Hebrews 9:14 (NIV) says Hebrews 9:14 New International Version 14 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!
Hebrews 9:11 - 28
ESV - 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent ( not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
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I would say that the reference is to the fact of the God-given conscience existing to allow people to recognize things that they should or should not do -- that is, our sins of omission or commission. As such, it is related to our works or actions. However, since salvation and eternal life are obtained through faith in Christ (rather than through any human works), the conscience's role in that regard is "cleansed" (since we now no longer have to perform good works out of a sense of obligation or guilt in order in the futile hope that they will save us, but can instead perform them in gratitude to God for salvation already received).
This entire chapter 9 of Hebrews is contrasting the limitations of the Old Covenant with the perfect fulfillment of the New Covenant in dealing with our sin. When we as human beings are still captivated by our slavery to sin, all we feel is the guilt and shame of being condemned by God and subject to his wrath. All we want to do is run away and hide like Adam and Eve. God gave the nation of Israel his Law so they would know the standards He was holding them to. They felt even more guilty and unable to change. God gave them the sacrificial system to enable their sins to be dealt with, so their fellowship with God could be restored. But their sins weren’t really taken away. As verse 9 says “ 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”. The blood of bulls and goats couldn’t take away sin. But when Jesus came and sacrificed himself for the sins of the whole world, his one-time sacrifice was sufficient to take away all sin for every person who puts their faith in him as Saviour and Lord. Our conscience is cleared when the guilt and shame is gone. Our conscience is cleared when we know that we have been set free from our slavery to sin. Only Jesus blood poured out for us and upon us can have that effect. God’s New Covenant means that we are truly and completely forgiven for all past, present and future sin based on our trust in Jesus finished work on the cross. The Devil will still try to condemn us, but when we know the promises of God associated with this New Covenant, our consciences will actually defend us, declaring that we are redeemed, set free and adopted children of God.
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