Hebrews 4:12-16 — Confidence when everything is exposed!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 5, 2012 AM
On the web site “pickthebrain.com” they share 10 ways to become more confident in your life. They write that “Self confidence is the difference between feeling unstoppable and feeling scared out of your wits. Your perception of yourself has an enormous impact on how others perceive you. Perception is reality — the more self confidence you have, the more likely it is you’ll succeed.” Now, do you want to know what they wrote? They said to 1) dress sharp, 2) walk faster, 3) maintain good posture, 4) be grateful for your successes, 5) compliment others, 7) sit in the front row, 8) speak up, 9) work out, and 10) contribute. But what does one do when their life is totally exposed?
The Bible relates that God knows us from even before we were created! All our days are revealed to the Creator. In finishing his description of Psalm 95:1-11, where Israel failed to enter God’s rest; the writer concludes this section with a warning that is both sobering and comforting. He lets us know that nothing gets by God but rather than being fearful of what God knows about us, we can have confidence when everything is exposed! Let’s find out why…
The Bible and the writer of Hebrews remind us that…
I. We are exposed before God! (Vv. 12-13)
“For the word of God is living 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.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV)
1. Notice that the writer shares that the “word of God is living and active.” This is important because either there are those who think God does not know or he does not care; this is simply not the case. His Word is living and active, he is therefore making the case that Jesus is alive and still very much active in the lives of those who have placed their faith in him. Christ, the author, the sum and substance of all things, is the living God, omnipotent and omniscient; not a thing, but a living person who is a critical discerner of the secrets of men’s hearts. In fact the Word of God is “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.” Not only are the words of God active and alive, but his Son, our Savior is as well. We know that by the words of his mouth, by the power of his Spirit, and the efficacy of his grace he makes us holy. His words are as a sharp sword and out of his mouth come teaching which pierces the hearts of men, cuts them to the quick, and lays their souls open. In fact, “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.” All people everywhere, including all Christians, will stand one day before the Word of God and be judged by him. Paul related that “each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12 NIV) and that the believer’s “work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.” (1 Corinthians 3:13 NIV) The author of Hebrews makes it plain that we are exposed before God!
EXAMPLE: The one thing I really hate about going to the doctor is being in a cold room, wearing nothing but a paper gown, and waiting and wondering what he knows that I do not know. There is nothing more mortifying and impersonal than being exposed that way, especially when the nurse comes in to do all of the preliminary stuff. I now know I am not alone. Surveys show that most folks hate the very same thing. As exposed as that is, we are even more exposed before the eyes of the Lord God. The Bible tells us that nothing in our lives is hidden from God. The Psalmist would ask, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Psalms 139:7 NIV) He would state that neither the darkness could hide us nor going to the “far side of the sea”, the highest heavens or deepest depths could keep us from being exposed before the Lord! We are exposed before God!
We could be fearful of facing a holy and majestic God but we quickly discover from Hebrews…
II. God sympathizes with us! (Vv.14-15)
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, 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 sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14-15 NIV)
1. There is wonderful news however for the Christian. The writer continues by telling us, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” How can we do that if God knows so much about us? We can because we need not fear the sharp sword of God because by his Word, our great high priest Jesus, has made us complete! Just as Jesus holds onto us we can “hold firmly to the faith we profess”! In fact, Jesus is the greatest high priest of all because of the wonder of his grace, the virtue of his sacrifice, and because of the place he now resides – at the right hand of God – Jesus is the greatest high priest! All earthly high priests had to pass the test and go through the curtain of the temple; Jesus has “gone through the heavens” where none of them could ever go! But more than that, rather than some high potentate or pope, we have a high priest who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses”! Jesus is not someone who is so far above mankind that he cannot empathize with our condition. As Paul would wonder, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV) Therefore the astonishing truth is “we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” While God cuts through the fog of our lives and knows us inside and out, we can remain confident because God sympathizes with us!
EXAMPLE: I do not know about you but I do not like it when politicians try to tell me that they know what I am going through. No one truly knows what we are going through unless he or she has lived as we have lived. This is why I hate it when people think that government or laws can solve the problems of the world. There is nothing that the government does either well or efficiently. And a huge impersonal government can never know what the common man feels. Government cannot feel our pain nor can it solve the sinful condition of the human heart, but God can and did. Here in Hebrews we are reminded that we follow a Savior who knows our circumstance because he himself lived as we live and died to rise again so he could identify with our condition! Rather than being fearful of God we can be confident because God sympathizes with us!
When we know God cares for us, the writer of Hebrews goes on to share that…
III. We can be confident in approaching God! (v. 16)
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
1. This, dear child of the Lord, is the greatest truth of all: That we, sinful as we are, can come before the throne of God. As Paul would remind us, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV) Yet, Hebrews admonishes, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence!” The author is reminding us to have no fear, no trembling, and no wondering if God truly loves us or not. How is this possible? The beautiful miracle is that all who trust in Christ can confidently approach the throne of grace! God’s throne has become to us a throne of grace through the mediation of our High Priest at God’s right hand! Now take a moment to take in this beautiful truth. No matter what our lives are like, no matter what sin we struggle with, and no matter how we may feel at the time, we the beleaguered Christian may come at any time to God’s throne “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”! It harkens back to the compassionate words of Jesus when he related, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV) Paul would write, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV) The way to the throne has been opened and our way paved by the blood of the Lamb of God! Nothing blocks our way to the mercy seat, we can be confident in approaching God!
EXAMPLE: The other day when we went to the Clark County Fair, we rode the bus. When we got to the Fairgrounds it took us longer to go a few blocks than the 9 miles we had just traveled because of one person’s stupid behavior. The Sheriff had to block off the bus drop off spot and we had to go completely around the Fairgrounds to another site because of this disruption. The other day, traffic on I-5 was disrupted because of one vehicle with a flat tire and folks spent hours waiting on the freeway to get home. Several years ago we went to a favorite camping site only to find it trashed with other people’s litter. I have always found it frustrating that one car, one person’s stupid actions, or just a few individuals’ trash can ruin a commute home, a day at the Fair, or a camping trip to a favorite place. How much more frustrating to discover that one’s own sinful blindness could keep one from the presence of the Lord. However, for the believer this is simply not the case. We can be self-assured in approaching God because nothing blocks our way, ruins our day, or keeps us from him! It’s called “grace” for a reason! We can be confident in approaching God!
We are exposed before God, yet God sympathizes with us, and we therefore can be confident in approaching God!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.