Hebrews 12:23-24 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
We could have a theology class for days on Hebrews 12. There is a lot to unpack. Today, on a day when we will observe communion at the close of the message, I want us to concentrate on the blood of Christ. We’re told in Hebrews 12:24 that it speaks. I know it is a strange concept, but the blood of Jesus speaks. Obviously, blood doesn’t literally speak, but there are messages contained in the blood of Jesus that are life-giving to those who follow Jesus.
Now, back to the text. The writer tells us that it speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Who is this Abel guy and if his blood spoke, what did Abel’s blood say, and what does Jesus’ blood say? Abel’s blood was the first human blood ever spilled. It was shed without his consent. He was murdered by his brother, Cain, in Genesis 4. Genesis 4:10 says that Abel’s blood cried out from the ground. The blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground, as if to say, “Do something about this, God.” God confronted Cain and meted out his consequences. Abel’s death demanded justice, retribution. Unlike Abel, Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from Him. He laid it down. He shed His blood of His own free will, John 10:17. Oh, I know He was crucified on a cross after being falsely accused and unjustly arrested, but He didn’t die because of a sentence handed down from Rome. He died because it was the plan of God from before the foundations of the world for Him to lay down His life for the sins of the world. Like Abel’s blood, Jesus’ blood also has something to say. It contains several messages for us. We’re going to talk about three today.
The BLOOD OF JESUS says I am clean. I John 1:7- “But 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 all sin.”
The blood of Jesus has cleansing power, and cleansing is something we all need. Each one of us is born with a stain on our souls. Each one of us is born with a sinful nature. We are born sinners, Romans 5:12. We can’t remove the stain of sin. It is dark. It is ugly. It is disfiguring. It is spiritually stifling. There is nothing we can add to our lives to take away the stain. There is nothing we can subtract from our lives to take away the stain. The stain reminds us we are guilty. The stain of sin comes with a heavy burden. It isn’t like a spot that just takes up an isolated space, but it covers us completely. It changes who God made us to be. We are marred by sin. We are born in bad shape because of the stain of sin, but the Good News of the Gospel is that the blood of Jesus can remove it from us completely.
In our sinful condition, we are defined by our actions. We are labeled by our weaknesses. We are guilty before God and are condemned by our sin. In addition, we have a guilty conscience because deep down we know who we are. We know what we are. We know what we have done and continue to do. We are helpless to change.
But listen, when the blood of Jesus purifies us, even our conscience is cleansed from the guilt and condemnation that come with being entangled by sin. 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,[a] so that we may serve the living God!
To be purified, to be cleansed of sin, is to receive the spiritual healing that everyone who is ever born so desperately needs. To be purified is to be released from the penalty and presence of sin. Micah 7:19 tells us that when we confess and apply the blood of Jesus to our hearts, our sins are hurled into the depths of the sea. They are no longer retrievable. God won’t bring them up again. Psalm 103:12 speaks of our sins being removed from us as far as the east if from the west. Listen, Church, God has a perfect memory. He remembers forever. He remembers from age to age in great detail, anything He chooses to remember. But just as He has a Divine memory, He also has Divine forgetfulness. If you were to go to go just now and say, “Remember the time I look at that pornography?” or “Remember the time I gossiped about my friend?” or “Remember the time I stole from my employer?” or “Remember the time I lied to my parents?” If these were things you have confessed, His response would simply be, “No, I don’t. Those must be happenings that are now under the blood.” It is in, through, by, however you want to think of it, in, through, and by the blood that our sins are removed from us and that we are made clean. Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow. Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
His blood, John says, purifies us from ALL sin. There is no person who has sinned beyond where the blood of Jesus can reach. Evangelist Charles Finney preached on 1 John 1:7 “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” A stranger asked him to walk home with him, and against all advice he did. Ushering Finney into the rear of a building, he locked the door and pocketed the key. “Don’t be afraid, I just want to ask you some questions,” said the stranger. “Do you believe what you preached tonight?” “I most certainly do,” replied Finney. The stranger continued, “We’re in the back of a saloon and I’m the owner. Mothers come in here, lay their babies on the counter and beg me not to sell liquor to their husbands. I turn a deaf ear to their cry. When a man leaves here, we see to it that he’s well under the influence. More than one man has been killed on the railway tracks after leaving here. Can God forgive a man like me?” “I have only one authority,” replied Finney. “‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.'” The stranger went on, “If a man doesn’t spend all his money on liquor, we take him to our gambling hall and fleece him of his last dollar with marked cards. Can God forgive a man with a heart like that?” Finney repeated, “I have only one authority. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.'” The stranger had more to say, “Across the street is my wife and daughter. Neither has heard a kind word from me in five years. Their bodies bear the marks of my brutal attacks. Can God forgive a man with a heart like that?” Finney lowered his head and said, “You’ve painted one of the darkest pictures I’ve ever seen. But still, I have only one authority. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin'” That night, that man became a new creation in Christ.
The old hymn is still true… “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. The blood says we are cleansed of all sin!
Second, The BLOOD OF JESUS says I have access into God’s presence. Listen, Isaiah 59:1-2 helps us understand that sin separates from God. It cuts off or limits our access to God. We all know that access is really important. Try to do your job today without internet access. How much does it complicate your life when you don’t have that access? When you are shut out from your computer because you forgot one of your 35 passwords, and you can’t get access to the files you need to work on a paper in order to meet a deadline, it’s a big problem. Hear me. Technology issues aren’t the worst thing that could happen to a person. Cancer isn’t the worst-case scenario. Losing your job isn’t as bad as it gets. Having a loved one move into eternity, as painful as that is, it isn’t as bad as things could be. Losing all of your worldly possessions isn’t the worst predicament you could find yourself in. But being separated from God is the absolute worst possible thing that a person could endure and having that perpetuated day after day over a lifetime would be the most awful thing to happen to anyone. Life without God, a life without access to God, is a life without hope. It is a life without power. It is a life without supernatural support. It is a life without strength. It is a life without an outlet for stress. It is a life without wisdom. It is a life that is aimless and without purpose. It is a life of vulnerability, leaving you open to the evil schemes of Satan.
Here’s the awesome news. You don’t have to live without access to God! Jesus died so that we could have access. He died so that you and I could walk right into the throne room of God with our needs, our petitions, our longings and boldly ask God for what we need. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews has to say about this access: Hebrews 10:19-22 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…
The Most Holy Place is open to us in and through the blood of Jesus. Let me unpack that. The tabernacle and the temple, the Jewish places of worship, had two holy chambers. One was the Holy Place. The second was the Most Holy Place, also known as the Holy of Holies, which was where God was considered to dwell. It was basically off limits except for one day a year. The Old Testament high priest was the only one who could enter into that Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement. One time a year, the High Priest was permitted to make a sacrifice for the sins of the people in the presence of God. Hebrews, however, tells us that now each one of us who has been cleansed by the blood can enter with confidence right into the presence of God.
I don’t have to live separated from God’s power, from God’s comfort, from God’s support. I don’t have to live isolated from His presence. I can commune with Him and converse with Him any time I desire to do so. The blood has removed every barrier to the presence of God for me.
The word, “access,” means: permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place or to approach or communicate with a person or thing. It is an awesome thing when you consider the access you have into God’s presence!
This realization, this access for all is huge. Women weren’t even allowed past the courtyard in the Old Testament Tabernacle. That put a lot of distance between them and the presence of God. Gentiles, non-Jews, weren’t allowed past their courtyard. They had a courtyard just for them where they had to stay put. They weren’t getting anywhere near to the presence of God. Only Jewish men could get to the altars to offer sacrifices. The Holy Place, past the altars and past a bronze laver that was used for ceremonial washing, that Holy Place was reserved for Jewish Levites. The Levites could get kind of close. They would take care of the lamp stands, keeping the lights going and would put the special bread on the table. They would deal with keeping the incense going, but even they were separated from God’s presence by a thick and extremely heavy veil.
Only the high priest could go in, and he was even restricted to a once-a-year visit. And he could only go in after he would wash himself carefully since nothing unclean could have access to the presence of God. And only after he put on special consecrated clothes which couldn’t be worn anywhere else but in the presence of God. And only after he first offered sacrifices for himself at those first set of altars and then offered sacrifices for the nation of Israel. And THEN he would carry the blood of those sacrifices into the Holy of Holies where he would sprinkle the blood on what was called the Mercy Seat. That was the moment he would encounter God’s presence.
And get this, the priest would go in with fear and trepidation, worried that he could die in the presence of the Almighty God. He even wore a rope around his ankle so that if he died, he could be pulled out without anyone having to go in after him. Are you getting this? Even the guy who had access was scared to death to be in God’s presence. NOW, there are no barriers to God’s presence through the blood of Jesus and NOW, there is no need to fear being in God’s presence. It is the place to be. Is it what we seek to experience. No one has to go into God’s for us. We can go for ourselves. We have no high priest but Jesus, and He has already given us access, 24/7, 365. It is the greatest joy of our lives, to know we can live in the presence of God. We can boldly, with confidence, into that holy of holies space because the blood gives us access.
In Jesus is the fulfillment of every provision under that Old Covenant that utilized a Tabernacle/Temple system. The blood of Jesus met the requirement of a life given to make forgiveness possible on that bronze altar. His perfection and purity met the requirement of the bronze laver for us to be washed and fully cleansed. The fact that Jesus was and is the Light of the World met the requirement of the Old Testament lamp stands that would have to be trimmed and continuously burning. That special bread on the way to God’s presence, the shew bread, was replaced with Jesus who said, “I am the Bread of Life.” That altar of incense was replaced when Jesus glorified the Father in both His life and His death. There is no way, in the time we have this morning, that I could explain every detailed way Jesus fulfilled every provision of that Old Covenant, but it was all about one thing. That one thing was access to God.
The blood says I have access to God! I can ask Him for understanding, power, forgiveness, hope, encouragement, strength, peace, relief, and for my circumstances to change through signs, miracles and wonders.
Third and finally, The BLOOD OF JESUS says I can overcome!
Revelation 12:10-11 says, 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Who is the accuser of the brothers and sisters? Who accuses people before God day and night? Satan is the accuser of the brethren, but what does this text say? It says he, Satan, has been hurled down. He went down. His opportunity to accuse is nullified. What took him out? What took him down? Oh, church the very next verse gives us the answer. Those who were being accused by Satan suddenly, verse 11, triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
Listen, when you have the blood of Jesus applied to your heart through cleansing and you live in your access to the presence of God, you have what it takes to overcome anything. The blood of Christ says you don’t have to fear Satan or anything he might say or do to you. He cannot condemn you because of the blood that has been shed for your victory. Christ’s victory becomes your victory. How cool is that? Not only does Christ impart His righteousness to you when you are saved, but you also get His victory over Satan. You can daily live in daily victory over evil in and through the blood of Christ. The blood of Jesus, shed for you, has satisfied every charge against you. Satan has no rightful claim on a Child of God. Hallelujah!
The second part of verse 11 says, “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” This is the spirit of an overcomer. The devil has nothing up his sleeve that could warrant a blood-bought Child of God to step back or sit down. When Satan tries to discredit or discourage me, when he tries to tempt me or try me, I remind him what happened on the Cross of Calvary when the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for my pardon. Nothing and no one can speak louder than the blood. Nothing can trump the effect of the blood of Jesus on a life. You are an overcomer! I am an overcomer by the blood of Jesus.
I won’t be bullied into quitting on Jesus. I won’t be slandered into stepping away from my callings as both a Child of God and as a Minister of the Gospel. I won’t be defeated in my attempts to stand for Christ. I won’t let discouragement overtake me. I won’t let depression derail me. I have been sealed with the blood of Jesus and whatever Satan comes at me with, whatever fiery darts, whatever evil intent, whatever lies and deception, however he tries to make me feel unworthy or unproductive, or whatever he attempts to get me to think in order to get me to shrink, the blood of Jesus Christ confirms that I am victorious. I have been freed by the blood, so I will walk in liberty. I have been cleansed by the blood, so I will appropriate God’s victorious power. Revelation 12:11 says they did not shrink back, not even from death. They stood their ground through the blood of Jesus. We can do the same.
Claim today that because of the blood you are an overcomer. You might struggle at times. You might be hard-pressed. You might wonder how things are going to work out. You might feel burdened or overloaded, stressed out and strained, but lift up your head, Child of God, you are going to make it if you are covered by the blood.
I think these verses in Revelation 12 make it clear that there is no overcoming apart from the blood of the Lamb, which means there is no testimony without the blood of the Lamb. Once you are covered by the blood, you have a testimony. You have moved from lost to found. You have moved from bound to free. You have moved from eternal death to eternal life. It is the blood that makes your testimony possible. You cannot bypass the blood and overcome. The blood of Jesus is what gives you the opportunity to experience the power of God, and in turn will create the testimony you can share.
The BLOOD OF JESUS says I am clean.
The BLOOD OF JESUS says I have access into God’s presence.
The BLOOD OF JESUS says I can overcome.
Let’s agree with what the blood says, and if you aren’t saved, if you aren’t under the blood, you can be purified right now, you can get all access to God right now, and you can receive the power to overcome right now by praying with me.