Delivered November 2, 2001, via Zoom to a group of Christian house-church leaders in India, at the invitation of my friend, Edwin Daliya, a native of Mussoorie, India, who translated this message into Hindi as I presented it in English. Edwin heads a missions organization that plants churches throughout northern India.
By Brad Hicks
This is the sixth and final part of this series on the word heart in scripture. As we’ve gone through the scriptures, we’ve seen that the human heart is much more than an organ of muscular tissue that pumps and circulates our blood to every part of our body. It is also a spiritual place inside of us, a vessel that thinks, feels, and instructs other parts of our body to act, behave, and express what our heart believes. The heart is capable of a very broad spectrum of ethical and moral intent. It can be the root of good or bad in us. The heart can be hardened, or it can be pliable and capable of change.
Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”
Ephesians 4:18 explains that humans are incapable of living a true life if they persist in hard-heartedness. Paul wrote, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”
In our study of heart in scripture, when we got to the New Testament it was apparent to me that any discussion about heart had to include an examination of what blood is. The Torah claims that our blood is where our very life is, you might say it’s where the spirit resides.
God said in Leviticus, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life,” And the sacred writer of Hebrews echoes, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Listen very closely, friends. To comprehend any of this, we must understand that it is sin that brings death. Heart failure and disease are what we and medical science believe — and claim — are causes of death in humans. But there is a root cause that supersedes heart failure, disease, or any other supposed cause of death, and that is human sin.
Romans 5:12 — Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all people, because all sinned.
Romans 5:17 — … by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man.
Romans 6:16 — … when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—(if) you are slaves to sin, (it) leads to death.
Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death.
Romans 7:11 — For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
1 Corinthians 15:56 — The sting of death is sin.
James 1:14-15 — Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
God created man to live forever. In fact, life truly cannot die. Life is eternal. The only thing that gives way to death and decay and returns to dust is all that is under the divine curse that resulted from Adam’s and, consequently, all of man’s sin. Life doesn’t die. Only earthly matter that is under the curse, judgment, and wrath of God dies.
Let’s also understand this. Life is in the blood. And the scriptures teach that without the Spirit of God there is no life — no temporal or eternal life.
Job 33:4 — The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
John 6:63 — The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.
Friends, are you making the connection that I’m making? If the Spirit is life, and if life is in the blood, and if sin has taken away that life … then … man must possess spotless, blameless, innocent blood to live. No man possesses blood of this quality, of this sinless purity, of this holy nature. Only one man has ever possessed this type of precious blood. And this man willingly allowed his blood to be shed, poured out on the altar of the cross. And the sacred writer of Hebrews reveals that Jesus, the sacrificed Lamb of God, then presented his blood to his Father God in heaven, the Father of all mankind.
It’s written in Hebrews, chapter 9, “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
I want us to pay special close attention to two ideas in this passage. The first idea is the word “sprinkled,” and the second idea is the “promised eternal inheritance.”
This idea of sprinkled blood is used many times in the Old Testament to signify the purification and cleansing of articles in the tabernacle, the priests, and the people of God. In the New Testament the idea of the sprinkling of blood is associated with Christ’s blood being sprinkled on believers. The sprinkled blood is mentioned five times in Hebrews and once in First Peter.
Hebrews 10:22 — let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
1 Peter 1:1-2 — To God’s elect … who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.
The New Testament meaning of sprinkling is the administration, the pouring out, the giving of the Holy Spirit of God to all who will receive him. The antidote to the curse, judgment, and wrath of God upon sinful man goes something like this: Jesus’ blood for our blood. Life for death. How? By filling us with the Holy Spirit.
John 5:24 — “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
John 6:53-54 — Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
Romans 8:10-11 — But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is the person who has indwelled our earthly bodies to make us alive and to share with us the blood of Christ. Make sure that you have received the Holy Spirit. If you are not sure, ask God to fill you with his Spirit and he will surely freely give Him to you, create in you a new heart. He, God himself, through our Lord Jesus, is our promised eternal inheritance. This reality is our Hope of Glory.
I will close with this passage from Romans 5 that fittingly summarizes this long series on the word heart in scripture. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”