Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds."- Vs 22-24 (NLT)
Let us draw near. Let us hold fast. Let us consider. These are the three encouragements given by the writer of Hebrews in light of the fact that they have "been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Vs 10). Unlike the sacrifices made under the Law, which had to be offered "year by year" (Vs 1) and "time after time" (Vs 11), Jesus "offered one sacrifice for sins for all time" (Vs 12) and He has "perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Vs 14). "Now where there is forgiveness … there is no longer any offering for sin" (Vs 18). What Jesus did for us is done. We can have complete confidence to enter into God's presence completely forgiven and accepted by Him.
So we can draw near with a sincere heart us full assurance of faith" (Vs 22). Or as the New Living Translation puts it: "go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him." Why" Because we have had our hearts made clean and our bodies washed pure. What were our hearts made clean from? The condemning nature of our own conscience. Our conscience condemns us and reminds us of our own guilt. But Jesus' death removed our sin and, therefore, our guilt. The second aspect of our cleansing is that our bodies have been washed with pure water. This is not a reference to baptism, but to the cleansing and transformative presence of the Holy Spirit.
He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit." - Titus 3:5
The Holy Spirit within us changes us. He is sanctifying us daily – transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ Himself. The reality of both of these cleansings allow us to come boldly and confidently into the presence of God Himself.
Secondly, we are to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. Why? Because He who promised is faithful. We are to remain faithful because of God's faithfulness. Again, the New Living Translation says it well: "Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise." Our steadfastness is based less on the strength of our own faith than on the reality of God's faithfulness. He will do exactly as He has promised. "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Third, we are to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. We are to "think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds." Once again, we see the importance of the community of faith – the body of Christ. We are to constantly be thinking about ways we can encourage or stimulate each other to love and serve one another. Notice that in all three of these words of encouragement, the writer uses the terms "us" and "our." WE are to do these things, and we are to do them together, not alone. We are to love and be loved, serve and be served – all in the context of community – "not forsaking our own assembling together" (Vs 25). There is no place for free-agent, Lone Ranger Christians in the family of God. We are in this together. We need one another. We are to encourage one another – to draw near and to hold fast. Because the day is drawing near. The Lord is coming back. We are to live with that reality in mind.
Father, thank You for the once-for-all sacrifice of Your Son that has provided me with complete forgiveness and complete access into Your presence. Because of what He has done for me, help us to not be afraid to draw near to You – free from guilt or condemnation. Help us to hold firmly onto what we say believe because You can be trusted to keep your promise. And help us to constantly be thinking about ways we can stimulate each other to greater love and acts that reflect who we are in Christ. Amen