9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
In what do you find your sense of identity? What is it that defines the essence of who you truly are when all that is superficial is scraped away? What is at the very core of your being that if you lost it, you would lose everything?
In this passage, Hebrews is driving at identity. Throughout the letter, Hebrews has been drawing a contrast between Jesus and His sacrifice with the Temple in Jerusalem and its ongoing sacrificial system. At this point in time, there was loads of pressure being placed upon Christians to give up their faith in Christ and return to their Jewish roots.
Will they define their identity in the old covenant system with its rules, regulations, and the practices of the Temple in Jerusalem or will their identity be defined by their hope and trust in Jesus and all the blessings, benefits, and future promises found in Him?
Here in this passage, Hebrews is encouraging believers to hold onto their faith, to have their hearts be strengthened by grace rather than return to Jewish rules and regulations such as food laws that have no benefit to faith.
The point that Hebrews is making is that those who have entrusted their lives to Jesus have so much more than what the Temple in Jerusalem can offer. Unlike the temporary Temple in Jerusalem, those whose identity and hope are placed in Jesus have been made holy through His sacrifice on the cross (verse 12), they have access to the throne of grace (the alter in verse 10), and they have membership in the eternal Jerusalem that is yet to come.
The right and good response of those who belong to Jesus, the one that God loves and longs for from those who find their identity in Jesus, one of acknowledging the name of Jesus, of worship, praise, and prayer.
It is true that we can’t earn God’s favor by the things that we do, but it is also true that God is pleased and delighted when we answer His love back by praising His name and when we do good and share with one another as we witness to His grace, His presence among us (verse 16).
Where is your identity found? How will you live out your identity in Christ today?
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.