The author of Hebrews gives instruction to his readers to imitate those who “through faith and patience inherit the promise” (Heb. 6:12). This simple command comes within a larger section where the author calls us to persevere in faith. The faith that leads to inheriting God’s promise produces fruit of good works and love towards others, fruit which is worth imitating – hence his command to imitate! Yet, this fruit of good works worth imitating stems from true “faith and patience.”
The author gives us glorious things to consider in order to stir up our faith to love and good works. He points us to the certainty of God’s promises found in the work of his Son when he writes, “We have this sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as our forerunner” (Heb. 6:19-20). Every year, the high priest of the nation of Israel entered the “inner place” of the temple, behind the curtain, where the presence of God was, and he interceded for the sins of the people. Yet, Jesus went into the “inner place” not simply to do the work of intercession, but to completely remove the veil from God’s presence. He went in as our “forerunner,” meaning he went in so that we may go in after. What Jesus accomplished fully reconciled God and his people and removed the veil, so that God’s people may enjoy his presence in holiness.
I wonder if you live in light of the finished work of the Son on our behalf. Many Christians examine their lives and constantly feel condemned. They constantly try to outpace other Christians in order to calm their conscience. They perpetually berate themselves, hoping at some point they will obey and finally find rest. They are critical of others who do not seem to work half as hard at obedience but seem to be enjoying God’s blessings. Instead of finding comfort in the gospel, they only feel guilt.
While it seems so counterintuitive, embracing the gospel not only gives rest but also stirs up obedience in a way that a guilty conscience cannot. Embracing the gospel means relying on the righteous standing of someone else. We need to humble ourselves and see that our pitiful efforts at obedience will never be enough to satisfy a holy God. Yet, we see Jesus who is our forerunner into the presence of God – the holy presence of God! He has made it possible for filthy sinners to be clean, apart from their obedience, by the obedience of Christ. When we finally apply God’s unfailing love to our sinning hearts, we will be compelled to be patient with others as God has been patient with us; to love others as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us; and to forgive others as God in Christ forgave us. Obedience comes when we are so enthralled with the love of Christ that it becomes the desire of our hearts, overflowing in our actions toward others.