Thus, what is being described by an “honest and good heart” are those believers who tend to remain in an attitude of openness, brokenness, and submission to the will of God as they continue to choose to walk in Luke 9:23-24. However, do these believers sin and fail in their walk with the Lord as do all believers—both inadvertently, as well as conscious, volitional sin? Without any equivocation they do! However, they also repent and return in brokenness to the Lord, and through His loving “discipline” in their lives, they begin to “share His holiness” and experience the “peaceful fruit of His righteousness” in their lives (Hebrews 12:10-11). The reason this attitude of brokenness, repentance, and submission to the Lordship of Jesus occurs in the lives of these believers is because they “continue to hold fast and continue to retain and possess God’s Word in their hearts!
(NOTE: the Greek word for “hold fast and possess” is κατέχουσιν [katechousin], and it is a present tense verb, indicating continuous and ongoing action.)
In addition, the word for “perseverance” in Greek is ὑπομονῇ (hupomonę̄ ), and it comes from two Greek words: the Greek preposition ὑπό (hupo), which means “by means of”; and the Greek noun μονή (monē), which refers to “a place where one remains or dwells.” Thus, together, the meaning is “by means of staying or abiding, so as to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance,” and this ability is because these individuals have truly been born again and have a real, genuine, and eternal relationship with the Lord. Furthermore, they choose daily, by the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to walk in Luke 9:23-24 and “continue to hold fast and possess” God’s Word in their hearts in the face of all that they encounter, which includes their own sin and failure, along with difficult trials and tragedies in their lives.
It has always been interesting for me to note that as Paul grew in the Lord, rather than seeing himself as some ‘great one’, he saw the sin in his life as being immense, and—in turn—he saw God’s grace as always being greater. The more he was aware of his sin, the more he knew God’s grace was the only thing he could appeal to. Please understand, as we grow in Christ, we develop a deeper sense of sin than simply “drinking, cussing, smoking and sexual doing,” which indeed can be self-destructive in our lives if not addressed and dealt with; rather, we penetrate further into the attitude of our hearts with regard to “pride, jealously, self-promotion, versus promoting Christ, doing what we do to be seen by men for our ego’s sake, and not really trusting God in all things, but substituting being ‘religious’ in place of truly walking by faith, etc.” Thus, as Paul grew in Christ, he humbly grew beyond the beginning stages of the do’s and don’ts of his Christian life. After all, if one does not grow in spiritual brokenness beyond this stage, it can result in a pseudo-spirituality of an immature, external, hypocritical, prideful, self-righteous, and self-deceived legalism. Instead, Paul continued to go to the depth and core of his own being, wherein he saw the depth of his own depravity, but the far greater depth of God’s plummet-less grace and mercy for His children (Ephesians 3:14-19):
- I Corinthians 15:9: “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called anapostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Written ca. 57 AD.
- Ephesians 3:8-10: “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach tothe Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Written either ca. 50 or 57 AD.
- Titus: 1:15: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” Written ca. 65 AD.
What is interesting to note is that in all of the above examples, Paul is not saying “I was a great sinner,” but rather, “I am” a great sinner, saved and kept only by the grace of God, not my own goodness because I have none. Thus, as we genuinely grow in Christ, we realize every day that our relationship with the Lord is based on His great grace and mercy, and it is that grace and mercy that transforms us, placing a supernatural desire and disposition within us to want to serve, submit to, and follow Him by means of the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit, which results in His “holiness” being developed within us as a result of the brokenness He brings in our lives:
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:4-12)
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:7-11)
Therefore, when we now look at Hebrews 6:7-8, it becomes clearer as to what is being said: “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8). Verse 7, therefore, is clearly talking about those who are truly born again and bear the “fruit” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, while on the other hand, verse 8 is describing those who “have no firm root” as depicted in Luke 8:13, as well asHebrews 6:4-6. In other words, they have never come into a true, genuine, and eternal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but rather only an emotionally superficial one that cannot last and will eventually manifest itself as being just that when these individuals completely turn away from and utterly deny Jesus as their Lord and Savior.