In the military they train you to be ready for situations that you may encounter. One of those is evasion, capture and potential torture. This last one is no fun. Let’s just say they have ways to get your attention. One attention getter that we get to experience is the denying of your very ability to breath. I don’t want to go into details for obvious reasons (it was all safe and supervised even if the trainee didn’t think so in the moment). When you are deprived of breath something happens inside you. Your desire to survive becomes the only thing. For most people they will do anything to survive. I believe this most basic drive is where selfish is born. It may seem like a long way around the mountain, but the most basic desire that God made us with is the thing the enemy uses to fuel selfishness or lack of surrender. From this place is born the desire to control. We have this belief that if we are in control and can control all situations, then we will be safe. This is why lack of control or giving up control is so foreign to us. The only time we will surrender control is if we trust the person who is in control. When pressure is applied to an individual to “make them do something” or “set rules for good living” or “subjugate themselves into moral behavior” or anything like that, say THE LAW, our natural desire to control absolutely comes against the rule or law or good idea. This is why the LAW can’t make you a better person but Grace can. Law is about you wrestling with yourself in your control. Grace is about you surrendering to God’s control.
Imagine an athlete training for an event. Say they are a world-class speed skater. Have you seen the legs on those people? Wow, are they fit. The more they train the better they get. They apply more resistance in the form of exercise to get stronger. These athletes creat a facsimile of their competition event to adapt their bodies for the real thing. Likewise an animal in the wild will adapt to its environment. A cow or pig gets fed all day and just lounges around. An Elk is constantly on the move and avoiding predators. Pig legs are good for eating. We call it ham. Elk legs are really tough. We call them shanks. The point is the leg, its composition, its hardness, its resilience, its toughness or tenderness is a product of its environment. The more pressure you apply in the form of exercise or predators or just plain old survival instinct, the tougher or harder it gets.
When it comes to the things of God, self is like a leg. Check this out. The Greek word for hard or harden is skleryno which means to render obstinate or stubborn. The root of skleryno is skelos. Guess what it means. The leg, literally from the hip to the toes inclusive. Isn’t that amazing? Here are a few verses with skleryno or hard/harden:
Hbr 3:15-19 ESV – As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Jhn 6:60 ESV – When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
This section in Hebrews is about the Israelites and the promised land. They refused to believe and it was called disobedience. They didn’t get to enter the promised land. They had to learn to trust in God over the next 40 years. How? He supplied their every need. They didn’t even know where to find water. He gave them manna from Heaven. He showed them where to camp and where to travel. Each day was a new adventure in a completely dependent relationship.
Jesus says to us that He is our manna. He is our daily provision. He gives us our very life. When the disciples heard this they were stubbornly disappointed. They were so used to self-reliance, self-righteousness, self-improvement. The thought of dependence was foreign to them. They were so far removed from the wilderness. Are we? Can we surrender and stop resisting? Hebrews 4 is after 3. Look at what it says.
Hbr 4:10 ESV – for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
I believe that our efforts actually harden us. We become stubborn. We become self-reliant because it is our nature. God wants us to be dependent. God wants us to surrender. God wants us completely reliant on Him. How do I know? That is what Jesus did. So I can hear you asking “but how do I do it when it is my nature?” This is the best part. You just agree. You just believe. You come to the understanding that your nature is to resist and always fall short. You come to understand that you can’t do it in your own effort. Then you trust God to do what He has promised. He will complete what He has started. What He started in the Spirit you can’t finish in the flesh. If we can’t save ourselves from sin then we absolutely can’t make ourselves holy or sanctified. Only God can do that. Christ in you is the hope of glory. Christ in you is greater than anything in the universe. We get to rest in His promises.
Jesus rested and abided in His Abba all the way to the cross. Did you know that the way the cross kills a man is to suffocate him? Jesus surrendered His very right for that breath.
He can bring the same surrender in our lives. Are you willing?