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Help In High Places

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16

During this pandemic, people have often found themselves with more free time.  Some have been laid off or their hours cut.  Many others have found themselves working from home, where they were not exactly punching the time clock and found themselves with extra free time.   No doubt Satan sees this as an opportune time to renew his temptations on God’s people. What’s the old saying? “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

In last night’s riots over the tragic George Floyd murder,  some residents took advantage of the street protests to loot the local Target, Dollar Store, Cub Supermarket, liquor store, and automotive parts store.  They were tempted, and they failed.

The text reminds us that we have a great High Priest. His name is Jesus Christ. He watches over us, He speaks to us through His Word, he reminds us of right from wrong, he calls us to act as he would act.

Our Great High Priest “has passed through the heaven.”  His greatness is because he is the very Son of God, and at his ascension, he returned through the clouds to the right hand of the Father in heaven.

Knowing that all of this is true, “Let us hold fast our confession.”  That means our confession of faith.  We confess many important truths in our confession of Faith, but most importantly, we confess our faith in God’s Son, Savior of the world, our Great High Priest.

The central point of this text comes next, “For we do not have a High Priest who  cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  This is a crucially important text to understanding Jesus. Too many people, sadly, believe Jesus was just like all of us- a good man, but not perfect, a sinner.  Wrong!  Too many other people believe Jesus was the Son of God and therefore impossible of feeling temptation. Wrong!

Here it is revealed to us that Jesus was truly human in every respect, except he did not sin.  So human was he that he was really tempted by the devil. He truly felt the temptation, the pressure, the draw, the seduction. But he never fell for a single temptation at any time. You know what it is like to be tempted, to be pulled, to be devilishly reasoned with, to be seduced, to be plied, to be drawn and cajoled by the devil. Sometimes you fell for it and sinned!  Maturing in the faith, you learned not to fall for the devil’s ploys, and you did not fall into sin.  Jesus understood what it was like to be tempted, so he is sympathetic to you during that struggle. He is not sympathetic with your sin!  He never sinned and he does not know what it is like to sin. He has been tempted, and so he can sympathize with us when we are tempted.

The text says that Jesus was was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”  Understand the enormity of that statement. “In all points.”  Think of your worst, nastiest, most awful temptations. Jesus was also tempted in the same way, yet he did not give in to the temptation, or take it into his mind and heart to dwell on it. He turned it away as ungodly and he did not sin.  Jesus, because he was the perfect Son of God, was also tempted in ways that we are not. He was tempted to avoid the way of the cross. He was tempted to use his divine abilities to gain wealth and power and influence. He turned it all back.  No! was his constant response to Satan. This is what we must learn to do.

And to be tempted is not to sin.  If temptation itself were sin, then Jesus is a sinner, because the text says that Jesus was tested in every point as we are.  Temptation is the activity of Satan in which he lays out before you a sinful action, promising you how pleasurable and profitable it will be for you.  Recognizing the temptations and its implications is not yet sin. It’s when you take the thought into your mind and give it earnest consideration, imagining how you might carry out the deed- forgetting what God might say on the matter. Then you have sinned.  There is an old saying, “you can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair.” So also with temptation. You can’t stop temptations from coming, but you don’t have to stop and entertain them. Resist them. Put them out of your mind. Move on to something Godly. Pray, read a scripture or two, visit with Christian friends. Satan will turn away.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  The throne of grace is the place where God receives our prayers.  Here we are invited to come boldly. But boldy doesn’t mean arrogantly or proudly. It means courageously. It means to come confidently- confident that God will hear and help in the time of need.

Have you found yourself with extra time during these “safer at home” days?  God is inviting you to invest your time doing His work, studying His word, praying to him,  striving to serve Him and your neighbor.  God grant you grace to do so.

-Pastor Anderson