Heidelberg Catechism Q70

Q.70. What does it mean to be washed with Christ’s blood and Spirit?

A. To be washed with Christ’s blood means that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins because of Christ’s blood poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.  To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has renewed me and set me apart to be a member of Christ so that more and more I become dead to sin and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.


Read Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1 and John 19:33-37. The prophets, at many places foretold the coming of the Messiah.  Such is the case in Zechariah where the one who is pierced coincides with the cleansing of sin.  John understood this to relate to the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross.  When the Lord’s blood was shed, the sin of the world was forgiven.  Truly the line of a great song is apropos here, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear.”


Cleansing from sin is an act of grace.  By grace is meant: an unmerited, undeserved gift.  There was no requirement for God to forgive us on his own initiative.  There was no need for God to act on our behalf.  He is holy and just, but in his grace, in Christ, the holiness and justice of God found expression by acting in the place of sinners to bring forgiveness of sin to the world.  Read Ephesians 1:7-8.


Ezekiel spoke of God’s grace as his action to cleanse sin, give us the Spirit and bring about our obedience.  All of these happen when the Spirit enters a believer and God begins to change them.  Did you notice that God initiates everything good, which happens to the redeemed people? We are simply recipients.  This is what grace is all about.  Read Ezekiel 36:25-27.


Jesus once spoke about being born again.  As he spoke with Nicodemus he articulated the difference between natural birth and true birth.  Natural birth occurs in the physical world with real things like water.  True birth, however, occurs in the realm of the supernatural by God’s Spirit. When the Spirit works in a person’s life, they are forever changed – their sin is forgiven and the desire for holiness begins to grow within them. Be thankful for the work of the Spirit in your life.  Read John 3:5-8.


While Jesus spoke about natural and supernatural births, Paul compared the work of God in our lives to circumcision.  In circumcision part of the male body is cut away.  Spiritually this is akin to cutting away sin and death and rising to new life.  All of this is related to being washed by the blood of Christ and his Spirit.  Read Colossians 2:11-12.


Initiations into clubs are designed to welcome people but also to conform them into a pattern of life.  Frequently this occurs by dressing people in similar attire.  While at Texas A&M for my freshman year of college, I joined the Corps of Cadets.  This group indoctrinated all incoming freshman by dressing them the same, forcing them to act the same way, say the same things, and they even tried to get us to think the same thoughts.  The ultimate goal of such behavior was to bond us as a group so that we would do anything for our fellow buddies.  While this is a crude analogy, when we are made a part of the body of Christ by the Spirit, a similar goal is in mind.  We are to become conformed to Christ and be made into his image, dying to sin and living in holiness.  Read Romans 8:29 and 2Corinthians 3:18.



About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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