The letter to the Hebrews is a powerful presentation of the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is better than angels and Moses; he is better than Aaron and his priesthood and the sacrifices offered by them in conformity with the old covenant. Christ has a better covenant built on better promises. The writer is teaching the same thing as the apostle Paul in Colossians 1:18. In everything Christ must have the supremacy. Since this is so, Christ’s followers must live in a new way. The truth of his superiority must control all that we are: our worship, our attitudes, our lifestyles, and who we are inside. We see this in this section of this great letter.
In the inner person of the heart of everybody, there is a capacity for self-judgment, which the Bible calls the “conscience”. As Paul writes in Romans 2:15, the conscience functions inside us to either accuse or defend us in reference to guilt. Since mankind’s fall into sin (the Bible doesn’t discuss the human conscience prior to the fall, so we will avoid speculation), the human conscience has had a problem with guilt.
- By guilt we mean “the fact of having performed a wrong act”. According to the Bible, all of us are guilty. We all have done what it worthy of blame, whether by failing to live for God’s glory, or not seeking God, or by transgressing the Two Greatest Commandments, or by numerous transgressions of other of God’s commands, or by opposing the good news of salvation in Christ alone.
- Everyone is guilty because everyone has disobeyed God’s law (Romans 3:9-20). So then, we are law-breakers, guilty, and under condemnation.
- Since we are guilty, the conscience produces bad feelings—a sense of guilt. The emotional pain produced is a warning signal of our guilt.
Think of the red engine lights on your car’s dashboard. They come on to warn you that your car has a problem. The lights are for your benefit.
The human problem is, “How can a person be rid of guilt and so the sense of guilt? Humankind has proposed various “solutions”.
- “Let’s make our own religion and seek to pacify God or whatever gods we want to imagine by religious rituals and/or good works.” This is like putting electrical tape over the red light on the dashboard.
- “Let’s deny that there is such a thing as guilt and perhaps also deny that there is a God.” This is like looking the other way when the warning light comes on.
- “Let’s treat the guilt feelings by whatever means is available—medication, meditation, pop therapies, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.” The list of proposed remedies goes on and on. This is like smashing the warning light with a hammer!
The problem with all human solutions is that they deal only with the sense of guilt and not with guilt itself that produces the guilt feelings. They don’t reach the root of the problem.
God has designed the nerve endings in your fingertips to warn by pain if something dangerously hot is touched. The answer to the pain is to stop touching the hot object and not to wish that you couldn’t feel the pain or to pop painkillers in the hope that you can keep your hand on the hot object! God has the only solution or cure for a guilty conscience. However, people prefer their inadequate and dangerous remedies to God’s way to cleanse a conscience from guilt. This way is in Jesus Christ and his saving work. Next time, we’ll look at this way closely. But for the present, look to Jesus, our great high priest. He is able to help you today.
Grace and peace, David