For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.Hebrews 4:12-16
This passage exemplifies the danger of reading Scripture out of context. How often are the first two verses read apart from the latter three? What does that lead to? Fear and shame. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” God sees everything you do, and He will judge you for it. Our situation is hopeless if that is all we read because the truth is our hearts are continually sinful. We may be a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), but as long as we are on earth, there will always be a battle raging between our old and new natures. We need the grace found in verses 14-16 to be able to carry on with any hope for the future.
Jesus, our high priest, empathizes with our weakness. Note, it doesn’t say sympathizes. He’s not feeling sorry for us: “Oh, those poor, sinful people. How hard it is for them to be good. I guess I’ll have to help them again.” No, he empathizes with us, which means he’s been there, too. He came to this earth and took on human flesh–became one of us–to experience life as we know it, to fully understand the human experience, and yet in his holiness, to rise above it.
Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are: greed, pride, lust, envy, hatred. He was angry, sad, hurt, frustrated, along with every other human emotion, but he experienced them without giving way to sin. Impossible! How can one live 33 years on this earth and never sin? Well, that’s the advantage of being fully God and fully human, I suppose. But, we are called to the same standard in 1 Peter 1:16: “Be holy as I am holy.” Perfect, set apart. Us? Here? How? By approaching God’s throne of grace with confidence, Hebrews says, where “we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Friends, we are not alone in this struggle of the flesh. Jesus, the Word, knows us inside and out. He is alive and active, dividing soul and spirit, judging our thoughts and attitudes. Yes, we will have to give an account for our lives, both the good and bad, according to 1 Corinthians 5:10, but we need not live in hopelessness, guilt, and despair. The very one who judges us is the same one who saved us and loves us with an everlasting love. Run to Him in your time of need, of weakness, of temptation, and He will show you the way to holiness.
And then, there is one more step we need to take. At the close of 1 Corinthians 5, we discover that we have an important role to play on this earth, as the saved and redeemed children of God. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
As new creations in Christ, we become ambassadors of His message of grace to the world, imploring those who do not know Him to turn from the temptations of this world and the sin that entangles and enslaves, and to be reconciled to God, experiencing the joy and freedom Christ provided by coming to this earth as a baby, living a tempted, yet sinless, life, and dying on a cross, taking all our sins upon Himself, only to arise victorious over sin and death. (Yes, that was all one sentence!)
That same power resides in us by the Holy Spirit, who guides, comforts, prompts, and empowers us to live godly lives while we remain in this broken world. May 2021 be a year of proclamation for us as believers that Jesus is Lord, the one and only victorious King. May we be ambassadors of peace and grace and salvation to all those we come in contact with. May our lives reflect the true Light into this darkened world.
Happy New Year, friends.