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The Big IF

We have come to share in Christ if… Hebrews 3:14

Doesn’t that “IF” get our attention? I recently read The Pilgrim’s Progress and noticed how many characters in the book were there to pull the main character, Christian, off the path to the Celestial City. Pilgrim only got there if he stuck to the narrow path. The same theme recurs in movies such as Lord of the Rings. The drama builds, as sinister figures seek to hinder the mission of the main characters.

Twice in Hebrews 3, the Scripture says “IF.” The first is, “And we are his house if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6) I am not asking whether we are “still saved” if we lose our courage and hope. The context of the book of Hebrews goes beyond that to enter into all that God has for us. It is not just about “getting out” of Egypt but “getting in” on God’s agenda. I do believe we can get sidetracked from God’s best. It is not good enough just to “get out” of doing business your way. We have to “get in” and stay the course. If you are running a business—a household that reflects God’s household—there will be things that cause you to lose courage, to lose hope. If you are a working person serving God in the marketplace, you will face the same challenges. 

The second IF is in Hebrews 3:14: “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” I have checked the Greek, and if means if—there are no loopholes. My caution to those of us who have tasted the kingdom of God is that we must “hold firmly” to the confidence that we have—“if we hold firmly.” What takes away our confidence? Often it is the delay in seeing the promise become present tense that causes us to lose our grip. We move from hope to hopelessness; we lose our hold on God.

Enter the decoy. Often, just before God provides the breakthrough, Satan sends a decoy. You have the promise, but you are not yet in the Promised Land. You are out of Egypt, but you are not yet at your destination. You have the hope in your heart, but you don’t have the land under your feet. Right there at the threshold, Satan sends an attractive alternative that is everything you had hoped for… almost. Will you hold firmly, or will you go for the decoy? This past month I have spoken with people in different situations who are dealing with decoys. They come in the form of business opportunities, partnerships, funding sources, and relationships. They look so right, but deep down we know better. This is a form of an Internal Integrity test. The situation looks like “a God thing” – except, perhaps, for the God part. 

Hebrews 3:13 tells us how to deal with decoys from the outside and what it calls an “unbelieving heart” on the inside. “For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes.” Satan will send you postcards for getaway destinations that look like the Promised Land but are not. Make sure you have a brother or sister in Christ who is sorting your mail with you, sifting out the junk mail. “But encourage one another daily.”

Reflections

  • Where are you being tempted by decoys?

  • Who do you have in your life that is inspiring you to be courageous? How can you live more deliberately in the atmosphere of the hopeful?
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