Remember that worship song “Take Me Past the Outer Courts”? Not the best worship song in the modern hymn-book. Why? Because it de-values the gospel. I doubt it was intentional, but bad theology nonetheless.
If you are in Christ, free access to the holy place is yours because of Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews unpacks this:
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 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. (Heb. 10:19-22)
New Testament scholar Paul Ellingworth’s comments in The Epistle to the Hebrews on these verses are helpful.
- The access to God which believers have through Christ is no less close than that which Christ himself has attained. (p. 517-518)
- By means of [Christ’s] self-offering, Christ has done perfectly and in reality for us what the levitical high priests did imperfectly and figuratively: he gained access by a new way to the living God, not only for himself, but for all who through him will share God’s life. (p. 521)
- The readers [of the book of Hebrews] are to seize the opportunity of access to God which Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice have been made possible. (p. 522).
You can confidently seize access to God because of what Jesus has done on your behalf.
Your confidence in prayer never should rest on what you have or haven’t done. If it does your confidence before God will either stem from pride in your spiritual achievements or it will wane and you will seize your latest sin as the barrier between you and the Father.
Your pathway to the Father is only paved by Jesus. “Full assurance of faith” doesn’t come from the “size” of your faith, but from resting in the “size” of the object of faith. Jesus is the perfect high priest who has opened the curtain of access to God by the crucifixion of his flesh. He is faith’s object and his work has given you the privilege of unbridled access to your heavenly Father.
If you trust Jesus, you’ve already been “taken past the outer courts into the holy place.” The question is, will you confidently take what is already yours?