Strive to Enter that Rest

Hebrews 4:11-13 ESV

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

The Lord chose that the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years should serve as examples to us who believe in Jesus so that we don’t desire evil as they did, and so we don’t become idolaters, as some of them were, and so we don’t indulge in sexual immorality, too (1 Co 10).

These things were written down for our (the church’s) instruction. Therefore, if anyone of us thinks that we stand (that we can’t fall to temptation), we need to take heed (attention) lest we fall. For, not one of us is incapable of being tempted to sin or incapable of falling back into sin (1 Co 10).

For, although the Jews of old were God’s children, many of them did not enter into God’s eternal rest because of unbelief, which was evidenced by their disobedience. So, the Lord was making a definite parallel between disobedience and unbelief, and this is for us to benefit from.

For, our faith must be continuous until the very end. We must walk (in practice) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. We must abide in Christ and his word abide in us if we want to have eternal life with God. We must not hold on to our old lives of sin, but we must die to sin and live to God and to his righteousness (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11).

Therefore, although we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, which is not of ourselves, but which is a gift from God, this faith is not just a mental acknowledgment of what Jesus did for us on the cross. This faith comes from God and thus it submits to God and to his righteousness.

The Scriptures are abundantly clear on the fact that our faith must continue till the very end for us to have eternal life with God, and that our faith in Jesus Christ involves action on our part. We must repent of sin, die to sin with Christ, walk in obedience to our Lord, and submit to his Lordship.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Col 1:21-23]

For, if we don’t repent of our sin, and we don’t die with Christ to sin, and we don’t walk in obedience to his commands, and we don’t submit to his Lordship, but we choose to continue living to the flesh, doing what we want to do, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. We need to take this to heart.

This is why we are taught here that we must strive to enter God’s eternal rest, not that we are earning or deserving our own salvation by “good works” done in our flesh, but that genuine faith in Jesus Christ results in works of the Spirit, done in the power of the Spirit (Eph 2:10; Tit 2:14).

For we are all going to have to give an account to God one day, and we will be judged by what we did. If we sowed to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sowed to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life with God (Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10).

So, we must not rely on messages which tell us that we can be saved from our sins and be guaranteed eternal life with God, but that how we live doesn’t matter. We need to be students of the word of God who know what it teaches (in context), because it teaches that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God.

Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV

“Since then 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 is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus’ purpose in dying on that cross for our sins was to deliver us out of our slavery to sin and out from underneath the control of Satan over our lives, so that we could now walk in holiness and righteousness, empowered by God’s Spirit now living within us (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).

But he didn’t deliver us from our bondage to sin and then just leave us on our own to figure it out for ourselves. For in what Jesus suffered for us, he was tempted to sin like we are, so he knows all about the battle between the flesh and the Spirit, from personal experience, but he never sinned.

So, he is our merciful and compassionate high priest, but his compassion is never to be confused with permissiveness to continue living in sin. Yes, he doesn’t condemn us every time that we sin, but if we continue living in sin, then his grace is not extended to us. If we think we are in fellowship with him, but we are still walking in darkness, then we are liars.

So, because he cares about us, and he doesn’t want us to be in slavery to sin, he made a way out for us, but we have to take it. We must leave our lives of sin behind us and follow him in obedience. We must surrender our lives to him, and we must make him Lord (owner-master) of our lives.

Then we must do what he says. We must resist the devil, and flee temptation, and throw off those sins which easily entangle us, and cut out of our lives every weight and hindrance to our walks of faith and everything which leads us into sin. For, we are not going to conquer sin if we aren’t willing to go the distance with God.

If we continue to toy with sin and to go places where we have given into sin before, and if we don’t make a practice of saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and if we fail to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return, then we have not taken his way of escape, and thus we are bound to fall (Tit 2:11-14; 1 Co 10:12-13).

If we go it on our own, or if we think we can handle it, or we get overconfident and full or pride, we are setting ourselves up for a big fall. We must listen to the Lord, do what he says, submit to him as Lord, and humble ourselves in obedience to his commands, or we won’t make it.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

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.

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.

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