FOMO—I used to have it. Even as a child, I wanted to stay up late so I wouldn’t miss something, and in my youth, I did just that—to my detriment. Now I have a dog who suffers from the affliction of “fear of missing out.” He can be in a dog park with dogs all around him, but what he wants is the one dog outside the fence. We often focus on what we don’t have, perhaps something others have or something we used to have, rather than see the good things right in front of us. During the pandemic, when people wanted to eat in restaurants, they bemoaned their loss instead of getting the same food to bring home. People complained about being isolated but didn’t gather safely outside or take advantage of nature’s bountiful beauty and peacefulness when possible. Christians have the ultimate blessing of fellowship with Jesus Christ but frequently neglect spending time with him. One of the most valuable ways to commune with God is through confession, but because of pride, stubbornness, or ignorance, most believers neglect this essential means of grace. We are distracted by what we don’t have, afflicted with FOMO. We shop, scroll on our devices, eat, and binge on movies and TV. All the while, Jesus is actively interceding for us, and the Holy Spirit is prompting a closer walk with him.
In Hebrews, the author establishes the unique, sympathetic priesthood of Jesus Christ and calls us to fellowship with him. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16) Weaknesses, temptations, and sin are specifically mentioned by the writer. So here our spiritual need for his forgiveness and transformation through repentance is certainly in sight. My prayer for 2021 is that we will be increasingly confident to approach God in confession for repentance, delighting in his mercy and grace.
“This great high priest believers have… Christ and salvation by him…the hope of eternal life and happiness [which is] valuable and there is danger of dropping it…[so] it should be held without wavering; for it is good and profitable; and not to hold it fast is displeasing to God, and resented by him: and the priesthood of Christ is an argument to enforce this duty, for he is the high priest of our profession [and] he prays for the support of our faith.” When Jesus was taken into the wilderness by the Spirit after his baptism Satan tempted him three times—to do a miracle of turning stones to bread, to test God’s love by jumping off a high pinnacle, and to grab glory and worship the world and Satan instead of God (through suffering) (Matthew 4:1-11). These were not small trials for the man Jesus. His victory demonstrated his reliance on the Father’s will to be the second, perfect Adam and on the Word to combat Satan’s attempts to derail him. Jesus further proved his intention to identify and sympathize with his people. (1) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15) “Though Jesus was tempted in every respect, that is, in every area of personal life, he (unlike every other human) remained sinless, and thus he is truly the holy high priest. In their temptations, Christians can be comforted with the truth that nothing that entices them is foreign to their Lord. He too has felt the tug of sin, and yet he never gave in to such temptations.” (2)
The Westminster Confession of Faith states: “All those that are justified…[and] enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him, as by a father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation. (3) Given the fact that God has done so much for us through Christ, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls…We are to come with reverence and godly fear, not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.” (4) “Confidence translates Greek ‘parrēsia’ [as] ‘boldness,’ ‘confidence,’ ‘courage,’ esp. with reference to speaking before someone of great rank or power. It indicates that Christians may come before God and speak plainly and honestly (yet still with appropriate reverence), without fear that they will incur shame or punishment by doing so. God the Father, with Jesus at his right hand, graciously dispenses help from heaven to those who need forgiveness and strength in temptation. (5)
“Our smallest offense deserves the full wrath of God. [But]…God has not only covered our sin in Christ but also allows us to approach Him continually to receive that grace anew. We also know that God is holy—set apart in His perfection, glory, and majesty. We are sinners who sin every day. Our sin should grieve us but not condemn, because we serve a God who is good and gracious but also holy and just. So, what are we to do with this enigma of our sinfulness and God’s holiness that clings so close to us? Repent and receive God’s amazing grace.” (6) “And this may be done ‘boldly’; or ‘with freedom of speech’; speaking out plainly all that is in the heart, using an holy courage and intrepidity of mind, free from servile fear, and a bashful spirit; all which requires an heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, faith, in the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, a view of God, as a God of peace, grace, and mercy, and a holy confidence of being heard by him; and such a spirit and behavior at the throne of grace are very consistent with reverence of the divine Majesty, with submission to his will, and with that humility which becomes saints.” (7)
“Since we have a great priest over the house of God, 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 10:21-22) Having been chosen, forgiven, and cleansed in Christ, is there any reason you can find to procrastinate or neglect God’s call to receive his forgiveness through regular confession? Our confessions may be spiritually significant, or for simple acts of stubbornness or distrust, doubting God’s faithfulness in some small way. In every case, though, Jesus, our high priest calls us to receive his mercy and grace for our needs. My love for God increases every time I confess and ask for his help to repent—to change my thoughts, attitude, perspective, or behavior. By practicing frequent, humbling repentance, we become more confident to approach God and delight in his mercy and grace for our most challenging, stubborn sins. Our confidence to continue communing with him grows. When we are trapped by FOMO, being afraid of missing out on something worldly, we neglect God’s sweet grace of confession and repentance. But turning to God ultimately results in transformation. What a blessing—to be freed from our sinful entrapments! “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)
Related Scripture: Exodus 16:9-12; Psalm 8:4; Isaiah 55:6-7; 63:7-14; Matthew 4:1-11; 9:35-36; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6; Hebrews 7:25; 10:19-22; 11:6;
- Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Hebrews 4:14-15, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-4.html
- English Standard Version Study Bible Notes, Hebrews 4:15, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
- The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 12 “Of Adoption,” 1647.
- Henry, Matthew “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible,” Hebrews 4:16, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/hebrews-4.html
- ESV Study Bible Notes, Ibid, Hebrews 4:16.
- Ligonier Ministries, “Sin, Repentance, and Walking in the Light,” by Trillia Newbell, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sin-repentance-and-walking-light/
- Gill, Ibid, Hebrews 4:16.
March 11, 2021