Monday, July 26, 2010
“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. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15, 16, NKJV.
This is an awesome verse from the first section of the book of Hebrews, in which the author is going on and on and on about the excellence and superiority of Christ. He talks about His deity, His superiority over the angels, the power of His word, and His incarnation - that He became flesh. And so we come to this little gem.
He is a High priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses! He knows what it is like to be tempted, weak, and confused. He knows, He has been there. God has assumed flesh and understands!!! This was one of the points of the incarnation. He was in ALL POINTS tempted AS WE ARE. Temptation to greed, compromise, laziness, gluttony, sexual things, slander, covetousness, murderous anger, He understands it all. This is a tremendous comfort, He is never shocked by our weakness.
Now, here is another thing to notice: He was without sin. Him. HE was without sin. The obvious point of the verse is that it is clear that no one else is without sin. He experienced our weaknesses, but whereas we sin, He does not. The implication is that it is known that WE SIN. Whatever else the writer of Hebrews is talking about anywhere, being diligent to enter rest, getting discipline, being of faith, whatever, you can bet that he knew that he was talking to SINNERS. Ragamuffins, scoundrels, chest-beaters, beaten down bruised reed type of people. Weak, tempted, and NOT without sin.
If he meant that it was all in the past, but that now in Christ we are largely sinless, then why would he be going on talking about going boldly to the throne of grace? He is talking about NOW, real sin in our current experience. Otherwise we would have no further need of the throne of grace. Well, I don't know about you, but I find that comforting and a pretty helpful thing!
And here is the kicker, Jesus uses this experience, this knowledge of being weak, not to rub our noses in His success and our failure, but to foster sympathy. When we are weak and tempted and actually fail, He thinks, I know what it is like, I know the power of forces that led you to failure. Therefore I sympathize, therefore I have arranged for grace!
Now, if we are thus to come boldly to the throne of grace, does that mean we sin, and go through our obligatory guilty period, until we have enough repentance under our belt experientially under our belt that we can prove that it is OK to pray again and maybe expect favor, as long as we have excuses and promises of change ready? That isn't coming boldly!!! You think you can 'repent' better on your own without God's help? How is that working for you? When we sin, our place of healing and forgiveness and change IS the throne of grace. It is, after all, a throne of GRACE!! The only place you are going to get forgiveness and absolution and real repentance and true change is the throne of grace. You want to change, you want to repent, you want to stop certain behaviors? Where else do you think that is going to happen? It happens there, at the throne of grace. Go boldly confess freely, admit everything. It is, after all, a throne of grace!
Now here is a great thing. The seat of ultimate justice, the seat of ultimate power, the center of judgement, is also a throne of grace. If God ministers grace from His throne, you can bet that the justice that you fear in your conscience is dealt with completely. It is not a fake coping mechanism to make you feel good, a psychologist's pill to cover over your turmoil with a narcotic fog. It is truth. There may be consequences in this physical world, but the tables are turned. In all actual truth, in REAL LIFE, the ultimate seat of judgement has extended mercy and favor, and in the end that will stand forever.