For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. – Hebrews 9:13-14 ESV
Jesus was the perfect, sinless sacrifice. He became a man so that He might live the life God expects of all men – yet without sin. For Him to offer Himself to God as the substitute for the sins of all men, He had to be sinless, perfectly righteous and a worthy sacrifice, acceptable to God and capable of atoning for the sins of man with His own blood. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Hebrews 8:3 ESV). Prior to the death of Jesus, all men stood condemned by sin – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). And the penalty for man’s sin was death. But Jesus condemned sin. Man’s flesh – his sin nature – condemned him. But Jesus took on human flesh, became a man, and lived a sinless life, turning the tables on sin. He condemned sin, using the very tool sin had used to condemn man – the flesh. “Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14 NLT).
But how did He do it? How was Jesus able to accomplish what no other man had ever done before? The quick and easy answer would be to say that He was divine. He was God. He had help. And that would be true, but the help Jesus had was not His divine nature, it was indwelling Holy Spirit. Yes, Jesus, the Son of God, was indwelt with the very same Spirit that God has made available to you and me. After the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus at His baptism by John, Luke tells us, “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2 ESV). Jesus, the Son of God, yielded His life to the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. In His humanity, He submitted to the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, in order to provide us with an example to follow. When Jesus told His disciples that God would send them “another Helper”, He spoke from experience. He knew what it was like to have the Spirit of God provide help, guidance, and comfort. Luke tells us that when Jesus returned from His time of fasting and temptation in the wilderness, He did so with power. “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee…” (Luke 4:14 ESV). His entire ministry would be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. His miracles would be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the author of Hebrews tells us that was “through the eternal Spirit” that Jesus able to offer Himself without blemish, as sinless, to God. That very significant fact seems to escape most of us as believers. We somehow think that our pursuit of righteousness is up to us. We have bought into the lie that, while our salvation was the gift of God, an act of grace, our sanctification is somehow up to us. We have to pursue holiness on our own. But we have the very same Spirit within us that Jesus had. We have the same power available to us that He availed Himself of all throughout His earthly ministry. Jesus clearly told His disciples that they would have access to a power source that would make possible their commission as His apostles. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7 ESV). Again, Jesus told them, “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven” (Luke 24:49 NLT).
And it is that power from heaven that purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. He renews our mind. He produces His fruit in our lives. He provides us with the capacity to say no to the works of the flesh or our old sin nature. He frees us from slavery to sin and allows us to live in obedience to the will of God – through His power, not our own. Our holiness is not left up to us. Our transformation into the likeness of Christ is not something for which we are responsible. We certainly take part in the process, but we do so by yielding to the Spirit of God. We are to walk according to the Spirit, not our flesh. We are to sow to the Spirit, not our flesh. We are to depend upon the Spirit, not our flesh. Jesus offered Himself without blemish to God, through the eternal Spirit. How much more so must we depend upon that same Spirit to help us live holy lives and fend off the constant desires of our old sinful nature? Peter reminds us, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT). That divine power is the very Spirit who lives within us. The eternal Spirit of God. God has made possible our holiness, through the death of the Son of God and the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. We have all we need.