If We Are to Walk in the Spirit It Must be in the Light of Faith

Hebrews 4:1-2 (NKJV) 1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

In our last post we discussed how a Christian is supposed to stay right with God. If I live trying to keep the Law as they did in the Old Testament, I will find myself in bondage. If I allow myself to be dominated by the flesh and open my life to sin, I will be in a wretched condition (Romans 7:24.) I do not want to be either of those things.

The answer is clearly stated in Galatians 5:16-18. If I walk in the spirit I will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Verse 17 is a summary of exactly what Paul describes in Romans 7. There he said, “I do not do what I want to do, but I continue to do what I do not want to do.” Here he says that the flesh and the spirit are contrary to one another which keeps me from doing what I want to do.

The only way a Christian can walk right before God without living under the bondage of the law is to be led by the spirit. To be led by the spirit is to walk in the spirit. Walk in the Bible always refers to lifestyle. When my lifestyle is dominated by my spirit I will naturally keep the law. Living according to God’s principles will not be bondage. I will do what I want to do because I am controlled by my spirit not by my soul or my body.

I believe this is speaking about our recreated, born again human spirit. However, I also must understand that my spirit is in perfect union and harmony with God. Therefore, it is not just my spirit that is in control. It is my spirit by the Holy Spirit. Literally, to walk in the spirit is to walk under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit of God himself. It is also to walk with a clear access to the power of the Holy Spirit to help me in my walk. Additionally, it allows me to become a channel of that power to the world around me.

Acts 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

How can I become a Christian who walks in the Spirit? If it was not possible, the Bible would not tell us it was necessary. I believe that is really the message of the New Testament. If we read the Gospels, we see a life dominated by the Spirit. When we read the book of Acts we see people who, though not perfect, walked under the control and influence of the Spirit. As we read through the New Testament, there are many important things to learn. The outcome of all these wonderful things is a Christian who walks in the spirit not in the soul or the body.

In the next number of weeks, I want to look at some specific things we must do to cultivate the walk of the spirit. I believe the Bible teaches us what we must do something with our bodies, our souls and our spirits. Before I get into that, I want to revisit Hebrews 4. Before we even begin dealing with what we must do, we must understand that everything we do is by faith. If we do not understand that, everything I say will just become another expression of Law; of do’s and don’ts that you must keep.

Hebrews 4:1-4 tells us why people before us, especially Israel, failed to walk in the rest of the spirit. He says that the “gospel” was preached to them as well. It has always been God’s will that people live in harmony with him. It has always been God’s will that man live in harmony with himself as he was created by God. The people who fail to receive the rest are those who do not mix what they hear with faith.

If I am going to be successful, I must be established in certain things by faith. By faith I must believe that God wants me to succeed. I must believe that I can succeed because God will be with me in the process. I am not just keeping a different set of laws. I am flowing in my relationship to God. I am cultivating my connection with him and this will produce a life lived in his will, his power and his ways.

Many people understand Galatians 5 in exactly the wrong way. Instead of seeing that if I walk in the spirit I will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, they think if they stop walking in the lusts of the flesh they will be walking in the spirit. The problem is you can never overcome the lusts of the flesh if you do not first walk in the spirit. To do that, you must mix what you hear with faith that God is in me working the process out in my life.

The remainder of Galatians 5 talks about the “works of the flesh” and the fruit of the spirit. Works are done. Fruit grows. The process we are going to talk about is designed by God to cultivate the ground of our lives, so it will produce the fruit of the spirit. Once that fruit is active and growing, the works of the flesh will be replaced by the fruit of the spirit. This is not to say that we do not have to resist temptation along the way. We do, but our ultimate success will come when the fruit grows to fullness. At that point we will be walking in the spirit.

One more thing we must accept by faith before we start, is the reality of our right standing with God according to his grace when he gave Jesus for our sin. Hebrews is a book written to Jewish believers to help them see that the purpose of the Law of Moses was to bring all humanity to something else. One of the key words to Hebrews is “better.” We have a better high priest, a better sacrifice and a better covenant. Look at Hebrews 9.

Hebrews 9:11-14 (NKJV) 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The Old Covenant sacrifices covered the sins of the people. Jesus’ sacrifice took away the sin completely. The blood of Jesus can cleanse your conscience from the guilt of the dead works of your past. They are gone. When I receive Jesus, I am as clean before God as the day I was born. The biblical term for this condition is “righteous.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In the new birth we have become new creatures. We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. He did not commit one sin in his life. I did not commit righteousness in my life before Christ. I was made his righteousness when I received him as my Lord and Savior. That is a spiritual reality.

What about my sins since salvation.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When I confess any sin committed since my salvation, he hears and forgives me and cleanses me of any unrighteousness which that sin produced. All of this is possible because Jesus is the perfect sacrifice offered once and for all (Hebrews 10:11-12.)

Once we accept this truth by faith we are free to learn how to walk in the spirit. We understand that we do not walk in the spirit to become right with God. We walk in the spirit because we are already right with God. As a result, our outward life will become a true reflection of our inward reality.

Advertisements

How do we Stay Right With God

Galatians 5:14-18 (NKJV) 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

(Once again, my wife and I have been traveling so I have not been posting in this space. We are still in Kenya but our schedule has slowed down and I am going to try and “get back on the horse” so to speak.)

There is so much confusion today about the difference between grace and Law, that I wanted to take some time to look at what the bible says. I see more and more churches trying to make people feel accepted by simply overlooking sinful behavior. They call this grace and say we are not under law. All we need is to be “good people” and know that Jesus loves us. That is enough.

The problem with this thinking is that it is not what the bible teaches. If the first church lived and thought that way, there would be no modern church. They understood that to live as a Christian was to live a sacrificial life. They could not practice their faith and be a part of their society. It was in this age that Paul wrote words like those found in 1 Corinthians 6.

2 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

The thinking today seems to be, “Get out there among them and try not to be affected too much by the unclean things.” Some would try to convince us that there are no unclean things at all. Jesus paid for all the unclean things, so they are no longer unclean. This is simply not true.

Since the fall of man, the world has been a war zone. The combatants are light and darkness, life and death. We must be on one side or another. If we are born again we are on the side of light. However, if we do not live according to light and life, we become captives of darkness and death. That is what the bible teaches.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV) 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

In this space we have looked at some things that we must understand if we are going to be a force for the kingdom of God in our day. Paul was clear in Romans 7 that we are not obligated to keep the Mosaic law to be considered righteous or right with God. However, we also learned that a Christian who allows himself to be dominated by the flesh is in a “wretched” condition. When we allow what the Bible calls sin in our living, we are dominated by the flesh.

What is the solution. Romans 8:1-3.

Romans 8:1-3 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

To live under the letter of the law is bondage. To live under the dominion of sin is “wretched.” What is the solution. In Romans 6, Paul tells us that whatever we allow to dominate us we become a slave to. He does not give us the option of not being a slave at all.

Romans 6:16-17 (NKJV) 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are going to be slaves to one or the other. I choose to be slave to God in obedience which will lead me to righteousness. Righteousness unlocks all the power of God in my life. Slavery to sin always leads to death. If not physical death, it leads to the open door that allows the devil to bring bad things into our lives and family. The book of Deuteronomy makes it very clear.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV) 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

How do we choose life?

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NKJV) 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.

Once more we ask, “How do we walk in his ways, keep his commandments, statutes and judgements if not by the Law? I want life, but I do not want bondage. What is the solution? If we walk in the spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law. This is the same thing Paul is trying to tell us in Romans 8:1-4.

What does it mean to walk in the spirit? We have already looked at this but permit me to define it once more. Hebrews 4 speaks of a “rest” that is available to the people of God. Verse 11 tells us to be diligent to enter this “rest”, so we will not fall into disobedience. The word translated “rest” in this scripture is not the rest of inactivity. It is the rest of harmony; man’s spirit, soul, and body filling the role God intended for them to have.

My soul is my intellect, my emotions and my will. My body is the flesh part of me. My spirit is that part of me created in the image and likeness of God. It is the part that God always intended to be in control. It is the part with which we communicate with God and the world of the spirit. That communication is processed through our soul and finally to our body so that we walk according to God’s will, ways and nature.

If I walk in the spirit I will naturally walk as a new creature, keeping all of the above. If I am dominated by the soul, I will be an intellectual being. I may be a good one or a bad one, but I will be controlled by my intellect. If I am dominated by my body, I will do what my body wants. Right and wrong, good and bad are not factors. What pleases my body will be all that matters.

How do I access the new life that grace provides? I walk in the spirit with that part dominating my soul and body. I make choices based on what my spirit wants not what my flesh wants. I feed my spirit with the Word of God until my spirit is the strongest part of me. I renew my mind, my soul, by reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God until I think “spiritually.” My body will follow my spirit and soul. Then I have no need for the letter of the law. I walk in the spirit of the law. I enter the wonderful rest of harmony.

Kenya 2018

It has been a very long time since my last post.  I apologize but the cause is the same as always.  We have been traveling in Kenya since August 10th.  I am including a link to our itinerary that contains updates of our progress.  It has been a great trip although very busy.  It began with my wife and me missing our flight out of Paris.  We got a night in a hotel there but that made us late for the start of our trip in Kenya.  We went right from the airport to our western Kenya trip.  We are finally back at our base in the city of Limuru the home of our host Brother David Cerar.  David is a fulltime missionary here who has been doing a great work for 20 years.  I would love to see some of you support him.  If that is something you would like to do, email me at wkiefer@aol.com

Here is the link and God bless.  We will be home by October 11th and I will start posting again after we get back.

https://spark.adobe.com/page/vzR0CEABpRmQU/

The Nature of our High Priest

Hebrews 4:14-15 (NKJV) 4 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.

Yesterday we looked at the fact that we still need a High Priest in our relationship with God and the covenant. We no longer need an earthly priesthood like Israel did, because we now have an High Priest who has passed into the heavens. Jesus is our High Priest and he sits at the right hand of God making intercession for us.

In the Old Testament, the High Priest changed through the generations. Some were good, and some were bad. Hebrews 7:22-25 tells us that Jesus is a High Priest who never changes. He is a perfect priest and his priesthood will continue through eternity. Because of this, he is able to save us “to the uttermost.” There are no limits on what salvation in Christ can do in us and through us because he is praying for us and working in us by the Holy Spirit. I believe this passage in Romans 8 is pointing to the High Priestly ministry of Jesus.

Romans 8:26-28 (NKJV) 26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We see here that we do not always know what to pray for or how to pray. The Holy Spirit knows our hearts, the hearts of people we will be dealing with and the will of God. He prays for us according to all these factors and more, causing all of them to work for our good. This is part of how our High Priest saves us to the uttermost.

Anytime the term priest is used in relation to ministry, it is referring to holiness. The priestly ministry in Israel was there to offer the sacrifices necessary to maintain the nation in a state of right relationship to the Lord and by extension the covenant. That is holiness. Holiness means to be separated from the World and to God. Israel was separate from the rest of the world by their covenant with God. To be holy meant to be right with the covenant. Without the priesthood, they could not have maintained that separation.

We need a High Priest for the same reason. We are born again in the spirit. Something happened inside of every person who believes in the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for their sins and who receives him as the Lord and master of their lives. However, that does not mean that we are no longer subject to temptation or sin. Jesus paid for all of our sin, but the wages of sin is still death. I am not talking about eternal separation from God but the influence of death over our daily living.

Our High Priest remains at the right hand of God pleading our case before the Judge of the universe. When we sin, Jesus reminds the Father that his blood already paid the price for that sin. This maintains our relationship with God even when we fail. However, there is another side of priesthood.

A priest is a mediator between God and man. I mentioned that I grew up Catholic. They call their ministers priests because they believe we still need that kind of earthly mediator. Catholics go to the priest to confess their sins. There are “sacraments” or sacrifices that they cannot offer for themselves. Only the priest who is set apart by God and the Church can offer them. Again, I mean no disrespect to Catholicism, but I disagree with that point of view. We do need a mediator, but he sits at the right hand of God.

1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV) 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

When we sin, we have an advocate with the Father and 1 John makes it clear that we can go to him.

1 John 2:1-2 (NKJV) 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 1:8-10 tells us that if we confess our sin God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We come with our advocate, our mediator, and our advocate pleads our case with the Father. Jesus stands as our High Priest and mediator.

As mediator, the High Priest was always supposed to be one of the people, but one set apart to God for service. All of the priests in Israel were prohibited from the business of life. They were supported by the tithe, so they did not have to work in the world. This gave them a focus on the things of God that others did not have. However, they were still people. They were not supposed to be so separated from the rest of Israel that they could not relate to them. A mediator must be able to touch both parties.

In the course of their history, the priests became more and more separated from the people for whom they were supposed to mediate. This was especially true of the High Priest. He lived apart from them. He was elevated to a point where he could not relate to the people and the people could not relate to him. Our High Priest is different.

We see in verse 15 that our High Priest is able to sympathize with our weakness because he lived life just as we do. The bible says he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. The fact that he did not give in to the temptation does not mean it was not real. He knows what it means to be man.

On the other hand, he is God. Our minds cannot fully understand that. The King James Version says he is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Yet John 1:1 tells us that the “Word” was with God from the beginning and that Word was God. Jesus is the Word made flesh.

Our High Priest is God, but he is also man. He is the perfect mediator. He knows how we feel. He did not live in our modern world, but that does not matter. He was tempted in every way you and I can be tempted. Temptation is temptation. The substance never changes only the methods change.

When we come to our great High Priest he understands how we feel. We can confess our sins to him because he knows the power of temptation. He also overcame temptation and can help us do the same. He understands our weakness. He knows what it feels like to be human. When I am struggling, it is a tremendous comfort to know that.

Do not forget about the ministry of the High Priest. God tells us about him because we need him. He is our mediator. He is our mediator because he died to pay for our sins. However, his role as mediator did not end there. He is our mediator, our High Priest, today. You can go to him. You can confess your sins and weakness to him. He has not forgotten what it means to be human.

This does not mean we are excused from living in line with the principles that God puts in his Word. We must stay in harmony with the New Covenant to reap all of its benefits. It does mean that we have someone who understands us and is there to help us not condemn us when we come to him.

Go to him today. Do not try to clean up your life and present it to him. Take your life as it is and let the High Priest help you grow into the Christian that God wants you to be. Then you will become a channel for his life to your family and community.

How does this relate to grace? We do not deserve the High Priestly ministry of Jesus. This is one of the things grace provided for us so that we can live as real Christians even in this modern, trying world.

We Need a High Priest

Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) 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.

Yesterday we looked at the High Priest in the life of Israel. We found that the High Priest was far more important than the King or even the prophet. The High Priest was the main person responsible for maintaining Israel’s covenant relationship with God. Without the Law of Moses, the Aaronic Priesthood and the High Priest in particular, they would not have been able to maintain that relationship.

We all understand the need for good government. As Christians, we want the Word of the Lord to keep us on the right track. The Prophetic voice is certainly important. What we do not understand is the need for the priestly ministry.

There is an interesting period in Israel’s history called the book of Judges. The key phrase of this book is found in the last verse.

Judges 21:25 (NKJV) 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

This might be the cry of many in our day. “We do not need some religious standard. Each person should just do what is right!” That works out well as long as what I consider right does not interfere with what you consider right. Israel found that each man doing what was right according to his own standard, led to instability, sin and bondage.

It would seem that the lack of a king had to be the problem. However, we find that in the book of First Samuel when they asked for a King, God said that getting one would be the worst thing that could happen to them. He wanted to be their King. He wanted to determine what was right. What was it that caused them to be unable to submit to God as their King?

We find the answer in the beginning of the book of 1 Samuel.

1 Samuel 2:12 (NKJV) 12 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD.

Why were the sons of Eli corrupt? They were corrupt because Eli, the High Priest, was corrupt. He did not do his job therefore the people of Israel were not able to function with God as their King. They were not in proper standing with the covenant.

Samuel was one of the most powerful figures in the bible because he was both a prophet and the High Priest of Israel. As long as he was in power, the people served God. Even though they got their King, Samuel was the one who caused them to walk right before God and the covenant.

I grew up Catholic. In that system, the role of the priest is more like it was in the days of Israel. In order to be forgiven of sin I had to go to confession. I confessed my sins to a priest who then gave me penance to do. Once I had done my penance, usually a series of repeated prayers, I was granted absolution. My soul was considered clean until I sinned again.

Though I mean no disrespect to the Catholic denomination, I do not believe that is biblical. One of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity is the personal relationship we all enjoy with Jesus. He took away our sins by shedding his blood. When I sin, I need only go to him, confess my sin and he is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me of unrighteousness. We no longer need a human mediator. (1 Timothy 2:5)

That does not mean that we do not need a High Priest. The Priestly ministry in Israel is what kept them walking right before the Lord. We are also a covenant people. When we are right with the covenant we are right with God and will be able to partake of his benefits. It is the High Priest of our lives that will help us live in right relationship with the New Covenant.

The ministry of any priest is connected with holiness. Holiness is vital to our walk with God because it keeps us in the covenant. He is Holy, and he expects us to be holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) The priesthood led by the High Priest was the key to maintaining holiness for Israel. Our High Priest does the same for us.

Who is our High Priest? His name is Jesus. He is a perfect High Priest. He is able to keep us right with God because he is still ministering to the Father for us. Look at Hebrews 7:22-25.

Hebrews 7:22-25 (NKJV) 22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. 23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

The bible says that Jesus is the surety of a better covenant. One of the reasons it is better is that we have a better High priest. He never changes. His reign does not end as did that of the High Priests of Israel. Some of them were good and some were bad. Our High Priest is perfect, and he will remain our High Priest throughout eternity.

Verse 25 is powerful. Because he is an eternal and perfect High Priest, he is able to save us to the uttermost because he is actively making intercession for us. The implication is that without the High Priestly ministry of Jesus, we would not be “saved to the uttermost.” What does being saved to the uttermost mean? Look at verse 25 in the Amplified Bible.

Hebrews 7:25 (AMP) 25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.

He is able to save us completely, perfectly and finally or for all eternity because he is our High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. There are no limits to our salvation. More important, there are no limits to what our salvation can do in us.

We think that our background or even our current weakness limit what God can do in our lives. That is not true. We have an active High Priest who is praying for us and working in us to help us overcome our limitations. We do not have to be limited in our salvation because he is not limited as our High Priest. I do not fully understand this, but that is what the bible says.

We need Jesus’ High Priestly ministry in our lives. We look to many other things as answers to our problems. Like Israel, we may look to politics. They wanted a king. We want a president who fits our agenda. We think that will solve our problems. We may look to economic prosperity, education and social reform to change our culture and our lifestyle.

None of those things will bring the change we need. We need the ministry of our High Priest. Then we will walk right with God and the Covenant. Then we will rise up as the Body of Christ and use his power to change the world.

Labor to Enter the Rest: The High Priest

Labor to Enter the Rest: The High Priest
July 27, 2018

Hebrews 4:14-15 (NKJV) 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.

We have been working through Hebrews 3 and 4 for a good part of this year. Recently our focus has been on verse 11. Paul tells us that we must labor or be diligent to enter the rest that God provides for his people. The Israelites never entered that rest. The second generation did finally overcome the unbelief and disobedience of their parents and enter the land of Canaan as the Lord promised they would. However, this section of scripture makes it clear that there was something else God wanted for his people that even Joshua did not provide. There is a rest of faith and the spirit for the people of God.

How do we enter that rest? We have looked at verses 12 and 13 so far. The first thing we see is that the Word of God is a major key to entering the rest. We must give our attention and our time to meditation in the Word. When my wife and I were first starting in the ministry this was the thing that established us. We raised six kids and it was rarely quiet in my house. I did not have an office. I would get in my old van, park somewhere, put in tapes, and listen to the Word being preached for hours. I would study the scriptures and meditate on what I was hearing. That foundation has caused us to be where we are today.

We cannot minimize the need to spend time in the Word. Joshua 1:8 tells us that meditation in the Word of God day and night is the key to prosperity and “good success.” 2 Timothy 2:15 says that study of the Word of God is key to being “approved of God” as a workman or minister of the Gospel. How much time do you and I spend in the Word of God each week? I challenged my people and I challenge you to log what you spend your time on. I expect all of us will find that the percentage of time we spend in the Bible is very low.

Verse 13 refers to the Word as “he” and says we must give account. God and his word are one. He knows you and he knows what you need right now. We will never enter the rest of faith if we are not willing to be accountable. That means we must be willing to accept being wrong as well as being right. When we are wrong, we must be willing to repent and to change. God will help us, but if we are not willing to repent, there is not much he can do for us.

Now we come to verse 14. This verse begins with one of those phrases that connects it to the rest of the chapter. We can be successful in our study and meditation of the word. We can be accountable without fear that we will be hurt by that accountability. Why are these things true? They are true because we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens. We can “hold fast” to that in which we believe because, that High Priest is at the right hand of God praying for us and helping us (Hebrews 7:25.) We are not left on our own to enter the rest. Our High Priest, Jesus, is always there helping us with the labor.

We cannot understand the significance of this if we do not understand the role of the High Priest in Israel. When we read the great stories of the bible, we tend to focus on the Kings and the Prophets. The one we do not think much about is the priest and especially the High Priest. However, to Israel the High Priest was the most important person in their lives and culture.

The nation of Israel was a nation based upon a covenant with God not on race. Anyone could become part of the heritage of Israel if they agreed to keep the covenant. The genealogy of Jesus contains more than one person who was not an Israelite by birth but was one by accepting the covenant that God made with Abraham.

Every King or Prophet in Israel held their position because of the covenant. The covenant was their power and their right standing with God. If they were right with the covenant, they were right with God. When they kept the covenant, they were always successful in battle. When they did not, they were defeated. When they kept the covenant, they prospered. When they did not they fell on hard times. The story of Israel was the story of their relationship to the covenant.

When the covenant was just between Abraham and God, Abraham could repent of his sins and maintain his covenant relationship that way. When the Israel became a nation, the individual did not have the relationship with God that Abraham had. They needed a way to deal with the inevitable breaking of the covenant that would occur due to their sinful nature. God needed a nation through whom the Messiah could come. Israel was that nation but they had to be able to stay in their covenant relationship.

We do not understand blood covenant the way Israel did. They had received the idea of covenant from God. It was understood that the only penalty or payment for breaking a blood covenant was the shedding of blood. If you broke any blood covenant, you died. How much more this applied to a covenant with almighty God!

God knew that Israel could not keep the covenant so he gave them two things that would enable them to put off the judgment of death until the Messiah could come. Those two things were the Law of Moses and the Levitical Priesthood. The law defined what constituted a breaking of the covenant and the priesthood was the vehicle for the offering of sacrifices that would put off the judgment each year until the Messianic sacrifice would wash away that judgment permanently.

When any Israelite sinned, he would bring a prescribed offering to the priests and they would offer it to God on his behalf. This was true for all Israelites. It did not matter if they were regular people, Kings or prophets; sin required an offering and the priests were the ones who could present them to God. Without the priesthood, Israel could not have maintained its covenant relationship to God. That is why the priesthood in general and the High Priest in particular were the most important people in Israel.

At the head of the priesthood, stood the High Priest. The first High Priest was Aaron. The high priest determined the nature of the priesthood under him. If he were righteous, they would generally be righteous. If he was corrupt, the rest of the priesthood would be corrupt as well. Any priest is a mediator between God and man. The High Priest was the main mediator under the Old Covenant.

The High Priest carried one more responsibility that elevated him above everyone else in the nation. The covenant was everything to Israel. The Law and the sacrifices gave them a way to maintain the covenant. However, all of that was contingent on one specific sacrifice. That sacrifice was called the Great Day of Atonement.

Once a year an offering was brought to the High Priest. The High Priest laid his hands on that offering and confessed the sins of Israel over it. The offering was slain and the blood was taken into the Holy of Holies in the temple or the tabernacle. The sprinkling of the blood of this offering on the Mercy Seat of the Ark was the thing that validated all the offering brought by the priests during the year. Without the Day of Atonement sacrifice, the rest of the Law and the priesthood were useless. Only one man could bring that offering. He was the High Priest. Without him, Israel was lost.

It is easy to see what God was doing in all of this. There is one offering that was taken to another Holy of Holies: The Heavenly Holy of Holies. Another High Priest carried the blood of the one true sacrifice there. This High Priest did not take the blood of bulls or goats. He took his own blood. This offering did not put judgment off for a year. This blood cleansed all who would come to him paying for sin itself. This High Priest was Jesus and he remains at the right hand of God today.

Labor to Enter the Rest 4

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.