Hebrews 4, Chapter 4.
This letter was written to a group of people who were considering walking away from the faith. Persecution and possible martyrdom drove them to this place. Keep this in mind as we consider this section.
This next passage in Hebrews is simultaneously the most horrifying and the most glorious, depending on what side of belief we stand. We don’t really want anyone to know how truly wretched we are, what thoughts flit through our minds, and what impulses we often keep at bay. And yet, the writer of Hebrews assures us that God knows this side of us thoroughly, yet still loves us.We don't really want anyone to know how truly wretched we are, what thoughts flit through our minds, and what impulses we keep at bay. Yet, God knows this side of us. Click To Tweet
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable (Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT).
Not only is Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, energized and active in his assessment of our spiritual condition, but his Holy Spirit inspired-and-breathed written Word, the words of the Bible, are likewise powerful, living, active, sharp, and piercing.
Those words can stab us in the exact spot of our guilt and shame, for we are laid bare, naked and exposed before God’s eyes. If we’re trying to hide from God, this experience is most unwelcome and unwanted. Even if we’re not, this can be likewise uncomfortable, because our first impulse is to deny the darkness we harbor within, as if Jesus’ piercing Spirit doesn’t already know.
Thankfully, he already sees it. He already knows the depths of our depravity. In fact, this passage tells us that he judges with great skill and precision all of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, what we intend, what we think, and what we purpose. Yet, he still loves us. No matter how rotten we are at the core, nothing about his passion for us changes.God judges with great skill and precision all the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Yet, he still loves us. No matter how rotten we are at the core, nothing about his passion for us changes. Click To Tweet
Since this is true, our position is a relief. Not only are we seen completely and thoroughly, both our strengths and our weaknesses, but we are loved dearly. We are forgiven. We aren’t judged for either what we do with our strengths or what we do with our weaknesses. How do we respond to this?
The proof of our salvation is that this reality endlessly and repeatedly prompts us to hold on firmly to what we believe. Though naked, with our hearts bared, we are awed by his holiness, wooed by his kindness, and cherished by our God who laid down his own life for us.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT).
Having lived a human life while balancing his deity within his body — fully God and fully man — Jesus knows what we experience, and he is not deterred. Because he loves us, he was tested just like we are every single day, though he did not sin. For our sake, he had to present himself as the sinless sacrifice for our sins, and that required that he live a sinless life. So, he resisted sin, not only because he is God, but because of his love for us.
The fact of who Jesus is and of what he did on the cross allows us to draw near to God with every single part of our lives, to pray, sacrifice, worship, and devote ourselves, heart and soul and life, wholly to him. We can do this with confidence, for our Lord Jesus had been tested, proven, and found to be everything he ever said he was. Every promise he has kept and every promise for our future will be fulfilled.
In short, we are safe in his arms.
Therefore, we repeatedly hold on tight to our confession of faith in him, for we have confidence in who he is and what he’s done. We can speak freely with him. We can come to him boldly, holding fast to our hope in him, with all guilt removed.
We are in a glorious place of perfect intimacy with our God who created the heavens and the earth, for God has “spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:2b-3 ESV).
His words to us are peace and love, mercy and grace, every single time these are needed, no matter how frequently, habitually, and for our entire lives. We stand in a good place. We stand on a Rock.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Psalm 62: 5-7 ESVThe fact of who Jesus is and of what he did on the cross allows us to draw near to him with every part of our lives, to pray, sacrifice, worship, and devote ourselves, heart and soul and life, wholly to him. Click To Tweet
To jump ahead to the next post in the Hebrews series, click here.
Fresh insight, Melinda. I’ve never considered how Jesus resisted sin not only because He is God, but also because He loves us. That thought resonated in my heart and spirit as I know it’s true. Yet I’ve tended to view Jesus’ sinless life as something He pulled off because of His deity and nothing really to do with me. But when I think this through from your reflections, He had to be the perfect, spotless lamb and sacrifice to die for us. So loving us had to be at the center of His plan to remain sinless, though tempted. What great love!
Karen, the more I grow in awareness of God’s love for us and Christ’s total willingness to come to live among us, to live a sinless life, and to die a gruesome death, the more overwhelmed I am with the love of God. It’s a love my mother love touches only around the fringes. I’m one of those give-it-all-for-the-kids kind of mothers, but yet, I’m a sinner. There are times I wasn’t loving, times I made selfish decisions, some because of fatigue or a human need for some silence. But, Jesus never EVER made selfish decisions, no matter how tired and how consumed by the overwhelming duties of the day. His love is incomprehensible to us in so many ways, for we evaluate it from within human skin.
Melinda, I love how you painted the backdrop with the deep blackness that is our hearts. Though we would rather avoid this reality, hide others’ vision of us and shrink back from acknowledging the depth of our sinfulness to ourselves, the truth is God sees, God knows and God forgives. When we try to cover up our great need for Christ, then we cover up the great victory He won for us. Praise God for His piercing gaze and His piercing Word, that the truth be known. May we lay down our flimsy pride, take up His name with gratitude anew and let the joy of our salvation be our victory song!
Amen to that, Melissa. When that sword pierces deep and sticks its pin-point edge right into the dark mess I haven’t yet acknowledged, my human inclination is denial. No! Surely that’s not what’s really buried down there. But, knowing that the forgiveness is already in place, that the Savior was willing to die for it, and that he already KNOWS and SEES it long before I’m even aware prompts the surrender, the confession, and the repentance. Coming clean is such a relief, such a gift, and the Lord already knew it was there anyway. Not to repent is futile and ridiculous in light of those facts. But yet, we still squirm.
Our position certainly is relief! And it makes me remember the love my Savior has for me. I’m thankful for His overflowing love that makes it my heart’s desire to obey Him and strive to look more like Him each and every day!
I love the statement “we are safe in His arms.” Those words and thoughts behind them makes me breath in deeply and relax. What a comfort to know and understand. Thanks Melinda