HEBREWS 4:14-16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

(New International Version)

I too easily disappoint my Lord. I seem to fail Him with regularity. Is it because I don’t love Him? Is it because I don’t care whether or not I please Him? Or is it something else? Is it simply my rebellious heart stepping out of line again? This entry is not an attempt to justify my sin. I repent, of course! Yes, I repent, and then I find myself needing to repent again, and again, and again – often for the same offence. You know who had the same problem – the Apostle Paul.  Listen to His words recorded for us in the book of Romans:

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that EVIL IS PRESENT IN ME, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”

(Romans 7:15-24)

But you know how Paul finishes his plea… he finishes by saying:  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25-8:1).

If my Lord were a legal magistrate in a worldly court of law, I would be doomed! But, today, I was reminded again from Hebrews 4:15 that He is not a mere judicial magistrate, but my High Priest. The difference is astounding and life giving. Judges render verdicts, hand down judgments, mete out punishment. Priests mediate and advocate on behalf of needy people and hurting hearts.

This passage further teaches me that He is a “sympathetic” priest because He understands my fleshly battles with sin. Why? Because he has been here and done that! He has been tempted in all things just as I am – yet without sin. That “without sin” kind of throws me for a loop. I know it is true of Him, but I am always surprised about the nature of His character. If a mere man conquered sin, refusing to give in to temptation, over and over again, flawlessly, throughout His life, he would surely not be overly sympathetic toward all the losers around him who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do it. He would surely be tempted to exalt himself and be even more judgmental of others; “what’s the matter with you, I did it!” But that isn’t my Lord’s attitude toward me at all. Instead, He chooses to sympathize with me and be gentle toward me – even to the point of giving up His own righteousness and giving it to me, while taking my sin upon Himself, then dying for it!

When I am discouraged, down on myself, want to throw in the towel, and just give up, I think of this verse, and it brings refreshment and strength back into my soul. Because He understands me so completely, yet still chooses to love me, I can get back up and walk again; and, if I stumble and fall, stumble and fall, stumble and fall, and fall again, He is still there, still advocating, still mediating, still washing me in His blood and clothing me with His righteousness. How can I not want to keep walking, keep trying, keep loving Him, and keep seeking to glorify a Lord like that with my all my heart, mind, soul, and strength?

Oh Lord, my God, by the authority of Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, and by Your grace and with His permission and mediation, I lift up my heart to you in recognition of my own unworthiness. I know that I do not even deserve this opportunity to speak and be heard by You. But what grace, that you would extend to me the invitation, the opportunity, to pray. And Lord, if there was ever a time in my life when I thought that I might actually be good enough to merit, to deserve, to warrant Your kindness and gentle compassion toward me, I repent. For I have learned, through my own rebellious nature and acts of iniquity, just how far short of Your glory I truly fall. There is no good in me with which I would dare to come before you and make any claim to righteousness. I know that, now, Father! My failure has taught me well my need for a Savior. I can only hope that my failure in the eyes of others can bring You glory as they ponder my weakness in light of Your magnificent grace and the love You continually pour out upon me, and them, through the sacrifice of You beloved Son on the cross that day at Golgotha.  I know now, my Lord, that my testimony to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to a lost and dying world, has nothing to do with how good, and right, and holy, and devoted I can somehow manage to be… but rather, it’s all about You and the love, grace, and compassion You so abundantly lavish upon me and upon every precious soul who turns their eyes toward Jesus and surrenders their every claim to any measure of personal righteousness in exchange for His righteousness.

Lord, my I never give up the good fight of faith. No matter how many times I may stumble and fall along the way, please lift me back up, create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinner will be converted to You.

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