The infinite contrast between Israel (unbelieving Hebrews/Jews—NC) and the Church is that we are in the presence of the Father, and we are always there; that is the Christian ground: the Jews (same as above—NC) never were there. This is very little realized by Christians today. The work is accomplished once for all, and we are brought nigh by virtue of the work of the Cross; and if we are not there through that work, we never can get there. Our feelings may be varying from day to day, but or standing before the Father never changes in the Son.
If it is a question of being in the Father’s presence, I must abide where He is. In His presence sin is not measured by transgression, but by what the Father is—“in the light as He is in the light.” “Ye were darkness but now are ye light in the Lord.” God’s people are now brought into His presence in the light, and are always there; it is where He has placed them by faith—not a question of their feelings.
And God does not merely say sin is put away, but the conscience is perfect (Heb 9:9—NC); no more conscience of sin (not sinning); that is the same as a perfect conscience. We all have a conscience of sinning, but if I have a conscience of sin I cannot come to the Father, but am like Adam hiding from Him. What we have is not only sin put away in the presence of the Father, but put away from the conscience too. Many own the former, but think they need repeated forgiveness. How could sin be put away once for all? It could not be but by the suffering of the Savior on the Cross. Must He, then, die again?
There was a piety in the Old Testament, and piety is a blessed thing, but there was never a purged conscience (Heb 10:2—NC). We never find in the most pious person under the law the sense of being in the presence of the Father. The high priest must go once a year within the veil with clouds of incense; but now the Holiest is made manifest, the veil being rent from top to bottom, and the conscience is perfect as the light in which we stand in the Father’s presence.
Under the old covenant, it was only “the errors of the people” (Heb 9:7—NC) that were forgiven. Now God takes up the spring of a man altogether. The old covenant dealt with man on the ground of obedience; now the Father is bringing the sinner himself into a new position before Him. The old covenant was a partial remedy, with the declaration that they could not come into God’s presence. Now while this kept up a testimony for God, a new thing is brought out, not to patch up the old thing—that was the old even in its remedial character; but now it is bringing in a new thing entirely—given a new life in Christ. The Jewish systems was a provision for the old man without seeing God, instead of bringing man perfect, in a new life and nature, into the very presence of the Father.
The work of Christ and the blood of Christ are not provision for the sins of the old man, but for the perfecting of the conscience of the new man, to set him in the presence of the Father. We could not be in His presence with one spot on us; we are brought into heaven itself. The Father looking upon the Blood of His Son cannot see sin. It is not a question of my value of that Blood, but the conscience rests on the value the Father finds in it.
Under the old covenant, obedience was required from man in his Adam-life; a veil was before God, and man was outside—and he must remain outside. The animal sacrifices made a temporary provision for fellowship with God, but there was no coming to Him. Christ, as High Priest of good things to come, brings the new man into the Father’s presence forever. The veil is rent, and there is a risen Person with cleansing power in the presence of the Father. Such is the perfectness of the position in which we are set.