Sunday, November 27, 2011

A New and Living Way

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22, NKJV).
The inner sanctum of both the ancient Hebrew Tabernacle and Temple was termed, The Holiest. It was where God's Presence was manifest among sinful men. It was that place of places where the Eternal met with His creatures, and then only after the prescribed ceremonial sacrifices were carried out to the letter.

It was a place of fear and trembling, the epicenter of awe and terror. It was a place where the slightest ritualistic misstep meant instant annihilation by God Himself. 

It could be entered only once a year, by the High Priest, and it was a function so fraught with apprehension that Jewish tradition tells us that a rope was secured around the High Priest's ankle so that if and when the ceremonial bells on the hem of his robe ceased ringing, the man's corpse could be hauled out without further violating the Holiest.

It is into that Presence of God that Christ's shed blood enables us to enter boldly, at any time. There could not be a starker contrast between the conditional blessings of the Old Covenant and the infinite superiority of the New.

Rather than dead works we have a new and living way which [Christ] consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh. Rather than fear and trembling we are to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.

Does that describe your relationship with God? Do you have full assurance that He is for you, not against you. Is your heart sprinkled from an evil conscience; sprinkled symbolically by the blood of His sacrifice? Do you understand what raw love was shown for you in His death on the Cross? Love that transcends all time and circumstance. Love that is the essence and engine of all other love.

You have been washed clean in the water of the Word of God's forgiveness, the Bible declares. You are without spot, wrinkle or blemish. When the Father looks at you, He sees His Son in you - if you believe.

Full assurance is an astounding thing to possess. Without faith in Christ there can be no such thing in this life, or the next.

Can you enter boldly into His presence convinced, as only a beloved child is convinced, that He wants you there?

How much fear is there in the life of a Christian because we just don't let His love reach deep into where we really live - that super-secret place mostly hidden even from ourselves.

There are so many exhortations in Scripture to be - to live - unafraid because He is with us.

And especially in those gut-wrenching moments of unbearable fear, or prolonged, unceasing anxiety He wants us to know that He is in control.

If we believed this about Him, if we truly knew just how much He loves each of His children, we would never need to experience another instant of the kind of fear that leaves you breathless, or that robs your focus of anything and everything else.

It is the same kind of assurance a child has in the care of his or her loving parent. It is one of the reasons that our Christian life needs to be childlike in that regard. Becoming like a little child is not only a prerequisite for faith, but for courageous Christian living.

If you have never been loved like that in this life, or felt that sense of safety and protection as a child, then it is immensely difficult to lay that fear aside and enter boldly into that new and living way. No matter what you may desire to believe about your Heavenly Father, your own past experience can be your biggest obstacle to living in His love.

You must surrender that past, just as you surrender your sin.

You must lay it at His feet, no matter how ingrained it is in who you are, and He will take it from you as a living sacrifice.

You must trust in Him, rather than lean on your own understanding, and that in turn requires a deepening knowledge of who He is, and the goodness He has in store for you.

And that can only come by spending time with Him in prayer, worship, and in His Word.

Then and only then can you replace the fear and trembling with full assurance and faith.

Then and only then will you feel safe.

Perhaps for the first time in your life.