Hebrews 4:11-13 (NKJV) 11 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.
In the last number of posts, we have been dealing with Hebrews 4 and the idea of entering something the bible calls the “rest.” The word rest used in Hebrews 4:11 does not mean inactivity. It is the rest of harmony. When my spirit, guided by the Holy spirit, my soul and my body are all doing what God designed them to do, I am at rest. Faith is not a struggle. Though temptations will always be in the world until the end of the age, resistance to temptation becomes the natural thing to do instead of the struggle it can be. I am at rest.
We have been looking at the King James Version of these verses. It says that we should labor to enter the rest. I think this is important to see. This might seem like an oxymoron. How can we labor to rest? We either do one or the other. In truth, we know that rest comes as a result of the right labor for the right reasons. When a Christian thinks he does not have to do anything to develop in his Christian walk, he is deceived. There is work to do if we want to come to the place of rest. The key is that we understand why we work, how we work and what is the nature of the work required.
We do not work to be accepted or loved by God. That is ours by salvation through grace. We do not work to pay for what was given to us as a gift. We work because we are saved. We work to please him who saved, loved and accepted us. We work to grow in our understanding of him and our covenant with him. We work to learn the principles in the Word of God given to us that we might live in holiness, victory, prosperity and the fullness of salvation.
We work to build up our spirit and renew our minds so that we may partake of all that God has for us. He wants us to grow into adult children that will be co-laborers with him in building the kingdom of God on earth until Jesus comes.
Look at this verse in The Bible in Basic English.
Hebrews 4:9-11 (BBE) 9 So that there is still a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God. 10 For the man who comes into his rest has had rest from his works, as God did from his. 11 Because of this, let us have a strong desire to come into that rest, and let no one go after the example of those who went against God’s orders.
There is something God has always wanted for his children since creation. In the New King James, the translators use the phrase, “be diligent.” Here we see that we should have a “strong desire” to come to this place of rest. The devil is a master of deflection. He always tries to get us to focus on minor things so that the major things will be set aside. There are many important things in the bible. I believe that one of the major things we need to put to work in our lives is to enter the rest of walking in the spirit. When we do that, many of the things that look so important and difficult will become natural parts of our walk with God.
Let me continue with a few things in Hebrews that I think are important keys to the labor we must do to enter the rest. Verse 12 is a verse that is often quoted on its own. It is certainly valid to do so, but I always believe the truth and power of a verse is more clear when understood in context. All of chapter 4 is about how to avoid the dangers that ancient Israel fell into in their journey to their promised land. The writer calls this their rest.
After he tells us that we must be diligent or labor he speaks about the Word of God. He tells us that the Word of God is powerful and alive. What does it have the power to do? He is talking about entering the rest of God. The written Word of God is one of the most important things we need to enter the rest. Without it we will never get there. We may be saved. We may get to heaven. However, we will never tap the fullness of what God made available to us in salvation without an understanding of the Word of God.
The Word is the one thing in our relationship with God that we can touch with our flesh. Although all translations have problems, it is the Holy Spirit who moved on men to write the Bible. Therefore, it is His book not any man’s book. God has the ability to watch over his Word. I do believe we need to study to be sure we are reading the Word correctly. That is part of the labor, but first we need to understand that the Word of God is not a natural book but a supernatural one. As such it has the power to work in us the things that will bring us to the rest.
There is a natural understanding that comes from reading the Bible. That is part of the process. We also see from this section of scripture that there is a supernatural action that the Word of God works in us. It distinguishes between soul and spirit, joints and marrow and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It has the power to overwrite our attitudes, our hurts and our misconceptions until we begin to see as He sees. That is the first step to entering this rest.
Finally, everyone is an open book to the Word of God. Verse thirteen is interesting in that it is speaking of a person who sees us. Jesus says in John 1:1 that the Word was God. God and his Word are one. He, the Word, sees and knows everything about every one of us. He knows our needs and our strengths. He knows our sin and where we are walking in righteousness. He knows every failure and every victory. He knows where and who you are now, where and who you were all the previous days of your life and where and who you will be for the rest of your life.
One of the labors we must do to enter the rest is to learn the Word. More than just learn it, we must learn how to yield to it. We must learn how to let it change us. We must learn that the never changing Word of God is always applied to our lives by the Holy Spirit, the living and active Word, to bring us to the place of the greatest victory in life. The Word of God will help you become the best version of the person God created in your mother’s womb. That is the rest of Hebrews 4. That is the result of walking in the spirit and not in the flesh.