for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:10-13 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews speaks of a rest that we must strive to enter. That statement alone is an interesting play on words. And yet, it is helpful too, for it shows us that this “rest” is not a passive thing. It is to rest from our works-based righteousness. This is no easy task! We gravitate to the pleasures of our pride and want to be counted worthy on our own merit. If we give that up, it feels as though we are giving up our life’s savings (of works)! So how can we?
The writer helps us with this popular verse, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” What we need to see is the inadequacies of our own works-based righteousness. We need to see how it falls short and is not what we think it to be. The Word of God reveals that. It is able to cut though the motives and expose our works as little more than self-promoting acts. if we’re willing to read it and honestly weigh our own hearts and works in its light, we will see this. And we need to see this because “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” If we fail to see it now, we will be caught later in the vice of God’s judgment, for all of our works will be revealed for what they are.
So, we must strive to enter God’s rest! He has provided that rest by providing a perfect record for us. Jesus has succeeded where we failed and, by faith in him, we rest from our works-based righteousness. When we see Jesus, we can rest! But until we see Jesus in this light, we can’t rest from our works, for we have nothing else to which to cling.
Lord, would you shake our confidence in our own works and give us a vision of Jesus as Joshua, who leads us into your rest.