Diligence and Accounting

Hebrews 4:11-16

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

On Day 9, we saw what it means to live in a place of rest.  God rested from all His works, and we who believe do enter that rest.  Today’s passage contains an interesting admonition.  We also see context that is rarely mentioned in an otherwise oft-quoted passage of scripture.

After explaining what the true Sabbath is, we are told to be diligent to enter it, lest we fall the same way the Israelites did, because of unbelief. They didn’t fall short because of their actions or complaints.  Falling short isn’t about those things.  The example of disobedience is that of not believing God.  If we believe that He is our source of righteousness and provision, then we will function from a place of rest.  If we don’t believe that He is our source, we will continue to strive.  It is in that striving that we fall short.

This brings us to verse 12, a well-known verse used when preachers talk about the Bible.  Much can be taught about the role of God’s Word discerning the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  But if the message of the New Covenant is grace, then it isn’t completely honest to make this verse stand alone.  There is context to it that must be included for a complete understanding of what the Word is discerning.  Hebrews chapter four is about defining God’s rest and clarifying that we are called to enter into it.  Remember from verse 10 that “he who has entered that rest has ceased from his works as God did from His.”  Pay close attention – The purpose of the Word discerning the thoughts and intents of our hearts is to help us understand whether we are motivated by religious works or whether we are resting in grace.  

This is a moment-to-moment discerning, because the battle against performance-based thinking is relentless.  That is why we are admonished to be diligent to enter His rest.  It won’t happen automatically.  We must choose it.  Ironically, there is some work on our part to stay in His rest.  And it is this work to which we are held accountable.  Verse 13, if read from a religious view, is scary.  “Nothing is hidden from Him to whom we must give account.”  Yikes!  Is God watching us, ready to punish every mistake?  No, Jesus died for our sins.  That is not the accounting to which we will be held.  We are accountable to whether we pursue religious performance, either out of guilt, shame, self-righteousness, or fear of lack, or whether we enter into His rest based on faith in the finished work of Jesus.  You might say that we are accountable for how well we brave grace.

I love that after admonishing diligence so that we don’t fall short, the author of Hebrews points us back to Jesus.  We have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He knows what we face from experience.  He didn’t just hear about it from someone.  He empathizes, having been there, done that.  And He did a finished work to provide everything that we need to overcome and succeed.  

Come boldly before the throne of grace.  Bold.  Grace.  Sound familiar?  Holding fast to our confession will require bravery at times.  Because of Jesus, not only do we have every reason, we also have the clear exhortation to brave grace.

Day 11 – Obedience of Faith