STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:35-39)
There are times in life when a lack of confidence seems altogether reasonable, if not expected. If an individual routinely shows up late or not at all for work, his employer will understandably lack confidence in his ability to hold a job. If a particular airline has a history of losing your luggage, you will not be able to travel with them confident that you and your clothing will both arrive at your destination at the same time. If a product on the market suffers from multiple recalls and poor reviews, consumers will not be confident in purchasing that product. In all of these examples, we are dealing with products made or services provided by fallen people in a fallen world. The confidence which is spoken of here in Hebrews is a confidence in a higher Person and a higher promise.
This topic of confidence comes up often in Hebrews. Hebrews 3:6 says that we are of the house of Christ “if we hold fast the confidence . . . to the end.” Hebrews 4:16 says that because Jesus is our truly perfect and sinless High Priest we may “come boldly [confidently] to the throne of grace” in prayer. And just prior to our text, in Hebrews 10:19, we are told that we can have “boldness [confidence] to enter the Holiest through the blood of Jesus.” Therefore the verses above speak of the confidence found in the perfect righteousness and blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin.
Why might someone be tempted to cast away such confidence? Well, the key word here is tempted. Every temptation Satan hurls at us is designed to get us to cast away our confidence in Christ, and he has quite an arsenal of temptations on hand to use for this very purpose. He assaults us inwardly by using false teachers, with their appeals to man-made authority or work-righteousness. These may cause us to question the authority and truth of God’s Word, or to doubt the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Satan attacks us outwardly using the world with its various forms of persecution, which may cause us to wonder if our faith is worth such suffering. And unfortunately, Satan has a willing partner in our own sinful flesh which says, “Your faith gets so many poor reviews, and so many have rejected it. Don’t buy into something which inspires so little confidence among so many!”
In reality, the confidence we should cast away is any confidence we might be tempted to find in these lies of Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh. They promise great rewards—but deliver only sin, death, and utter misery. In contrast, the promises of Jesus are absolutely sure because His actions of salvation back them up. He has redeemed us by His blood. He has overcome Satan, the world, sin, and death. Therefore we can be confident that He will deliver on His promise of granting eternal life to “those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
Chad Seybt is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming.