Religion changes by command, the gospel changes by sight

Here are some more thoughts from a series we are going through in the book of Hebrews: Christ is Better. I had forgotten just how incredible this book is.

The author of Hebrews wrote to a group of people who, for a variety of reasons, were struggling to follow through on their faith. They hadn’t turned against Jesus, but their faith had started to cool. Following Jesus was getting difficult.

Many of us can relate. Perhaps you have questions you can’t answer. Or temptations you can’t keep under control. Or you’re lonely or in pain, and–I don’t care what anyone says–it’s hard to feel close to God when you’re lonely and in pain. When you first came to Jesus all was excitement and joy, but now following Him feels like a strain.

In chapter 2 of Hebrews, the author fleshes out the central theme of the entire book, one he will repeat again and again and again: Look to Jesus. He shows us four glorious pictures of Jesus. He was a) a King who got involved; b) a Champion who saves; c) a Brother who is not ashamed; and d) a Priest who can help.

The author does not tell us to look at what is wrong with us and then order a stern command to go and fix things ourselves. He tells us to look at Christ and what He has already done on our behalf.

That’s the difference between religion and the gospel. Religion tells you what is wrong and how you should fix it; the gospel tells you what Jesus has done and tells you to live in response. Religion changes by command; the gospel changes by sight.

What are you struggling with? Do you lack courage? Are you overwhelmed with despair? Are you lonely? Are you discouraged at the lack of victory over your sin? What you need is not new willpower, a new command, or a new motivation.  What you need is a Savior in whom to trust and find refuge.  Look to Jesus. 

Throughout our life we’ve been told we need to “know” ourselves; to find the strength and beauty within. The Bible says, “Don’t look within. Get to know Jesus.” Knowing Jesus even a little will do more for a distressed heart than knowing yourself perfectly. Many churches say, “Discover your potential. Discover the champion in you.” Scripture tells you to discover the Champion in Scripture. Resting in His victory is more important than discovering your potential.

When you see Him for who He really is, then your life will truly change. When you gaze on His glory, you also will be transformed from one degree of glory to another.  Hold fast to Jesus. Once you have glimpsed any part of the glory of Jesus, it is impossible to point people back to themselves.

The Bible has one antidote to every spiritual ill: Look to Jesus.

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