[Note: This is a VERY partial excerpt of Pastor Steve’s message at Maine State Prison in Warren on 2/10/07.]
For then would they [Old Testament sacrifices] have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
We have something so much better than they had under the Old Covenant! We have a better covenant established upon better promises (Hebrews 8:6). Let me give you a natural illustration. If you go out once the weather warms up and roll around in the mud, say that you put on some outer garments that cover up the muddy clothes. The mud is still there, but no one will see it, so they will deal with you as if you didn’t have any mud on you. That’s the OLD Testament model. Your sins were covered.
Under the New Testament, your sins are NOT covered. They are WASHED AWAY by the blood of Jesus. There’s a big difference. Instead of putting on some garments to cover the mud, you get to go into the shower and have all the mud washed away. Now when you show up, you look clean because you ARE clean. You don’t just LOOK clean.
Yet far too many Christians think that they are sinners saved by grace. (Actually, if ONE Christian thinks that way, that’s still too many.) They don’t see themselves as the new creations in Christ that they really are. They don’t see themselves as kings and priests before God, which they are (Revelation 1:6, 5:10). They thank that they are still old sinners and live with “sin-consciousness”. You’ll never really whip sin in your life with that kind of thinking. You are NOT a sinner – you are a saint! When you give your life to Jesus, you are made after God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
I didn’t say that you never sin. I said that you aren’t a sinner. Sin is no longer your nature. You need to deal with your body and your mind, neither of which was born again when you received Jesus. But the root problem – sin nature in your spirit – got dealt with the day you asked Jesus to be your Lord. You now have the nature of God in you, not a sin nature. It’s your nature to love others and hate sin.
I cringe when I see Christians walk around with an “unworthy little worm” attitude. That detracts from what Jesus did on the cross. He took the punishment for your sins and made you “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). You’re so righteous that you ARE righteousness! You can grow in faith, and you can grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ, but you can never grow in righteousness. You become as righteous as you’ll ever be the second you’re born again. You won’t be any more righteous in heaven. In fact, you are just as righteous as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! You have all the righteousness you’ll ever get because you have perfect right standing before God – and you can’t improve on perfection.
Now why would someone with that kind of righteousness cower in the presence of God? Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace. That negates this whole “I’m so unworthy/I don’t deserve anything” religious mentality. If we got what we deserved, we’d all fry in hell. But the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” has given you what you didn’t deserve or work for. You can approach God without any feeling of guilt, shame, inferiority or sinfulness because the blood of Jesus has washed you clean! God has deleted your sins from his database, and there are no backups! There’s just no record of them anymore, so God can’t deal with you based on them.
Since Jesus purified us with His blood, we should not walk around with a “sin-conscious” mindset. We need to have a “righteousness-conscious” mindset. Believe what the Bible says about your righteousness, and see if that doesn’t make the desire to sin subside. You don’t defeat sin in your life by dwelling on your sins; you defeat it by dwelling on your righteousness!