The only true rest is in the grace of Christ
The writer of Hebrews continues to explain the ‘rest’ of God – “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4: 4-9)
The letter to the Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish Christians not to turn back to the laws of Judaism because Old Testament Judaism had come to an end. Christ had brought an end to the Old Covenant or Old Testament through fulfilling the whole purpose of the law. Jesus’ death was the foundation for the New Covenant or New Testament.
In the above verses, the ‘rest’ that remains for the people of God, is a rest we enter when we realize that the entire price has been paid for our complete redemption.
Religion, or man’s effort to satisfy God through some form of self- sanctification is futile. Trusting in our ability to make ourselves righteous through following parts of the old covenant or various laws and ordinances, does not merit our justification or sanctification.
Mixing law and grace does not work. This message is all throughout the New Testament. There are many warnings about turning back to the law or believing some ‘other’ gospel. Paul continually dealt with Judaizers, who were Jewish legalizers who taught that some parts of the old covenant must be followed in order to please God.
Paul told the Galatians – “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (Gal. 2: 16)
No doubt it was difficult for the Jewish believers to turn from the law they had followed for so long. What the law did was to show conclusively the sinfulness of man’s nature. In no way could anyone keep the law perfectly. If you are trusting a religion of laws today in order to please God, you are on a dead-end road. It cannot be done. The Jews could not do it, and none of us can either.
Faith in Christ’s finished work is the only escape. Paul also told the Galatians – “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3: 22-24)
Scofield wrote in his study Bible – “Under the new covenant of grace the principle of obedience to the divine will is produced inwardly. So far is the life of the believer from the anarchy of self-will that he is ‘under law toward Christ’, and the new ‘law of Christ’ is his delight; whereas, through the indwelling Spirit, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him. The commandments are used in the distinctively Christian Scriptures as an instruction in righteousness.”