In this passage we can once again see a distinction between True Christianity and Religion.
We see all the outward appearances that define a godly life mentioned but more importantly we see the resource which makes them real which religion fails to provide. I like to say that religion is like putting the cart before the horse. It kind of looks right but something is wrong with this picture. Religion’s power is from self effort. It goes like this, because I want God to accept me, I must do good. Consequently if I do good, regardless of my consistency, I must be basically good and thus acceptable (I hope). However, it fails to understand our pre-existing fallen condition in Adam. Even the Apostle Paul himself says in Rom ch 7, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Only God can change you and make you acceptable in his sight. “Not by works of righteousness which I have done, but by his mercy he saves us…” “For it is by grace he saves us, not by works lest any man should boast.” Christianity’s power is Christ in you the “hope of glory” (hope being confidence). Only Christ motivating and empowering you in your acts of righteousness will result in pleasing the Lord. My advice to you is to get out of the backwards cart of religion before it crashes, and get behind the source of power – Christ Rom 8:1-4
Only Jesus can make people holy
13 Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon. 20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 22 Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter. 23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. 24 Greet all your leaders and all God’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. 25 Grace be with you all.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who will conform you into the image of my son for all to see. I desire my Gospel to be evident in every aspect of your life. I AM your helper. I AM with you always. My grace will sustain you and make you holy. I AM the God of grace and peace in every situation. I AM the great shepherd of your souls. I strengthen your hearts, and equip you with everything good for doing my will to my glory and pleasure. I know what you need to grow in your faith. I AM your righteousness and I will make you pleasing to the Father. You will shine out for all to see in how you live your life, your purity in this lustful world, how you use your money, how you speak to one another, and how you live at home among those who know you best. I have given you my gifts and my fruit so that by faith you can minister to others instead of living for yourself.
Everyone can see a fake, and everyone can see a man whose life is real. Only I can make you be like my Son so that you walk in integrity with clear consciences before the world. Only I can reproduce myself in you to minister to the needy of this world as you let me control your finances. For where your heart is, there will be your treasure also. Don’t you see? Religion cannot make this change in you. External ceremonial rituals can’t make you holy. Only I can do it in reality so that it has lasting eternal value. I AM the God who sees in secret and rewards in public. Only the eternal covenant in my blood can cleanse you and give you my righteousness. Your religious duties won’t help you. But if you are made new in my Son, I can make my righteousness in you shine for all to see and have the proper affect and will have lasting value for you. This is why I said to the self righteous religious leader – Nicodemus, “you must be born again.”
Saint or sinner, it is not something you make yourself
We must trust God’s Word when it says two things: 1. That Adam made you a sinner and thus you sin Rom 7:14-20. 2. Only Christ can make you a saint by his finished work on the cross for you 2 Cor 5:21. You sin because you are a sinner, but now you can be a Saint because of Christ’s work on your behalf. Both conditions are affected in you by someone else. In neither case is it dependent upon something you did or can do.
All for Hebrews,
For further reading:
Religion is making God happy with us
We are duped by our sinful nature to think that we have any control over our eternal destiny by our “good works”. Every religion in the world has some form of personal responsibility to do something to make God happy with us. Here in Animistic PNG, it is imperative that you do all in your power to please the spirits or else… At first glance even the Old Testament rules seem to point to that conclusion as well. However a proper understanding of Why God gave the Jews those rules in the first place would indicate to us that he is showing mankind our INABILITY to be holy like him and thus we are unable to please him. That is why He gave the sacrificial system in the Temple and Tabernacle as I mentioned in earlier posts to provide a means of salvation to all mankind who realize that they need him. Rom 11:32 says that “He has bound all men to sin that he might show mercy on us all.”
We fool ourselves if we think we are basically good
In the story of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what “HE MUST DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE”; Jesus reminded him of the righteous requirements of the Law to which the young man assured him that he was doing faithfully. To prove his point to the contrary, Jesus told him to sell all, give it to the poor and follow him at which point the young man was very sad. The point of this story was that even though the rich young ruler thought he was obeying the commandments, he didn’t even realize that he was breaking the two greatest commandments. “Love God with all your heart and others as yourself”. You see, following Jesus is loving God, and giving our money to meet others needs shows God that we value others above ourselves; neither of which did he want to do explaining why he went away sad. He worshiped his money and used it on himself. Like him, we are fooled if we think that we are basically good and obey God’s Holy Commands. Scriptures say that our hearts deceive us. They are desperately wicked – no one can know them. Truth is not found in our hearts, deceit is. Religion is self deception and profits you nothing really- like Jesus said, “you have your reward.” Truth is in the Scriptures, which point out how deceived we are and shows us true righteousness in Christ – Jn 5:39