The Life that We Need
Robert Wurtz II
And having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:21-22).
When Jesus died on the Cross and shed His blood, He established the New Covenant. It’s impossible to overstate the significance of this multilayered event. The New Covenant deals with several problems that have plagued the human race since the fall of Adam. The Old Covenant exposed some of these problems to demonstrate our need for the New Covenant’s benefits.
Individuals are born into the world with a tendency to rebel against God. The New Covenant deals with this problem. All people everywhere and at every time have sinned, and each person needs forgiveness. The New Covenant deals with this problem. Sinning (dead works) defiles a person’s conscience, blaming us for our sins (1 John 3:20). The blood of the New Covenant deals with this problem (Hebrews 9:14).
Moreover, the hearts of people are hard and insensitive to God’s dealings (like diamonds). The New Covenant replaces that “stoney heart” with a heart of flesh that God can write His laws in and upon. Ephesians 2:1f informs us that the unregenerate are children of wrath by nature because the spirit of this age works in them to do the will of the Devil. Hence, Jesus said, “You are of your father the Devil and the lusts of your father you will do.” The New Covenant provides God’s Holy Spirit under the New Covenant and causes those who receive Him to walk in His ways (Ezekiel 36:27).
Explaining the Old Covenant
The writer to the Hebrews explained how the Old Covenant and its priesthood anticipated life under the New Covenant. The Wilderness Tabernacle and the Temple were illustrations of man in his relationship to God in the service of God. It was a picture of the kingdom of priests doing God’s service on earth under the throne of grace’s authority and guidance. The sacred fire that fell from Heaven was required for all of the Old Covenant’s priestly functions. Likewise, the fire of the Holy Spirit is necessary for all ministries under the New Covenant.
Picture the layout of the Wilderness Tabernacle and Temple as vertical and not horizontal. Imagine the High Priest ascending to Heaven through the vail on the Day of Atonement with the blood. For the priests, beginning at the courtyard entrance, was an altar where the fire of God burned continually. Next was the brazen laver lined with polished metal (like mirrors). It was at the laver where the priests were to wash before entering the Holy Place. The laver is of supreme importance because it represents the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit promised in Ezekiel 36:25-27 (see Titus 3:5, Eph. 5:26).
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36:25-27).
Ezekiel 36:25-27 is closely related to Jeremiah’s New Covenant promise (Jer. 31:31-34 cited in Heb 8:7-13; Heb 10:15-18). God regenerates a person by giving them a new spirit and a new heart. The new heart is called a “true heart” because truth has been written in it, and it fulfills by nature the behavioral principles of the Old Covenant. Christians don’t make void the law by faith; they establish the law (Romans 3:31). We receive the true heart when we receive the Holy Spirit. This heart requires ongoing care and maintenance to maintain it as true. It can become defiled and hardened again if we yield to sin.
The Defiling Tongue
Defilement is a huge topic under the Old Covenant. The priests were preoccupied with being defiled. The tongue (words) is what actually defiles a person, and those words come from the heart (Matthew 15:11). Before Jesus revealed this truth, people thought that eating with dirty hands defiled a person. Since our words originate in our heart, receiving a new heart and maintaining that new heart will also keep us from being defiled before God. The tongue is like a rudder that steers the body through life’s sea (James 3:4). The tongue and body are directly connected to the heart. If the heart is evil so will be the deeds of the tongue and body. The true heart (new heart) sets a totally different course for our life.
Again, as we already mentioned, the true heart has been “sprinkled from an evil conscience and freed from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). This is more than being purged of the sting of a transgressed conscience by the blood of Christ. The true heart longs to live by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. It echoes the words of the Lord Jesus, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34 ESV). God has written His laws upon the true heart as anticipated by Jeremiah and referenced in Heb. 10:16.
It is in this state of a true heart that we can draw near unto God, Holy, undefiled, cleansed from the sin of Adam, and eye to eye with God (a figure meaning to live in the presence of God). The writer to the Hebrews uses the present continuous tense for drawing near (see Heb. 4:16; Heb. 7:25; Heb. 11:6). Drawing near to the Throne of Grace is the means of direction, enabling for service, Holy living, and perseverance that we must walk in until He appears.
In public and in private, Christ calls us to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:21-22). This is the victorious life that the New Covenant provides. We can be perfect even as God is perfect; that is to say, we can live a life that pleases God just as Jesus and the apostles did. This is the Life that we need.