The Lord's Discipline, Pt. 2
Hebrews 12:10-17 Running from Compromise
Stating the obvious, we are live streaming.
- In light of our pandemic.
- Submission combined with wisdom brought this technology.
- This is also God’s providence.
- You clicked on to this broadcast and it comes via the screen.
- Still, this is open-air preaching.
During the 1700’s the beginnings of the First Great Awakening is attributed to open-air preaching by George Whitfield or John Wesley.
- Both, for not being licensed, were banned from preaching within the organized Church of England.
- Taking the fields.
- Circuit/itinerant preachers traveling by horseback, town to town.
- Setting up makeshift pulpits at strategic locations!
- Whitfield preached to 20,000 and 30,000 people.
- In acoustically favorable settings where sound reverberating off water or walls.
- The tech of the day.
- Preaching began and fieldworkers would drop farm tools, mount horses and rush to hear.
- Whitfield and Wesley’s approach was first in England preaching to gravel town workers.
- They emerged from the mines, dark tear-streaked cheeks from coal.
- Preaching to American Colonists was a soft rebellion in terms of England’s preference.
- Nevertheless, it was expedient!
- For Whitfield and Wesley, their passion was to communicate Gospel hope and to this end, the Lord blessed.
Our country still benefits from this same freedom of speech.
- Livestream preaching is our opportunity!
- This is a Word of Truth in times of crisis!
Covid 19 is on the minds of everyone in the world.
- The basic tone and temperament of our world actually changed overnight.
- During Christmas most never would have guessed we would be in this kind of mode.
- Our economy for the moment on lockdown.
“What does this mean for your spiritual life?” Or, “How are you doing in your Christian walk?”
- The longer this goes on, the more new temptations come up.
- Hebrews 12 warns against one of them! “Giving up!”
- I do not mean give up on life.
- I mean, practically giving up on God.
In the case of Hebrews 12, when life gets hard, you want to give up on God.
- Aggressive personalities, shift into panic mode, achieving sanity through control.
- Passive personalities, retreat, shift into a reclusive mode.
- Either mode equally gives up on God.
- Both lose the source of hope.
Today, it is very important to answer why God allows trials in our lives!
- Otherwise, your empty heart fills like a vacuum.
- “Has God left us to our suffering?”
- “Are we being unjustly punished?”
- “Does God still love me?”
The natural flow of our exposition responds to temptations to “Give Up on God.”
- Verse 3, warns “not [to] grow weary or fainthearted” (v. 3).
- Collapsing short of the marathon’s finish line.
This section makes two things very clear:
- You will always be fighting a particular sin (vv. 3-4).
- You will always be surviving a particular circumstance (vv. 5-11).
Pick back up in Hebrews 12:10-11.
- These verses complete the theme:
- You will always be surviving a particular circumstance.
- We are always under something hard for our good.
- Parents “disciplined us for a short time” (v. 10) meaning our childhood.
- They did the best they could.
- By comparison, everything God is doing in your life is “for your good” (v. 10).
- Literally [sumphepov] “to bring together.”
- “All things working together for your good” (Rom. 8:28).
- Hard circumstances propel us down the path to “receive” [metalabeiv] God’s “holiness” (v. 10).
- Receiving “the holiness” literally entering heaven!
- Hardship grows us in Christ-likeness.
- This path to heaven is where holiness is perfected.
Remember, “Holiness is not an end in and of itself.”
- Holiness [hagizw] or sanctification is the process of being set apart from your sin.
- Verse 11 builds on this truth.
- The author, a realist about life’s “pain.”
- Acknowledging hard circumstances.
- Allowed by God for our good.
- The author, a realist about life’s “pain.”
- The “peaceful fruit of righteousness” regards the benefit of “peace” that comes from your willingness to be “trained by [trials]” (v. 11).
- Hard circumstances “yields…peaceful fruit” (v. 11).
- Verses 10 and 11 answer why God’s discipline or training exists.
- God disciplines for your holiness!
- Hard circumstances bubble your problem to the surface.
- What we need to repent of.
- God disciplines for your holiness!
- This is God taking an interest in you.
- Loving you not ignoring you.
- God is taking somewhere. To himself. To heaven.
- Pursuing holiness is perseverance.
The following verses apply this reality!
Holiness is making the choice to keep running and not collapse (cf. v. 3).
- False believers fall down and stay down.
- True believers fall down (also) but in time get back up.
ESV Proverbs 24:16 afor the righteous falls bseven times and rises again, but cthe wicked stumble in times of calamity.
Ask yourself, “Why should I keep getting up?”
- Christians have a goal greater than themselves!
- Parents pushing to provide for their kids!
- Soldiers putting their life at risk for their fellow man and country.
- Our New Hearts pursue Someone “Better”. Our all-sufficient Christ!
ESV Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: aforgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for athe prize of the upward bcall of God in Christ Jesus.
ESV Hebrews 11:26 aHe considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to bthe reward.
Wanting holiness is wanting Christ!
Hebrews 12-17 serves as another warning in this great letter.
- Giving up is the opposite of pursuing holiness!
- This is the warning not to give up!
- Walking away from the most significant relationship you have.
- Leaving where God ultimately lets you go!
- Avoiding reprobation.
Making a U-Turn. What Christians ultimately will do!
Verse 12ff moves into applications primarily “what to do and not do!”
- To “not grow weary or fainthearted” (v. 3).
Giving up is defined as a moral compromise.
Running from Compromise
1. Run again (vv. 12-13)
Verse 12 picks up the race metaphor, issuing a command! What we need to hear in days like today.
“Lift” and “Strengthen” or literally “rebuild” your “drooping hands” (v. 12).
- You who do not want push back up off the ground. “Get up!”
- You who are suffering “weak knees” or “paralyzed knees!” (v. 12). “Get up!”
- When your flesh cries, “No, I want to stop.” “You cannot!”
Verse 13 continues this picture, telling you, get back on track!
- Staying down is not an option.
- Push forward on the straight path.
Verse 13 warns what staying down will mean.
“Giving up” is having a bone out of joint that grows back warped!
- In this case, movement realigns your joints to functionality!
- In his book, Spiritual Depression Martin Lloyd-Jones tells his spiritual patients, paralyzed in depression, to “Take hold of yourself!”
Once running again, your healed conscience feels incomparably better! Life is clear!
2. Reconcile sins (v. 14)
It has been said, Christians must, “Keep short sin accounts.”
To “strive for peace with everyone” pictures a Christian’s clear pursuit.
- When life is heavy, there is no better time to seek people out whom you need to reconcile.
- Targeting God’s motivations for allowing our trials is futile.
- It is difficult (with certainty) whether trials are a one for one cause and effect for a sin we have committed.
At the same time, David’s testimony from Psalm 32 of heaviness tells us he knew (retrospectively) his sin was the cause.
ESV Psalm 32:3-5 For when I kept silent, my abones wasted away through my bgroaning all day long.
4 For day and night your ahand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up1 as by the heat of summer. Selah5 I aacknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I bwill confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
- Relief came when David repented.
- Not before but only after.
“Striving for peace with everyone…” means just that. Reconciling with everyone where possible!
ESV Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, alive peaceably with all. (Rom 12:18 ESV)
- Every scenario will not work out but we are commanded to try.
- This is “holiness” is running your Christian race!
“What is at stake when we refuse to attempt to reconcile with others?”
ESV Matthew 6:14-15 aFor if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
15 abut if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- The context for this is The Lord’s Prayer.
- Christians are expected to “forgive” [“let go of” or “release the debt of”] and non-Christians are not.
- This conditional phrase unearths the underlying condition of someone’s heart.
Without meeting this condition, you will not “see the Lord” (v. 14).
3. Regard others (v. 15)
The idea is that someone you know and love is sliding toward moral compromise.
- And, they are! A runner has fallen down and refuses to get up and run again.
- In the case of the last point, unwilling to reconcile.
- Someone who should not be left to themselves.
- Hardening their heart under God’s discipline!
- In need of your help!
The key thrust of Hebrews.
ESV Hebrews 3:13 But aexhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by bthe deceitfulness of sin.
ESV Hebrews 10:24 And alet us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
The words, “See to it” [episkopovtes] “bishop” (v. 15).
- “To oversee” or to watch out for or take care of!
- Helping people who are lacking grace!
a “root of bitterness” (v. 15).
- This actually less about the root and more about the fruit!
- We “oversee” our friends at church so they will not “cause trouble” or “defile” others.
ESV Deuteronomy 29:18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you aa root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit
- Less about being hardened like an unmovable root and more about the influencing by not walking by grace!
- Being hardhearted, left alone.
- What seeps poison to others.
- Unbelievers and wayward Christians are both guilty of this kind of influence.
ESV Galatians 5:9 aA little leaven leavens the whole lump.
ESV 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, aall rejoice together.
The final category is where everything comes to a head to moral compromise.
4. Resist compromise (vv. 16-17)
These verses make clear that giving up of God is a moral choice.
- When someone falls in ministry, it was not a far fall!
- Verse 16 makes this point that being “sexually immoral” is categorically equal to Esau’s “unholy” compromise!
- Verse 16 and 17 document Esau selling out his “birthright” to feed his flesh.
Two episodes tie together this cause and effect consequence!
ESV Genesis 25:29-34 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.1)31 Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now."32 Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"33 Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and asold his birthright to Jacob.34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
ESV Genesis 27:32-38 His father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" He answered, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, "Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed."
34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, ahe cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!"35 But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing."36 Esau said, a"Is he not rightly named Jacob?1 For he has cheated me these two times. bHe took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." Then he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?"37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Behold, aI have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and bwith grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?"38 Esau said to his father, "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." And aEsau lifted up his voice and wept.
Compromise that then lacks true repentance leaves you heaven-less!
- The sin of “sexual immorality” left to itself, without repentance, will leave you face to face with God with no advocacy!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Temptation:
It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money, or, finally, that strange desire for the beauty of the world, of nature. Joy in God is…being extinguished in us…At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality…only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil.
Hebrews 12 embodies the Christian life as running a race; this brings to mind one of the most tragic races I witnessed as a teenager!
The race of disgrace!
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of athletic compromise was the 1988 Olympic 100-meter sprint between Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, in Seoul Korea.
Carl Lewis, confident, loquacious, 6 foot 2, I think 30 years old, certainly beloved by Americans.
Ben Johnson, quieter, shorter, and stronger, the Canadian favorite. Johnson, who had perfected a jumpstart technique off the blocks.
The race was pure speed. The first to the finish line is a winner takes all. In this case, it was Johnson! Undisputedly, winning while breaking a world record.
Soon after all this would be reversed as Johnson was found out to have used metabolic strength-enhancing illegal steroids.
Johnson was disqualified. He had appeared to have won but moral compromise caused him forfeiture of his prize. An article was written 30 years later by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation):
“The greatest rivalry North America has seen in the last two generations played out over 10 seconds in 1988. Ben Johnson, Canadian, raced the 100-meter final against Carl Lewis, American, at the Seoul Olympics. We are still getting over it. Most middle-aged Canadians can still remember the aftermath, but very few can recall how it was that we all got so deeply invested in that one race. The details of the Lewis-Johnson rivalry, the skullduggery that stoked our fascination that is what seems to have slipped our collective memories. You can never tell what your mind is going to retain when you are in the midst of a car wreck, natural disaster, or national trauma.
The race was all of that, for Canadians. And all the more nauseating because it began so beautifully. Johnson’s win was the best sporting moment we could imagine. Our modest guy lined up, with all the world holding its breath and watching, and he just destroyed a showboating American at his own game. It was so, so great. Johnson made something happen that I only saw once in my life.”
“Johnson was the final witness in the Dubin Inquiry. On June 12, 1989, he told the inquiry:
"I lied. I lied and I was ashamed for my family, my friends, other Canadian athletes. I was just in a mess.”
“Johnson cheated. He took…loads of steroids. He admits that fully. But, Johnson still has an issue with the whole process. Five of the other seven runners in 1988 were eventually caught cheating too. It still hurts Johnson deeply that he is the only one singled out for public shaming.”
Running your race toward reprobation is the worst possible Race of Disgrace!
The thought that the Lord could leave us to our sin, is appropriately terrifying.
- At the same time, when life circumstances are hard.
- When we are down and want to “Give upon God!”
- We need this warning!
- The way to run away from compromise is clear and the opposite way is the way of digression.
- Get back up.
- Strengthen your resolve in the Gospel.
- Reconcile your sin accounts, maintaining a soft disposition.
- Show regard for your fellow Christians.
- At all costs, resist compromise!
- We know the right path!
- Because God has put us on it!
- If not, just ask him to!