Hebrews Lesson 41 February 2, 2006
NKJ 1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
We are going to back up a little bit to the last paragraph in Hebrews 4.
NKJ Hebrews 4:14 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.
We are going to focus on that a little bit because this sets the theme for the next section in Hebrews. In fact it sets the theme for the two major sections in Hebrews - the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus Christ over against the temporary Aaronic priesthood which is based on the Mosaic covenant.
Last time I set this structure up on the screen so that you would have a general understanding of the flow of thought in Hebrews.
Section One 1:2-2:4
Didactic Exposition: 1:1-14
Practical Exhortation and Warning: 2:1-4
Section Two 2:5-4:13
Didactic Exposition 2:5-3:6
Practical Exhortation and Warning 3:7-4:13
Section Three: 4:14-6:20
Didactic Exposition 4:14-5:10
Practical Exhortation 5:11-6:20
As I stated in the opening introduction some 40 hours ago, Hebrews was written; but I believe it was originally based on a message or teaching that was given. It is an illustration of what an oral message or teaching was like. It is divided based on these warnings sections that are scattered through the epistle. There are five warning sections. Each one comes at the end of a teaching section. So you have a didactic exposition followed by a practical exhortation that may be a warning in and of itself or it may include a warning.
So the first section extends from 1:1 down to 2:4 with 1:1-4 as the opening prologue. Then you have a second section that we just finished 2:5-4:13. Then the third section begins with 4:14 picking up the theme of Jesus Christ's current high priestly ministry which was introduced back in 2:17. This is the major issue that underlies everything that is said in the book of Hebrews in relationship to the believer. Back in the opening introduction last spring I stated that the theme of the epistle is the implication of the Savior's session on the current sanctification of the saints and their future service in the kingdom. The writer is building out the implications from the current session of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father. It is (although He is eternally priest, prophet and king) His priestly ministry that gets activated full force at the ascension when He ascends to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
It is only in the book of Hebrews that the high priestly ministry of Christ is developed in the New Testament. Paul doesn't say anything about it in the Pauline epistles. Its implications are flushed out in the book Hebrews. The implications are that we have a Savior who is now seated at the right hand of God the Father who is our High Priest. As such because He has already gone through the same process of sanctification (spiritual growth) that we go through. He is the originator, the pioneer and the forerunner of our spiritual life so that He is able therefore to come to our aid. There are powerful implications of that for the believer. There serious warnings for us if we fail to persevere in obedience and advance to spiritual maturity. That impacts our future service as priests and kings in the Millennial Kingdom.
So in the previous section from 2:5 down through the end of that didactic section in 3:6, the writer sets the stage for our understanding of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ. So there are 7 points that I have on the importance of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ.
- He lays out the necessity of the Son of God to become fully human. It is necessary for the Son of God to become fully human. This was a problem for the Israelites (the Jews) to understand. That is why we will see later in I Corinthians 2:11 that it talks about Jesus Christ's crucifixion as a stumbling block to the Jews. They had a difficult time understanding that God was going to become a man. So his argument begins with the necessity of the Son of God becoming fully human.
- Then he develops that in verse 10. Jesus as the captain (That's the NKJ translation.) meaning pioneer, pathfinder, originator. He is the forerunner. He is the one who sets the precedent for our entire spiritual life, the entire salvation process. When you see the word "salvation" there as I have pointed out before, it's not justification salvation. It is looking at the whole process, the whole package. Jesus Christ is the pioneer of our salvation. He had to be brought to spiritual maturity in His humanity through adversity. He had to go through the same kinds of tests, the same kinds of adversity, the same difficulty that we go through. He had to be tested in relationship to His trust and reliance upon the power of God to sustain Him through the various tests, adversities and trials that He went through.
``` NKJ Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The Second Person of the trinity had to become true humanity. Second, as true humanity He has to set the pattern in terms of spiritual growth and the spiritual life.
- Jesus had to be true humanity that through His death on the cross He would defeat the devil. This goes back to the original statement of the gospel which is called the proto evangelium back in Genesis 3:15 when God is addressing the serpent in that section that is normally called the curse.
NKJ Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
God spells out the judicial consequences on mankind and on the universe for the failure of Adam, for his fall. In that section he addresses the serpent. "You will crush the woman's seed." This is the first indication of the fact that there would be an attack against the seed of the woman. But, this attack would not be fatal. The seed of the woman would in turn crush the head of the serpent. So Satan is defeated at the cross. So we face a defeated enemy, but He still controls the territory. That is why he is referred to as the god of this age, the prince and power of the air. He is still going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. So Jesus had to be true humanity that through His substitutionary atonement on the cross He would defeat the devil.
NKJ Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
He had to be true humanity.
"That" indicates a purpose clause.
Not only did He have to be true humanity so that He could defeat the devil on the cross, but as a result of that He would release those who are in bondage. This word translated release is the Greek word apallasso which means to set free from slavery or to release from a state of being controlled. It is through His death that not only Satan is defeated; but we are released, freed from something. We are released - those who through fear of death are subject to bondage. So there is a release from fear. Most of us would think if we reflect back on that time when we were unbelievers that the fear of death was not necessarily something that was foremost in our thinking. And so we look at something like this and what the Word of God tells us despite our experience is that at the core of our thinking, at the core of our emotional state is that we are driven by fear. We will develop that in just a minute. We are delivered from and released from that fear of death. That is part of the package that goes with being a fallen human being. We will pick that thread up in just a minute.
- Jesus therefore had to be true or genuine humanity for the purpose of becoming a "merciful and faithful high priest." So there is this procedure. He has to be born as a true human being. He has to go through a qualification process where He learns various things through the things that He suffered. He learns as a human being to trust God. He grows and matures spiritually setting the precedent of the spiritual life of the Church Age. He is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. He relies upon the power of the Holy Spirit to solve the problems that He faces in His humanity. In His deity He still performs various miracles such as the changing of the water into wine. He demonstrates that He is who He claims to be – that is God. He forgives sin. But when He performs miracles from His deity they are not miracles that are designed to solve His personal problems or tests. For example when Satan takes Him into the wilderness and after His 40 days of fasting where He hasn't eaten and Satan tempts Him to turn the stone into bread; He handles it by the Word of God.
NKJ Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "
So He doesn't function out of His deity to solve the problems that He is facing in His humanity. He only operates from His deity when He is demonstrating His deity – that He is who He claims to be. He is born a man. He has to be true humanity. He is not just deity that comes upon a human being. (That was one of the Gnostic views - that you had this Jesus who was born a man and then there is this divine spirit that manifests itself through Him starting with the baptism with John the Baptist. Then just before the cross this divine spirit leaves and the man Jesus is crucified and dies. That was one of the Gnostic views. Another Gnostic view was that this was just an appearance of God, an apparition. He didn't truly become flesh because if you were truly flesh that would corrupt deity. In Gnosticism you have this dualism between matter and spirit. The spirit is good. Matter is inherently evil. So therefore God could never become true humanity. That was at the core of much Gnostic teaching that became popular later on in the 2nd and 3rd century.) The emphasis here is on the true humanity of Jesus. He became like us. He is already deity and becomes a man, goes through this process, goes to the cross where we are freed from sin. He pays the penalty for sin free from the fear of death. Satan is defeated. Then Jesus goes to the next stage where He becomes our merciful and faithful high priest. That becomes the foundation for what the writer of Hebrews is going to develop for the spiritual life in the next four or five chapters.
- In the role of High Priest He makes the propitiatory sacrifice to God for the sins of mankind. This was one of the primary functions of the high priest under the Mosaic Code. On the Day of Atonement the high priest would bring the blood from the sacrifice of a lamb that was without spot or blemish. He would bring that blood into the Holy of Holies and place it on the Mercy Seat. The Ark of the Covenant is a box of acacia wood that is overlaid with gold. Then there is a lid that is placed upon the Ark of the Covenant. On that lid are two cherubs. The cherubs represent the holiness and the righteousness of God. These cherubs are looking down to the center of this lid. That lid, the center place, is called the mercy seat. The high priest would place the blood from a lamb that had been sacrificed on the mercy seat. It was a picture of the fact that God's righteousness and justice are satisfied by the substitutionary death of the sacrifice. This is fulfilled by Jesus Christ who Himself is the propitiatory sacrifice so that He satisfies the justice and righteousness of God. This could only take place because Jesus Christ was perfectly righteous. He was sinless. Because He was sinless He could die as our substitute on the cross.
- So the mercy seat is then developed as the place where we can receive mercy and find grace in help in time of need. So there is this transition in the thought of the writer from the end of that second section where Jesus Christ makes propitiation for the sins of the people. The idea of propitiation is from the Greek word hilasterion which translated the Hebrew word for the Mercy Seat.
Then we come to the beginning of our section where Jesus Christ is the high priest. He sympathizes with us in our weaknesses.
NKJ Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So there is this flow of thought that we have because that Jesus Christ is our High Priest because He has gone through the same kinds of testing that we have gone through because He has learned obedience through the things that He has suffered.
NKJ Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Because He is able to aid us we can find mercy and grace and aid from our Savior who is standing as our representative next to the Father to handle the attacks and the assaults and the accusations of Satan. So we see this connection between His high priesthood, the mercy seat, His work of propitiation, and current ministry of strengthening us and aiding us in times of testing so that the reality of Christ's high priesthood is one that is vital to our spiritual life and our focus. This isn't some sort of abstract doctrine that Jesus Christ is now prophet, priest and king. Amen. There is a significance to this that often people miss. It is not that He intercedes for us. This is something that is designed to give moment-by-moment strength, aid, comfort, and power to the believer as we go through difficult times. It is supposed to be a reality that dominates our thinking. Right now no matter what you are going through whatever difficulties there may be, whatever the pressures you face in life, Jesus Christ has already been there and done that. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for you, to pray for you and is always ready to give aid and strength to you no matter what you are going through. So this is an intensely practical doctrine.
NKJ Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
That is a command there from katanoeo - to carefully contemplate, study, reflect upon, and meditate upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. So we are commanded to think about Him, to focus on Him, to study about Him. These are the crucial doctrines that under gird our whole belief system so that Jesus is referred to as the Apostle and High Priest of our belief system. That is our confession.
The word there for confession is the same word that we find in I John 1:9, homogeo. It not only means confession in the sense of admission of guilt but it also means confession in the sense of profession of belief or a statement of doctrine. It has the idea of the admission or acceptance of the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. This idea of a confession is picked up again in the beginning of our next section in 4:14.
NKJ Hebrews 4:14 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.
So in 3:1 we are commanded to contemplate, meditate, study upon who Jesus Christ is because He is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. Then in 4:14 we are to hold fast to this confession - the statement related to the person and work of who Jesus Christ is. Now what under girds all of this is a fascinating illustration for the believer. We are pictured as soldiers, as warriors in spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10f who are engaged in a conflict in enemy territory. As part of that we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. That brings in the whole doctrine of ambassadorship. But we are moving day in and day out moment-by-moment through enemy territory. Even though Satan is defeated at the cross, he is still alive and active. He is still prowling about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Moment-by-moment we are operating in territory that is under the control of an enemy that is more powerful than we are and who is invisible. We can't see him. We don't understand what he is actually doing – how he is influencing people and history and the events of our day. The only thing we can do is to rely upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Since Satan has already been defeated, he is now engaged in what we would call a guerilla campaign, a warfare of terrorism. He seeks to terrorize believers so that rather than focusing on Jesus Christ and His power and His sustaining grace, we focus on the problems of life and the details of life. We get distracted so that we are more concerned with what is going on around us than we are with God's provision for us in the midst of adversities in life. So Satan is engaged in a campaign of terrorism against believers. The core of this concept of terrorism is to induce fear and anxiety into the individual so that we are fearful of what might happen. This brings us to sort of a sidebar this evening on the doctrine of fear. So let's take a look at what the Bible teaches about fear.
Doctrine of Fear
- To understand fear we have to recognize that fear is the initial reaction that we see in fallen man after Adam sins. Fear is the first reaction of fallen man to the presence of God following Adam's sin. This is seen in Genesis 3:10. After they sinned remember they realized that they were naked and they made clothes of fig leaves. Then when God came looking for them in the garden, they ran and hid. God asked them why they ran and hid.
NKJ Genesis 3:10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."
There is a lot going on there. The very presence of God exposes to Adam his guilt, his failure and his vulnerability. He is totally exposed out there because prior to the fall, he is enveloped in God's protection. The enemy can't really get to him. But, once he disobeys God there is an automatic shift that takes place in reality. He is instantly cowering. He is instantly afraid. He is instantly timid. He instantly realizes that he is exposed and vulnerable. He is naked. They try to solve this problem on their own, but it is a pseudo solution that can't work. It is characterized by fear so that the orientation of the fallen human soul is fear. We cover it up. We try to hide it. We try to disguise it. We try to anesthetize it. But at the very core of the rebellious creature's soul is fear. Now he is exposed. He is out there as it were as a soldier who has been completely left by all of his support, all of his logistical aid. He is out there without armor, without fire power. He is exposed to all of the assaults of the enemy. The orientation of the human soul is towards fear. It is also oriented toward fear because now there is going to be judgment. He knows that he has violated the righteous standard of God and God is going to judge and condemn man for his disobedience and his lack of righteousness. At the very core of the fallen soul is this orientation toward fear. People try to cover this up in all kinds of ways. They go through life and seek to anesthetize it with success, drugs, alcohol, the pursuit of pleasure, or whatever it may be. Somehow in the details of life there are elements of creation that they focus on in order to try to numb this sense of fear and anxiety and worry and dread. Every now and then some psychiatrist comes up with a term that describes it. The Germans called it angst. That is at the core of the human soul. It isn't focused on anything necessarily, but there is this awareness that man is this limited finite creature that just out there. So man tries to cover it up with every kind of pseudo solution possible. That's what Adam did when he created clothing from fig leaves.
- The reality of sin and disobedience is instantly known by the unbeliever. Just at Rom 1:18f (which we have studied many times) shows us that the unbeliever knows beyond any shadow of a doubt that God exists. The nonverbal witness of creation is enough evidence of the existence of God. The Scripture says that the knowledge of God is evident within them because God has made it evident to them. Romans 1:18-21 In the same way that fallen man knows that God exists, fallen man also knows that he is exposed and he recognizes that it produces fear in him. Every human being is aware of the fact that he is a sinner and that he stands in condemnation, disobedience to God. He has this internal sense of fear – fear of exposure, fear of failure, fear of death, fear of punishment. There is this sense of fear. Somehow in order to get passed this, we have to control the circumstances around us so that we can have some sense of stability.
- Fear is the core mental attitude sin that is the counterpart to arrogance. Fear is the mental attitude sin that goes along with man's arrogance and his desire to be completely independent of the creator. So it is the emotional sin that goes along with arrogance and the arrogant orientation to sin. This is the irony that the creature seeks to establish and assert his autonomy. "God I want to do it myself. I want to make my own decisions. I can run everything myself." But as soon as he gets away from God all of a sudden the realities of the universe are there and he is scared to death. He is not willing to submit himself to the authority of God and orient Himself to the authority of God.
- Fear then for the believer is a sign of carnality and a lack of trust in God. When you become afraid and your soul is controlled by fear, worry, anxiety, dread and all of these counterparts to fear; it is a sign that we are living in carnality. We are operating as if God is not in control and we are the ones who determine stability in our own lives. It means we have to go back to the Scriptures and stabilize our thinking by going to the various promises that God has given us that are related to fear. So I want to run through some promises for you. Perhaps you should memorize one or two of these to grab hold of at various times when you are worried about things in life, that you are fearful. For some people that is not as much a problem as it is for other folks. Some people are prone to worry. That is the trend of their sin nature. Other folks are not quite geared that way, but we all have times when we are fearful.
NKJ Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.
Exodus 14:13a gives a foundational principle. This is when Moses talks to the people. Their backs are against the Red Sea and the chariots of pharaoh are pressing from behind. It looks like they are about to be annihilated.
That is the foundational principle. "The battle is the Lord's." David said this as he was going against Goliath. Relax. Don't trust in your own efforts, your own power, or your own ability. Trust in the deliverance of God.
Joshua articulates the same principle in Joshua 10 in the context of the conquest of the land.
NKJ Joshua 10:25 Then Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight."
The book of Joshua (the historical events of Joshua) is a picture of the spiritual warfare, the spiritual conflict that every believer is engaged in. We face numerous enemies. We face enemies related to the sin nature. We face enemies related to Satan and the demons. We face enemies related to the world system and cosmic thinking. This applies to all of those enemies. The Lord will give us victory. We should not be fearful or dismayed. We should be strong because our confidence is not in our own power. It's not in our mental ability or our IQ. It is in the power of God.
NKJ Psalm 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
This is a promise that is a favorite for many people.
When our confidence is in the Lord He is our strength. He is our power. He is the one who strengthens us who sustains us and aids us so that we can relax and not be fearful. We look at the things that happen in the world today and we see the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power. There are threats to wipe out Israel. We look at a lot of economic news that we hear and we realize the instability of an economic system that is built on faith. It's just paper money. And we look at the indebtedness that the nation is in and all of the other things that threaten life on a day-to-day basis. But we can relax because we know that God is in control. God is working out His plan through history. If God is in control then who should we fear? Why should we fear? Why should we worry? God is the one who is going to comfort us and sustain us and strengthen us.
NKJ Psalm 27:3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.
God is his strength.
NKJ Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
Seek the Lord in prayer. Seek the Lord through Bible study. Read the Scripture for yourself. Read through the psalms. When there are times that you are overcome with worry, fear, or anxiety; it is a great comfort to go to the psalms because David many times goes through times, especially during that period when Saul was chasing him and seeking to kill him. David is surrounded by enemies. He is threatened. He expresses those fears to the Lord and then he focuses on the character of God which brings him around to a position where he is relaxed, confident, and his emotions are stabilized.
So he claims….
NKJ Psalm 46:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
No matter what the situation may be, God is always there to aid us and sustain us. We have Jesus Christ who is our high priest who has gone through the same kinds of tests and trials and adversities. He is there to sustain us.
NKJ Psalm 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Notice the flow here. He states a principle in verse 1. This is what happens when you are going through the process of the faith rest drill. You focus your mind on a promise, a fragment of Scripture, a principle and you wrap you thinking around that. Here the principle is given in verse 1.
What doctrine does that refer to? God is omnipresent. So He is always present to us. Therefore we don't go through any trial, any test or any difficulty where God is not there with us.
Verse 2 is a doctrinal conclusion. Therefore I won't be afraid. We think about who God is. We think about His promises to us. That brings us to a doctrinal conclusion. Of course 30 seconds later you are starting to worry about it again. You are fearful so you have to go through the process. Sometimes you go through that cycle 5 or 6 times every 5 or 6 minutes until finally you begin to stabilize and focus and it becomes a reality. That takes time. That is the process of spiritual growth and how we move forward. It takes time. It doesn't happen in a day.
Isaiah 41:10 is a verse that is familiar to all of us.
NKJ Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
Philippians 4:6-7 are two important verses to memorize.
NKJ Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
NKJ Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This is a direct command. Don't worry. Don't be anxious. Don't be fearful.
Thanksgiving related to what? To whatever you are fearful of or anxious of or whatever it is you are in dread of. Be thankful for those circumstances, that situation. Go to the Lord in prayer.
Protect from what? Fear, anxiety and dread. So you focus on God, not the problem.
That brings us to 1 Peter 5:7.
NKJ 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
The idea is that we throw our anxieties, our worries, and our cares upon Him. Why? Because He cares for you. There is a rationale there. Because you are a believer, Jesus Christ loves you. He has provided everything for you because He cares for you. In turn we are to throw all of our cares upon Him and to let Him handle it. Then 5 seconds later we have to throw them back again.
NKJ Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Psalm 56 is a tremendous psalm to read through when you are going through times of fear or difficulty – when you feel overwhelmed. One of the verses talks about how He collects our tears in a bottle. This builds on the ancient Near East practice that at a funeral they had a special bottle, a little vial, that they would collect their tears in, their tears of mourning and then they would preserve those. What that imagery there is that God is aware of every tear that we shed and He pays attention to it. It is a tremendous indication of how God is always there no matter what we go through.
NKJ Psalm 56:4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?
It is the Word of God that gives us that comfort.
NKJ Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
- Having gone through the promises we recognize that there is a fear related complex of sins - fear, worry, anxiety, dread and panic. These are not part of God's plan for the believer. God did not save you so that you could go through life governed and controlled by fear, worry, and anxiety whenever there are difficulties and adversities that you face.
- Fear puts our focus on human ability (really inability) rather than on God's grace. Fear puts our focus on human ability which is really an inability to solve the problem. Therefore you become fearful or anxious about what's going to happen, what might happen. Usually the worst case scenario never happens. Sometimes it does. That isn't an absolute, but that' is what I find. Usually whatever I think is going to happen that doesn't happen. The best case doesn't happen either. It is usually somewhere in the middle. But God is always in control. Rather than wasting all of that time in fear, we need to focus on the provision of God. So fear puts the focus on human ability or inability rather than God's grace and His omnipotence.
- Fear doubts God and attempts to trust in man, but man is weak and is incapable of being the source of stability.
- Fear or worry can add nothing to the solution of the problem.
One section of Scripture that I would encourage you to read when you have problems with worry or fear is in Matthew 6:25 down through the end of the chapter. It's a great passage to be reminded of. Jesus is speaking to the disciples in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.
NKJ Matthew 6:25 " Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
In other words, the basic logistics of life – food, shelter, clothing- don't worry about those things.
NKJ Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
NKJ Matthew 6:27 "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
You see, that's the basic point. We worry and we fear and it doesn't do anything productive and it doesn't add a thing. It doesn't solve anything. All it does is waste a lot of time and turn our insides into knots.
NKJ Matthew 6:28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
NKJ Matthew 6:29 "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
NKJ Matthew 6:30 "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
God is going to sustain the believer. Maybe it's not the way you think you ought to be sustained, but God is going to take care of you and provide for you that which you need to accomplish His plan for your life.
NKJ Matthew 6:31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
NKJ Matthew 6:32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
He is talking about the way the pagans operated who don't have divine viewpoint.
That is their priority - the food they eat, what they drink, their clothing and the material aspects of life. That is their focus.
NKJ Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
That's the priority. When he says to "Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness", you see that we get that righteousness at salvation. It's not something that we are doing subsequent to salvation. Once we are saved and we possess the righteousness of Christ, then God is going to supply the logistical grace that we need. That comes with the possession of Christ's righteousness because we are adopted into the royal family of God. It's part of that whole package that God is going to sustain us.
NKJ Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Live one day at a time. Focus on the provision of God. What happens when we get into fear is that we get into a deteriorating cycle where fear controls and leads to other sins. It has a debilitating effect on us if we allow it to continue. These are some principles that are familiar to most of you. We will run through them again for a reminder.
- The more things you surrender to fear, the more things you fear. As you go through life and you begin to worry about some things; you open up your sin nature to that whole area of fear, worry, and anxiety.
- The more you surrender to fear, the greater is your capacity for fear. It builds and builds. It has a snowball effect.
- The more you surrender to fear, to that extent fear controls more and more of your life. You make decisions and become more and more fearful. Before long you don't want to leave your house. You start becoming an agoraphobic. You don't want to go out. You are afraid to go out at night. Something might happen. More and more decisions are controlled by that fear and anxiety rather than trusting God knowing that He has complete control of your life.
- The more you increase the power of fear in your life, the more you sink into carnality and failure in the Christian life. You begin to worry about everything. You are fearful of everything. This begins to erode the stability in your own soul. Remember if fear is the controlling factor of fallen man then the more we are governed by fear, the more it fragments our soul.
- The greater the power of fear in your life the more there is self induced misery and the more you experience self induced misery. You can't find happiness. Why? You are controlled by fear. You can't have stability. Why? Something might happen. You're anxious. You're worried. You're over wrought.
- The more miserable you become, the more self absorbed you become. This lights that whole chain of arrogance skills where you are self absorbed leading to self-indulgence. You give into the fear and you worry. You let that dominate. Then self- indulgence leads to self-justification. You rationalize sin. You rationalize disobedience. You focus more on the problem than you do the solution. This leads to the fact that you become divorced from reality so that there is self-deception. There is a distorted view of reality that affects decision-making. Then this leads to self-deification. We become the source of truth rather than God being the source of truth. So you become more miserable and more self-absorbed focusing on the problems.
- Increased arrogance plus increased fear lead to mental and emotional instability. They lead to what psychiatrists would call neurosis and psychosis. It causes breaks with reality. It destroys concentration. It destroys your ability to do your job. It destroys your ability to relate to other people because you are absorbed with yourself – your fears, your worries, and your concerns. We have to recognize that we are involved in a battle of terrorism of that is waged by Satan and the demons against Christ and those who are His. He was the one who once held us in slavery and defeated completely at the cross. We operate against this invisible enemy. This is what Ephesians 6 is all about. The solution is to stand firm in the power of Jesus Christ. Since we still operate in enemy territory we are surrounded by the world system. The only way we can have stability is to rely exclusively on the power of Jesus Christ. He is our High Priest. This is the thrust of this section. We are to rely upon Him because He has gone through everything. He has established the trail that we are to follow. He is our pathfinder. Because He is our pathfinder, the High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses; then we can come boldly before the throne of grace and find grace in time of need.
This is the principle that we find in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
NKJ 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
When we recognize our inability is to recognize His ability.
NKJ 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
NKJ 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
It is a matter of authority orientation. That is the structure of 1 Peter 5. When we orient ourselves to the authority of God; then the fear, anxiety and worry go away. We humble ourselves. We do this by casting our cares on Him because He cares for us. So Jesus Christ is our High Priest. Jesus Christ is called in Hebrews 2:17 a faithful and merciful High Priest. This is expanded in Hebrews 4:14 that He is a Great High Priest. As such He is the one who aids us, strengthens us, and comforts us in every situation and circumstance in life. So the doctrine of the priesthood of Christ is not something that is abstract. It has to do with giving us strength and encouragement on a day-to-day basis no matter what we face.
Let's close in prayer.