Hebrews 13: Life as God Intended it to be.
The writer of Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit, comes to the end of this remarkable teaching- with concluding remarks and exhortations.
Here is a list of do’s and don’ts.
- Love each other. ( Remember the first and greatest commandment)
- Love strangers. Entertain them. ( Reference to Abraham in Genesis 18) Also Jesus stated in Matthew 25- I was a stranger and you took me in.
- Love prisoners and remember those who are mistreated. Visit prisoners, prison ministry. Also we are all prisoners of birth and possessors of sinful natures. We were prisoners of some type of sin which held us in bondage. (Jesus also said in Matthew 25, I was in prison and you visited me.)
- Honor marriage. Also tells us God will judge those who those who do not. Do you understand marriage is the oldest institution in the world and was to be done according to God’s plan? Any other method does not honor it.
- Do not love money. Be content with what God provides.
- Do not be carried away by false, strange teaching. Paul warns Timothy and us the time will come and many believe it has now come- when men will not put up with sound doctrine.(2 Timothy 4)” Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
- Continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips that confess His Name.
- Do not forget to do good and to share with others. God is pleased with such sacrifices.
- Pray for our leaders, pastors and teachers and submit to their authority.
Then the writer tells us how to do this by believing the promises of God that He will never leave us or forsake us and He is our helper. Contentment is the antidote for covetousness. Contentment is not having all you want, which only leads to wanting more. Contentment is wanting what you already have.
Then the writer tells us this truth about Jesus: He is the same yesterday (in history) as He is today (in the present) as He will be tomorrow (in the future).
THE COMPARTMENTS OF OUR LIVES.
Life is divided into sections or compartments, isn’t it? Consider first of all as a believer, you have a dual citizenship. You are a citizen of the earth and the republic which is America. We are also told we are a citizen of heaven. The Bible tells us to be obedient to the government over us. However, the disciples when told not to speak of Jesus by the authorities, they said we must obey God rather than man, when man’s law asked them to disobey God’s law.
Our lives are divided into these compartments:
- Married life, family.
- Business life.
- Social life.
- School life ( for our children and grandchildren)
- Life in this world where we deal with unbelievers every day.
- Life in the Body of Christ, the Church. WE deal with believers and non believers both who are seeking truth.
You now realize these instructions and exhortations the writer is providing are to deal with all these compartments. How to deal with these different relationships. From fellow believers to strangers; to prisoners and marriage; to how we view money, materialism and thus what is the source of our contentment. To obey our leaders and pray for them, and to offer God the sacrifice of praise.
It is a tendency of each generation as it grows older and is faced with a new generation and changing times, to begin to long for yesterday, childhood memories which nostalgia creates tend to be the memories which we fondly recall. Can you imagine how Adam and Eve must have looked back and longed for yesterday and to take back that one decision they made which forever changed their life and history.
And certainly when we look at the world today, we see there are problems which were not as prominent yesterday which are today. But they were there nevertheless. For sin always existed and it existed in those forms in our time, and what we now see is the boldness of the enemy, the prince of this world, as I believe he knows his time is short and he is pushing his doctrine with greater boldness and audacity than ever before. We see this reflected in the changing values of our culture to accept as normal, even good, what the Bible clearly says is sin. The problem today is the same one Jesus spoke of in his day: Light has come into the world but men preferred darkness because their deeds were evil.
Do you want to know how mankind and a society starts down this slippery slope? It is recorded clearly for us in numerous Scriptures and stories. But Paul nails it when he tells us in Romans 1 and what we are seeing today is: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities: His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so men are without excuse. “Paul goes on to explain because they knew God but refused to glorify Him as God or even give thanks to him, their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Now here is how God’s wrath has manifested itself: Therefore God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity. It is like the Israelites in the wilderness who complained about the food and wanted meat. God said He would give them meat until it ran out of their noses.
They refused to think it worthwhile to retain God in their thoughts. Our society has increasingly rejected God’s word and God’s will for life as it was intended to be. As a result our society has increasingly degenerated into a sexually immoral society and culture as God gives them over to a base mind where they not only demand to be permitted to live this way, but also to be approved and considered honorable.
The key, the antidote against the poisonous bite of the serpent is to look to Jesus, as He told Nicodemus in John 3, to look unto to Him, as they looked to the brass serpent to save them from the poisonous bite of the serpents and live. (Numbers 21)
LIFE AS GOD INTENDED IT TO BE.
To see what God intended life to be we must look at life in the Garden of Eden before the fall. This clearly reveals what God’s intentions were and are. God intended for people to be His children, His divine offspring. When God created the earth, it was fashioned as a Temple. A Holy Place where God dwelt among His people. The Garden of Eden was His Sanctuary. Adam was a priest with priestly duties to cultivate and care for this sanctuary. Eve was Adam’s helpmate and together they were to multiply and fill the earth with God’s divine offspring. They were to subdue the earth and rule over it. (Now do you understand why we are called a ‘royal priesthood?’?) And our commandment is also to be fruitful and multiply. What we see is the three planes on which man lives:
- The Highest Plane. This is the Spirit filled life which Adam and Eve lived before sin entered. A Spirit filled believer has accepted the Lord as Savior. Yielded to Him as Lord and Master. And appropriated Him as life. The Spirit filled believer walks by faith not by sight. (Galatians 2:20)
- The next plane is the carnal life. This is a person who has accepted Jesus as Savior. Yields at times to Him as Lord and Master and other times yields to their old nature. A divided life.(Romans 7)
- The lowest plane is the natural man, the unbeliever. This person is without the Spirit of God and cannot understand spiritual truths. If you are in this world without the Holy Spirit, you are without Christ. And whoever does not have Christ does not have the Father. ( I Cor. 2)
Obviously, God intention was for us to live on the highest plane. We are sealed by the Spirit at the moment of salvation. This is a once and forever happening. Being filled is a continuing process. We will never be sinless, but we should sin less.
How much the serpent, who was a fallen, created angel named Lucifer, knew of God’s intention, we do not know. But we know he appeared in the Garden with an alternative idea as to how to have a life which was more fulfilling than the one God had given them. His first question is the question which changed history and is the question today still being asked: “Did God really say?” Is the Bible God’s Word? He questions its authorship, its accuracy, and its acceptability. Let us be honest, the demands for obedience often conflict with the desires of our flesh, the old nature. So when a Christian who believes God is the author of the Bible and it is accurate, sins- he/she is giving into the demands of the fleshly appetites.
THE FALL FROM THE LIFE GOD INTENDED
What happened in the Garden? What can we learn from the original fall?
Eve handled the word of God carelessly. She added to it. She also did not call the tree by the name God had given it- she referred to it as the ‘tree in the midst of the garden’, not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Mankind still does not like to call sin- sin or evil. They call it a bad habit, a white lie, or an alternative life style. But from that day, the fall, man has been born with a sinful nature. A sinful nature wants to decide for one’s self what is right and wrong, not what God says is right and wrong.
Watch the campaign the enemy waged to bring about the fall. Did you notice the admonition to be ‘content with what you have’? This is the area where we are tempted. We covet what others have and become discontent with what we have. The advertisements which bombard us are attempts to make us discontent with what we have and want that which is being advertised. Their deceiving ads tell us we can have a better quality of life by buying their products.
The enemy had Eve thinking differently about God- that He was a “kill-joy” keeping her from what would make her life better. He also took away the risk of sin by saying you will not surely die. It begins with doubt coupled with desire. Once the enemy convinced her God was a liar and withholding joy and pleasure from her and Adam, she saw God in a different light. Tozer says what comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. Is your God, the Father of lights in whom there is no shadow or turning and is the giver of all good gifts? Or is He a stern judge who withholds good things, a ‘ kill-joy’? We must believe He is God and a Giver of all good gifts. This is what pleases God, a faith which believes He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Then the enemy turns desire into a decision. The fall came and life as God intended to be was interrupted. But God had a plan. A plan of salvation. It is what Adam and Eve needed and what every one of us needed and it is provided by the Lord Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Bible is the story of God’s plan. Three chapters after the fall comes the flood. And then we read of Abraham, Sara, Isaac, and Jacob and the story of Joseph.
By the second book of the Bible, Exodus, we have a picture of man enslaved by sin in the fallen world. Egypt is a picture of the world. The Egyptian slave masters are a picture of sin which enslaves us and entangles us. The Pharaoh is a picture of the devil and Moses is a type of redeemer. We have great pictures and illustrations and types to help us understand. Including the Passover Lamb whose blood was posted on the doors of the Israelites as a clear picture in the OT of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. The story continues to this day. And one thing is sure: it takes a battle to get out of Egypt; a battle to get into the Promised Land; and a battle to stay there. The Bible tells us how to get out, how to get in and how to stay there.
Look at these simple to remember instructions: Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Honor the marriage bed. Keep your lives free from the love of money. How? By being content with what God gives you. Know also these three truths:
- God will never leave you or forsake you.
- The Lord (Christ) is your helper. Do not be afraid!
- Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. I am the Lord, I do not change.
So I look to Jesus and by reading the history of His life on earth I see who He was yesterday. If you read the Gospels, and his conversations with others, you cannot help but love and admire the most perfect person ever to walk the earth. He is not a kill joy. The thief is the one who kills joy, he comes to kill and steal and destroy. Jesus said I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly. He is opposed to all that kills joy. Jesus came to restore and recover what had been lost. We have lost our identity, our saltiness; our lights are under a bushel. Kidnapped and held for ransom. The ransom has been paid, the victory has been won. It is for freedom that Christ set us free.
He promised He would never leave us or forsake us- so I know He is with us today. I know He will be there tomorrow and I can come to the garden and walk with Him and talk with Him and He tells me I am His own.
I can be content, for He has promised to supply all my needs. The world, the enemy and our old nature tempts us with wants, not needs. Or perverts God-given needs into something evil.
God has chosen the time and place we were to be born. He will provide you with everything you need for life and godliness through your knowledge of Him. He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84)
God will work in you both to will and desire His good pleasure. And if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart.
He wants us to spread the Gospel to tell the story of redemption. We cannot change our culture’s behavior – the only hope of change is the change which is brought into an individual’s life by being born again. We are to be about winning souls; nurturing faith, worshipping God in Spirit and Truth; making disciples as we raise up the next generation a new generation to keep the faith.
And how is this done? It is captured through this simple answer: THROUGH JESUS.
That is the secret of life which God intended us to live- it is through Jesus Christ.
Paul tells us: “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4)
So what is Life as God intended it to be? Let’s go back for a moment to the original glory. The glory of God given to mankind when mankind was created in His image.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female, He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over ever living creature that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1: 27, 28)
Did you see the key word? RULE. We have been imprisoned in sin. What did Jesus come to do? He told us when He picked up the scrolls in his hometown synagogue and read from Isaiah 61. He said he had come to:’ preach the good news to the poor; to mend the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release the prisoners from darkness to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ He came to restore what was lost; to recover what was stolen, and to enable us to rule and reign with Him. Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world. We have His Spirit within us and where the Spirit is – there is freedom. It is for freedom that Christ set us free.