On Sept. 15, 2001, the president issued this statement: “We will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running, and we’ll bring them to justice…They will try to hide; they will try to avoid the United States and our allies—but we’re not going to let them. They run to the hills; they find holes to get in. We will do whatever it takes to smoke them out and get them running, and we’ll get them. Listen, this is a great nation; we’re a kind people. None of us could have envisioned the barbaric acts of these terrorists, but they have stirred up the might of the American people, and we’re going to get them no matter what it takes.”

In Hebrews 4:12-16, we find a similar statement issued by another authority, no less than God Himself. What is chilling about this declaration, though, is we are the objects of God’s search-and-destroy mission. By sinning against Him, you have “stirred up the might” of God, and He will bring you to justice.

I. God’s Word fully prosecutes you.
Unlike the president’s, God’s Word is living and active. It is always carried out completely, and in it we are told how thoroughly it examines and convicts us. First, it penetrates our deepest being with perfect precision, distinguishing between soul and spirit—something you can’t do in your most careful self-examination. Second, it correctly assesses every thought, idea, attitude and motive. Everything you’ve done and all the reasons why are compared to the standard of God’s holiness.

Let there be no doubt: You cannot endure this level of scrutiny. When you enjoy sin, He doesn’t look the other way. He sees with total clarity the way you have scorned Him. In the end, every last one of us stands “naked and laid bare” before the eyes of God. The expression laid bare contains a metaphor drawn from an ancient custom of bending back the head of a sacrificial victim, ready for the knife. This is not corrective surgery; this is execution. Apart from Christ, you can expect nothing else from a holy God.

II. You have a Great High Priest.
Thanks be to God that we not only are the objects of His justice, but also the objects of His love. He has provided his Son, Jesus Christ, as our Great High Priest. When we stand before God “naked and laid bare,” Jesus stands before God with the sacrifice of His own sinless life and says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus completely understands from His own firsthand human experience of temptation that we can do nothing to escape our sinfulness. Out of sheer compassion, He has satisfied justice so we can be saved.

III. Cling to the feet of Jesus.
“Therefore,” the writer says, “let us hold fast our confession.” If you even begin to understand your status before God and His provision for you in Christ, the only proper response is total allegiance. That is the meaning of the word confession here. You come to His side and stand close to Jesus, because He is your only hope of mercy. You recognize He has purchased your contract, and He has the right to rule in your life.

When you cling to the feet Jesus, you are the recipient of double blessing. Because you’re with Him instead of trembling before God’s impending sentence of wrath, you may now “draw near with confidence.” The executioner’s sword becomes the surgeon’s scalpel, because God’s Word is active in your life to provide well-timed help in your pursuit of the righteousness of Christ. When you cling to the feet of Jesus, “you are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

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Proper 23 (B), October 12, 2003
No Place to Hide
Hebrews 4:12-16

On September 15, 2001, the
President issued this statement: “We will find those who did it; we
will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we’ll
bring them to justice. . . . They will try to hide, they will try to
avoid the United States and our allies – but we’re not going to let
them. They run to the hills; they find holes to get in. And we will
do whatever it takes to smoke them out and get them running, and
we’ll get them. Listen, this is a great nation; we’re a kind people.
None of us could have envisioned the barbaric acts of these
terrorists. But they have stirred up the might of the American people,
and we’re going to get them, no matter what it takes.”

In
Hebrews 4:12-16, we find a similar statement issued by another
authority, no less than God himself. What is chilling about this
declaration, though, is that we ourselves are the objects of God’s
search and destroy mission. By sinning against him, you have “stirred
up the might” of God, and he will bring you to justice.

God’s word fully prosecutes you.

Unlike
the President’s, God’s word is “living and active.” It is always
carried out completely, and here we are told how thoroughly it
examines and convicts us. First, it penetrates your deepest being
with perfect precision, distinguishing between soul and spirit
-something you can’t do in your most careful self-examination. Second,
it correctly assesses every thought, idea, attitude and motive.
Everything you’ve done and all the reasons why are compared to the
standard of God’s holiness.

Let there be no
doubt: you cannot endure this level of scrutiny. When you enjoy sin, he
doesn’t look the other way. He sees with total clarity the way you
have scorned him. In the end, every last one of us stands “naked and
laid bare” before the eyes of God. The expression “laid bare”
contains a metaphor drawn from an ancient custom of bending back the
head of a sacrificial victim, ready for the knife. This is not
corrective surgery; this is execution. Apart from Christ, you can
expect nothing else from a holy God.

You have a Great High Priest.

Thanks
be to God that we are not only the objects of his justice, but also
the objects of his love. And he has provided his Son Jesus Christ as
our Great High Priest. When we stand before God “naked and laid
bare,” Jesus stands before God with the sacrifice of his own sinless
life and says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they
do.” Jesus completely understands from his own firsthand human
experience of temptation that you can do nothing to escape your
sinfulness. Out of sheer compassion, he has satisfied justice so that
you can be saved.

Cling to the feet of Jesus.

“Therefore,”
the writer says, “let us hold fast our confession.” If you even begin
to understand your status before God and his provision for you in
Christ, the only proper response is total allegiance. That is the
meaning of the word confession here. You come over to his side; you
stand close to Jesus, because he is your only hope of mercy. You
recognize that he has purchased your contract, and he has the right
to rule in your life.

When you cling to the
feet Jesus, you are the recipient of double blessing. Because you’re
with him, instead of trembling before God’s impending sentence of
wrath, you may now “draw near with confidence.” Now the executioner’s
sword becomes the surgeon’s scalpel. Now God’s word is active in your
life to provide well-timed help in your pursuit of the righteousness
of Christ. When you cling to the feet of Jesus, “you are a new
creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become
new.” (Doug Searle)

_______________

The
sermon brief provided by Doug Searle, Dallas, TX

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