A New and Living Way, Part 3


I. God has prescribed for us a New Way of Living. (10:22-25)
For those who are a members of God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, God has given us instructions for how we are to behave as his children, both in relation to Him as our Father and to one another in the church as brothers and sisters.

A. We must approach God sincerely. As I have said before, part of being a child of God is the ability to approach Him as a child would approach her father. But a child who loves her father would never go to her father with a sense of disrespect or with a demanding attitude. That same child, confident in the love of her father, is not going to approach him cautiously or fearfully. A child of God must go to Him with the same confidence, trust, and respect. When people in Scripture were in the presence of God, they had two responses: they recognized the sinfulness of their lives and they fell down and worshiped God. When Moses encountered God in the burning bush in Exodus 3, God demanded that he remove his sandals as a sign of respect for being on holy ground. In Isaiah 6:5, when Isaiah saw the throne room of God in a vision, he declared himself to be a man of unclean lips. In Revelation 1:17, the Apostle John saw Jesus in a vision on the island of Patmos and fell down as a dead man.

When we approach God, we must do so with a clean heart, in an attitude of respect and worship. The word here that we translate as “sincere” literally means “without superficiality, hypocrisy, or ulterior motive.” God told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:29, “You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” We are to come before God not wearing a mask of perfection or false holiness, but we are to approach Him in prayer and worship, honestly showing ourselves to Him while having a full assurance that He will help us with our sins and weaknesses. One commentator stated, “The people who find God are those who seek Him with their whole heart, with total genuineness.”

The idea of “full assurance” means that when we rely on God, we do so without doubt in our position as His children or His love as our Father. In 4:14-16 of Hebrews, the author has already explained to his readers:
Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, 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 sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus, our high priest, provided a way for us to confidently approach God with a pure, forgiven heart, and we are to approach Him this way each time we come to Him!

B. We must confess our hope unwaveringly. The writer begins this section on instructions concerning behavior with a point on how we are to approach God. This is very important to understand, because if our relationship with the Father is not correct, our relationships with one another will almost certainly be wrong as well. These instructions are given in a progressive order, and we see here that once we are confident in our position in Christ, we can then confess our hope with the same confidence. At the end of this verse, we are given an amazing statement concerning our Father: “He who promised is faithful.” God our Father has never failed in His promises, and unlike fallen, sinful man, He is always faithful to do what He says He will do. This fact is one in which we can place our confidence.

The Christians who received this letter had begun to lose their confidence in this new covenant, and it is believed that some of them were considering a return to the Jewish temple practices. Hard times had come and they had begun to waver in their faith in Christ. Just like those Christians had seen God keep His promises countless times, the Bible is full of examples of God’s faithfulness, and we can trust that God is faithful today just as He was then, because our God never changes.

Part of being a child of God is that, as we learn more and more about God, we are changed from the inside out and become more like Him. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, we are promised this will happen: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

We have hope that God is faithful, but what are we to confess? Our confession of hope is the salvation found in Christ. When we are confident in our salvation, we will share that hope with everyone we know.

C. We must encourage one another consistently. Part of becoming a child of God is learning to interact with other members of His family. Just as parents expect their children to treat one another lovingly, so God also expects us as His children to treat one another lovingly. In verse 24, we are told to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. The word “consider” means that we are to do more than think about it occasionally. It’s easy to think about other believers on Sunday morning when we are together at church. But here, we are told that we are to take care of each other’s spiritual welfare; we should show continuous concern for how our brothers and sisters are growing in their walks with the Lord.

This is the standard God has set for how we are to treat one another, but too often we fall short of this standard. In Matthew 7, Jesus gives us one example of how we fail at this instruction to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Here he says, “”Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” The word translated here as “look” is the same Greek word that is translated as “consider” in Hebrews 10. With these two passages, we are given instructions in how we should and how we should not think of our spiritual siblings.

The word “stimulate” or “stir up” means we are to sharpen one another. With the combination of these two words, the writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to focus our attention consistently on finding ways to bring the love of Christ out of our fellow believers in real and practical ways.

In verse 25, we are told the reason for the urgency in the instructions of verse 24; many had begun to get frustrated and had grown disillusioned with the church and had even abandoned the fellowship of believers. It is nearly impossible to have any type of relationship with someone you never see. These practical instructions are meant to remind the readers that they will not be able to build up one another with encouragement if they are not gathering together. There is strength in numbers, and the discouraged sister is quickly encouraged when she comes together with other believers for a time of worship, prayer, and encouragement.

An early Christian writer named Ignatius once wisely observed, “When you frequently, and in numbers meet together, the powers of Satan are overthrown, and his mischief is neutralized by your likemindedness in the faith.” By gathering together, more mature believers are able to teach and encourage younger believers, and those younger believers in turn remind the older believers to keep their excitement for the Lord fresh and new as they walk with Him. Abandonment and isolation lead only to defeat, so the writer encourages his readers to remain together because the longer they stay together in a mutual state of love and encouragement, the closer they all come to the day when they will see Christ face to face.

My sister Brittany learned quickly her being a part of our family came with certain responsibilities. My parents raised us to believe that carrying the Mason name required certain things of us. We were told that Masons worked hard whether our boss was looking or not. We were told that Masons worked hard in school and that they went to college. We were told that Masons kept their promises and were true to their word. We were told to remember that when we went out into the world and began making choices on our own that we needed to remember that we not only represented ourselves as individuals, but we represented our family. My parents did a good job of teaching us those things because they spent time with us and taught us those things and then quickly corrected us when we were not living in a way that was consistent with who we were as members of the Mason family.

Just like being a Mason comes with certain responsibilities, being a child of God comes with certain responsibilities to God and to each other. This week, find ways that you can live out your confidence in your position as a child of God. Do you confess your hope in Christ without wavering? If not, find an opportunity this week to share your faith with someone. Take a moment and take inventory of how you consider your friends and family. Do you spend your time judging them and their sin, or do you spend more time considering how you can encourage them in their walks with Christ? If you realize you spend more time thinking about their sin than about how you can help them out of your sin, then make a point of changing that this week.

A New and Living Way, Part 2


I. God has provided for us a new and living way. (10:19-21)

Verses 19-21 are a summary of the previous nine chapters. These chapters explain to the Jewish believers why the covenant of Christ was superior to the covenant God made with Moses. In these three verses we are given three descriptions and benefits of the new and living way God has provided through Jesus Christ: we have a new family, we have direct access to God, and we have a Great Priest in Jesus Christ.

A. We now have a new family. Looking at verse 19, the reader is instantly confronted with the idea that, as believers, we are family. The writer addresses his audience as “brethren,” or brothers. As family, as members of the house of God, the writer tells his audience that they can enter the holy place of God. To first century Jews, this idea was completely foreign. In the Jewish sacrificial system described in the Old Testament, only the High Priest was allowed into the presence of God, the part of the temple called the Holy of Holies. The law allowed him to enter the Holy of Holies only once a year to offer sacrifice for the sins of Israel.

In Ephesians 1:5-8, the apostle Paul told the church at Ephesus that, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” The new and living way that is spoken of in this passage is the way of the new covenant that is made possible by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In his Gospel, John the Apostle tells us in 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.”

My parents were foster parents when I was growing up. The last foster child we had, Brittany, came to live with us when she was six weeks old. After she had lived with us for three years, the state began looking for a permanent adoptive home for Brittany. Three years later, no home had been found and she had lived with us for all six years of her life. She was family. My parents filed the appropriate paperwork, made appointments with lawyers, and went before a judge to declare their intentions to adopt Brittany as an official member of the Mason family.

Once those papers were signed, Brittany became a member of our family just as if my mom had physically given birth to her. By us choosing her, she was given the right to become a Mason, and once she was a Mason, she had access to all of the legal privileges of being a member of our family that I had as a biologically born member of the family. But not only is Brittany now recognized as a legal member of our family, she is also loved and accepted as a member of our family, and is confident in the fact that she will be treated just like my biological brothers and me in matters of love, protection, and provision. Just like Brittany was chosen to be a member of the Mason family, those who have been chosen as children of God also have rights that accompany that adoption. One of those rights is direct access to God.

B. We now have direct access to God. For the Hebrew believers hearing this for the first time, the notion of entering the holy place of God only brought thoughts of death and condemnation, for no one but the high priest was allowed to enter the holy place in the temple. But here the writer tells us that Jesus made a way for us to confidently approach God. When a young child is confident of the love and acceptance of her father, she has no worries about approaching her father with any request. The writer is telling us here in verse 20 that because of the work of Christ on the cross, the veil that previously separated us from God was torn open and we now have the right to boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence.

The idea that Jesus is superior to both Moses and to the line of levitical priests is key to understanding what is meant here when the author says that Christ is the new and living way. The old covenant, which is also called the covenant of Moses and the law, was designed to show the Israelites their sinful inability to save themselves. Paul declared in chapter three, verse twenty of his letter to the church in Rome that, “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” This verse tells us the law brings awareness of sin and death. Jesus Christ, through His willing sacrifice, brings a new and living way of salvation for all who repent of their sins and believe on His name.

This new and living way is now the only way to gain access to God. In the original language, the word we translate as “new” has a meaning of freshly slaughtered and not previously available. It seems odd to consider something as both freshly slaughtered and living at the same time, but this is just the point the author is trying to make. John MacArthur observed in his commentary on Hebrews, “The blood of animals allowed only the high priest to enter the veil briefly. Jesus’ blood allows everyone who believes in Him to enter the veil permanently.”

C. We now have a Great Priest in Jesus. Not only are believers now members of the family of God who have permanent access to the Father, we can see in the passage above that we also have a mediator in our Great Priest, Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews explained this in chapter 9:11-14 when he wrote:
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

So it is only through the sacrifice of Christ, our Great Priest, that we are able to confidently gain access to God as his children. Paul further explains this in Galatians 3:22-26:
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

We are told in Romans 3:23 that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are also told that this sin separates us from God because He is perfect and holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. But to show His glory and His merciful love, God made a way for our sins to be forgiven by sacrificing his son, Jesus, who took our punishment for sin and gave his blood for us. He took our punishment and died in our place. That is why Jesus is referred to in this passage as the new and living way. Jesus himself declared in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.”

The only way that you can be forgiven of your sins and become a part of the family of God is to recognize two things about yourself. First you must realize that your sin separates you from God. Second, you must acknowledge that there is nothing you can do on your own to connect you to God. Only by turning from your sin and believing that Jesus died as a sacrifice for your sins and then rose from the dead three days later, proving his victory over death, can you be called a child of God. Have you ever done that? Have you ever realized that because you are a sinner separated from God, you will spend eternity separated from Him unless you turn from your sin and believe in Christ as your Savior? Only that will allow you to be a part of God’s new and living way. If you have never had that moment in your life, I pray that you will consider your position in the family of God and will make the decision today to turn from your sins and believe that Jesus, our Great Priest, is the way God provided for you to be His child.

A New and Living Way, Part 1


In 2001, Disney released the movie The Princess Diaries. In the movie, Mia, a socially awkward but very bright 15-year-old girl who is being raised by a single mom, discovers that the father she never knew has recently died. Not long after his death, her grandmother appears at her house and announces to Mia that she is the princess of a small European country. Her father had been the crown prince, and since he has died, the country will pass from the hands of her family if Mia does not announce her claim to the throne.

As you might imagine, this revelation of her family lineage is quite shocking for this teen girl. Her grandmother asks her to take etiquette, dance, and speech lessons so that she is prepared to fulfill the role of European princess. At first Mia rebels against the idea of taking on a new identity. She begins the lessons, but as she learns of the rules and responsibilities, along with the sacrifices she must make for this life, she questions her ability to fulfill the role. Things only get worse when her friends and classmates learn of her true identity and they begin to reject and even make fun of her. At one point, Mia gets so frustrated with the process of becoming a princess that she walks out on one of her lessons and exclaims in frustration that she wishes her grandmother had never come to tell her of her true identity.

Much like young Mia, many Christians question their identity and calling when they begin to truly understand the responsibilities and sacrifices of being a follower of Christ. Some really doubt and even consider walking away when they face persecution from those around them. Many of the Jewish believers in the first century church were experiencing doubts about their new faith in the face of persecution from both their families and the Roman government.

The Letter to the Hebrews was written to followers of Christ who may have been tempted to return to Judaism in light of the persecution that followed their conversion to Christianity. The theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus Christ over the Jewish system of religion. Hebrews 10:19-25 was specifically written in order to reassure those believers that they had full access to God through Jesus Christ, the Great Priest and mediator of the New Covenant, and to encourage them to live lives that confidently reflected their positions as children in the house of God. In this series of posts, I want to share with you how you can know you are a child of God and what being a child of God looks like as we interact with Him, with the world around us, and with one another in the church.

Women and Sexual Sin, Part 3


Through the discussions posed by many Christian writers and thinkers, a realization has been made that the “big” sins associated with physical infidelity are  behaviors that are the natural end of increasingly sinful thought lives. In other words, if a woman asks the question, “How close can I be with my co-worker without having technically cheated on my husband?” then, according to Scripture, infidelity has already occurred. When Jesus taught, He addressed this correlation between the thoughts and the actions of man. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). He also told his followers, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

While the issues of fornication, adultery, and homosexuality must be addressed and the behaviors replaced with good, godly behaviors, the Scriptures are clear in teaching that the real issues began not at the moment of physical immorality, but at the moment the thought of infidelity was first entertained. This is a concept that is lost on people today. Society tells people that anything is ok as long as you are not caught. Christ taught that the mind, the inner thoughts that can technically never be caught, are the starting point for sinful living.

For the person counseling a woman involved in sinful sexual behavior, the key to being restored to right relationships is an understanding that the root issue is not the behavior, it is the heart. While it is the behavior that has shattered relationships, if there is not change in the heart and mind, the change in behavior will not be a lasting change. “Though people involved in sexual sin say that they ‘fell in love,’ suggesting a response outside their control, every person has the ability to choose his or her actions. Choosing to sin sexually generally results from pursuing a feeling of closeness to another person without risking true intimacy or responsibility.”

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul gave this explanation to the Romans concerning the relationship between the thought life and the behavior of believers: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:1-2). Simply stated, if a woman will study the Scripture, will submit herself to intensive discipleship that is focused on the “renewing of your mind,” then the offering of her body as a living sacrifice will the natural response.

Women and Sexual Sin, Part 2


Many are unwilling to completely abandon the Freudian ideas of a sex-driven society and have attempted to explain Christian morality with a psychological bent. Secular ideas have been given Christian-sounding names and have been sold as biblical truth. According to a United Methodist clergy member and clinical psychologist, sexual sin has only occurred when “genital contact involves an imbalance of power.” This definition was followed by two examples, child molestation and abuse by clergy. Dr. McClintock writes that the church should rid itself of sexual shame not by talking through the biblical stances concerning sex, but rather by accepting the varying sexual activities taking place in the lives of church members and celebrating them all as an expression of God’s love for humanity.

This argument is an attempt to gain approval of society’s embrace of all sexual behavior as good. By saying God is love and any showing of love is from God, the attempt is made to put God’s seal of approval on activities that are blatantly against teachings in Scripture. But many in Christianity are unwilling to call sin what it is, and instead of teaching about a God who is simultaneously loving and just, they teach that God simply wants his children to be happy. Dr. Heimbach also stated that “with the rise of modernism, an opposing, permissive approach to sexual morality rose to usurp the traditional approach in American culture.” This modern approach makes the argument that “families depend on being happy, and no one is compelled to stay in a family if he or she is unhappy.” No where in Scripture will a passage be found that says that God just wants his children to be happy.God desires what is best for His creation, and the laws He gave concerning our interactions with one another are for our own good, to bring us hope and a future. Much like a father that truly loves his child will set parameters on her behavior, God’s rules are not to stymie our happiness, but to protect us and bring us joy from experiencing His gifts in the best way possible.

There are many passages, however that do say how God expects his children to behave; God expects his children to behave in a holy manner. “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own” (Leviticus 20:26). The Heavenly Father doesn’t necessarily expect his children to be happy, but he does expect them to be holy, and this holiness should be an integral part of every facet of the life of a believer.

Many consider “holy sex life” to be an oxymoronic phrase, but the Bible has much to say about healthy, holy sexual behavior. Scripture also includes many passages concerning unhealthy and sinful sexual behavior and how an individual can get from unhealthy to healthy, and vice versa. God’s high standard for holiness in sexuality is described well by one Christian writer:
Countless adults enter into all sorts of sexual sin through illicit conversation, off-color teasing, flirting, and inappropriate demonstrations of affection. As long as they don’t commit fornication, they rationalize that they haven’t done anything wrong.

If we’re going to be protected against sexual seduction, we must recognize a radical standard of holiness…. The Word of God uses a very strong command for times when we are tempted to sexual immorality: flee! (1 Cor. 6:18). Scripture tells us to run for our lives from sexual sin (Beth Moore, When Godly People do Ungodly Things, p.164).

Many women find themselves in serious trouble sexually because they wanted to see just how far they could go without crossing the line of appropriateness. God’s call to holiness is not one of toeing the line and seeing just how much one can get out of the world without being in the world. Holiness is a call to be as close to the Father as possible, of clinging to him wholeheartedly. Another author describes holiness in this manner:
Holiness is the image of God put in moral terms…Scripture presents holiness as something extremely positive. We could list a lot of things the Bible says are not holy, but that would tell us nothing about holiness in a positive sense… Holiness in the positive sense is nothing other than measuring up to the character of God, which qualifies us to receive wonderful benefits from an intimate relationship with God (Daniel Heimbach, True Sexual Morality, p. 142-143).

There is absolutely nothing in the character of God that allows for the attitude of finding out how far is “too far.” If Christians are commanded to flee even sexual temptation, there is certainly no indication that one would be ok spiritually to stick around and just find out what may happen next.

While there are many aspects of sexuality and relationships that are viewed as “gray areas” in Christianity, there are certain sexual behaviors that are blatantly outlined in Scripture as being sinful. In the book Women Helping Women, counselor Diane Tyson lists and defines those behaviors. Tyson lists adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and celibate marriage as sexual behaviors that are strictly forbidden. Also included in the discussion are masturbation and sexual fantasies, topics not specifically discussed in Scripture.

I will go into more detail about these issues in next week’s posts.

Women and Sexual Sin, Part 1


For many years, sexual sins were addressed almost exclusively from a male perspective. Most of society held the belief that sex was a male-oriented activity in which a woman may or may not be a willing participant (Letha Dawson Scanzoni, Sexuality. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984, 30). And, with few exceptions, sex was almost never discussed. With the concurrent sexual and feminist revolutions of the 1960s, sex was thrust to the forefront of society, and the repercussions have been enormous. The cultural pendulum concerning sexuality has now swung from the Victorian attitude of shame and silence to the other extreme of exhibitionism and experimentation. This can be seen in the story of Kate Logan, a young woman who, at her high school graduation ceremony disrobed and delivered her valedictory address completely naked. “Afterwards she said it was an effort to express the spirituality of graduation… She believed is made perfect sense and deserved special praise… To Kate Logan, disrobing in front of everyone at graduation made sense because she believed unrestrained sex is the one true path to spiritual life” (Daniel Heimbach, True Sexual Morality, Wheaton: Crossway, 2004, 35). Sex is now the prevailing topic of discussion in secular society. One needs only to pick up a magazine or turn on the television to be completely inundated with sexual images.

This constant exposure to sexuality has led to many issues almost unheard of in previous decades. Divorce rates have sky-rocketed, the invention of reliable birth control and the legalization of abortion have instilled in youth a no-consequences attitude concerning sexual experimentation. The current sexual activity at the forefront of society is homosexual behavior. Television shows are centered on homosexual relationships, and the topic is even a priority in politics.

One place that has been strangely quiet concerning the issue of sex has been the conservative, evangelical church. Most people raised in church receive this advice concerning sex: “Sex is bad until you get married and then you should only do it with your spouse.” There is little discussion concerning the overwhelming exposure to sex in society, and sex is often still seen as something inappropriate to talk about in a church setting. While commenting on the lack of communication in the church concerning sexual issues, Dr. Paige Patterson wrote,
Indeed, Christians have sometimes failed to address sexual issues in a thoughtful and helpful fashion, giving instead the impression that Christian living is an endless series of prohibitions aimed at preventing any enjoyment in life…[The] secular community has never been seriously challenged to reflect on the claims of Christ and the Bible about the purpose, function, and success of human sexuality. Most simply have no idea what the true basis and purpose of Christian sexual morality is all about (Ibid., 17).

Because of this, many sexual struggles have simply been buried by many in the church. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once commented on this issue in the church: “The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we live alone in our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.” Sexual sin is still the greatest taboo in the church, but in recent years, many people have begun breaking the silence concerning sexual strongholds. It is interesting to note that many people breaking their silence are women. The church’s silence concerning sex led a generation of people to seek answers from the world. Now that those answers have proven empty and devastating, many people are turning to the church seeking healing, real answers, true joy, and fulfillment.

In her book Passion and Purity, author Elisabeth Elliot made this statement concerning Christians and sexual desire: “It is a powerful lie that, because sexual desire is natural, healthy, and God given, anything I do because of that desire is natural, healthy, and God given…. Christians who are buying such rubbish today are without honor. They have lost the notions of fidelity, renunciation, and sacrifice, because nothing seems worth all that.” The world has convinced the church of the aforementioned lie, and now, much of the church is scrambling to find a response.

Of Joy and Desire, Part 3


Lewis’s point is that there are desires for many things in this world. In his apologetic works, he discusses at length man’s desire for food, for rest, for companionship, for beauty, for enlightenment. He says, however, that those desires do not function in and of themselves. Rather, they are used as proofs by God to ensure us that, just as we desire food and there is food to fulfill that desire, there is also a God with whom we long to unite that will, when we ask Him, come down and fellowship with us in a way that will meet our every longing for Him. “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food…. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world” (Lewis, Mere Christianity). God created us with desires that can be fulfilled temporally in order to give us hope that those desires that cannot be fulfilled temporally will be fulfilled eternally. Our Creator desires for us to know that that we were not created with a desire that will not be fulfilled, and Lewis’s argument that since all temporal desires are fulfilled, then even those desires that we have not yet found fulfillment for will one day be fulfilled.

When looking to the Bible for confirmation of Lewis’s argument, one can look to Hebrews 11:13-16 where the writer speaks of those in the Old Testament who were highly esteemed for their faith in an unseen fulfillment of their desires:

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one (emphasis mine).

Even upon their death, these great men and women of faith had not received the things promised to them. Their desires had not been fulfilled. And rightly so, Lewis would argue, for who would want to place their faith for eternity in a longing fulfilled in this life? He, for one, did not. “Every step I had taken, from the Absolute to ‘Spirit’ and from ‘Spirit’ to ‘God,’ had been a step toward the more concrete, the more imminent, the more compulsive” (Lewis, Surprised by Joy, 237). When it comes right down to it, all anyone in this world is looking for is something sure in which to place their trust. What could be more trustworthy than a God who has ensured that everyday we will experience small confirmations of His constant presence both here and in the hereafter?