“19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV
Dear Church Family,
Last week, Myra and I went to Kansas City to pick up a piece of used furniture—a credenza. I got curious about that name, “credenza,” so I did a little research. It comes from the Italian word for trust, belief, or confidence (note the English word, “credence”). In sixteenth-century Italy, important people would often have their food tasted to protect them from being poisoned. According to some accounts, the act of giving “confidence” to the food passed from the tasting itself, to the room in which the tasting was done, to the furniture on which it was done.
Confidence or trust is an important concept in the lives of Christians. In Hebrews (which we’re studying on Wednesday nights), the writer is encouraging Christians to live out the implications of the salvation God has provided in Christ. He encourages them to “have confidence to enter the holy places.” One of the key themes of the letter so far has been that Christ is our sinless high priest who can serve eternally to give us access to God. Because of Christ’s sacrificial death, we can pass through the “curtain” into the very presence of God.
In our culture, confidence can be a very subjective thing. It’s a “feeling” of certainty, of assurance. This idea is certainly part of this passage. Look at v. 21: “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Still, our confidence has to be rooted in something objective, something real. This is not the “self-confidence” people are often encouraged to have. This isn’t telling them, “just believe in yourself.” Sure, I encourage my son like that sometimes; I tell him he can do this or that if he gives it his best. Still, the confidence in Hebrews 10 is not belief in yourselves, your abilities, or your own self-worth.
The word for “confidence” in v. 19 can actually be translated as “authorization;” we can enter God’s presence without fear because we have permission from God himself to do so. More than just “permission,” God is encouraging us to come to him. The way has been opened by the Son of God himself. Jesus, Hebrews says, is the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament sacrificial system was pointing towards. He is the eternal high priest, and he is the flawless sacrifice. Our entry into the presence of God is “authorized” by God. How shall we respond?
These verses include a series of “let us” statements. These are calls to respond appropriately to God’s actions. Since God, at the cost of his only Son, has given us permission to come into his presence, the only proper response is to do that very thing, and to do it with confidence. How often do you draw near to God? Have you done so today? If so, were you confident?