Relevant Bible Teaching "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
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Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12

 1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Sometimes it is easy to feel as if it is too hard to be faithful and too difficult to believe.  Yet there are many who have gone before us, who, despite their shortcomings, have endured in faith.  Therefore, we, too, should lay aside all that holds us back from being and doing what God wants us to do.  Sin so easily entangles even the most faithful of believers, and we must by faith lay it aside and press on, running with endurance the race that God has given each of us.  Our faith is imperfect, but Christ is the One Who has authored our faith and Who will be faithful to perfect and complete it.  He will fully sanctify us and one day glorify us, taking us with Him into God’s presence in heaven.  Jesus’ endured because He was able to look past the pain to the joy that would be His by making it possible for many to come to faith.  He looked to the heavenly prize and despised the earthly shame and suffering.  God exalted Him for His faithfulness and seated Him at His right hand.  We, too, will be exalted in due time for our faithfulness if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9). 

 4You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;

 5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

 7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Sometimes resisting sin and standing for Christ will cost us our lives.  The author’s message to his readers and to us is that we must whatever we need to in order to avoid the entanglements of sin.  In the garden, Christ sweated blood as He undertook the strains of doing God’s will.  God’s will is not easy often times, and we must struggle against our flesh.  But we must be willing to fight, for when we resist the devil, he will flee (James 4:7).  Quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12, the author reminds us that God disciplines those sons whom He loves.  We who are Christ’s children by adoption through the blood of Christ should expect to be trained in how to walk in holiness.  When we veer off course, God, in His great love, will intervene to convict us of sin and lead us back to the way of righteousness.  If He didn’t discipline us, we would have reason to believe that He doesn’t love us.  But it is because He cares for our well-being and because He wants us to be trained in holiness that He will correct us.  He may allow difficulty into our lives to sharpen our faith (James 1:2-4).  Though discipline is not fun or enjoyable, afterward it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  God knows that this is best for us, and in the end, it will bring us the greatest joy.   God’s discipline is always purposeful, and it always results in increased holiness and peace.

 12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,

 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

That God’s discipline is motivated by love and for our best interest doesn’t make it any more enjoyable in the process.  As such, it should be a motivator to deter us from wanting to sin.  It should move us to want to strengthen the parts of our hearts and minds that are weak.  It should encourage us to study God’s Word all the more.  It should lead us to avoid dangerous places that could make us stumble.  Sin is a downward death spiral of destruction, and rather than letting things go from bad to worse, we need to start drawing near to God so that He will draw near to us (James 4:8).  As we refrain from sin over time and continue to grow in faith and obedience, what was weak can be made well rather than disjointed even further. 

 14Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

We are to do all that we can to live peacefully with one another (Romans 12:18).  We shouldn’t be those who try to pick fights or who like to get on each other’s nerves.  As we grow in holiness, it will help others who need to know Jesus to see Jesus in us. 

 15See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

 16that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

 17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

The grace of God means that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven for those who truly repent.  No person should ever be told that they cannot be forgiven.  The only people who won’t be forgiven by God are those who harbor sin in their hearts and who lack the faith to believe.  Some people, like Esau, want to change, but they just love their sin too much.  It can bring them to desperation and to tears, but still they just can’t turn to God and abandon their sin.  Esau was evil, immoral, godless, and short-sighted, desiring to sell his entire inheritance for a single meal.  The author wants there to be no bitterness in the body of Christ because bitterness stems from jealousy, lust, distrust, and many other vices that divide.  Contentment and joy should mark Christ’s people, not bitterness.  This is why we must be willing to forgive and not harbor grudges.    

 18For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,

 19and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them.

 20For they could not bear the command, "IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED."

 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling."

God spoke to Israel from Mount Sinai in a manner that created great fear among the Israelites.  Between the trumpet sound, the fearsome words, the gloom, the whirlwind, and the blazing fire, it was just too much for them to bear.  Even Moses was full of fear and trembling (Deuteronomy 9:19).  God’s holiness was so frightening that if even an animal approached the mountain, it would be killed (Exodus 19:12).  God was sending a message to Israel and to all people of all time as to just how holy He is and how corrupt they are apart from Christ. 

 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,

 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

MountZion speaks of the heavenly kingdom and the New Jerusalem, our dwelling place with the living God.  We will be in His city with countless angels and the multitudes of those who have confessed Christ as Lord and who have finally been made perfect.  We will worship Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant established by the shedding of His blood on the cross.  In Genesis 4:10, we read that Abel’s shed blood was crying out to God in heaven.  But Christ’s blood sacrifice speaks much more loudly to God than Abel’s murder, and God hears our mediator and accepts us as His own.

 25See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  

Our call as believers is to share the good news of forgiveness in Christ.  It is imperative that people listen to the message and respond in faith.  Jesus is alive, and He is speaking through His living and active Word.  God warned many disobedient people in the Old Testament, and many were killed by Him for their disbelief.  Given His love for His Son, certainly we would expect God to be faithful and just to execute wrath on those who reject Jesus.  Equally so, we know He will be faithful and true to forgive those who ask.   26And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN."

 27This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

When God spoke to Israel from Mount Sinai, His voice shook the earth.  Yet there is a time when both heaven and earth will be shaken in the future.  God will bring wrath upon the earth in the last days, and eventually He will create a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-12).  Created things will pass away, and there will be a new creation (Isaiah 65:17, Revelation 21:1).  That which cannot be shaken, such as our souls and our eternity, will be sure. 

 28Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

 29for our God is a consuming fire.

Indeed, we are inheritors of a certain coming kingdom, the kingdom of heaven.  It cannot be shaken, and it will not pass away.  Given our eternal hope and inheritance, we should be thankful to our Lord and motivated to serve Him in reverence and awe.  We should never forget that our God is the same God today as He was when He manifested Himself as a consuming fire on the mountain.  He is that powerful, that holy, and that magnificent.  We must never underestimate or undervalue our Lord.  Every time we think of Jesus, it should motivate us to thank Him and serve Him.