“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” Hebrews 4:11
Rest in this context is the ceasing from our efforts to please God by keeping moral and ritual law or through service, and resting in our new relationship with God through the completed work of Jesus Christ. This is the great divide between religion and true Christianity.
The main impediment to experiencing that ‘rest’ is refusing to believe what God has said. This was Israel’s problem when Israel first approached the Promised Land: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). When we don’t believe what God has said we will disregard His counsel, directives and commands. This is, in effect calling Him a liar or deceiver. Israel “did not enter because of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:6). We choose not to obey because we think we know better. This was Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden and is the root of all sin. We can hardly expect to remain in fellowship with God while bringing His character into question by calling Him a deceiver or liar.
Both the Apostle Paul and the writer of Hebrews state that it is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) and Paul also states that God cannot and will not act contrary to His nature (2 Timothy 2:13). Jesus said that He is truth (John 14:6) and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26) who comes from the Father. The testimony is that God is truth and will not and cannot lie. To suggest otherwise is arrogance in its extreme and follows Adam’s example.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts Christians to be diligent in believing what God has said and demonstrate that we believe God by doing and living as He says. This is what James affirms when he wrote, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Clearly, the “rest” means serving the Lord and His people and not putting up one’s feet and being idle. How we live our life will reveal whether our faith is genuine or not. When we hear God’s word on a matter and believe what we have heard, we will act upon it as He has directed without finding it a burden (1 John 5:3). If we adjust, dismiss, ignore or reject any of God’s word it reveals that we do not believe Him, perhaps even that we do not want to believe Him.
How can we know whether we are expressing true faith? The writer of Hebrews explains, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The Word of God has a way of revealing whether our faith is genuine or not. As we read and study it the Holy Spirit will show us where our heart lies. A heart that welcomes the word of the Lord and is guided by it is one that knows the love of God and has no fear of His wrath.
“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentile and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30).