Only by understanding the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, can we overcome our works in effort to gain that which He has already given us – His acceptance.
Hebrews 4:11 “11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (unbelief).
If you refer back to my notes on Hebrews 4:4-9 you will see that the word “disobedience” in the NKJV is actually the word “unbelief” in the KJV. The actual Greek word used here is APISTIA from the root word APISTOS which means faithlessness or disbelief.
So now when you look at verse 11 in the correct light as it is written, there appears to be an oxymoron. The writer of Hebrews is telling us to be diligent which takes effort or work, therefore, verse 11 is saying we have to work to rest. For lack of understanding most people reading this verse simply just read over it thinking it does not fit in with the rest of this book which is almost combative against trusting in works and rituals for righteousness, and go on without any thought. In fact verse 10 actually says “10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” We now have what appears to be a biblical contradiction. I have heard people say “this is just one of the bibles many contradictions” as an excuse to reject the whole bible. These two verses are in fact saying that when we enter into the rest of the Lord we need to purpose to stay in that rest. To purpose to do something is to make an inner resolve to do what you say. For starters a reader of Hebrews must consistently remember that this book was written to Christian Jews, once converted to the grace and faith message of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for all of our sins. But after a period of time they begun to re- enter the legalistic works and rituals of the Mosaic Law as an effort to maintain or even gain righteousness. This is still a problem today with the majority of Christians and is often unknowingly or knowingly taught from the pulpit. Human nature, almost from birth, is a reinforcement of “cause and effect”. At potty training, a toddler receives great accolades from the parent for going in the toilet, but eventually is made to feel like he/she has failed that parent when they have messed their pants for the parent to clean up. In grade school the same child will get a sticker chart with one color for being good and another for not. This is usually posted for all to see and for the most part it works and the class is held in some form of control. As we get older the teachers give us grades that reflect the level of study and learning we have accomplished and in the work force you get a job, keep a job, and get raises at that job for doing a good work. This is neither good nor bad, but just is and is how we are conditioned to think and respond; “cause and effect”. Then one day we hear the mercy and grace message of Jesus Christ. We are told where through just our faith and confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior, God no longer holds us accountable for the bad things we have done (mercy) and also wants to give us things we have not worked for (grace). And this new born again Christian must begin renewing their minds daily to overcome the natural way of thinking of “cause and effect”. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, Romans 2:4.
The works we are encouraged to cease from in verse 10 are the works of our personal efforts, “creations”, of religious actions and self-denials in some effort to gain righteousness of God. The people working to obtain God’s grace will never find it. Romans 4:4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. This verse is telling us that in a person’s effort to “work” their way to heaven is actually an effort to place God in a position of having to pay a debt. God does not owe man anything, but we owe Him our very breath. Romans 11:6 is another conformation of Romans 4:4 and this is the “works” we are to rest from as spoken of in verse 10.
The diligence “purpose” spoken of in verse 11 to enter God’s rest is our personal mental effort to not fall back into our old carnal way of “cause & effect” thinking. Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Cause and effect thinking is living according to the flesh. The entire chapter of Romans 8 is Paul’s warning to Christians, not about their sinful actions, but about their continual focus of their actions keeping them from walking in the spirit which is where God is. The spirit realm is where Jesus is, and it is where we are in Christ Jesus when we stay spiritually connected to Him as we are supposed to be.
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