I was driving my car and listening to a talk-radio program when a young man called in. He was desperate because he had been expelled from college and had lost his job.

The caller said he had grown up in a good home, attended church faithfully, and professed faith in Jesus Christ. But now he was hooked on pornography and immoral conduct.

The pastor-counselor answered vaguely, telling the young man to “focus on your God-given potential” and “get in touch with your inner self” as a step toward personal “wholeness.” I didn’t know just what he meant. I’m sure the caller didn’t either.

If the writer of Hebrews could have responded to this young man, he would have told him that he had a sin problem and that God in love was chastening him to correct him (12:7-11). He would have urged him to repent, and then he would have told him to commit himself wholeheartedly to honoring the Lord (v.12), stick to the straight paths for his own good and the good of others (v.13), and strive for a life marked by peacefulness and purity (v.14).

God’s path to wholeness is more than looking within ourselves. It’s facing our sin and looking to Christ for forgiveness. Real wholeness is not easy, but it is rewarding.