LINK: Hebrews 10 (scroll down for our passage)
Our passage for today begins with "therefore." "Therefore" links what is to come with what has gone before. It means "because of what has just been said... "
What has just been said? We have been learning just how Jesus is better. Jesus is a better high priest. Jesus is a better sacrifice. He exceeds the requirements for a sacrifice; His sacrifice was once for all. There is no need for any more sacrifice for sin. And He lives now and is our Advocate. He is on our side! He has removed the power of sin forever through His death! If we trust in His death our sin is forgiven once for all! He perfected us through His death, and He now works in us to make us holy (10: 14). If we don't firmly grasp that, we will have difficulty with what we are about to be told. It is human nature to want to return to what is familiar.
One other thought I've had as I've thought about this passage and what we've read in Hebrews: We don't talk much about sin these days. In fact, I've met quite a few people who really don't think they're sinners at all. If we don't think we sin, then how can we understand grace? Sin is anytime we don't measure up to God's standard. If we know something good to do and don't do it, that's sin, just as much as if we do something that violates one of God's standards. And sin is much more, too, than what we "do." Sin is at the heart of who we are. We want what we want. We want to be the at the center. Self is all important. Well, that's sin. That is self worship. The Hebrews had ongoing rituals and sacrifices to remind them of their sin, but those sacrifices couldn't finally take care of the sin problem. They had to be repeated over and over again. That's why Jesus came. He is the reality that those shadows pointed to.
So we have the "therefore." Therefore what? The rest of the chapter tells us how we are to respond to this truth, this reality. And just in case we've forgotten what has been said, it is summed up for us here.
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,..."(Hebrews 10:19-21 ESV)
"... Let us..." What? What is our response in the light of Jesus' death and the confidence we have that He is working now in us and for us?
- Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 ESV) We are to draw near in truthfulness - not pretense. If we are in Christ we are clean!
- Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23 ESV) I love this one! God, the one who promises us so much, is trustworthy. Because of Him we can hold fast to what we believe; we are able to continue to have unwavering faith.
- Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV) We help each endure in our faith. We are to encourage each other!
The positive example reminds the Hebrews of their early days, when they first heard of Jesus. They remained faithful, then, in spite of terrible suffering. They continued to have faith in the Lord even when they were ridiculed, when their goods were taken from them, when they were put in jail. It says that they accepted all that with JOY! They looked forward to God's promise. They (and we) are encouraged to continue to confidently trust in the Lord,
When I titled this post, I wrote at first "Faith Requires Endurance." But then I thought that, really, to have spiritual endurance we need faith. Faith and endurance go hand in hand. That's the point of these verses in a sentence. So I've simply put that little conjunction "and" up there!
Evaluate yourself by the three "let us" exhortations above. Are you drawing near to the Lord with full assurance of faith? Are you holding fast your confession because you trust that God is faithful to keep His word? Are you helping others - encouraging them to love and do good. Are you where you can be encouraged (with other believers)?
Consider ways to encourage other believers to love and do good. That is one that I need to work on.
Don't be surprised at suffering. Keep on trusting - looking at the Lord Jesus. (More on that in the next two chapters...)
Through him [Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
Stay tuned for Chapter 11! We are going to see some snapshots of people who had faith. For more of their stories, turn to the Old Testament.
Thank you, Lord, for coming in the flesh to take care of our sin problem once for all. Give us truthful hearts as we come to you. Help us to continue to trust in you no matter what. Help us to encourage each other.