Agonizomai: Heb 13 - 04-06 - Christ - Our Faithful Helper

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Heb 13 - 04-06 - Christ - Our Faithful Helper

Heb 13 - 04-06 - Christ - Our Faithful Helper

Heb 13:4-6 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

So then, what if a Christian falls into immorality? It’s no use saying that it could never happen because it plainly does. David remains the perpetual poster-boy for this particular profanation. So, in the context of Christian community the notion of judgement here cannot refer to eternal condemnation. All Christians have been born again and already have eternal life (as opposed to eternal death) and God is not going to condemn in that way one He has already re-created in His Son.

But Christians who sin are certainly not exempt from discipline. God will judge in this way the Christian who dishonours Him and His Son by walking in the old way. Neither are they exempt from a loss of reward. And David’s life after his initial adultery was troubled by the temporal judgements of the loss of his infant son and a lifelong household strife with Absalom, characterized by rebellion and immorality. In that case, what a man sowed he clearly reaped - and this was indeed a temporal judgment of God given to David for discipline and not for punishment in the strictly condemnatory sense.

But the real question can only ultimately be answered by God. A person’s relationship to God will not make them sinless as long as they live upon the earth. There is no Christian perfection in this sense. All Christians sin, and if they deny it then they make God a liar, as well as themselves. But God knows those who are His. They will stumble, and they will sometimes have only the faintest pulse of belief or obedience, but the true sons will always keep coming back. They will despise their sin even while they commit it. There will be no real pleasure in it. We are kept, in the end, not by ourselves, but by the power of God - even if God chooses to do it through the exercise of the obedience of faith. And this is our hope - that our salvation is entirely from Him, and in Him and through Him. This is faith - not that we sin, but that there is forgiveness in Christ when we do.

God will indeed judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. He will judge those who do these things as lost pagans, as professing Christians and as disobedient sons. And every person must examine himself to see if he is truly in the faith, for if he clings to sin - if he steers deliberately close to the line in order to tempt himself - then he may find a death by inches gradually darkens his soul, and what he thought was eternal life will turn out to be, for him, an even greater condemnation than for those who never had light. This is not loss of salvation. It is the demarcation of what true salvation is - what it does - it bears fruit in perseverance. The truly saved never go back because they cannot go back. But we must all sometimes agonize upon these thoughts.

Verse 5 "Keep your life free from love of money" is the mission statement verse for those speaking to American secular philosophy and for its paramour in the professing church - the Word/Faith movement. God does not want us to be rich - he wants us to be content with whatever we have. But won’t this lead to indolence, lack of ambition, lack of invention and vision? My father always thought of Christianity in this way - that it was the means by which the powerful kept the masses happy with their meagre share of the world’s resources. He was a victim of Marxist ideology - or a watered down socialist version of it. And remember that Marxist principles are founded in Christian commands - but they are taken out of context, carnalized and used for worldly ends.

But Christian contentment is far more than indolence or a lack of motivation or creativity. Christian contentment arises from a whole life submitted to the will of God in which diligence, responsibility and hard work are performed as unto the God of the universe. Far from being lazy and second-rate passivists, they are all the more fervent due to the underlying motivation - the service of God. But being content also takes into account the overarching providence of God. Opportunity, ability, circumstance - all these things are factors controlled - even ordained - by God as the means in our lives by which God produces the fruit of His Son in His people. So there will be disappointment, failure and want right alongside achievement, apportioned to each as God has seen fit. Our duty is to strive for His sake, and God’s promise is to fit us for heaven.

For us, this life always looks beyond the immediate towards the true end, through the eyes of faith in the God of our redemption and sanctification. As such, our focus is not to end up in a love for the things of the world, such as money, even though we must strive to make money in order that we may live. Whether we make more or less is irrelevant to the end, which God knows. Our part is to do all as unto Him. Then poverty will not make us resentful and success will not make us unwatchful and proud.

Neither Karl Marx, nor any other pagan could understand this. The focus of worldlings is upon worldly things. It is about keeping score down here because this is all there is. "He who dies with the most toys wins." "Eat, drink, for tomorrow we die." "You’re a long time dead." But the Christian lives in eternity even in the present world, and his life and values and aims are focused there.


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