Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The author’s enthusiasm for the Word of God seems to be naive to many contemporary Christians. Instead of seeing the Word of God as the answer for a dying church, many today suspect that it is the cause for much of our apathy.
Sin in the life of a child of God can bring terrible consequences. We have seen what sin did to Israel: It hardened their hearts, produced unbelief, and kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land.
The writer of Hebrews said that the same misfortunes can befall Christians. He encouraged his readers not to make the mistakes the Israelites made (v. 11).
If sin is so terrible, what can be done about it? Specifically, what should a child of God do with his sins?
For us, words can be cheap. We make promises to each other that we do not take seriously. We make oaths to God that we easily break. It is easy for our words to mean nothing because too often we have turned them into nothing.
But God is different. He says to Jeremiah, “‘Is not My word like fire?’ . . . ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’” (Jeremiah 23:29). Our commitments may be meaningless, but God’s Word is lasting. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
We cannot hide them (4:11–13)
People deal with their sins in many different ways. Some deny them; others ignore them; many make excuses for them. Then there are those who try to hide them. The author of Hebrews said, in effect, that it is impossible to hide our sins. The Word exposes them (v. 12). Further, God knows when we sin (v. 13).
The Israelites fell because they did not heed God’s Word. The same will be true of us if we do not pay close attention to the teaching of the Scriptures.
In context, “the word of God” refers to the Old Testament passages the writer was quoting, but the message is applicable to all of God’s revealed will.
First, it is “living and active.” God’s Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (v. 12a). The Word can reveal even the most carefully hidden sin.
The Bible is not a book of thousands of isolated verses. It concerns the God whose Word is “living and active,” who offers our lives a promise.
Early Christians were sustained largely by the conviction that the thread running through the Bible was the word of promise:
- They recalled that God had made promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:2) and David (2 Samuel 7:10-17).
- In the coming of Jesus Christ, they recognized that God had kept His promise.
- Paul told his listeners in one speech, “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus” (Acts 13:32, 33).
- The good news was the word that was “promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Romans 1:2).
- God’s Word—pierces “as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow” (v. 12b). The message is that the Word of God lays bare all of a man. If we look into the Word with an honest heart, we see ourselves as we really are (James 1:22–25).
- The Word is therefore “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (v. 12c; emphasis mine). The Israelites fell in the wilderness because of a heart problem. As our lives are com- pared to God’s Word, our hearts are revealed.
God Knows When We Sin (4:13).
The writer moved easily from the Word of God to God Himself. God’s Word is an expression of Himself; the two cannot be separated.
The passage says that no one can hide from God: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight” (v. 13a). God knows everything. “All things are open” to His eyes (v. 13b).
Think of an individual who has done everything he can to hide the flaws of his body. Then think of his embarrassment as he is stripped of his clothing and every flaw is exposed. Even so, regardless of outward religious show, God sees us as we really are.
Everything is “laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (v. 13c).
Right now God knows all about us, and someday we will stand before Him in judgment and give an account for all that we have said and done. The conclusion from this is that we need to repent of our sins and change our lives!
Words of cheap grace do not sustain the life of the church. It is the confrontation with God’s word of judgment which calls us to repentance and accountability.
We must acknowledge our sins and turn to Jesus for mercy Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
If we cannot hide our sins, what should we do with them? We should acknowledge them and turn to Jesus for mercy.
We Have a Sympathetic High Priest (4:15).
He passed through the heavens (4:14). The most sacred locale ever entered by an earthly high priest was the physical Holy of Holies (the “Most Holy Place”; NIV), but Jesus went “into heaven itself” (9:24).
He can sympathize with our weaknesses (4:15). This was not always true of earthly high priests.
He is sinless (4:15). This was definitely not true of earthly high priests.
He administers grace. Earthly high priests could administer law and even justice, but not grace. Jesus gives “grace to help in time of need” (4:16).
Verse 14 says that since Jesus is our High Priest, we should “hold fast our confession”—that is, the confession we made before we were baptized, the confession that Jesus is the Christ. If we hold fast that confession, we will never leave Him or cease to follow Him.
To phrase verse 15 positively, “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted in all things as we are (yet without sin).”
We Can Come Before Him With Confidence (4:16).
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (v. 16a). Someday Jesus’ throne will be the throne of judgment; but today, for the faithful child of God, it is “the throne of grace,” which means “the throne that is characterized by and inhabited by grace.”
We need to draw near “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16a). We need mercy and grace to be saved; we also need mercy and grace to stay saved.
Hebrews 5:7-10 (NIV) 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Many interpret the “loud cries and tears” are here because of Jesus’ concern about the pain on the cross. While there was much pain involved during those last few hours, the tears and cries here are about the time on the cross when God turned His back on Him as He took on the sins of the whole world.
It should give us an indication why we must deal with our sins God’s way…they separate us from God and it should trouble us with ‘loud cries and tears of our own.’