They Chart Their Own Course

Hebrews 4:1-7 ESV

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

These words were addressed to those who believed in Jesus and to those who were making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ but whose faith was not genuine believing faith that saves. And entering into God’s eternal rest has to do with eternal life with God. And remember Jesus’ words here when he said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23; cf. 1 John 2:3-6; 1 John 3:4-10).

So, if you profess faith in Jesus Christ, please pay close attention to these words. For not everyone who makes a profession of faith in Jesus Christ is truly a child of God, or if they were, they did not remain in him. So, the warning here is for all of us who believe in Jesus and for those who are making professions only but whose faith is not genuine. For, again, not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is going to enter the kingdom of heaven but only those who are doing the will of God the Father.

So, why did some people who professed faith in God not enter his rest? Because of their disobedience. And this is where many professing Christians are today, walking in disobedience to our Lord while claiming salvation from sin and heaven as their eternal destiny. They may give off the appearance that they have repented of their sins and that they are following Jesus with their lives, but it is in appearance only. For they are still feeding their flesh and they are still walking in deliberate and habitual sin.

They have hardened their hearts and they have determined that they are going to do what they want to do despite God and despite who they hurt in the process. And they are going deeper and deeper into sin because they are not saying “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and they are not living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. In their pride and in their bitterness and stubbornness they are continuing in deliberate and habitual sin and they are sinning against God and against other humans, without conscience.

They will not enter God’s rest because they are charting their own course and they are not following the ways of holiness and righteousness. They walk over other people (i.e. they treat others badly without respect for their feelings) to get what they want. And they are sneaking and lying and they are underhanded about their sins, hoping to not get caught in the act. And they are engaged in what is indecent, immoral, lewd, and full of lust. And once there they will often go deeper and deeper into sin.

They will fake their walks of faith in order to lead others to believe that they are godly or that they are on the right path, at least, but it is often a cover-up for what they are doing in secret when no one else can see them but God. And they will rationalize and excuse away their addictive sin patterns, and they will ignore the evil that is in their hearts which is what is leading them to continue in their addictive sin patterns. And when they get to the end of their lives they will find that heaven is not what awaits them.

For they chose the way of sin and not the way of righteousness. They chose sexual immorality and adultery and lying and cheating and hurting other people as their life path instead of genuine repentance and walks of obedience to the Lord. For they kept going back to their sins over and over again without conscience, without compassion for those they are hurting, and without regard for the holiness of God and his will for our lives. They were ruled by their flesh and not by the Spirit of God. And its end is death.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

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.”

Again, these words are being addressed to those who believe in Jesus, although certainly some of them are those who give lip service to the Lord only. We have to strive to enter that rest, and this is not speaking of works salvation. We can do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation from sin. But genuine faith in Jesus Christ results in hearts and lives which are surrendered to Jesus Christ to following him in his ways. And genuine faith involves repentance and obedience to our Lord.

In other words, God’s grace to us is not a get-out-of-jail-free-card. Heaven is not handed to us on a silver platter regardless of how we live our lives. God’s grace, which is bringing us salvation, instructs (trains) us to renounce (say “No!” to) ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. For Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

And God can see when we sin against him. He knows everything about us, in fact. Nothing is hidden from his sight. You may be able to hide your sins from other people but not from God. And you can’t just sin, confess, sin, confess, and continue in the same addictive sin pattern without genuine repentance and expect that God is going to let you into his heaven. For we are all going to have to give an account to God one day for what we did on this earth, and many are going to hear him say that he never knew them.

[Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-14; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 3:8; James 2:17; Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 6:7-8; Matthew 7:21-23; Galatian 5:16-21]

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 is not a tyrant standing there with a club to hit us over the head every time we sin. He understands temptation to sin because he lived on this earth as fully God and fully human, and so he was tempted to sin as we are. So he sympathizes with us in our weakness. But he died to deliver us out of our slavery to sin so that we would now be slaves of his righteousness. And by faith in him we are empowered of God to say “No!” to sin and “Yes” to God and to walk in righteousness and holiness and no longer in sin. So, we have no excuse if we choose addictive sin over obedience to our Lord Jesus.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Heb 12:1-2]

You’ll Never Walk Alone

By Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

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