“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
In the Old Testament period, “the holy of holies” of the Tabernacle, or the Temple, represented God’s special presence. No one was allowed to enter “the holy of holies”, except the high priest. Only once a year, he could enter “the holy of holies”. Even then, he must sacrifice for his sins and for those of others. And only with the blood of the animal sacrificed could he enter there.
But now, by the blood of Christ that was shed once and for all in His death, all those who believe on Him can draw near to the very presence of God, and also have the hope of heaven. Christ’s sacrifice was a perfect sacrifice which guarantees us access to God’s presence. Through Christ, we can come confidently to God, that we may dwell with Him for all eternity.
If a person tries to go into God’s presence based on his character, or works, or religious affiliation, he will find no access. Titus 3:5 tells us that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” Through Jesus’ shed blood which satisfied God’s justice on our behalf, we can now claim God’s mercy and grace.
When we come to God in faith, we must have “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water”. This expression alludes to the Old Testament ceremony wherein the priests continually washed themselves and the sacred vessels in the basins of clear water, and sprinkled with blood, as a sign of cleansing. But all such ceremonial cleansing, whether with water or blood, was merely external. Only Jesus can cleanse a man’s heart or conscience by the atoning power of His blood, that he may now come nigh unto God as God’s child.