Sunday, September 24, 2017, 6:39 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 10 (Select vv. ESV).
Draw Near (vv. 19-22)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, humbled himself, became a servant, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his years of ministry, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, and preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. He, too, spoke often of the cost of following him. And, he confronted sin in sinful human beings, warned against hypocrisy and unbelief and of divine judgment, and called for repentance (turning away from sin) and for faith in himself, their Lord and God.
Some people loved him and followed him genuinely, while others hated and rejected him. Some of them had him put to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong, because they were jealous of him, threatened by him, and because they didn’t like what he preached and did, in particular because he didn’t follow their customs and traditions and he claimed to be God. Yet, it was God the Father’s will that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins so that we could be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we could become bond-servants of his righteousness. For, he who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross, so that when he died, our sins died, too, so we could die with him to sin. When he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over sin, so that we could also live with him in victory over sin. Amen!
Coming to faith in Jesus Christ, though, is not a mere profession of faith, or a religious exercise, or an emotional decision, or an intellectual assent to what Jesus did for us, or something we do in order to join a church organization. God’s grace to us is also not a free license to continue in sin, for his grace instructs us to say “No” to worldly lusts and to live godly and upright lives. When we believe in Jesus Christ, with a true heart, we die with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in Christ, to be lived to God and to his righteousness. We turn away from living life for sin and self, and we turn to God, to Jesus Christ, to walk in his ways and in his truth, in true righteousness and holiness, and in the power of the Holy Spirit who has cleansed and purified us from our sins.
Hold Fast (vv. 23-25)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
So, this is how we should live, not as the ungodly do, but in the fear (honor, respect) of the Lord, in full assurance of faith in Christ, and for the purpose for which he died, which was to FREE us FROM our sins, not to just give us a FREE PASS. We should hold strong to the truths of God’s Word, and to his gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, not only in profession, but in how we live day in and day out. And, we should not waver back and forth in unbelief or in sinful practice or in apathy or complacency. Instead, we should gather together with other believers where we can encourage one another in the faith, in love, in purity, and in true devotion to our Lord and Savior, for one day Jesus is going to return, and we need to be ready for him.
Practice Sinning? (vv. 26-31)
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
We should never assume, just because we prayed a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as Savior of our lives, at some point in our lives, that we have heaven guaranteed us when we leave this earth, or just because we regularly attend church services somewhere. Again, true faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin so that we can live with Christ to his righteousness. It means that we no longer conduct our lives according to the ways of our sinful flesh or to the pattern of this sinful world, but we live our lives (in lifestyle) in agreement with and according to God’s Holy Spirit, now living within us, for if we live to please the flesh, we will die in our sins.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7-8
So, don’t be fooled by clever enchanters who will tell you that it doesn’t matter how you live your life once you are “saved,” or who will suggest to you that God requires nothing of you – no repentance, no obedience and no submission. They are liars and deceivers who are looking to win you over to themselves, not to Jesus Christ. If, after you have heard the gospel preached, and even if you make a profession of Christ as Savior, then you keep on living in sin, making it your practice, and you disregard the Lord’s commands, then you don’t have the promise of heaven, but a fearful expectation of divine judgment. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, not to free us to continue living as though we have never been cleansed of our sins.
Your Confidence (vv. 35-39)
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
So, if you have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, you have been cleansed of your sins, and you have been given new life in Christ, don’t throw that away or disregard it or ignore it. Don’t trample the grace of God underfoot in order to continue living the way you want. Don’t listen to the lies of Satan which tell you that you can live however you want and that God is still pleased with you, and that you still have the promise of heaven. If you shrink back from the truth of the gospel, and you reject the Word of Truth, God has no pleasure in you! He is not pleased with you if you continue living for the pleasures of this world and for the lusts of your flesh. It is when you have done the will of God that you receive what was promised. If we don’t obey our Lord, we don’t know him! If we are truly in the faith, we will walk in the Spirit and no longer to gratify our flesh.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.