"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35–39).
These verses were addressed to some of the most harassed, tried and suffering Christians on earth. These dear saints had walked faithfully in the fear of God. They were repentant, looking for the coming of the Lord. They knew Christ as their high priest and had lived in the full assurance of faith. And they were steadfast in the Lord. They had held fast their testimony without wavering. They trusted in the God who is “faithful that promised.”
These saints also had taken to heart all warnings against apostasy. They knew that believers who sinned willfully after receiving the knowledge of truth could fall away and be “devoured by the adversary.”
Knowing this was an important part of their faith, because from the very start they had suffered terrible persecution. They were “objects of ridicule,” enduring reproach. They suffered all kinds of afflictions. Not only was their character assassinated by the wicked, but their property was confiscated, leaving them poverty stricken. Finally, their leader was thrown in jail, leaving them without a shepherd.
What was going on that these Christians should suffer so terribly?
All of these terrible hardships fell on those Christians immediately “after ye were illuminated.” It was then “ye endured a great fight of afflictions” (Hebrews 10:32). Think about this sentence: It flies in the face of every modern doctrine of prosperity and a painless walk with Christ.
You might ask, “Why do some Christians seem to breeze through life? I know people who apparently never seem to suffer. They only prosper. They always look happy, as if they have no problems at all.”
Indeed, as you look at such Christians, you may wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why have I had to endure one difficulty after another since I gave my all to Jesus? When I was cold and lukewarm in faith, everything was okay. I didn’t know such hardships existed until I got serious with God.”
Your answer is contained in this verse: “After you were illuminated,” meaning, “after you saw the light.” It was after you opened your life to Jesus and were flooded with his light that your great fight of afflictions began.
You see, Satan attacks us according to the measure of light we receive and walk in. Those who walk in a little ray of light are no threat to the devil’s kingdom. He aims his “great fight of afflictions” at those who love the light, who embrace all that Christ has for them.
Such saints have no part in darkness. They’ve laid hold of a faith that has made them “endurers.” They have become soldiers who walk in the full assurance of faith. Yet because of their faith they have become targets of vicious attacks from hell.
The enemy comes like a flood against such soldiers.
Satan can make it seem as if everything in their lives is coming apart: Their prayers seem hindered, heaven seems as brass and they suffer afflictions on all sides. At such times their heart can whisper condemnation:
“You lack faith. If you only believed more righteously — if you were closer to Jesus, if your thoughts weren’t so evil — none of this would be happening to you. You would be on top, like those you see around you. You would enjoy abundance and hear clearly from God.”
Not so! These Hebrews who were under attack had a genuine faith that made them “draw nigh unto God in full assurance.” Indeed, they are addressed in this epistle as “holy brethren” (Hebrews 3:1). The writer knows there is a war for their hearts in the midst of great affliction.
Simply put, Satan’s main objective is to douse the light, to dim it, to shut it off. Show me a Christian who suddenly comes out of spiritual darkness, bursting into the light of Christ and his holiness and purity, and I’ll show you one who is in for the fight of his life.
Does this describe you? Are you enduring a great fight right now? Beloved, it is most likely not because of doubt or sin, but because of the light you have embraced. Light produces confidence in Jesus. And the more light you receive, the greater your trust in him. It is your confidence in Christ that Satan is determined to shipwreck. He has aimed the powers of hell to drag you down in fear and unbelief.
The writer of Hebrews detects a weariness and impatience creeping into these believers.
To address this weariness the writer tells these Christians, “Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). He has identified Satan’s most effective weapon against those who grow weary in well doing: impatience with God.
Here is how it works. After a long period of affliction, the devil plants the thought, “God knows you’ve trusted him. You’ve been faithful up to now. You would never doubt his willingness and ability to help you. So, where is he after all this time? Why doesn’t he help you? Is this how he responds to his servants’ faithfulness?”
Apparently, the patience of these holy brethren was wearing down. The daily fight itself was hard enough. Now it dragged on continually, with no end in sight.
This is exactly the kind of strategy Satan uses against many dear saints today: He implants impatience with God. He’s telling you the Lord is not going to supply your need — that you’ll live as a second–class Christian, downcast and on your own all your life. He accuses, “You’re going to lose your job. You’ll lose your home. All your praying and trusting will be in vain. It’s obvious you’re a failure in faith. The time has come for you to give up and go back.”
Think about what the writer of Hebrews is saying to these suffering saints.
What a message to deliver to a people mired in deep trouble. They had lost all their property and possessions. They had undergone affliction, enduring a great fight over a very long period. Now they’re being told by someone in authority, “You lack patience. Just believe and wait. The promise is coming.”
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t blame some of these believers if they were tempted to say, “Me, need patience? I’ve endured all of this without complaining. I’ve been kicked around, pushed and shoved, beaten down, humiliated. My savings are gone. My house is gone. I’m having to live on the generosity of my friends, and they’re not in great shape either. Despite all this, I’ve endured every battle with a quiet joy and confidence. So what do you mean I need patience?”
Godly patience is a willingness to wait for God’s timing. There is such a thing as Holy Ghost timing. “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). This verse speaks of more than Christ’s second coming. It also is about the coming of Christ to meet your need.
The fact is there is no such thing as God being late. Mary and Martha had thought Jesus was late when their brother, Lazarus, died. They said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). In other words: “Jesus, you got here too late. You missed the deadline.”
Imagine how hurt the Lord must have been over this. In essence he answered them, “No, I’m not late. Lazarus will rise again. I’m here, and I am the resurrection. All life is in me.”
The household of Jairus also thought Jesus was too late. This prominent man was told, “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?” (Mark 5:35). Once again the message was, “Jesus was too late. It’s all over. He didn’t answer on time. He let us down.”
Too late? There is no such thing with our Lord! You may be tempted to quit the fight and sink in despair. But our Father is so full of love for his children he can’t be stopped from bringing something out of nothing.
Deep despair and anguish can come at Jesus from those he cares for most.
Mary and Martha had cast away their confidence. Jairus’ household had cast away their confidence as well. They all accused Jesus of being too late, uncaring.
Still, all it took was one word from him, “Rise!” and everything changed in an instant. That’s all it ever takes with the Lord. He speaks one word and suddenly everything is transformed. Satan must loosen his grip, death flees, life springs up, and heaven’s promises break out on all sides.
Beloved, no matter what you’re going through, all the Lord has to do is speak a single word and devils are sent scattering. Creation trembles. Suddenly, the answer you’ve sought is upon you. So, you ask, why has the Lord not answered you yet? Why does your suffering go on? Why does it look so hopeless for some of God’s holiest people?
All I know is this. In such crises, God’s people either grow in confidence or draw back and cast away their confidence. “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38–39).
The Lord is determined to strip us of all confidence in the flesh, leaving us with total confidence in him.
If we’re honest, we’ll admit we often put our confidence in others during our hour of great need. We look to pastors, counselors, friends, spouses for answers. We spend hours, days, weeks trying to figure out how our problem can be solved. And if a solution isn’t quick in coming, we keep manipulating, working every angle, until all our human resources are exhausted.
I often hear Christians say, “If only this deal would just go through.” Or, “If only so–and–so would put in a good word for me. All I need is a little break.”
Thank God for all the help from others, but we are not to look for an angel to appear or a ship to come in. Paul states, “(We) rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). It is for our soul’s sake that God waits until we look beyond human resources and seek him alone for help. He does use people in our lives, but we are to let him orchestrate it.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide… Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:5, 7).
Paul knew all about the powerlessness of the flesh. He admitted he was not clever. His critics called his preaching contemptible, his presence base — in short, they said he was boring. But Paul had no problem with such criticism because he didn’t trust his flesh. He knew that Jesus hadn’t fought his battles with cleverness, ability or charisma but with all confidence in the Father.
Paul told the Corinthians, “I’m not going to come to you with false confidence or boldness that is of flesh. I will not put it on for you. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh.”
In other words: We don’t need our self–assurance built up. We don’t need to be undergirded by flattery. All the human abilities in the world won’t bring down a single stronghold of Satan. “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29).
There is a glorious promise in Hebrews 3:14 for all who hold firmly to their confidence in Jesus.
This verse says, “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” The meaning here is: When we maintain an unwavering confidence in the Lord, he becomes our only true source of supply. We need look nowhere else.
“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). We are being promised, “In Christ are all the riches of glory. In him is all the fullness. Everything you need for life and godliness, God has given you in Jesus, your total supply.”
Few Christians doubt that Jesus is the source of all they need. But they don’t always have confidence and assurance he’ll give them what they need. Beloved, let me share just a few wonderful reminders of the Lord’s concern for you:
He knows all about your personal needs. “For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8).
He truly cares for you. And he is touched by your need. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The Greek meaning here is, “It matters to him.” This may be difficult to comprehend in the midst of your long affliction. But even now God is taking a great interest in every matter touching your life: job, family, children, relationships, health. It is truly his concern; it matters greatly to him.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward” (Hebrews 10:35). God says, “Hold onto your confidence, because I am a rewarder.” Simply put: “It pays to hold on.” “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (11:6).
Do you want to truly bring Christ pleasure? Then give him your total confidence. Hold on and don’t waver. And remember his promise to you:
“The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (10:38–39).