Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer is a very important tool that God has given to His children. A lost person can pray to God, seeking forgiveness and salvation. Many lost people think they can pray to God about the weather or about their health or some other thing. There are many “prayers” that don’t even reach the ceiling of the room.
Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
God wants man to pray to Him. Prayer is important. It is necessary for us as people. However, if I want to live in sin, I cannot expect God to hear me. That is what He says. He is not a push over. He is not interested in the prayers of those who want to do their own thing, but run into a snag now and then and want Him to bail them out of that particular snag.
Prayer is based upon a relationship that God provides for His children. Intercessory prayer, as we have in our text, is important. It is a privilege to be able to pray for others. It is also a blessing to know that others are praying for me.
The apostle Paul wanted to have a good conscience. He wanted to live honestly in all things. That is important. That is not humanly possible. It certainly can be done by a born again Christian. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with His words. They tried to find fault with what He said. They never succeeded. Even Pilate understood they had brought Him before him because of envy. Jesus was honest in all things. The apostle Paul wanted to be honest in all things as well. That is important for every child of God.
In verse 19 Paul asked that the readers would pray for his release from prison. He wanted to be able to come to them sooner. God designed us as social beings. There were others in prison with Paul. At times Paul was under house arrest (as was likely the case in our text) and he was allowed to have visitors come and visit him. Those things were all good, but it was not the same as being a free man and enjoying fellowship with God’s people at liberty. Paul desired to have that liberty again. Paul had a love for the saints and he desired to be with them. He knew his calling was to be an encouragement to others and he wanted to be able to do that again in person.
In verse 20 he reminded the readers of the God of peace. Israel has been seeking peace with her neighbours for many, many years. She has not found that peace to this day. There are many enemies who want to destroy that small nation. Israel cannot find peace because they have rejected the God of peace. The war taking place now between Russia and Ukraine will not end with peace. It will end at some point, but there will be tensions that remain. The trouble in our country between those who have been seeking freedom from the unjust mandates will not be able to settle that issue with the government. It does not matter who will form the government, that issue will not be settled. The government has found a “weapon” it can use at will to subdue the people and it is going to keep that “weapon” available. We are truly a pagan country and the politicians that are in place at all levels are either in full agreement with the direction this country has been pushed into over the past 2+ years or they are foolishly going along with what is going on.
The Bible tells us that the anti-christ will come on the scene as a peace-maker. He will be a fraud but the people of that time will love him. They will soon discover he does not have the capacity nor the desire to make peace with the people. He will have a plan and he will seek to enact his plan no matter what others think.
Paul was at peace with God in the midst of the wickedness of the Roman government and the wickedness of the Judaizers. He was attacked from different sides, but he was at peace with God. He had turned to God in repentance and he had trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone as his Saviour and Lord and he was walking in obedience to the will of God for his life. He was not going to allow the enemies of God to rob him of the peace that God had granted him. He desired the prayers of true saints to help him to remain faithful to His Saviour.
The peace of God brought Jesus Christ back from the dead. It was necessary for Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It was also necessary that He rise again from the dead. A dead saviour is no saviour at all. Jesus Christ is alive and He is the hope of those who are saved.
Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd of the sheep. The local church pastor is called to be the shepherd of the sheep that God gives him. However, he is the under-shepherd who is directed by the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ blood established the everlasting covenant of salvation by grace for all those who will believe in Him. His blood took the sins of Abel out of the way. His blood took the sins of Abraham out of the way. His blood took the sins of David out of the way. His blood is still able to cleanse the repentant sinner today and give him or her eternal life.
In verse 21 we see the request that those who are saved be made perfect through the peace of God. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses the repentant sinner of sin. He is made a child of God and he has all he needs to follow God faithfully from that moment on. The word translated as “perfect” means “thoroughly complete”. There are things on this earth that I do not have the skills to do. I have learned some things in my lifetime, but there are still things lacking. That will remain the case as long as I live.
However, as Paul wrote:
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The context of that verse is with regard to spiritual matters. The born again Christian can do all that God requires of him or her. God commands his children to be witnesses unto him. Every true child of God can be a witness unto God. Every true child of God has been given all that is needed to walk away from sin and sinful habits. God requires His children to be holy and to have that good conscience that Paul was writing about in our text. We can be holy and we can have a good conscience.
As we see in verse 21, God’s children can be well pleasing in His sight. Salvation is necessary for that to be true. Obedience is required for those who are saved. If you are saved, you will have the peace of God in your heart. If that is not the case, are you sure you are saved? If you have the confidence that you are saved according to God’s Word, then what sin are you not willing to give up as a child of God? God’s peace is there for every true child of God that has that good conscience that Paul speaks of.
We can only be well pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. We do not have that ability in ourselves. We need to live for Christ. We need to trust in Him and depend upon Him in all things. As we noted in Philippians 4:13, it is through Christ that I can do all things. Self-made people will fail.
Goliath assumed he was more powerful than any person in Israel. His own nation had assumed he was more powerful than they were. He was not all that intelligent, but he was strong. Goliath fell at the hand of God as He directed David to cast a stone to the spot that was open on Goliath’s forehead. It did not matter how physically strong a man he was. He was without any strength spiritually. The same is true for every self-made person. Goliath had opportunity to develop his strength. He had opportunity to prove his strength to the leaders of the Philistines. The king was willing to put him out there as their champion. He and the people assumed that Goliath would win the battle for them. They never expected him to fall. However, he fell. The Philistines fled before the armies of Israel because their champion was dead.
The true child of God never needs to flee before the enemy. The Lord Jesus Christ is not dead. He is seated on the right hand of glory and we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. The glory belongs to God. He is worthy. We have nothing to boast of. People need to know the goodness and mercy of God. They need to know His peace. Those who are saved are saved to serve the living God.