Are you confident of your standing with God?
All of us are looking for wholeness and peace. We want to know that God accepts us and His words to us should we die today would be “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” And we want to have this assurance with an unshakeable confidence.
At the same time, we are fully aware of our own shakiness. We know our frailty and duplicity better than anyone. We look in a mirror and see flaws few others see.
So we try harder. We get on the latest and greatest self-improvement plan. We reach down deeper within ourselves to muster every ounce of self-discipline we have. We make lists of things we should and should not do. We grit our teeth when temptation comes, and just try to hold on.
And then we fail. We always fail.
Really, we are trying to be justified by law. He are relying on ourselves. Sure, we will accept the advice of God on how to live, but really our sense of wholeness, peace, and acceptance is anchored in our own deeds. Really, we are doing nothing different than any other works-oriented concept of salvation. Like the Hebrew Christians were tempted to do, we are reverting back to system of holiness based on our own efforts and we make light of what Jesus has done, though usually we don’t outright reject our Savior.
As the Hebrews author winds up his ten-chapter long argument for the superiority of Jesus over the Jewish religion, he makes one last plea that his friends not let go of Jesus. He summarizes many of his thoughts with a powerful statement that Jesus is the preeminent high priest who offers a superlative sacrifice:
Thus it comes about that every priest stands daily at his duty, offering over and over the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But Jesus offered a single sacrifice on behalf of sins, for all time, and then “sat down at the right hand of God.” . . . By a single sacrifice, you see, he has made perfect forever those who are sanctified. (10:11-12, 14)
If the Hebrew Christians — and we too — will hang on to our faith in Jesus and “not throw away our confidence” (10:35), we can have “boldness” (10:19) and a “complete assurance of faith” (10:22). We need not worry, because God is “trustworthy” (10:24) and “our lives will be kept safe” (10:39). We can have confidence in our wholeness, peace, and acceptance because it is anchored in the work of Jesus, not our own vacillating attempts at holiness.
But all of this will take faith. More on that tomorrow.