“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
Hebrews 4:11-13 NKJV
There is a false comfort in religiosity. Professing followers of Christ who are religious in their approach to God, maintain a distance, a buffer of sorts, that they hope will give them a sense of cover. They think that by keeping the Lord at arms length, they will not have to endure the deep, internal inspection by the Holy Spirit.
They have created a safe compartment for all things pertaining to the faith, hoping to reserve space for the sinful acts and attitudes they like.
For those who opt for religion, there is no end to striving, because they are the ones doing the work, to satisfy the perceived expectations of God. Because they have not sought to know Him, there is no rest, only aimless work, and little satisfaction with the faith.
As I dwelt in Hebrews chapter four this morning, I found clarity as I considered the difference between the efforts of those caught up in religion and those who enter the rest. The children of Israel were delivered from bondage in Egypt, but did not have the faith to believe in what God had done. As a result many of them fell in the wilderness, having fallen short of the promised land.
Even today, there is potential for those of the New Testament faith to fall short of the rest.
“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
Hebrews 4:1-3 NKJV
There is much to be learned from the Children of Israel who fell in the wilderness. They had been delivered from Egypt, a type and shadow of bondage to sin, but did not go all they way.
We who are New Testament followers of Jesus have a great advantage, in that we who have believed have been given God, the Holy Spirit to guide us, and the word of God to examine our hearts. By faith, we enter into the rest, and have the intimacy with God.
Sadly, even though such great access to God’s rest has been purchased for us, many still insist on being distant, on relying on religious observance to maintain that distance from the Lord. Because their hearts are far from Him, they do not understand what He is doing and do not trust Him.
When I consider those who complain most vociferously, those who eschew intimacy with the Lord are amongst the loudest. They complain about everything, the preaching, the music, the person sitting in the pew net to them…They are focused on everything, but Jesus. They approach the walk of faith in a crawl, and never enjoying the closeness and presence of the Lord.
But, brothers and sisters, we have help.
“Seeing then that 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 was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
We have a Savior who is fully aware of our foibles and weakness. Because He knows, we can call upon Him. He modeled dependence in the garden of Gethsemane, when He called out to the Lord in His own moment of weakness and was heard.
“who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
Hebrews 5:7-8 NKJV
The coming days will be full of temptations, full of opportunities to do the wrong thing. Some of us may have the desire to pull away from the Lord, even to the degree of leaving the faith all together. Yet others will seek Christian traditions that are more religious, and structured to remove the intimacy between the believer and God.
I urge you family, to resist the urge to separate from God. Instead cling to Him. He is faithful to the utmost, and will not fail. Take the time today to open the word of God that He X-Ray your heart and soul, exposing your weakness. Then He will go one further, and instill in you the strength and support you need to continue on.
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!