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TEXT: Hebrews 9:11-15

SUBJECT: A Clean Life

Are you living a clean life?

Before you can answer the question, you've got to know what a clean life is. It includes common decency, of course, being loyal to your wife, for example, working hard at your job, paying your bills, and being courteous enough to not text or tweet at the dinner table! These are clean things to do, and you ought to do them, but there's more to a clean life than common decency, the sort of things you can do as well without God as you can with Him.

Only one life can be characterized as truly clean, and that's the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you read His life in the Four Gospels, two things will become apparent: His life was clean and your life isn't.

Where do we start admiring the life He lived in the real world? One place seems good as another, so how about with His...

Chastity. Did Jesus have a sexual life or not? Most Christians wince at the thought and quickly tell you He didn't. This is not what the Bible teaches. It tells us that Jesus was as human as you and I, and that when it comes to the sort of temptations we face, He faced them too! He was--

In all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

This means that, though He had the same desires other men have, He said no to their every abuse, from lust to fornication and all other varieties of uncleanness.

What makes His self-control doubly impressive is this: Living in a culture that frowned on social interaction between men and women, Jesus felt no such qualms. Some of His best friends were women, and some of them had 'been around' a bit. But for all the time He spent with ladies and girls, no one ever accused Him of being a womanizer! They charged Him with Him of other sins and crimes, but not this one. Because if they had, no one would have believed them. That's how clean our Lord's sex life was. He treated older women like mothers and younger women like sisters--

In all purity.

Think also of His honesty, speaking the plain truth when it would have been easier and safer not to. Then there's His gentleness. Honest people are sometimes too blunt in what they say. What they say may be true, but it's also inappropriate, harsh and mean. Our Lord was not this way. While condemning sin as no man ever has, He also attracted sinners, and made them feel welcome in His Presence.

Gentle spirits sometimes cover cowardice, but who was braver than Jesus, doing God's will without hesitation whatever the cost? He was physically brave, morally brave, a man's Man if there ever was one, and not the effeminate image we so often see in Bible picture books, movies, and so on.

The bravest of all men was also the most patient, putting up with half-wit disciples, and hardly ever correcting them. Did He correct them? Sure He did, but mostly, as the Bible says, He suffered their manners, and was all right with their slow and inconsistent growth in grace.

As clean as Jesus was in His dealings with other people, His purity appears even brighter in the Presence of God. Has anyone ever prayed as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane, struggling mightily with God's will, hoping there was some way out of His fate, but once He knew there wasn't, He prayed through the bloody sweat--

Nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.

This is what a clean life is, and before such purity we can only cry with the leper--

Unclean! Unclean!

Perverted lives are unclean; creepy lives are unclean; decent lives are unclean; religious lives are unclean--

We are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

This describes every human life but One, and you or I are not the one who lived it.


But we ought to live this way, and in our better moments, we want to. Like Paul in his struggles, we know what clean a life is, we approve of it, we try to live this way...but we don't!


Why do we fail so badly at living a clean life? Much can be said here, from Original Sin to bad examples, the power of the media, the cunning of Satan and our own lack of discipline. All of these, of course, and others do hinder us from becoming the clean persons we ought to be.

But there's another thing as well, and most Christians hardly ever think about it, and when they do, their thinking is usually backwards.

How do you become a good person? You become a good person by doing good things. This is agreeable to common sense and it's what most pastors preach every Sunday. The problem is: This is another way of saying, 'Law', and if the New Testament teaches anything at all, it teaches that the Law is unable to produce the obedience it commands. It can expose and provoke our uncleanness. It cannot make us clean.

What can? Only the Gospel.

Why does it produce a clean life when the Law does not? Because, unlike the Law, it works from the inside out! Rather than telling a bad tree to produce good fruit, the Gospel makes the tree good and, when the tree is good, good fruit will necessarily follow.

The key to living a clean life, therefore, is not what you do (or don't do) but what you believe. When we truly believe the Gospel and make it our daily meditation, our lives become clean. When we don't, they remain dirty--no matter how hard we try!

This is precisely what our text teaches, v.14--

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works...

In order to serve the Living God?

Serving the Living God is the fruit of a clean conscience and a clean conscience has never been gotten or kept by 'trying harder', but only through faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross!

This is the major teaching of the New Testament and indispensable to the doctrine and practice of holiness.


Why is this? Why must we have clean consciences before we can live clean lives?

The answer is simplicity itself. Why do we sin? We sin because we want things the Lord doesn't want us to have, whether it is another man's wife, revenge, money, popularity, whatever.

How do we stop wanting them?

We stop wanting them by believing that, whatever they promise, God has given us in His Gospel.

Why do I want another man's wife? Because she validates me; she proves to me that I'm still attractive and virile! But the Gospel says, I don't need her validation because for Christ's sake, God has already justified me!

Why do I want revenge? I want it because someone did me wrong and he shouldn't get away with it. But the Gospel says he's not getting away with it. If he's a saved man, Jesus Christ went to the cross for Him, and suffered for all the wrongs he's done, including the time he insulted me in public or got the job that should have been mine. The Gospel is not only a declaration of God's mercy, but also His justice.

Why do I want money? I want it because it will secure my future. I'm not getting any younger, and it won't be long until I have to retire. What will I live on then? And what about my children and their future? I'd like to leave them something when I'm gone, and that means I need more money.

What does the Gospel say to this? It says whatever money I have or don't have, my future is secure because I have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fades not away reserved in heaven for me.

As for my kids, if they believe the Gospel, they have the same portion as I do, and if they don't believe, my money will buy them no favors with God.

Why do I want to be popular, want it so badly that I'll sin to get it and keep it? I want it because I'm lonely and need acceptance; I want to belong; I want to be in the 'in group'.

What does the Gospel say to this? It says I am accepted in the beloved; that God will never leave me nor forsake me, and that I am now a member of God's family and nation. How much more accepted can I be? Whether I'm the most popular man in the world, or the least, I'm in the 'in group' and I have its full and permanent acceptance!


If a clean life depends on a clean conscience, our duty become plain: Keep your conscience clean! When you become aware of your sins, confess them to the Lord, but put no confidence in the depth of your sorrow, or the sincerity of your confession, or the power of your resolve to never do it again.

Put your confidence in Jesus Christ and what He did for you on the Cross! When the devil tells you you're great sinner, tell him you have a Great Savior!

When you have forgotten to love God, remember He hasn't forgotten to love you, and that when you are at your worst and weakest--

God demonstrated His love toward you...

Christ died for the ungodly.

Meditating on God's Infinite Love and the Price He paid to redeem you from your sins, will make the sins you're so fond of the repulsive things they truly are.

When it comes to cleaning up your life, you can't do it, the Law can't do it, the latest book or seminar can't do it, but the Gospel can and will. When you believe it.


Praise the Lord!

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