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Hebrews 9:14
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?

The Greek word translated “purge” in this verse is katharizo. It means “to cleanse or purify.” We get the name Katherine from the root of this word. We find this word used both in the Greek Old Testament[1] and the Greek New Testament with regard to the cleansing of lepers.

Matthew 8:2-4
2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean [katharizo].
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean [katharizo]. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed [katharizo].
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

“Go thy way…and offer the gift that Moses commanded,” Jesus told the man. We’ve already glimpsed at the cleansing of the leper.[2] I believe God has many things to teach us about the spiritual life through this devastating, natural disease. There are many correlations that can be drawn between the pathology of leprosy, how it attacks and destroys the nerves and thus the body, and the poison of sin, how it deadens our conscience and plagues our souls. We’ve looked at the sprinkling of blood and the anointing with oil for the cleansing of the leper. Let us now examine the gifts that Moses commanded.

Leviticus 14:19-20
19 And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering:
20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

The blood sacrifices that the one to be cleansed had to bring were the sin offering[3] and the burnt offering. The result of these offerings was “and he shall be clean.” He was once more a full member of the community, able to live in the camp and worship in the tabernacle. He was at peace with God and man. The sin sacrifice in itself wasn’t sufficient to accomplish this. He also had to offer up the burnt sacrifice.

In the cleansing of the leper we can see the various stages the Lord brings us through to make us whole. Remember, these ceremonies for the leper didn’t begin until all his symptoms had already disappeared! The disease was gone by the time they started killing animals to allow the leper to go back home, but he was not fully released back into that fellowship until he had gone through the entire ceremony, from doves to lambs. Being clean and being whole are exponentially different stages of well-being. The leper whose disease had disappeared was surely happy; but his happiness wasn’t complete until he could come back home.

Luke 17:12-14
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed [katharizo].

These men “lifted up their voices.” Sometimes we need to get loud when we pray. These men were not allowed to come too close to the Lord, so they reached out to Him with their voices. “JESUS! MASTER! HAVE MERCY ON US!” I believe that often the distance that separates us from the answer to our prayers is directly proportional to the amount of “dignity” we have left. How desperate are we for deliverance? How hungry are we for a touch from Jesus? Loud cries from a humble heart are answered more readily than religious prayers from stiff lips!

These men cried out to the Lord and He answered their plea, “Go show yourselves unto the priests.” What was He saying? Well, they had no cause to show themselves to the priests unless they were going to get a clean bill of health. A leper didn’t present himself for examination unless his leprosy was already gone![4] By telling them to present themselves, Jesus was offering them the promise of their healing. Now, they could have stood around and kept looking at their skin and nothing would have happened. But they didn’t do that; they put feet to their faith and went to the priests—and as they went, they were cleansed.

Luke 17:15
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God…

Not only do we need to get loud when we pray, our praises are in need of amplification as well! This man turned back and with a loud voice glorified God. Can’t you hear him as he leapt his way back to the Master? “THANK YOU, JESUS! PRAISE GOD, YOU CLEANSED ME! OH, GOD, I PRAISE YOUR NAME, YOU CLEANSED ME! YOU ARE MIGHTY TO SAVE! THANK YOU, JESUS, YOU HEALED ME!” This is part of loving God with all our might. This man had no reservations left. He was healed and he wanted everyone to know that God was responsible. He was grateful and rejoiced in thanksgiving to the Master.

Luke 17:16-19
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

This man wasn’t simply cleansed. In response to his thankfulness, Jesus declared this man to be whole. The Greek word in the text is sozo, the same word translated as “saved.” The others were cleansed; this man was made whole, complete, entire. He was saved. Why? Because after having received a healing that rested upon the sin sacrifice of Jesus Christ yet future,[5] he came back offering up the burnt sacrifice (he was praising God), and gave Jesus a peace offering (he was giving thanks). He followed through on the whole process, and that man was made whole.

“Where are the nine?” Jesus asked. How many times has the Lord had to ask that about us? How often have we been forgiven and healed and failed to follow through with praises and thanksgivings to God? We need the sin sacrifice. If we confess our sins, His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness, but we can’t stop there if we want to be whole, if we want our conscience to be purged. We have to “give the gift that Moses commanded.” We need to apply the full measure of the blood of Jesus Christ. Once cleansed of our sins, we need to consecrate ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. And once consecrated, we need to offer up sacrifices of praise unto our God, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.[6] It is in this way that we gain a perfected conscience.

The offerings of the Old Testament could not perfect the conscience. All they could bring about was ceremonial cleansing. But the sacrifice of Jesus Christ can perfect our conscience. His blood can completely clean sin from our conscience to the end that it can be fully mature and operate correctly as a compass for our soul. His blood can do this, for He was our sin, burnt, and peace offerings.

[1] Often referred to with the Roman numerals LXX (70) or the Septuagint, after the seventy translators who tradition says translated it in Alexandria, Egypt, in the third century, B.C.
[2] See Chapter 5
[3] He also had to make a trespass offering, but as stated earlier, the trespass offering is a special form of the sin offering.
[4] Lev 14:2-3
[5] Matt 9:2-7. Healing is a manifestation of the deeper grace of God given to us in the forgiveness of sins. All forgiveness of sins resides on the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Thus, the physical healings He did during His earthly ministry were a gracious portent of the deeper healing He would accomplish on the cross, the healing of our relationship with the heavenly Father by making possible the remission of sins.
[6] Heb 13:15