The Precious Blood of Jesus
By Charles F. Stanley
When was the last time you heard a sermon or sang a song about the blood of Jesus? Some churches today find the concept antiquated or even gruesome. Songs that mention “the blood” have even been removed from hymnbooks. Yet without it, there is no hope of a relationship with God, no assurance of salvation, and no confidence that our prayers are heard.
The Scriptures never shy away from the mention of blood. In fact, it runs like a red thread from Genesis to Revelation. If you eliminate the references to blood from the Bible, all that remains is a book of history and literature. Anything that God considers this important should never be disregarded.
Leviticus 17:11 tells us that God gave blood to make atonement because “the life of the flesh” is in it. The word atonement, as it is used in the Old Testament, means “covering.” Through the sacrificial system of worship established by the Lord, the sins of mankind were covered by the blood of innocent animals.
The seriousness of sin is revealed by the monumental cost of atonement—the penalty is death, and it must be paid by either the guilty one or an acceptable substitute. To cover transgressions, the animals which were offered had to be unblemished and perfect. Every sacrifice on the altar was a fulfillment of the death penalty required by God’s Law.
The sacrificial system taught people that the Lord is holy, transgressions must be punished, and atonement for sin takes place only through the shedding of blood. This arrangement was a foreshadowing of what was to come. Because animal sacrifices can only cover sin, an “ultimate lamb” was needed to remove all of man’s iniquity.
One day, as John the Baptist stood by the Jordan River, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” walked onto the scene of human history (John 1:29). The perfect sacrifice for sins had arrived. He was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” and came to earth to fulfill the Lord’s awesome plan of redemption by shedding His precious blood (1 Pet. 1:18-20).
Jesus wasn’t just a man; He was the Son of God clothed in human flesh. His birth was supernatural because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin. Since no sin was transferred to Him through an earthly father, Jesus was the perfect, spotless Lamb of God—His was the only flawless life and, therefore, the only suitable sacrifice for the guilt of all mankind.
Apart from the blood of Christ, no one can have a relationship with the heavenly Father. Because God is holy, our sin blocks any chance of connection with Him. But in love, He planned and initiated a course of reconciliation with fallen humanity. The precious blood of Jesus provides all that we need to draw near to the Father.
To redeem means “to buy something back.” Jesus Christ came to the cross for the primary purpose of purchasing us from a life of slavery to sin. Maybe you think you’re a pretty good person and do not feel enslaved to sin. But no matter how moral a person may seem, every human being has a sin nature (Rom. 3:23).
To set us free, a price had to be paid. But to whom? Jesus didn’t pay off the Devil; He paid the price that God required in order to satisfy His holy justice. According to Ezekiel 18:20, “The person who sins will die.” The cost of our redemption was the precious blood of the perfect Son of God—and He made this sacrifice in our place. Because the Father accepted Christ’s payment, we have been set free from bondage to sin and have received the power of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live in the freedom of obedience to the Father.
Most people have the idea that the Lord will forgive them simply because they ask Him. What they may not understand is that the basis for His pardon is not their request, but Christ’s payment of their debt. The Lord cannot forgive wrongs just because someone asks. His holiness will not allow Him to overlook sin; it must be punished. His justice will not allow Him to forgive trespasses without a payment.
Only with the substitutionary death of the perfect Son of God does the Father have a legitimate basis by which He can forgive whoever comes to Him in faith and repentance (Eph. 1:7). There is nothing we can do to earn His forgiveness. Pardon is granted only when Christ’s blood is applied to our lives. Because we cannot pay our sin-debt, Jesus paid it for us. Without His intervention, we have no hope of pardon.
The wrath of God will rightly fall on sinful mankind (Rom. 5:8-10), but those who are justified by the blood of Christ will be saved from that dreadful punishment. Justification means that the Father accepts the death of His Son as full payment for our sin (Rom. 3:23-26). Jesus is a satisfactory substitute because He is the sinless Lamb of God.
Furthermore, we are declared righteous in the Lord’s eyes. Think of justification as a legal transaction in which Jesus placed all our iniquities on His account and then paid it in full. Next, He took the record of His perfect life and transferred it to our account. Now when God looks at us, all He sees is Christ’s perfection. We are no longer guilty but are declared legally righteous, even if we don’t always act like it.
What an awesome privilege to be righteous in the Lord’s eyes! Now, that does not mean believers can go out and do anything they want. Remember, “You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). We are children of God, but if we start acting like children of the Devil, our loving heavenly Father will be faithful to use discipline and bring us back to our senses. The gift of righteousness should motivate us to live a life that reflects our blameless standing before God.
When a relationship characterized by separation and alienation becomes one of acceptance and restoration, that change is known as “reconciliation.” The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord, the relationship between God and mankind was broken, but the Father took the initiative to bring restoration by sending His Son into the world. Through the blood of His cross, Christ made reconciliation possible by establishing peace between God and man. Beyond that, He presents us blameless before the Father (Col. 1:19-22). All the barriers have been removed, and an intimate relationship with the Lord is available to every believer.
At the moment of salvation, Jesus sanctified you with His blood (Heb. 13:12) by applying it to your life. This means you were set apart as God’s child to live for Him from that time onward. The best way for me to describe sanctification is to compare it to a period that comes at the end of an event. You were saved, redeemed, justified, reconciled, and sanctified, period. But this period does not end. It turns into a line that continues throughout your life.
Sanctification is the process by which the Lord is continually transforming His children into the image of Jesus Christ. The entire Christian life is in that line; it just keeps lengthening as we grow in godliness, obedience, and understanding. Salvation is not the endpoint but the beginning of God’s purposes for believers. His goal is to renew every area of our lives so that we can become His valuable servants and ambassadors of Christ to a lost world.
This process will continue throughout life because the Holy Spirit resides within every believer, guiding and empowering each one to move forward. He will never leave us—there is always another step to take in our progress toward Christlikeness and fruitful service for the Lord.
Access to God.
Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us that we can confidently enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus. In the Old Testament, the Holy of Holies was the inner room of the tabernacle or temple, where God dwelt above the Ark of the Covenant. The high priest was the only one who could come into this most holy place, and he could do so only once a year to make atonement for himself and the nation. After carefully preparing himself with sacred rituals, he would enter with animal’s blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat.
Today, the only reason that Christians can approach God is because, spiritually speaking, they are covered in the blood of Christ. When Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, the veil of the temple—which separated God from the people—was torn in two from top to bottom. This supernatural event signified the Father’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, which opened the way to His presence.
Because we have never participated in the Old Testament sacrificial system, we usually take our access to the Lord for granted. There is now no need to sacrifice a lamb whenever we want to approach God. Each time we enter the Father’s throne room in prayer, it’s as if Jesus looks at us and says, “Here’s one of Ours. The blood has been applied.”
Those who have not accepted Christ’s covering of blood have no confidence that God will hear their prayers. But the Lord promises to hear and answer the prayers of His children—maybe not exactly the way they expect, but always according to His wise and loving will.
As believers, we are declared righteous at the moment of salvation, but we are not perfect in practice. Although legally forgiven for all past, present, and future sins, we are still in need of continual cleansing by the blood of Jesus to keep our “lines of communication” with the Lord open. Sin blocks our ears from hearing His voice and robs us of the power to live as we should. But each time we come to God and confess our sins, He faithfully forgives us (1 John 1:7-9).
The blood of Jesus is precious because He is the only one who could pay the penalty for man’s sin and satisfy divine justice. If He had not agreed to come to earth and die in our place, all humanity would be forever separated from God. Jesus is our Advocate before the Father. He stands as a lawyer between us and the Judge and works on our behalf. When sin rises up to condemn, Christ rises to His feet and says, “Not guilty! This one is covered by My blood and is righteous.”
Questions for Further Study:
1. How is Christ’s sacrifice better than the sacrificial system of the Old Testament? See Hebrews 9:1-10:23. Make a list of what His death accomplished.
2. Read 1 Peter 1:17-23. Considering the high price of our redemption, how should we live?
3. Christ has done everything to redeem us from slavery to sin, but sometimes we wander back to our old ways. Read Romans chapters 6-8, and consider how we can maintain our freedom in Christ.
4. According to 1 John 1:5-10, why is daily cleansing by the blood of Jesus necessary? How does it affect our fellowship with God and with others?
5. God’s forgiveness is based on Christ’s payment for sins, not on the size of the wrong committed. Do you ever hold onto guilt because your sin seems too big to be pardoned? According to Colossians 2:13-14, how many of our sins are forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice? How can Psalm 103:1-5 help us retain the right focus when we struggle with feelings of guilt?
6. The last mention of the blood of Jesus is found in the book of Revelation. Read Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 7:13-17; and 12:10-11, and note what the blood of the Lamb accomplishes for us.
This two-sermon set by Dr. Stanley will help you develop a better understanding and appreciation of what the Savior did for you at Calvary.
The Blood of Christ
2-CD Set | $8 (U.S.)