“For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” – Hebrews 12:3-4 (CSB)
It’s tempting to think that Jesus’ struggle against sin was somehow different than ours. That misses the fact that he was fully God and fully man. He was equally and 100 percent both at the same time without any confusion or superseding of one nature over the other. From the time of the incarnation, Jesus became the ultimate picture of what it means to be fully and truly human. So when we think we can’t resist sin’s pull any longer, we are just getting started. We have not shed blood unwillingly yet alone willingly. Our struggle has not come close to his – a struggle that he won because of the Spirit’s power at work within him. That same power is in us who believe. The Spirit guides us, enables us, and empowers us. How can we not keep fighting?
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 ESV). This is a stunning truth. We tend to think either consciously or unconsciously that the events in our lives reflect God’s attitude toward us. Jesus was perfectly obedient to the Father and yet he suffered in ways that none of us have or ever will. His experience reminds us that our circumstances are not a reflection of how God feels about us.
Circumstances change. God does not. If we are trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, we can rest assured about our Heavenly Father’s feelings toward us. His love and delight for his children is the same each day. Nothing we do can make him love us more or less.
I’ve never known a Christian who who could honestly say he or she didn’t experience times of spiritual dryness. Bible reading becomes a chore. Prayer becomes rote if not impossible. Christian community becomes an obligation. I used to think that if I didn’t feel like participating in the spiritual disciplines, I shouldn’t. After all, God is not after my begrudging participation. My standing before him is based on Jesus and nothing I do. So why do these things just for the sake of doing them? I think it was my own attempt at avoiding a ritualistic and legalistic approach to my relationship with God.
As I’ve gotten older, my view on this issue has completely changed. I’ve found that what actually pulls me out of the spiritually dry seasons is doing the very things I don’t feel like doing. Yes, reading the Bible seems like nothing but words on a page. I really do go through the motions somedays. But eventually something starts to change. Slowly the water begins to return. I shouldn’t be surprised either since the Word of God is alive and active.
Faith – without it we cannot please God. But what about those times when our faith fails? What about those times where we choose worry and fear over trust? What happens then?
Herein lies the beauty of the gospel. We don’t need perfect faith because we have something better. We have a Perfector of our faith. He starts it. He sustains it. He finishes it.
Twenty-seven chapters. That’s how long it took Moses to record the laws of sacrifice and purity in the book we know as Leviticus. Twenty-seven chapters detail how to relate to a holy God. Twenty-seven chapters highlighting the severity of sin. Twenty-seven chapters of dos and don’ts.
One verse. That’s how long it took the writer of Hebrews to express the sufficiency and superiority of Christ’s sacrifice. “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Twenty-seven chapters point to a need solved in one verse. Praise God for a covenant in every way superior to the old.