Yearly the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. He was there to offer the sacrifice for himself also. It was a terrifying experience for him as it was quite possible that he would not survive the ultimate judge and be smitten. The high priest wore a bell around his ankle to make the sound that the people on the outside could hear him and a rope attached to him in case of the sacrifice not accepted so they could pull his lifeless body back into the court.
Imagine the pressure and anxiety that the high priest felt as he was preparing to enter in yearly. He might have pondered all the hidden sin, improper thoughts, selfish motives, and all things outside of what the Holy One required through the law. The law that always found man in the balance…wanting.
Hebrews 10 speaks of the problem with man, without Jesus Christ, in pleasing God. No matter what sacrifice given, no matter the high priest, no matter the year, it was simply not ever going to satisfy the Holy One, God. The sacrifice would never take away the sins of the high priest or his people. They would always have the conscience of sin. The remembrance of sin, as David said is Psalms “my sin is ever before you Lord”.
Now we have a more excellent high priest in Jesus Christ who died as the ultimate and final sacrifice to appease the sins of mankind. When Jesus tore the veil in two and allowed man to now come to God without the blood of bulls and goats but through His blood, the Lamb of God. When he completed the eternal life giving mission for mankind He sat down at the right hand of God and now makes prayers for the saints.
The struggle that I have, and I would assume most people have, with the above is that word conscience. We certainly understand that Jesus died for our sins. We believe that He has delivered us from the eternal damnation that awaits those who do not accept Him as their savior. What I am struggling with is what to do with the conscience of my sin. You cannot unsee what you have seen. You cannot forget the sins of the past. You have scenes that pour through your mind of the past failures, being in the wrong place with the wrong people, things done and said that do not align with God’s word or His standard for our life in Christ. Yes, I said while living a life in Christ. Christians do sin, will sin, and will do all the same things that the world does from time to time. If you don’t believe me read the letters from Paul to the early churches.
I pray for the mind of Christ. I pray that he remove those images and scenes from me as far as the East is from the West. I don’t want to think about my failures. I don’t want to be haunted by my sin. I spoke to my father recently about my struggle in this area. He reminded me of Philippians 4:8. Paul admonishes to think on: what is true, what is honest, what is just, what is pure, what is lovely, whatever is a good report, what is virtuous, and if there be any praise, think on these things. He also reminded me of the Apostle Peter who denied Christ three times (again a follower, believer, and a friend of Jesus) who needed redemption and forgiveness but battled with the memories of his fireside denials. The battleground for us to hold on to peace and assuredly experience God’s tender mercy is in our minds. We must daily stay in Hs presence. Ephesians 5:26 reads that Christ gave himself to the church and sanctifies her by the washing of the word. Reading the Word helps us to be cleansed and think on the things Paul mentions in his letter.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I am not perfect but being perfected.