French philosopher Voltaire and American President John Adams are famous for their criticisms of Christianity because they thought it was a “bloody religion,” with all its wars, its frequent mention of blood, and the bloody death of its founder, Jesus Christ.
What is it about blood, which we normally think of as grotesque, that has caused Christians in every generation to actually celebrate it? Here is just a sampling of the hymns and songs that have been written throughout the ages about the blood of Christ:
Nothing But the Blood
Are You Washed in the Blood?
Oh, the Blood of Jesus
Power In the Blood
Here are six things from the Bible that help us to see why the blood of Jesus holds such a special place in the hearts of believers:
1. We gain bold access to God in worship and prayer
The Bible is clear that every person is alienated and separated from God because of our sin (Colossians 1:21). That means even the best of us are actually unable to approach God to offer worship or prayer. Because of our sins, we remain at a distance from Him.
But the Bible tells Christians to come boldly into God’s presence, “We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). If you are a Christian today, you can have boldness and confidence as you approach God with your prayers and your worship, because you are no longer far away from God, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
It is because of the blood of Jesus Christ that we have the great privilege of pouring our hearts out to God (Psalm 62:8) casting our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and praying any time and any place in the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). Does your prayer life reflect the kind of relationship you have with God through the blood of His Son?
2. Forgiveness of sin
In addition to being able to enter into God’s presence through the blood of Christ, we are also forgiven of our sins. Ephesians 1:7 says that, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Because of Christ’s shed blood, God is able to forgive us for our sins and give the punishment that we deserved to Christ.
Christ had a special way of explaining this to his disciples during the Last Supper, which also was the Passover meal celebration.
He said, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). He was telling His disciples that just as the blood of the lamb delivered the Hebrews from the night of terrors in Egypt, so Christ’s own blood would deliver the people who were covered by it from the judgment of God on the last day.
This truth is expressed beautifully in the hymn, “Nothing But the Blood”
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! Precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus…
Take joy, Christian, that Christ has cleansed you from your sin with his blood!
3. Consciences cleansed
Through the blood of Christ, Christians receive the cleansing of their consciences. Hebrews 9:14 says, “…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
This is an amazing promise! Christ cleansing our consciences from acts that lead to death! How does He do it? By the blood of Christ, because on the cross He offered Himself unblemished to God! He offered Himself—His unblemished, perfect life—as a sacrifice to God for us on account of our sins. Therefore, He alone is able to cleanse our consciences through His blood.
Even though all of our minds have been corrupted by sin and seared as with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2), Christ can cleanse our consciences. We are able to live right lives and think right thoughts once again in Christ. This is great news for those who are burdened by a sinful past and corrupted consciences.
4. We are progressively cleansed from more and more sin
Not only are we forgiven from sin, but we are also sanctified through the blood of Christ. Hebrews 13:12 tells us that “Jesus also suffered…in order to sanctify the people through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12). God is calling his people be holy as He is, which is one of the reasons Jesus suffered. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
After we are forgiven of our sins and able to enter into a new relationship with God, it makes sense that God wants us to be in a new relationship with the sin that previously condemned us as well. That is why he gives us the power, through the blood of His Son, to be cleansed from our sinful behaviors.
5. We are able to conquer the accuser of the brethren
Because of Christ’s sacrifice and the pouring out of His blood on our behalf, we can trust in the righteousness of Christ and not our own righteousness when we are accused by our enemy. Revelation 12:11 says, “And they have conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” As believers, we know that we cannot stand on our own merit or because of our own deeds. We know that our good deeds are as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6) and that the Christ’s righteousness attributed to us is how we are able to stand up against accusations.
Charles Spurgeon spoke these comforting words:
I know what the devil will say to you. He will say to you, ‘You are a sinner!’ Tell him you know you are, but that for all that you are justified. He will tell you of the greatness of your sin. Tell him of the greatness of Christ’s righteousness. He will tell you of all your mishaps and your backslidings, of your offences and your wanderings. Tell him, and tell your own conscience, that you know all that, but that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that, although your sin be great, Christ is quite able to put it all away.
6. Rescued out of a sinful way of life
…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Being ransomed from futile ways is another benefit Christians have through the blood of Jesus. We are rescued from a life lived devoid of meaning and are brought into a relationship with God and the ability to live in his will and with purpose.
Compared to the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the most valuable things of this earth (like silver and gold) are reduced to meaningless, perishable things. That is because the blood of Jesus gives Christians salvation of their souls, forgiveness from sins, access to God, victory over the enemy, and the power to live with a clear conscience, something that the gold and silver items in the Old Testament temple could never do.
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