Friday, October 27, 2017, 5:25 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 4 (Select vv. NASB).
United by Faith (vv. 1-3a, 11)
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest… Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
Who is “us” here? It is all of us who make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but certainly this can apply to anyone. And, what is this “fear” we are supposed to have? It is a warning, an alarm being sounded, or a distress signal, which is being used to indicate a possible life-threatening situation. But, it includes the fear of God, in the sense of taking God at his Word, believing what he says, and knowing that he will do everything he said he would do. In other words, there is something here which is of such a serious matter that this is a call to sit up and take notice, and to take what is being said to heart, for our lives depend on us taking this matter seriously.
So, what is God’s rest that we are to enter? It is our salvation, it is eternal life with God, and it is the promise of eternity with God in heaven. It is life in the Spirit, and fullness of life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, it is freedom from bondage to sin, deliverance from the punishment of sin, and freedom to walk (in lifestyle) in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. As well, it is victory over darkness, and walking in the Light of Christ and His Word. For, our eternal life with God begins when we first trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, as well as it is what we receive when our lives on this earth are done (Jn. 3:36; Jn. 5:24; Jn. 6:47-54; Ro. 6:22-23; Gal. 6:8).
So, why is this alarm being sounded? And, why should this concern us? It is because there is a danger that many people will believe they have that promise of eternal rest (eternal life with God), but that their hope will be (or is) based in a lie, and not in the truth. And, so, the Israelites who were delivered out of slavery in Egypt are being used here as an example to us of those who did not enter into God’s rest due to unbelief and disobedience. And, so, we must understand here that true belief in Jesus Christ includes both repentance and obedience. Yet, it isn’t that we will never sin (1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that sin should no longer have mastery over us to where we walk (in lifestyle) in sin instead of walk (conduct our lives) according to (in agreement with) the Holy Spirit.
For, you see, Jesus Christ did not die on that cross for our sins merely to take our punishment and to forgive us our sins so that we can go to heaven one day. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the crux of the gospel message. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with him to our old lives of sin and that we are resurrected with him to new lives in him, which are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. But, if we continue in sin, living sinful lifestyles, and we make sin our practice, we don’t have that promise of eternal rest, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire, so we need to take this seriously (1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23; 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:6; Gal. 5:19-21).
Living and Active (vv. 12-13)
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
So, how do we know this? We know this by the Word of God which is able to judge our thoughts and intentions and to expose lies and to reveal truth. This Word certainly includes God’s written Word, Jesus Christ, the Word, and the living Word within our hearts in the person of God’s Holy Spirit. What this Word teaches us is that true belief in Jesus Christ is not intellectual, emotional, hypocritical, past only, or in form (ritual) only. It is present tense, active, continuous, enduring and persevering. It is also obedient, submissive, and repentant. It does not demand perfection, but continuance, and that lack of perfection should not be used as an excuse for willful sin.
Too many people today have diluted the gospel message to make it more attractive and appealing to human flesh, and so they have removed God’s requirements for repentance, obedience, submission and continuance. They have exchanged the truth for a lie which says all we have to do is believe in Jesus’ existence or believe he died to save us from our sins, and then accept his forgiveness, and then we are guaranteed heaven no matter how we live from this point forward. But, the truth is that we must walk in the light as He is in the light, we must walk according to the Spirit, and we must, by the Spirit, be putting sin to death, if we want to enter into God’s eternal rest.
In Time of Need (vv. 14-16)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
But, you say, life is tough, and temptations are everywhere, and it is so hard to maintain a Christian walk. No doubt! But, not too hard for God! Surely we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength and willpower, but only in the power and strength and wisdom of Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When Jesus Christ walked the face of this earth as fully God yet fully man, he was also tempted, but he resisted Satan and he fled temptation to sin and he did not give in. Thus, he sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, but he does not excuse away sin, i.e. his grace is not carte blanche to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, instead, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).
So, when we are tempted to sin, we resist Satan, we flee the sin, and we draw near to God, and we draw on his strength and power to walk in holiness and righteousness and to not bow to the pressure of sin’s deceitfulness.
But, so many who claim to believe in Jesus still walk in sin, live in addiction to particular sins, and then make excuses for their sin, or they try to claim that God’s grace covers it all. And, many or all of them do so because truly they don’t want to be free from the sin, I believe. For, if they do, Jesus has already made the way of escape for us out from underneath the temptation. We just have to take it, and that means cutting out of our lives those things which lead us into sin and also fleeing the sin, not playing with fire hoping you won’t get burned when you know you probably will.
A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.