If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews 10, verses 26-27.
This verse occurs right after exhorting believers to spur others on to love and good deeds and to continue worshiping. The context is to persevere in the faith. You can’t persevere or succeed in anything if you only give half your heart to it. You also can’t persevere if you aren’t aware of boundaries, of white lines in which to stay between. So when you consider that the book of Hebrews encourages believers to persevere, then reminds us that the consequences for being a half-hearted believer can be dire, then you see that God is interested in a whole person. You can see that God’s grace is boundless while any absence of it would be a hard boundary indeed. If we only give half of ourselves to Him, we shouldn’t expect He’ll be happy. Indeed, as these verses say, half-hearted believers should expect punishment. That doesn’t mean God will punish us; He is a God of love, mercy, and grace, which He shows abundantly. Instead, we should not take for granted or expect the love, mercy and grace, but expect their opposites in a world focused on them.
Yesterday’s sermon topic was “de-cluttering.” Pastor Mark talked about ways to de-clutter our spiritual lives so as to remove impediments that block our focus on God. We put that clutter in the way, and clutter isn’t even always bad. Family time, hard work, supporting others, church work, even a daily Christian blog can all be great things and great expressions of faith. They can also clutter up one’s life and make it difficult to focus on what’s most important. Without knowing how it happens, Mary can easily go all Martha (in fact, in another place in Scripture, apart from that famous dinner, she did).
How many things have I put on my plate because they’re the right thing to do? Too many to list here. Worse, how many pet sins have I held onto that make it difficult to even focus on those right things? I know deep inside that I shouldn’t do this. I was saved long ago, even before the time I can remember, and yet I still keep on choosing the wrong over the right. Slip of a tongue, moments of anger, being judgmental, looks and thought of selfish lust: pick a sin and paint me guilty. I’ll return the favor because, chances are, you’re guilty too.
Better yet, let’s change our behavior. Part of repenting is turning away from the wrongdoing, so let’s do that here and now. What I just said, about painting you guilty? I’m putting down the paint brush. I’ll confess my sins to Jesus and leave them with Him. His Word (in these verses) says there are BAAAAD consequences for folks who choose the sins over Him. I don’t want to be one of those people because there’s a better way. Giving half my heart to God and half my heart to the world is wearying and unproductive for either. My are just clutter waiting to be swept away. Time to get out the broom and start sweeping. Your sins are your own too; I’m hoping you’ll want to sweep them away, too. I can’t do that for you but Jesus can, and He will. What I can do is be your friend and your brother. I’ll help you through what you’re going through and help you stay between the lines with me. Together, we’ll each do our part to persevere in the faith.
For further reading: Exodus 21:14, Numbers 15:30, Hebrews 5:2, 2 Peter 2:20, 1 Timothy 2:4, Isaiah 26:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Hebrews 9:27, Luke 10:38-42.
Lord, help my unbelief. I need Your help to persevere, to succeed in whatever You have me do. I can’t do anything without You.