JohnSWilson3 Blog

Christ Jesus “sympathize(s) with our weaknesses…”
July 11, 2011, 3:42 pm
Filed under: J First Letter to the Corinthians, Q - Letter to Hebrews

There are some key thoughts from the letter to Hebrews in the first four chapters that have striking comparisons elsewhere in scripture, specifically in the first letter to the church in Corinth and Ephesians. The thought is to bring our focus on Christ Jesus, knowing Him better and so as not to fall to the temptation of the flesh, to live by the flesh, but by His life, by His Spirit. It could be said that that is the key to all of the New Testament letters if not the Old Testament as well.

In the letter to Hebrews there are some statements I felt needed some additional highlighting and expanding upon, and in fact I have used a highlighter on the sections in my Bible, :). In Hebrews chapter 2 in verse 18 the author says: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” In chapter 4 verse 15 the author says: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Interestingly Paul said earlier to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Christ knows us better than ourselves. He knows what temptation is like, He’s been there. He knows this weakness because He was made of flesh and blood as we are and so can sympathize with us. He does not want us to fall for it. In Christ we find hope in the midst of our temptation to fall to living by the flesh. He was able to so live by the life of His Father he was able to overcome the power of temptation and not sin and so He is faithful now to help us to live by His life and is able to provide a “way of escape” and “endure it.” In this life we will have trouble, Jesus said, but He also said, take heart for I have overcome the world! The key is to know Christ better, to so live by Christ’s life together that temptations no longer have any power over us to live by the flesh.

The author to the Hebrews points out some reasons why Christ can help us when we are tempted. In chapter 2 he said: “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” In chapter 4 he said: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession….Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” As the author said in between these two statements: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession…hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” We must learn Christ by hearing Him and being taught by Him through and to one another, to live by His life together. It is through the body of Christ that we are built up in Him! The author continues in chapter 3 pointing this out by saying: “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.” Unless we are living by the Spirit together we will not grow into the fullness of Christ. We will miss hearing His voice and miss being led by Him, and we will hear deceptive voices and will fall for “the craftinesses of the devil.”

The letters of the New Testament are not without warning. There is a real conflict, a conflict to try and remove us from the life of Christ that we find in gathering together under His headship. Hebrews has many warnings about the temptations to live by the flesh. Both in Hebrews and Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth it is to learn from the failure of Israel to listen and believe God. Israel lived by the flesh and not by His commands. So to being in Christ we can be tempted to live by the flesh and not by His life within us. I have mentioned in my previous blog on Hebrews 3-4 about the importance of hearing Christ, our indwelling Logos or Word, and believing Him. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:1-14; “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness…Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall…Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” We must put off the flesh and put on Christ Jesus our Lord together.

How important it is to see the truth that in Christ He has made powerless the devil! In Christ we have been set free from the power and fear of death! Christ did this for us because He knows where we’ve been, He can sympathize with us for He loves us! Oh how Jesus has been merciful and faithful! We no longer need to live by our flesh, because we are now partakers of Christ, He is now our life, our flesh has been made dead, all of it, all of sin was put on the cross. The power of the devil has been made impotent! Only by the “craftinesses of the devil” can he try and tempt us away from living by Christ. How important for us to encourage one another daily, to consider fully, to fix our thoughts on Jesus and so live by His life, our great salvation!

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