Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from November 15-16 are provided by Emerson Lin. Emerson, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, serves as a staff at Kairos Christian Church, while studying at Talbot School of Theology. He and Annie got married earlier this year.
Devotional Thought for Today
The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
When I was little, my mother would ask me to wash the dishes after dinner. I remember dreading the number of plates I would have to wash each time. So, out of laziness, I would take a sponge without dish soap and just wipe the excess food off the plate—as long as it looked clean, no one would know that it was dirty. My mother soon found out, and she made me wash the dishes for an entire month– with soap.
In this passage, the author of Hebrews is comparing the differences between the Old and the New Covenant. More specifically, he’s revealing what the Old Covenant could not do to sin. In verses 9 & 10, he writes, “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order.”
When we hear the phrase “clear the conscience,” it is often associated with not feeling guilty. However, in the Greek, “clear the conscience” is translated into “perfect”—meaning, the Old Testament rituals only made the Israelites “perfect” on the outside. However, it did nothing to them on the inside—until the New Covenant came through Jesus.
As believers, we are now in the New Covenant! We believe that it is only through the blood of Jesus that we are perfected (cleansed). However, there are moments when we fall into a trap of living under the Old Testament rituals. While we are not living in an age where animal sacrifices are condoned, we think that serving, giving extra offering, and participating in more church activities will make us cleaner and help with our guilt. However, these things only make us seem clean on the outside. When people see us doing more church, they assume we’re doing well. While these things should be part of our daily rhythm, we must remind ourselves that we are not perfected by what we do, but it is through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
I want to encourage you to examine your motives and thoughts: What are some things that you may use to make yourself look or feel clean? This morning, ask God to reveal anything that might hinder you from trusting in the blood of Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that I am saved by Your blood and not by my works. Please protect me against the lies that tell me that I need to do more things so that I can feel more “saved.” I declare that all I need is the blood of Jesus Christ to be saved! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Ephesians 2:1-10: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Questions to Consider
- Why does Paul describe our salvation as a gift from God?
- Why are we are not saved by our own works?
- Now that we are saved, what does Christ Jesus call us to do?
- Our salvation is a gift because we did not earn it by our own strength. In verse 3, Paul describes our spiritual state as, “dead in our transgressions” and hopeless. However, God, in all His mercy, came to take us out of death and into righteousness—this is the gift of God.
- Because we are saved by God’s mercy and not by our own works, we cannot boast in ourselves. Often, we’re tempted to believe that we are loved because of how much we’ve done for Him. We are saved and loved through His mercy and grace.
- Christ Jesus calls us to do good works. We are not to keep this good news for ourselves but to go into our communities to share the gospel, as well as to feed the poor, the orphans, etc. These good works can only be done because we have received the gift of God. We must not be tempted to think that we earn the love of Christ through these works, but that we do these works because Christ first loved us.
In view of today’s theme of salvation by God’s grace discussed this morning, how did this impact you? Were you reminded of a moment when you felt that you were trying to earn God’s love? Review your day here.