NOTE: The below article is a lesson I taught to a group of young men at a recent weekend retreat. Since I was speaking to young men, the lesson is pretty gender specific. I’ll leave it to my female readers to apply the truths I’m trying to communicate to their gender. I believe strongly these concepts have bearing over both genders and apply to all of humanity.
“Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The First Man
Once a man was born. Not a baby boy from the womb of a woman, but a man born of dust and the breath of God. The man. He was a real man – the truest form of a man. The manliest of men. This man was a brilliant specimen. I can’t tell you much about what this man could do. He might have been the strongest, the fastest, the best looking, and the smartest man ever. This man might have been all those things; but his ability did not make him the manliest of men. No, what made him the most real man in existence was his confidence before God and his relationship with God. This man worshipped God easily and freely without fear or unfamiliarity. He worshipped God perfectly.
You see, this man was the first man. His name was Adam and he was perfect. God created Adam to worship Him and Adam did what he was created to do flawlessly. Adam walked with God and talked with him like a son talks to a loving father. He wasn’t afraid of God – he had a relationship with him like nobody who came after him could have.
Adam was a true man because his relationship with God was perfect, but sadly that perfection didn’t last. We all know the story – Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the one tree that God told them not to touch. They believed the serpent when he told them that they could be like God. Instead of worshipping God, they tried to glorify themselves and in that first sin, Adam became less of a man. He was broken because of his sin. In Genesis 3 we see that after they sinned Adam and Eve hid from God because they were ashamed of themselves and afraid of their Creator. Ashamed. Afraid. The confidence that Adam once had to come near to God was gone because of the sin that polluted his heart. And when we read further in Genesis 3, we see that God drives them out of the Garden because of their disobedience. He separates Himself from them because he is holy and perfect and he cannot have a relationship with unholy, sinful people.
Adam had once been confident before God; he had once had a deep relationship with his Creator, but after his disobedience he was merely a shadow of what used to be. He was no longer a real man. He was like the burnt out shell of a house – you can tell it used to be a home, but no one would call it a real home anymore.
Like Father Like Son
I’ve got bad news for you. Adam was the first man, which means that every man in the world today came from Him. You know what they say – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We are just like Adam. Since he was a broken down man, we are all broken down men. We all try so hard to be “real men,” but we will never be able to reach that goal. A real man is a whole man like Adam was before his disobedience – a man who worships God with confidence and has a relationship with Him. We can never be real men on our own. We are broken down shells of men. We are sinful people who can’t do anything but cower before a holy God. We cannot worship God on our own. And this, my friends, is bad news.
But there is good news! God is a compassionate God who desires to take back the broken down, burnt out shell of what used to be a man and restore it, make it new and whole again. He has a plan to restore broken men to true manhood.
Beginning in Genesis 3, right after the first sin, God makes a promise to his people. He says to the serpent that is Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15). This is a promise of a man who will come and conquer evil and restore humanity to relationship with God. And as the Bible goes on through the Old Testament we can see that God’s promise becomes clearer and clearer!
The Last Man
So God’s people all through the Old Testament looked ahead to one who would come to set things right again and the good news is that he came! Jesus came! He was the answer to the promise that began thousands of years before in Genesis 3. 1 Corinthians 15 calls Jesus the “last Adam” who became a “life-giving spirit.” Its says, “The first man was from earth, a man of dust; the second man [Jesus] was from Heaven…Just as we have borne the image of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, lived the perfect life that the first Adam couldn’t live, took the punishment that we deserved because of Adam by dying on the cross, and rose again to show that he brings new life that restores and rebuilds broken men into real men. This last Adam restores the things that the first Adam lost. Look at what the author of Hebrews writes, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus… and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart full of assurance of faith…” (10:19,21-22) Through Jesus we can worship God with confidence because our sin doesn’t condemn us anymore. Through Jesus we can draw near to God in relationship with him because Christ’s blood makes us holy.
We are all broken down shells of men, but through Christ you can be a true man. Only through Him can you be a real man!
Are You a Real Man?
Each one of us has been given the opportunity to be the kind of man we were meant to be, to give up the wimpy boy that we try to be on our own and commit ourselves to following the God who became the greatest Man for us. Some of you might say that you already have done that, that you already follow Jesus, but here’s my question: does your life show it? Remember that the first Adam was created to do something – to worship God. Worshipping God is more than coming to a service once or twice a week and singing some songs or listening to a sermon. Worshipping God means offering your whole life to him, striving to give him glory in all that you do.
Look again at the passage from Hebrews 10. The passage begins by saying “Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus…” Then it goes on to say “Let us draw near… let us hold fast the confession of our hope… let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works…” The point is saying you believe in Jesus and saying you’re a Christian doesn’t mean anything unless you back it up by doing something. Being a real man in Christ means you have to ask yourself “how am I going to live?” The way you live your life reveals what you truly believe.
So what does it look like for us to be real men in Christ? It means taking a hold of the things that the first Adam lost: confidence before God and relationship with God.
If you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior the blood of Jesus covers over your imperfections and makes you holy in the eyes of God. Because of Christ’s blood you can be confident in coming before God in worship, you don’t have to carry the guilt of your sin with you, you can confess it to God and other knowing that you are already forgiven because of Jesus.
This confidence in coming before God leads to a relationship with God – you have the freedom to draw near to God in prayer and the study of His word. A man restored by Christ shows his restoration by seeking God in prayer, trying to know Him more by studying the Bible, living out faith with other Christians in community, and telling the world about the relationship you have with Jesus.
Taking hold of these things that the first Adam lost is part of what it means to live a life of worship. Living out a confident relationship with God means that through Jesus we are doing what the first Adam could not do. We are being real men. Real Men worship THE real man – Jesus – with their whole life.
Go. Do it.