew 26:28, Revelation 1:5-6, 5:9, 12)
II. The blood sprinkled by Moses
A. Upon the Book (Hebrews 9:19)
B. Upon the people (Hebrews 9:19, Exodus 24:3-8)
C. Upon the tabernacle and the furnishings (Hebrews 9:21, Leviticus 8:10-15, 16:13-15, Revelation 12:11)
III. The great meaning in Christ
A. "How much moreâ€¦" (Hebrews 9:13-14)
B. "Through the eternal Spirit"(Hebrews 9:14)
C. "Without spot"(Hebrews 9:14)
D. "Dead works"(Hebrews 9:14)
E. "Purge your conscience" (Hebrews 9:14)
F. Christ has cleansed the souls of millions
IV. The new covenant
A. The name given to the blood of Christ in the New Testament(Hebrews 9:15)
1. Diatheke – a will or testament; a compact, contract, covenant
B. Covenant between God and His Son(Hebrews 6:13)
1. The Son pledges His blood and death
2. The Father promises a people who will be an eternal inheritance
C. Will and testament(Hebrews 9:16-17)
1. If I have a will, as long as I’m alive it is not in force
a. If I die, it immediately becomes valid, viable, living
2. All the promises of God’s Book are sealed by the blood of Christ
3. It does not matter whether the one who is blessed by the will is poor, unlearned, or weak