The way into the Most Holy Place is through a full assurance of faith: not in our abilities to speak well, our successes, what we can do, or our happiness-but in our faithfulness to give to Him. Don't find your identity in works but in bringing honor to Jesus moment by moment. The Christian life is like training to run in a race.
Our Hope is in Jesus’ Blood Alone
“And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess [not just to salvation, but to hope], for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another [be called along side one another]—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering” (Hebrews 10:18-32).
Have you ever wondered why he talks earlier in the chapter about the atonement of Christ, all that Jesus has done, and the confidence of knowing that He’s going to complete what He began: we are made perfect by the blood of Christ and are being made holy, being made useful. The Hebrews writer is just pouring out his heart about these things and then he is saying that there is no more sacrifice for sin. If that sacrifice has already been made at the cross, then there is no more sacrifice for sin. You don’t sacrifice for your own sin. Whatever your sin has been or will be, you don’t sacrifice for that. The sacrifice has been made. It’s done.
It goes on to say, “Therefore, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…through the curtain, that is, His body.” It’s talking about cleansing and drawing near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. He’s talking about all the assurance of God that comes from knowing that our hope is in the blood of Jesus Christ and that alone—not in our good works; not in our sacrifice for our sins; not in our accomplishments; not in our resumé, spiritually or otherwise; not in how wonderful we are and how many people that we’ve told about Jesus. That is not the issue. When it comes to coming into the Most Holy Place, into the very presence of God, it has to do with one thing only—a full assurance of faith that the blood of Jesus is the cleansing that allows us to go there. If you think any other way, you’ll never know the sweet presence of God. If the blood of Jesus isn’t the entrance for you when you decide how you’re going to approach your day, then you won’t go into the Most Holy Place. It has to be a full assurance based on His blood. But then in the midst of this full assurance and this confidence, he starts talking about not giving up meeting together. He talks about not deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth and then some real heavy stuff about, “Boy, you just don’t want to live this way. It’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” As I thought about that, I thought, “What in the world is this doing plopped down in the middle of all this confidence building stuff?” What I was catching a glimpse of is that somehow it’s possible to approach God through this idea that it’s how much I have to offer God that’s really going to please Him. It’s how good I am and how much talent and ability I have. It’s how well I speak about things. It’s how much I know. It’s how well I can enunciate the faith and speak it to others. I think what he is basically doing, at least in me as I read that, is just obliterating my works mentality and my ability to come to Him in a way other than the blood of Jesus. Then he goes on right after that to talk about faith and not shrinking back.
So, I was remembering all that God has done for me, remembering all that I’ve done against God in my lifetime, and remembering the foundation that I stand on, if I stand. I saw why he put that there and why he jumped into all that heavy stuff. He wants to just knock our legs out from under us, to make us realize that the thing that God is looking for is a confidence and a full assurance of faith in spite of our failures and in spite of the pain and the agony.
He Never Promised You a Rose Garden
There is a song that says something like “he never promised you a rose garden.” I don’t think that song originally had any intent in the spiritual realm, but that really is the case. We’re not here to see what we can get out of life. We’re not here to see how happy God can make us, how wonderful and thrilling life can be, what a great church we can have, how many great works we can do, or how many demons we can cast out—that’s really not why we’re here. We’re not here to see how much we can get out of it or how much fun we can have. That isn’t what it’s about. Our pursuit of happiness, our pursuit of peace, our pursuit of anything other than God’s pleasure is just purely and simply idolatry.
I started off looking in this passage for some kind of comfort and what I got was a little bit of resolve. It was like, “Hey, wait a minute. He didn’t promise me a rose garden. And as long as I’m looking for one, I am barking up the wrong tree. I’m here to see how much I can give Him, not to see how much He can give me. And, in one sense, the more it costs me the better because that’s the more I can give Him.” If I’ve got a rose garden and everything is going great, if I’m in the lap of luxury in terms of everything just clicking on all cylinders for me, I just wonder how much guts I’m going to have to really give to Him. He doesn’t need our possessions. He doesn’t need our tithe. He has called us to be givers, and if we’re not giving in that way, then He’s unhappy with that, and we’re not going to receive in measure pressed down, shaken, and pouring over. But, nevertheless, it’s not those things that He needs. What He needs is for us in the face of adversity, in the face of the pain, in the face of a failure, in the face of the confusion and chaos, in the face of all the things that never worked out the way we thought they ought to work out (we could have our mid-life crisis at twenty-five or thirty-three or eighty-five…and the sooner the better), but what He needs is for us to turn to Him and bring Him pleasure in the way we respond to those situations. We just need to come to the place where we are at the end of our ambitions for having something and being somebody and having happiness and peace and all of our little needs met. God is not a genie in a bottle. He never intended to be that. He never promised us a rose garden, but what he did promise is that He’d make us in the image of His Son, and that He’d work everything together for the good for those that do love Him and those that are called according to His purposes. He will work everything towards conforming us to family likeness of His Son.
Yes, we were justified. And, yes, we are sanctified by His grace and glorified, but the whole purpose of everything is just to purge us from depending on the very things that we’re so apt to run after. The very things that we’d think “God is letting us down” if we don’t get are the very things that He is trying to purge as an appetite or an ambition in our heart. As we go on in reading this… “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. You stood your ground in the midst of suffering.” Now this is what God is bragging about. He’s not bragging about them having all of their needs met and everything falling into place.
My end goal is also not to endure this suffering, frustration, chaos, and these things that I just don’t understand, just long enough to get to the other side where everything is wonderful now. “Now I’m spiritual and everybody else is spiritual. Now I’m on top of everything and nothing much affects me anymore. Everything is working, no more problems. I’ve got to endure this for just a little while till everything is great.” Well, that is not what God is saying here. He’s trying to get us out of that realm where those things are even our goal. That is not our objective.
Our heart is to bring pleasure to Him by how we respond to the things around us. Our response to the things around us is the issue at stake, not how much we can “get out of it” or how much we can endure until we get something out of it. We’re not throwing the ante into the pot until we win the big spiritual lottery. That’s not what He’s after—sacrificing our one dollar bills buying lottery tickets until finally someday everything works out because we win the big jackpot and then everything is easy. That isn’t what He’s after. He’s after our hearts and our minds being so cleansed and purged, as His beloved Son was, that those aren’t the things we’re after anymore. We’re after minute by minute by minute bringing pleasure to Him by our response to the things that happen. The joy that it brings His heart when you decide to turn the other cheek after just being slapped in the face. The joy that it brings to Him when you want to draw back into your cave of despondency, despair, and selfishness, but instead you lunge forward in the name of Jesus, serving and washing feet. That’s what brings pleasure to Him!
“Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. [Those that have faith to the preserving of the soul.]
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. [It is the same now. What is seen is not made out of what is visible. God calls things that are not as though they are, and so do His people.]
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of a country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on top of his staff.
By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews10:33—11:40).
It goes on to talk about God disciplining those that He loves.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:11-13).
“Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison, as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:1-3).
Father, these men who looked to you, the ancients who were commended by you, though dead, they still speak. They are our forefathers who show us the way to walk with the only true God, the only wise God—invisible, immortal, eternal. They show us a way of Life that isn’t dependent on how many good things we can get out of life. They didn’t graduate to being heroes; they graduated to sheepskins and goatskins sometimes, but their weakness was turned to strength in the process. They joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property. They refused to be released when the opportunity to buy themselves out was available to them. They were after one thing—Your pleasure. They trusted in You and they knew that Your end objective for their life was trustworthy. Not too much else is trust-worthy, worthy of trust. Not too much is faith-full, something that we can totally put our faith in, but You are.
Father, we pray together that our perspective would be continually refined by You. When things slap us in the face, we pray that we’ll look to You, turn that other cheek, and not shrink back. We know that those that shrink back don’t bring You pleasure. The nature of our faith isn’t simply a confession of Your Son, but it’s a confession of Your Son’s character, a confession of Your Son’s Word, His Truth, His Life, all that He was. That’s why Hebrews 11 is in here. It’s not just a faith in the blood of Christ, although it must start there because we can’t come into Your presence apart from that, but it’s a faith that You’re a God who loves us and cares for us. You’re a God who has a priority system that is beyond this world and allows us to be aliens and strangers here regardless of anything that might happen along the way.
Father, we’re looking for a City whose Architect and Builder and Maker is You. We’re looking for a world, a universe, that’s not of this world and isn’t controlled by material things. It is so hard for us to learn to live that way. It’s difficult for us to make that transition to accept anything that would come in our path—never shrinking back, but rather setting our faces like flint towards the cross and running out ahead of our peers towards the cross rather than squirming our way out.
Father, we need Your help in walking in His perspective. I pray, Father, that together all of us would help each other to look right into the cross and right into Your eyes to see the King of Glory in the midst of a suffering servant. We’re not looking to be introspective or anything negative like that, but we just want to have Your perspective and live seated with You in heavenly realms no matter what may come across our paths here. We’re not trying to harden ourselves; we’re not going to withdraw; we’re not amongst those who shrink back and are destroyed. We are those who press on with confidence and fully invest ourselves in things that the naked eye can’t see.
Father, please draw us deeper towards You and let every single thing that comes into our path—every confusion, every heartache, every frustration, every alien force that would thrust itself upon us and seek to wreck us—Father, let every single one of those things turn our inherent weakness into a glorious eternal strength.
Father, Your Family here and everywhere in the world (I know I can speak for all of us) want to learn to walk as Your Son did with that kind of priority system—seeing what You see, seeing Him who is invisible, not running after the treasures of Egypt, but forsaking all those things. I know that when each of the people in this room were children, we were no ordinary children. You never meant for us to grow up to be shipwrecked or seasick, but in the midst of the struggle and the trial, you meant for us to look forward with a fervency in our eyes, if not a gleam in our eye, trusting You and holding steadfast. In just a very little while we know that You’ll come and will not delay. We want to be righteous ones that live by faith and that please you by never, ever, ever, ever, ever shrinking back. God help us.
We worship You, our God. You are the source of our strength and our hope—the anchor for our soul. We’re not going anywhere. We are not shrinking back. In the name of Jesus.
I can’t get those words off my mind, “In just a very little while, just a very little while, He will come.”
Our Goal: His Pleasure
In dealing with the wars that always go on in my own heart, (that’s always what I share really) there is a kind of a pride that I see. I get rare glimpses of it, and it grieves me deeply. It just runs so deep in me. The cavern of this pride is just a bottomless pit. It seems like I can’t dig it out; I can’t mine it out deep enough because there is just more there.
While I was busy wrestling through having faith, I kept coming back to this thing that would almost surprise me because of how deep it runs. The thing that kept coming back to me was this thought that if I suffer through this, if I’m willing to have faith in the midst of this, then I’ll get what I want. It just comes back again, and again, and again. And when we live that way, what happens is our ears get clogged, our hearts get hard, and our vision gets dim.
You hear God’s word and there is hardness in your heart that thinks, “You can’t encourage me. I dare you to break through my wall. I dare you to encourage me.” If it’s not going my way, then I refuse to listen. I won’t soften my heart to hear as if these are words from heaven.
Then, if I am willing to listen, it’s so that I can get something out of it. It’s so that someday my plight will be better. “Okay, I’ll soften my heart so I can listen.” But, truthfully my end goal, my end objective is so that somehow I can get out of this jam. Then, I won’t have to deal with any of this junk anymore.
So, the cycle continues: I soften my heart so I can get something out of it, so I can be an overcomer and conquer kingdoms. “I don’t want any of this sawed in half stuff. I reject the confiscation of my rights. I have my rights.” So, I reject that, and I harden my heart when that happens, and I won’t hear anymore because I think that God has deceived me. I think that He’s led me into this big trap, and that His promises aren’t true, so I stiffen my neck and tighten my jaw and close my ears. Or, I go into despair: “Oh, God isn’t doing it. It must be my fault. It’s my sin.” “It’s everybody else’s fault. If everyone else was doing their job, then I wouldn’t be in this mess.” I go into despair and then withdraw.
So, it could be anger and hostility. It could be rebellion. It could be fear, depression, despondency, introspection and guilt. That is the failure cycle, and that’s a time when our vision gets dim. We don’t see anybody else’s needs—all we see are our own. We’re not walking the way of the cross. Then again the cycle continues and we begin to say, “Hey, maybe there is some hope here. Things are getting a little bit better. Yeah, I do believe God. I do believe God,” but the end goal is so I can have what I want. So I can be okay. So I can be comfortable. So I can have peace. So I can have some kind of thing in my life. I’m grabbing hold of this truth, but this “faith” isn’t really Faith. This “faith” is essentially a crutch or a means to accomplish my end rather than to bring pleasure to God. I have found that it is ultimately to bring pleasure to me. So, when things don’t work out, I get angry again or despair again, and it just goes back and forth and back and forth.
I was just seeing the pride and lust of life, and lust of satisfaction way down deep in my heart, and I could feel all those tensions of, “I’m not soft. I can’t be encouraged. I’m above that because I know better than to be encouraged because it doesn’t work… Wait a minute. It doesn’t work? Work for what? Is it truth? Is it God? Okay, soften my heart. I’m going to receive. I’m going to humble myself. Why am I humbling myself? So that eventually I can make it through this dark tunnel to overcome and be somebody again.”
Basically what I’m saying is that I really believe that God wants me, and probably all of us, just to plain old soften our hearts to hear, to receive, to turn to Him, and to love Him. And regardless of the consequences, joyfully accept everything because our goal is no longer our own satisfaction, but it is His pleasure and to be conformed to the image of His Son—no other goal. There is no other goal than that.
So, no matter what happens around me, I can’t lose if I soften my heart because He’s ordered my circumstances. He’s worked everything together for the good and for the purpose of making me like His Son. That is my only goal, so I can’t lose. I’m not after happiness. I’m not after satisfaction, fulfillment, or friends. I’m not after those things. I’m after being like His Son. So, I can’t lose if I soften my heart, and I can’t win if I harden my heart. I can’t possibly win. I’m just isolating myself from love, from truth, from the liberty of the Holy Spirit, from fellowship with brothers and sisters, and from fellowship with the Holy Spirit. I’m isolating myself and suffocating myself. I’m putting a plastic bag on my head and wrapping a rope around so far that by the time I realize I’m suffocating, it’s too late because I can’t get the rope undone. That is what we do when we harden ourselves and let the wax build up in our ears.
I just wanted to read this poem having committed my spirit totally, completely, without reservation to God. Something like that might be a good spirit, if you have ears to hear…
The Law of the Kingdom
This is the law of My kingdom, marked by the print of My feet,
Stained by the blood of My sufferings, proved in the furnace of heat;
Writ with the pen of My Spirit, and ‘shrined in My holy lore,
But also in hearts I have conquered, men who are grit to the core;
Swift as the roe on the mountains, bold as the lion in the fight,
Fired with the zeal of the martyr, ready to die for the right;
Hating their lives as I told them, casting them gladly away;
Yet deep in their hearts expecting to find them again one day;
Men who dare to be different, men who dare to be true,
Choosing, instead of the broad way, the narrow path with the few;
Not drifting down with the flotsam, but pressing up stream ‘against the tide;’
Disdaining the force of convention with a will that is tougher than hide;
Who sign a cheque in My favour, leave Me to fill in the sum,
Prepared with joyous abandon to face whatever may come;
Men who will rise by the lamplight and wait at the posts of My doors,
Watch for a glimpse of their Master as they eagerly study His laws;
Women of deep intercession, whose cries awaken the dawn,
Hannahs who travail with sorrow till prophets of God be born;
Christians who will to be holy, nor care if the road be hard,
With souls athirst, their aim is first a burning passion for God—
Them will I call My disciples, them will I gladly own,
They shall inherit My kingdom and sit with Me on My throne.
But as for the weak and tepid, I would they were hot or cold,
I would they were overcomers, I would they were strong and bold;
I’m sick and tired of the spineless who bear no light that I ken;
One by one I will spew them out, for all that I seek are men.
These are the lovers of comfort, who live the undisciplined life,
With flesh that is pampered and petted, that shrinks at the touch of the knife.
Too long has the cause been hindered by salt that has lost its tang,
Fit to be thrown on the roadway and trod under foot of man.
Yet even now for the fruitless the axe is laid to the root,
For all I require in this solemn hour is the tree that brings forth fruit.
This is the law of My kingdom—that only the pure shall thrive,
That in the heat of temptation, only the true will survive.
Such as are poor and needy are heirs to My wealth untold,
The weak, who cast themselves on Me, they are the strong and the bold.
Two thousand years I have waited, My work of redemption done;
High on My throne I have waited a day that is yet to come,
When I shall arise in splendour, My glittering sword unsheathe,
And come with the shout of the victor, and wearing the victor’s wreath,
To oust the wicked usurper and ‘stablish the rule of God,
To grasp, with the hand once pierced, the orb and the sceptre’s rod.
Two thousand years I have waited the hour when I claim My bride,
Purged and refined and resplendent, and throned at her Bridegroom’s side
Awaited a generation who will pray, “Thy kingdom come,”
Then bind themselves to the altar to see that the thing is done;
Men who fired with a vision will stir My church with their cry
“Evangelize to the finish! Bring back the King from the sky!”
Storming the ramparts of heaven, they seize the kingdom by force,
Not thinking My gifts and treasures, would come as a matter of course,
With instinct of wrestling Jacob, they plead for the Spirit’s power,
Praying and fasting, and waiting, till clothed with the tongue of fire;
They speak a word to the mountain, they cast it into the sea,
They tell the slaves of Satan, “In the name of Christ be free!”
Willing for no reputation, their names men drag in the dirt,
They pray for those who revile them, and leap for joy at the hurt.
Feared by the powers of darkness, they fear only God above,
While hating nothing but evil, they answer hatred with love.
Though men may think them extremists, call them fanatics and fools,
I will acclaim them My servants, shape them and make them My tools,
Send them with flaming evangel to reach the uttermost parts,
Till they blazen My name and establish My fame in a million heathen hearts.
In the day of My vindication, they shall shine as the noon day sun,
Robed with eternal splendour, and wreathed with the crowns they won,
In glory that beggars description, beholding that face once marred,
They shall share in the joys of their Saviour, clasped to the heart of God.
But what of the one who failed Me, when he stands at My judgment seat,
When the deeds that he thought would condemn him are ashes beneath his feet?
What will he say when he gazes on the One who died in his stead,
Wringing those hands that are empty, and blowing that crownless head?
This is the law of My kingdom—that only the pure shall thrive,
That in the heat of temptation, only the true will survive;
None but the overcomers shall purchase the right to reign,
Surely the day shall declare it, eternity make it plain.