By Femi Aribisala
The Holy Spirit is at the heart of the New Covenant: “‘As for me,’ says the Lord, ‘this is my covenant with them: my Spirit who is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time and forevermore.’” (Isaiah 59:21).
The physical blood that “poured out” of Jesus’ body on the cross of Calvary was symbolic. The real blood of the covenant that Jesus poured out for the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that administers the forgiveness of sins. On a daily systematic basis, he brings to our remembrance the words of Jesus.
Jesus said at the Last Supper: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28). This means Jesus’ blood of the covenant is not intended for all but for many. Therefore, he cannot be referring to a sacrifice for sins, as presumed in classical Christian doctrine. In that doctrine, Jesus blood provides atonement for all. For example, Paul says Jesus provides “a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:6).
However, Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, says he provides “a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28). This is because although the Holy Spirit is intended for everybody, some will not be able to receive him. Those who are too tied to this world will not believe in the existence of someone they cannot see. Therefore, although God says those who ask receive and those who seek find, the children of this world will ask for everything but the Holy Spirit and will not receive him.
Jesus says of the Holy Spirit: “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:17-20).
In order to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit, we have to be born again. Jesus says: “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17).
The new wine of the Holy Spirit is placed in the new wineskin of the new creature that is born of God. Let no man fool you. Without this, there can be no atonement for sins. Jesus says: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5). The Holy Spirit is our passport and gateway to the new life in the kingdom of God.
Anything washed in natural blood turns red. However, John talks of those who “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14). This shows the blood of Jesus is not natural blood with red corpuscles. When you wash something with this sin-washing blood, it turns white as opposed to red.
The Holy Spirit is the blood that washes sin and turns it white. So doing, he fulfils the promise of God: “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18).
This process of reasoning together with God is mediated by the Holy Spirit. As we walk in him and with him, he convicts us of sin and teaches us the righteousness of God. This is the process whereby we are washed of our sins and not through some amorphous process concluded 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary when we were not even alive yet.
John says: “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (John 1:7). Note that this cleansing is in the present-continuous. The Holy Spirit embarks on a laundry process that goes on in the believer for a lifetime. He is the true blood of Christ that is still flowing and cleansing our souls from sin today.
The Holy Spirit purifies our hearts systematically by feeding us with the true bread of life. He makes the word of God a lamp unto our feet. This makes the Holy Spirit our sanctifier. God says: “I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” (Leviticus 20:8). This is the process Paul describes futuristically in the past tense: “You were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
It is the Holy Spirit that the writer of Hebrews refers to when he says: “If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14).
All this makes Christian “communion services” today empty rituals. The true communion is “the communion of the Holy Spirit.” Now that the Holy Spirit has come to concretise our communion with God the Father, there is no longer any need for symbols and rituals like those of the so-called Holy Communion.
Indeed, the way of Christ is not a way of symbols, rituals and ceremony. Our communion with God is no longer symbolic. Our communion with God is now real.
Jesus says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:56-58).
In other words, he who has the Holy Spirit has eternal life. As the word of God must be our daily bread; so the Holy Spirit must be our daily drink. We cannot reserve this for the occasional church service. We must be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit. As we ask God to give us day by day our daily bread; so should we ask the Holy Spirit to deliver us from temptation. (Matthew 6:11-13).