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Mar 2012

Only Your Blood Is Enough, Part 1

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7

We don’t often stop to think about how strange it sounds that we as Christians talk about blood so much. I’m sure to many, it must seem so primitive, so superstitious, to talk about blood cleansing us from our sin. We can’t seriously believe in that kind of mythical science fiction, can we? Yet, Scripture again and again talks about blood being the only sufficient offering for sin.

In the Old Testament, when God first brought Israel ought of slavery, he ordered that a unblemished lamb be slain and the blood of that lamb be put on the doorposts in order to protect them from the plague he was about to bring on all the Egyptian firstborn. He then ordained a sacrificial system for Israel in which they could make atonement, or be made one with God again, through offering goats, bulls and such, spilling their blood on the altar. Why blood though? In Scripture, blood is equated with the life of a creature. The imagery of blood sacrifice means that a life has been taken in order to pay a penalty. The blood isn’t magical. Rather, it conveys the seriousness of sin. When the infinite God’s glory is dishonored by His image-bearers, the offense is infinite. The cost is death, as God promised Adam and Eve in Genesis 2. Sin equals separation from God, which is, eternally, death. There is no way around this reality. Yet, God, in his great mercy, went to great lengths to undo the separation brought on by our sin. The Old Testament sacrifices served as a consistent reminder to Israel that their sin must be dealt with. God could not merely overlook it. But it was also clear that the life-exchange of animals for the sin of man was not sufficient to deal with the stain of sin. As the writer of Hebrews unpacks for us, these sacrifices were not sufficient to “purify the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14)

The Old Testament sacrifices instead pointed to the greater reality: the sacrifice of Christ himself on the cross. The perfect, infinite sacrifice of Jesus (fully man and fully God) was the only sacrifice able to truly deal with the penalty and power of sin. Again, as the writer of Hebrews says, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). With Christ, on the other hand, “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). With the shedding of Jesus’ blood, the perfect life was given to atone for our sins. His life for ours. God’s justice was satisfied, so that he could see us and make us pure and clean. This is our only hope.

So we are a people “washed in the blood of the lamb.” We need to rejoice in this truth, celebrate it, and remind each other of it. Because ultimately, we attempt to cover our sin in countless other ways. Adam and Eve took fig leaves for themselves in the garden, and we have repeated this behavior ever since. The more we understand the sufficiency of Christ’s blood, the less we will give in to the temptation to perform for God and each other. We will rest, knowing that our penalty is paid and our new life is bought by Jesus’s blood, the only thing that will cover us when we stand before God.

This Sunday we will be introducing a new song to our Sunday gathering entitled Only Your Blood Is Enough. It is a reworking of an old Isaac Watts text, and is featured on the Sojourn Music album Over the Grave. The song reminds us that it is only the sacrifice of Christ that makes us able to stand before God. And that sacrifice removes all shame and enables us to stand boldly before him, clothed in righteousness. Here are the lyrics:

I am ashamed, conceived in sin, I’ve always been
Born in a world where Adam’s fall corrupts us
Rooted is the seed of death in life’s first breath
The law demands a perfect heart, but I’m defiled in every part

For only Your blood is enough to cover my sin
Only Your blood is enough to cover me

All this guilt disturbs my peace; I find no release
Who will save me from my crime? I’m helpless
Behold, I fall before Your face in need of grace
So speak to me in a gentle voice, for in Your mercies I rejoice

Lord, create my heart anew (Father, come and make us wise)
Only You are pure and true (Lead us away from our demise)
Lord, You are the remedy (For only your blood can set us free)
For only Your blood can set us free
Only Your blood can set us free

No bleeding bird, no bleeding beast
No hyssop branch, no priest,
No running brook, no flood, no sea
Can wash away this stain from me

I’m excited to sing this song together, as the lyrics capture just how deep our sin is rooted. We can’t understand why only Jesus’ blood can cleanse us unless we see how deep the stain really is. As the lyrics proclaim, the seed of death is in us from the moment we begin our lives. We need the perfect sacrifice to deal with the sin that is woven in to the fabric of our being. You can listen to Only Your Blood Is Enough below by clicking the video, and you can purchase and download the song by clicking here. Let’s ready our hearts to proclaim this to one another as we walk through this season of Lent together, culminating in the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Click here for Part 2 in this series on Only Your Blood Is Enough.



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