I have a love hate relationship with paintball. I find it to be really fun on one hand, and quite painful on the other. I have been in many paintball battles, finding myself in pure survival mode to best avoid the sting of those brutal paintballs! For those of you who take their relationship with God seriously, you know that your faith is a spiritual battlefield. There are many things out there that try to pull you in many different spiritual directions - being mocked for you beliefs, struggling with doubts, failing in sin - many things make faith hard sometimes - so what will it take for your faith to survive this spiritual battlefield?
Before diving into God’s Word, we should set up the context of our reading and figure out what exactly is this faith we are trying to preserve. Hebrews chapter 10 talks about the sacrifice of Christ, and how His death and resurrection covers all sins. This was a wild concept for the Jewish Christian readers, because they grew up with their parents and grandparents for centuries finding temporary forgiveness in animal sacrifice. Which is so ancient and barbaric sounding, right? Why did they do that? Well, because God made it extremely clear to Adam and Eve in the Garden that sin would require death as justice. People in the Old Testament could find temporary forgiveness of sins by the death of animals. The author of Hebrews is saying that we can trust and have faith that Jesus will cover all of our sins. For one our our faith survival necessities, we reach Hebrews 10:22-23, and it says,
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Having faith in Jesus gives us full assurance that we can be forgiven and we can experience an eternal life in Heaven in perfect relationship with God. In John 6:40 Jesus says that “everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life.” That’s something we can hope for! And we are to hold “unswervingly” to this hope of a bright, eternal future - but this faith of our must remain in tact, and we must persevere.
One key faith survival necessity is to hold onto hope. When the spiritual battle gets tough, hold onto to that eternal hope that Jesus gives you, and remember what your faith means and what it does - it saves you! When your faith gets challenged -when science professors say anyone who believes in a Creator is unintelligent themselves, focus on that hope that you have in Christ. When you fail and are tempted to believe the lies that God can’t forgive you, hold on tight to the hope of Jesus. Unswervingly hold on. I know that’s a bit vague - like, what do you actually do with this. But in those difficult moments, remember to just take a step back and look at the grand scheme of things - and remember the eternal hope of Heaven that you have in Christ.
Our passage continues… Hebrews 10:24-25:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Whereas our last point may have seemed a tad vague, this one is straight up and you know what to do. Surround yourself with people who encourage you in love towards Jesus, encouraging you to good deeds, and continue meeting together! Another key faith survival necessity is to do life together. Surround yourself with people who believe and trust in Jesus like you do! Worship together with your Christian brothers and sisters on the regular. Surrounding yourself with Christians will have a profound impact on your faith - and the exact opposite will have an equally as profound impact on your faith. If you surround yourself with people who don’t care about faith, who mock God, who want to party, seeking worldly desires - that will have a disastrous impact on your relationship with God. This one is imperative to take very seriously - choose wisely who you spend most of your time with.
If you truly care about your faith and want your faith to survive the spiritual battlefield we face, hold on to the eternal hope that Christ gives and do life together with your Christian brothers and sisters. If you do that, your faith will not only survive, but it will thrive!