Title: Living Closer to God
Text: Hebrews 10:12-25
Date: October 22-23, 2016
All right, I love the book of Hebrews. It is one of the most important books of the Bible because it shows us Jesus in one of the most beautiful, richest, insightful ways. It brings together the entirety of the Bible and shows us the glory of God through Christ in a powerful, powerful way. It strengthens our faith, draws us to appreciate what a great salvation that God has given to us.
So, he’s writing to these Hebrews, Jews. They are believers in Jesus as the Messiah. They’re Christians, but they are in trouble. They’re struggling because they’re being pressured by the other Jews in Jerusalem to go back to the old ways of the Old Testament. Back to the ways of Moses, and so he’s telling us that wait a minute, you going back to a shadow, but Christ is the substance, the reality. So, what he does, line by line, he shows them that Jesus is superior in every way. Jesus is superior, he’s greater than Moses. Jesus is greater than Solomon. He’s greater than Jonah. He’s greater than even Abraham. Jesus is greater than angels. Jesus is greater than all of the priests of the Old Testament. Greater than the Sabbath, and He is greater than the temple itself. So, the point is why go back to the old life when what you have in Christ is superior to anything else. See, there’s nothing better than Christ. There is no salvation that is greater than that which we have been given through Jesus Christ.
See, when you recognize how great of a salvation you have, and when your eyes of the heart are open to see what great love God has poured out upon through His Son. You respond to that. That’s the whole point of chapter 10. You respond to that, and so they are pressured to go back to the old ways, to the shadow of the things, but then he says, “Hey, instead of falling backward, you need to be pressing forward. You need to be drawing nearer to God.” That’s the very thing that he wants for us. You drawing nearer, he says, “With a sincere heart, and full assurance of faith.”
Now, see I look at that, and I’m convinced that it applies to people today because there are many people that are stuck in what I call the miserable middle. They’re stuck, and they believe that Jesus purchased salvation for them, and they received that offer of life, but what happens is that the pressures of life, the worries, the cares, the concerns of the world, desires for other things. They come in and they choke out their spiritual life, and they find themselves stuck, and they’re stuck in a miserable place because they’re right in the middle, and so he’s trying to show us that we need to move forward. We need to draw nearer. We need to draw nearer with full assurance of faith, draw nearer to the confidence of the thrown of grace. See, when you understand what great salvation you have, and what God has done for you through His Son, now you press forward.
I. God Wants You to Draw Closer
You draw nearer with the sincere heart and full assurance of faith. All right, let’s read it. Hebrews chapter 10, beginning in verse 12. “But He,” Jesus, “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,” that is sacrifice of Himself on the cross, He “sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” That is a great verse. You might want to underline that one. “And the Holy Spirit also bears witness for us for after saying, “This is the covenant,” the new covenant “that I will make with them after those days as the Lord; I will put My laws”, My Word “upon their heart, and upon their mind, I will write it, And then He says, ‘And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now, where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer an offering for sin.” Once He died, and it was sufficient for the forgiveness of all of our sins for all time in eternity.
Now, that brings us to the culmination point in 19, verse 19 he says, “Now, since therefore brethren. We have confidence to enter into the holiest place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He has inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have such a great high priest,” Jesus is our high priest, “we have a great high priest over the house of God,” therefore, “let us draw nearer with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscious.” He did it, He sprinkled the blood of Christ. You could say over our evil conscious, and then he made it clean, and He has washed our bodies with pure water, therefore, “let us hold fast this confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful.” I love that phrase. “Now, let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking or assembling together.” Gathering together as a church as is the habit of sound, “but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” In other words, there should be a sense of urgency as you see the day drawing near. As you see the events of the last days starting to unfold.
There needs to be even a greater sense of urgency in spiritual things, and you look at what’s happening in the world today, and I think that that’s absolutely applied right now in the days in which we are living. We are seeing before our eyes the world changing, a world order is revealing that is prophetic in nature, and it should cause us to be alert. Spiritually alive, it draws us to revival when we understand that this is an urgent thing in our lives.
All right, let’s go back over these verses because what he’s showing us is the result of this great revealing of Jesus, and he’s telling us that the answer is that God wants you to draw closer. He’s made a provision through His Son that you might have this nearness of God. Then take full advantage, and draw it nearer. He has spent the last several chapters before this writing about how Jesus is superior to the Old Testament priests and the law they served. He says, “The law is weak, and the law is useless.” You might say, “Well, that’s kind of a bold phrase” but that’s what he wrote. And he said, “The law can make nothing perfect, and so, therefore, it has been set aside.” We, on the other hand, we have a better hope with which we draw near to God. This hope is an anchor to the soul, and manning the storm in time of difficulty with life’s difficult things are like a storm that rock our ship. It’s so great to have an anchor to the soul. Jesus is the mediator. He says, “of a better covenant” which has been enacted on better promises.
A. We can enter the holiest place
Then it brings you to verse 19, “Well, that opens a door to one of the deepest, greatest truths about just how nearer we can come to God because of what Jesus has done for us when He offered Himself as a sacrifice. Just how new can we come?” And he tells us in verse 19 that we can enter the holiest place. The holiest of holies has been opened to us common sinners, which is an amazing thing. Not only has it been opened for us common sinners, but he says you can even enter into the holiest of holy places with confidence. Now, that right there is absolutely amazing because all of us I think are very much aware of the fact that we’re all sinners. I think it doesn’t take too much honesty to acknowledge that we’re all pretty much messed up sinners. How is it that God, who is holy, would actually want us, and actually invite us?
We're all sinners, and messed up people. How is it that a holy God would actually invite sinners to draw nearer? I thought He was holy. Why would He want ugly, sinful people?” And the answer is absolutely marvelous! Because of the great love that He has for us. See, by a new and living way He has opened up for us an opportunity to enter into the closest most intimate place through a new and living way. Through His own flesh because of His great love.
How does this apply to us? See, it’s absolutely amazing because many people are convinced that God is angry with them and that they are convinced that God being angry with them because they messed up their life. God is pushing them away. Many people believe that God pushes people away that are messed up. Well, if that’s the case He’s pretty much going to push all of us away because we’re all messed up in various degrees. But that’s not what we see. Instead, we see that God does not require a person to get their act together before they can come to God. At no place does God ever say, “Now, here’s the thing. I would very much like you to draw nearer, but you’re quite messed up. Now, when you have your act together then we’ll consider it again, or if you could just pull some stuff together. If you could just stop some of the things that you’re doing that are such an ugly thing. Then perhaps, I might reconsider it.”
But that isn’t at all what we see. In fact, what we see is that He’s the one who washes away every stain, every sin. He is the one who forgives it all, and then He is the one who gives you a robe of righteous you might say. So, that when you stand before the great thrown of God you’re not standing there as a sinner. You are standing there as one who has been made righteous by God Himself, and the response to that should be absolutely amazing. That’s his point. We got to respond to that, and see we see the significance, especially when you connect the dots prophetically. Because all of these things that I just described to you are actually in the Old Testament. All of these things are actually in the laws.
Now, they’re in the law as a shadow. God was showing them all the way back about his heart for them, and the plan of salvation, but it as just a shadow, and all the things that happened in the temple was just a shadow of something far yet greater. See, notice in Hebrews 10:1, “For the Law, since it is only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never make perfect those who draw near.” And then Hebrews 8:4-5, “There are those who offer gifts according to the Law;” but they “serve a copy, and a shadow of the things in heaven.”
But it does have great significance, and in fact, the enemy, Satan, absolutely understands this. And in fact, Israel today would very much like to rebuild their temple, and you might say go back to the things that were a shadow, but never the less the enemy is very much aware of the significance even of the shadow of the thing, and in fact when you look at prophecy of Scripture tells us that when you start connecting the dots, and this is very important for us in the days of which we are living. That the Antichrist will arise on the scene, and he will make a covenant with Israel.
A covenant of peace between Israel and the nations of the world, and this is something that no one has ever been able to do is bring peace in the Middle East, but he will by his great diplomacy, and his great acumen of philosophy, and words, and wisdom and people will highly regard him. And he will make this covenant of peace, and many believe that as part of that covenant it will be permissible for Israel to rebuild their temple, and their intent is it to reinstitute, of course, the sacrifices, and the things that are indicated in the Old Testament. But Scripture tells us that he will betray that covenant three and a half years after the inauguration of it. The signing of it, and he will betray it, and he will take over the temple himself, and he will set himself up there to be worshiped within it and therefore understanding the spiritual nature of this conflict because he understands the significance of Israel, or Jerusalem, and the temple. And therefore, we need to understand and recognize the significance of it as well.
Let’s connect the dots. In fact, if you go back and remember in the Old Testament that when Moses was on Mount Sinai, that’s after they came out of Egypt, and God is giving him the law, and all this. That God gave him a pattern for which he was to build a tabernacle and therefore, also the temple, but the pattern that Moses received was actually a copy of the very throne room of heaven itself. It was a pattern of the throne room of heaven. In other words, the ark of the covenant covered in all sides with gold, and above it to the chair of glory overshadowing the Mercy Seat. Since they shadow, but it’s the shadow of the throne room of heaven where God sits in all His glory.
Then very interestingly, on Yom Kippur the holiest day of the year. The Sabbath of all Sabbaths. The priest would take two goats, and one goat would be sacrificed, and then the blood of that animal would be brought into the holiest of holy places in the tabernacle. The temple, and he would take the blood of this animal as the sacrifice of sin, and he would sprinkle it upon the Mercy Seat seven times, and it was an indication that the payment of sin must be death. The sacrifice of this animal, and then the other goat. Remember there were two. The other one is called an “scape goat”. I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “scape goat”. Actually comes right out of the Old Testament principle, and so the priest would take his hands, and would lay his hands on the goat, and then it would be praying not for the goat, but rather praying in that sins of Israel would be transferred onto the goat, and then the goat would be released into the wilderness never to be seen again. The wilderness taking it far from them.
So, you see all that, and you realize that sounds very familiar to me. That is an amazing thing. This is, in fact, the main point of that. Is that it is a shadow, of course, of what Christ did. The payment of our sins is the death of the Son of God, but when Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice He did not offer His blood on the mercy seat in Jerusalem. No, He offered His blood in the very throne room of heaven itself. He entered into heaven itself as payment for our sin. He brought His own blood unto the thrown you might say. In fact, Hebrews 9:24, “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
See, when you step back, and you see all of that, and that this has been the intent of God from the foundation of the world. You respond to that. That’s why he says in verse 19, “Therefore, as a result of this let us draw near to God with confidence.” See, this is an amazing thing. Sinners can have confidence to approach the very holiest of holy place because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.
In fact, it was the very intent of God to invite sinners. In fact, it was the very purpose of God to send Jesus to seek and to save the lost. Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus was said to go and get you and me and to bring us into reconciliation with the Father. That was the very intent. So, how is it possible that sinners can have confidence. Because He removes the sin, and He removes the shame. It’s really a beautiful thing because many people have a lot of shame.
I remember when we were kids. We used to pick strawberries when we were young. How many people picked strawberries when we were young? A lot of people did. But we had to pick berries all summer long. I know, I know. It was terrible, and you could always tell those who picked berries all summer long because my fingers, all of my fingers were stained. I know, and you couldn’t get it off. I don't care. I tried. No matter how much washing you did, how many times you washed it. You couldn’t’ get the stain off. So, I would go to school in the fall with my fingers stained, and I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed because of my poverty. That’s why we had to pick berries all summer long. I was ashamed because of my poverty, and I was ashamed of my stains.
And in many ways, it’s really a picture of the stains that we have on our soul, and before God, there’s a shame that’s brought before the Lord that we have. In fact, Jeremiah 2:22 reminds me of this, “Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your iniquity is before Me declares the Lord God.” That’s true, but here is the glorious aspect of what He does for us in Christ.
See, Psalm 103:10-12, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins,” He has not “rewarded us according to our inequities.” I’m so thankful for that “for as high as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” See, this is a great thing because He has removed the stain, and He has removed the shame so you can enter into a relationship to God with confidence, and draw near with a heart that’s full of love. See, that’s why he says, “Draw near with a sincere heart. Draw near with a sincere heart.” When you think about what God is offering is absolutely amazing.
I remember when I was teaching a class once, and one of the folks in the class asked a question they had come from eastern philosophy, and so they said, “Do Christians meditate like those in eastern religions?” And if you’re not familiar in the eastern religions they meditate in order to become one with the universe, and what they would do is to meditate, and to empty their mind of all thought. To empty, empty, empty the mind of all thoughts, and to help do this they would repeat the sound of the universe. Do you know what the sound of the universe is? Yes, you do know what it is, and they repeat “ohm”.
They say this over, and over, and over because they want to become one with the universe. Frankly, I don’t really want to be one with the universe. I would rather be one with He who made the universe, but here’s the point. No amount of meditating will do it. You can climb the highest mountains, and shout the greatest phrases, and it will not bring you into the throne room of our God. You can memorize every religious writing that’s ever been written, and it will not bring you into the throne room of our God. You can pray until your knees are bloody and calloused, but it will not bring you into the throne room of our God. Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can we enter, but once we have the blood of Jesus Christ we can enter with confidence into the holiest of holy places, and that’s why he says, “Draw near with a sincere heart.”
B. Draw near with a sincere heart
He says, notice in verses 19 and 22, “Since we have this confidence to enter into the holiest place let us draw near with a sincere heart.” What does it mean to have a sincere heart? It means a heart that’s true. It’s genuine, it’s genuine, it’s real. You mean it. It’s genuine. It’s authentic.
It reminds me of Chuck Smith, many years ago, told about a guy in Texas that used to advertise on TV that he sold genuine simulated diamonds. People sent real money to buy real, true, genuine, simulated diamonds. No, the real genuine heart is the heart that’s sincere.
The English word sincere actually comes from two Latin words, sine cera, and it means without wax. Now, the reason why that was important is because in the Greek and roman cultures. Sculpture, marble sculpturing was very, very important. Wealthy people especially would love to collect, and have a sculpture made from marble. And so, you can imagine an artisan who is working the sculpture, and chipping away at the marble to reveal whatever it might be, and then you all of these hours, all of this time, and then you make a mistake, and off falls a nose or something. Tragedy, what do you do now? So, what they would do is take some of the leftover chippings, and they would grind it up, mix it with wax, and reshape the nose, or whatever it would be and put it right back on. In fact, you could not even tell. It was absolutely marvelous, and so the person would come a buy this statue. Oh, it’s so wonderful, and so they bring it home, and then they sit it out in the backyard, and the afternoon sun would come, and start to warm up the wax, and then you come home and the nose is bent out of shape. And so, therefore, they would write a certificate. An artisan would, therefore, give a certificate with a sculpture. This sculpture is sincere. It has no wax.
When it comes to our relationship with other people it’s very common for us to want to hide our flaws. To conceal those flaws with wax we might say. Wanting to sell to other people a better version of ourselves than is real. Is this not true? We want people to think better of us than we really are. So, we conceal with wax you might say before other people. We have such a pattern. Such a habit of this that’s very common.
Many people think they can do the same thing to God wanting to sell to God a better version of themselves than is real, but this is a great mistake because it keeps people farther away from God. Now, first of all, we should say it’s ridiculous to deceive ourselves into thinking that He doesn’t know those flaws already, and in fact He made this point earlier in Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the Word of God is living and active… able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” So, see, people hide their flaws because they’re ashamed of them. We understand it. They’re embarrassed.
They would very much like to hide it forever. Like skeletons in the closet. You know that phrase. It’s an ugly phrase. It’s common. What does it mean that someone has a “skeleton in the closet”? It means that they have some secret. It’s like a great terrible secret. There’s a corpse that’s been in the closet. The corpse has been in the closest so long that is has decayed, and now turned into a skeleton. But the fact that it’s in the closet means that it’s very near, and you’re endangered of it being discovered, and many people have you might say skeletons in the closet. They’re ashamed, and they want to hide it. They don’t want anyone to know.
I understand. This is the way I felt growing up because my father was an alcoholic, but I was ashamed. I didn’t want anybody to know. We were the poorest people that I knew, and I didn’t want anybody to know, and I would hide it. But see it’s that chain that keeps us far from God, and people make mistakes, and they have tragedies of tremendous proportions, and they’re ashamed.
But listen, if you were in deeper trouble wouldn’t you want a friend to come along side of you. Someone who would not cast you out, someone who would be an advocate, someone who would help you. Someone who would come to your aid, someone who would believe in your heart. Wouldn’t you like someone like that? Even if you were in trouble, wouldn’t you want someone who really would not condemn you? But would come along side to help you? You know what, that’s who God is. That’s who God is.
See, why would we want to hide our flaws, when in fact, He is the one who would help us, and comes to our aid. He is the one who would strengthen us. He will be the one who in fact brings about that which is rebuilding, and refreshing, and renewing. I love Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and we may find grace to help in time of need.” It’s a wonderful, wonderful truth for us, and that’s why he says once you see this great salvation, the sinners are actually invited. God is actually drawing sinners with all of their stains, and all of their shame, and all of the mess.” He says, “No, don’t you understand I’ve made provision, I’ve made a way. I’m not casting you out. I’m not throwing you away. I’m not condemning you. I’m asking you to come, and I’m asking you to come through the blood of the Son of God that you can even as sinners come into the holiest of holy places with confidence.”
II. Have Full Assurance of Faith
In fact, that’s why he says, “Draw near with the sincere heart” and then he adds to it with full assurance of faith. Verse 22, “let us draw near with full assurance of faith.” This goes right along with a sincere heart. You come to God with a heart that’s true. It’s a love that’s genuine and real.
See, when you step back and you see it. God is inviting a sinner with all their stains, and all their shame to come, and He will remove the stain Himself. He will remove the shame Himself. He will come to their aid, He will come to their rescue. He will come and stand as an advocate along with them. When you see that. So, amazing, so wonderful that you’re authentically, and genuinely thankful. You are genuinely, and authentically thankful, and you love Him with a sincere heart, but why? Because you believe that His Word is true.
A. Have faith with full conviction
You take that with an absolute full heart. In other words, you have faith with full conviction. You stand very strongly with full conviction because you know His promise is true, and you know His promise is for you. See, they were wavering. They were unsure because of the influence of people around them. Be careful about people’s influences on you. He’s writing now to strengthen their faith. He writes truth. He just threw one line after the other. Truth, do you know who Jesus is? He’s greater than Abraham, your father. He’s greater than Moses, do you understand? I’ll prove it to you. He’s greater than all of the priests of the Old Testament. He is greater than the temple itself. He is greater than the Sabbath.
Do you know what you have? And he just starts throwing truth at them, truth at them, truth at them, and then what happens is that the soul starts to resonate with truth. The soul was made to resonate with truth. See, that’s why Jesus said John 18:37, “Jesus answered,” he’s speaking to Pilot, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” And “everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’”
That’s why earlier he said, if you hear his voice you soften your heart. You hear you respond to that voice. So, when you have faith with full conviction you are fully convinced. You are fully assured you are standing on a rock. See, I like Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. It is the conviction of things not seen.”
B. Because He who promised is faithful
And so then see he gives us the reason why. Notice in verse 23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith. For He who promised is faithful.” See, here’s the thing. I can stand on this for He who promised is faithful. He’s faithful to His promise, He’s faithful to His Word. This hope we have as an anchor to our soul. It tethers us to a rock. That’s what an anchor does. See, in Hebrew 6:19, “This hope we have and as an anchor to our soul, a hope both sure, and steadfast,” and that this is the conviction that you have. Therefore, you entrust unto Him the cares of your life. He who promised is faithful. I entrust my family to you Lord. I entrust my difficulties, I entrust my troubles. I entrust my life.”
See, I love 2 Timothy 1:12, “I know in whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I am committed unto Him until that day.” I know in whom I have believed, and I am convinced, I am persuaded. I know full conviction that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him.”
See, this is so key. Especially, in the days in which we are living. It’s a messed up world. It’s a messed up day. It’s a messed up election. This is the most messed up period I have ever seen in my life, amen? We ought to be a very deeply praying people. I hope that you’re as concerned as I am about what’s happening in this nation. This election is the most messed up I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s an indication of the messed up times in which we are living, and the world is changing. You see what’s happening in Russia, and china, and Syria, and Iran, and the Middle East, and it should be very concerning for us, but then we also have this. The full assurance and the full conviction that I know in whom I have believed. And I am persuaded that my God is able to keep that, which I have committed unto Him until that day!