A Call to Boldness

By Evan Pyle

Despite the title, this is not a lesson in personal or business finances, but a discussion of our relationship with God. Nevertheless, the world of finance may help us to better understand our subject at hand. Too much debt can cause serious problems resulting in bankruptcy and financial ruin. Financial trouble is cited as a major cause of marital problems. Businesses struggle and eventually fail if under an excessive load of debt. Even national currencies and governments can fail when the debt becomes too great. In a certain sense you are not truly free when you are in debt since you have, in effect, "sold" your future earnings to have something you could otherwise not afford. Debt can lead to stress, nervousness and a loss of happiness. Failure to pay debt can even lead to having possessions seized.

What about the debt of sin? Carrying the debt of sin can affect our relationships in ways comparable to financial debt. Just as one might avoid a person to whom they owe an unpaid obligation, the debt of sin can cause us to avoid God. This was how Adam and Eve reacted when they sinned against God. "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8). The beauty and purity of the communion Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator was corrupted and muddied by sin.

I think most Christians would agree that when a person repents and receives new life in Christ his record of past sins is wiped clean and the debt of sin fully paid by Jesus’ sacrifice. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Romans 3:25). All would agree, I hope, that we are saved by grace through faith. Christians disagree, however, as to how far God’s forgiveness in Christ extends. Does forgiveness through faith in Christ mean that sins only up to the time of salvation are paid by his sacrifice? Does God’s forgiveness simply bring the new Christian "up-to-date"? The Romans reference seems to say that very thing in speaking of remission of sins that are past.

The sacrifices practiced by Israel in accordance with Mosaic law resulted in an "up-to-date" forgiveness of sins that are past. The high priest entered into the holy of holies once a year to offer sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebrews 9:7). Every year the high priest had to repeat this offering for the sins of the people. Why? "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present" (Hebrews 9:8-9). In the annual repetition of this service, the Lord was showing that the time was yet coming when all of God’s people would be permitted to enter into the holy of holies, into the holy presence of God. Under Mosaic law, an annual reminder of sins and man’s separation from God was woven into the sacrifices. Under this system, a remembrance was made of man’s debt of sin that remained yet unpaid and kept him separated from the Lord. Man needed an annual updating to get back into God’s good graces.

What about now? In contrast to forgiveness only for sins that are past, Jesus instituted a "once and for all" forgiveness of sins. He made one sacrifice for all sins for all time.

Hebrews 9:11-12 (emphasis added):
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

No longer is annual sacrifice for sins necessary, because Jesus paid the price once and for all. His sacrifice was sufficient to pay for man’s sin, now and forevermore. This is a powerful truth that the saints of God need to lay hold of. No longer do we approach God burdened with a debt of sin we can never pay (Hebrews 10:3). The annual sacrifice for sin served as a constant reminder of man’s awful condition. But Christ’s sacrifice cleanses even our conscience from dead works so we can freely serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:13-14:
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
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 to serve the living God?

I have known too many Christians who carry the terrible burden of the debt of sin. They would like to walk for God, attend church and live the Christian life, but they feel they cannot because they are unworthy. They are too sinful and must "get right" with God before they can begin doing those things. They are waiting to turn their life around first. Year after year they are still waiting, failing to realize that their debt of sin was completely and forevermore paid in Christ. There are no steps they need to take to find their way back to God’s good graces. Jesus already took those painful steps for them!

No longer should we focus on "getting right" with God. Jesus’ sacrifice already did that. When we sin, we don’t need to follow some difficult path to find our way back to God. Jesus’ sacrifice already did that. We don’t approach God like a cringing, guilty dog. Since the sacrifice has been made once, we only need confess our sins, and God will forgive us and cleanse us (I John 1:9). Christ’s sacrifice gives us boldness with God.

Hebrews 10:19, 22 (emphasis added):
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Though we have no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3-4), we have full assurance in Christ. "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him" (Eph. 3:12). Our relationship is not clouded by our sin-darkened hearts for we have been washed clean by the blood of Christ. Even our conscience has been cleansed from dead works. Instead of hiding like Adam and Eve, we enter confidently into the holy of holies. We are encouraged to come boldly before the throne of grace to find help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). We are to hold onto our confidence in Christ. No task, trial, obstacle, burden or shortcoming should cause us to lose heart. "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Heb. 10:35-36).

If Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to pay for all our sins, why are we told that we must confess our sins to God? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). For the Christian, confession of sins is not for keeping an up-to-date account with God. Some believe that if you die without having confessed your last sins you are doomed to hell or purgatory. No, confession is for us, so we can examine ourselves, whether we are in the faith. If we fail to recognize sin, we will fail to turn away from that sin. Confession is not, as some have taught, so we can change our status from being "out of fellowship" to being "in fellowship." Those terms are foreign to the Bible. As believers, we are never "outside looking in." The veil into the holy of holies has been torn open in Christ and we have access to God’s throne. We don’t need to find our way back "in fellowship"… we are already there! If I could "trip out" and "get lost," so to speak, I would remain lost forever. I do not need to find my way back to the Lord because I am already there in Christ. We are not lost, because Jesus does not lose any that the Father has given to him.

Our walk with the Lord must be on his terms, not ours. He has made his terms perfectly clear: we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. The question is not about being in some mystical "state" with God, for we are in fellowship with him if we are saved. The big question is, are we walking in fellowship with him. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him" (Colossians 2:6).

We can see the effect that salvation had on the apostles and believers of the early church who walked in such boldness in Christ. They did not go around in circles wondering if they were right with God. No, knowing they were right with God, they lived for Christ, witnessing for him and loving the brethren with great boldness and liberty.

Acts 4:13 (emphasis added):
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:29 (emphasis added):
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Acts 4:31 (emphasis added):
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Ephesians 3:12 (emphasis added):
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

1 John 4:17 (emphasis added):
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

The world is watching Christians carefully to see what we will do and say. Because we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, because we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, because we are forgiven and righteous in Christ, we are free to act and speak boldly in his name. The darkness of this present age cries out for fearless, bold bearers of God’s light. As one who has direct access to the throne of God, you have the boldness to live and speak for God without fear.

Luke 12:11-12:
And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.



From the November 2009 issue of The Vine & Branches