The Role of a Godly Leader

May 17, 2020

The Role of a Godly Leader

Passage: Hebrews 13:9

Preacher: Jeff Crotts

Series: The Race Set Before Us

Category: Sunday Morning


Hebrews 13:7-19 Final Applications


(from last week, May 10)


The role of godly leadership
 1. Godly leaders base their authority on God’s Word
 2. Godly leaders live a life commensurate with God’s truth
 3. Godly leaders yield themselves to Jesus (v. 8)


(This week, May 17)

 4. They protect their flock from false Gospels


This fourth point is connecting verses 7, 17, and 24 with the title “leaders.” 


  • The references to “leaders” target a significant role designated in verse 17. 


“…keeping watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (v. 17).  


I will leave for when we come to verse 17.


  • These word-speaking “leaders” speak (cf. v. 7) the warning of verse 9.


“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings” (v. 9).


  • “Do not be led away” is the same warning throughout Hebrews.


  • Not to “drift away” came early!


The same root word used here. 


ESV  Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.


The slow drift as with a boat imperceptibly moving off course. 


  • “Heading to the rocks.” 


“…not be[ing] led away” assumes there is a “leader” not a good “leader!” 


Jude calls these false teachers, “hidden reefs” (Jude 1:12). 


ESV  Jude 1:12-13 These are hidden reefs1 aat your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, bshepherds feeding themselves; cwaterless clouds, dswept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, euprooted;


  • A boat, moving along, toward a reef under the water, what would rip apart the hull of a boat sinking its crew to its death. 


The emphasis is not the shepherd but for the sheep. 


  • Sheep called to discern truth from error. 


  • Shepherds [also] called to protect sheep and we will pick this up in verse 17. 


  • However, the key to understanding believers fight drift with discernment. 


Sensing “diverse and strange teaching[s]” (v. 9). 


Just because it is “diverse” does not mean it is obvious


  • “Strange” or “foreign” marks how far false teaching is from “grace” (v. 9). 
    • A little leaven leavens the whole lot. 
    • False teachers twist the truth a just a little bit (cf. 2 Pet. 3:16 “…twist to their own destruction”). 


  • Satan’s temptations to Christ in the wilderness on the surface appear harmless. 
    • You are hungry and have the power to fix this. 
    • “Stones to bread?” 


    • “Throw yourself off the temple?” 
      • You certainly have guardian angels. 


    • “Bow to me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world?” 
      • Are not these your kingdoms anyway? 


  • Why Paul warned against anyone preaching another Gospel or a Gospel “contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9). 


  • 1 Corinthians 11:4 people proclaiming “another Jesus” or “different Gospel” (1 Cor. 11:4). 


  • People “disguising themselves as apostles of Christ…even Satan disguising himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-14). 


There will always be enough truth to what is false to make it palatable.  


  • Temptations are subtle and it does not take much to rationalize away, living by faith.


“What are some modern heresies (inside the church) to look out for?”

  • Egalitarianism (Adam and Eve are one being, feminism, female pastors)
  • Authoritarianism (authority hermeneutic or dominionism, healings, Jesus only theology)
  • Mysticism (seeing things, dreams, two-level Christians)
  • Ceremonialism (religious forms, traditions, ambiance)
  • Anthropocentrism (self-esteem, victim culture)
  • Legalism (eat this, do this, separation)
  • Cultism (people worship, extra-biblical anything, Jesus a created being)
  • Liberalism (social justice, salvation by doing good deeds)
  • Experientialism (demon under every bush)
  • Anti-authority (no church, no doctrine, the Bible itself is my doctrine)
  • Libertinism (hyper-grace, antinomianism)
  • False Christ, False Trinity (Kenotic, Modalism, Pentecostal oneness)
  • False Gospel (Jesus plus, prosperity theology)
  • Pragmatism (politics, business-based success).
  • Materialism (health and wealth, promised prosperity)

Nothing new under the sun, so these trends will surface and re-surface. 


  • May not seem dangerous; however, each will draw you away. 


  • Each “ism” carries a modicum of truth; if not, there would be nothing attractive to bite on.



The goal of discerning heresy is not weaponizing heresy-hunters. 


  • “Debaters” - Winning debates as an end to your faith will set you adrift! 


  • Modern-day Pharisees.


  • The key is to be able to see something coming and not believe it!


“What guards against being set adrift?” 


  • Constant refresh with “grace” (v. 9). 
    • “Grace” is saving grace.
    • We are saved and nothing can change this.


  • Still, saving grace is meant to have an ongoing ministry to our hearts.


  • Our hearts will “go adrift” in doubts and fears making it imperative to be “strengthened” (v. 9). 


  • “Strengthened” means “confirmed” or “secured” or “established” (v. 9). 


  • You can begin to drift and then there needs to be a reset.


ESV  Romans 15:8 For I tell you that Christ abecame a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order bto confirm the promises given to the patriarchs


ESV  1 Corinthians 1:6 even as athe testimony about Christ was confirmed among you--


ESV  Colossians 2:7 arooted and bbuilt up in him and cestablished in the faith, just das you were taught, abounding ein thanksgiving.


ESV  Hebrews 2:3 ahow shall we escape if we bneglect such a great salvation? It was cdeclared at first by the Lord, and it was dattested to us eby those who heard,


The only way to keep your heart from going “adrift” is to bring things back to the basics. 


  • This is how it is for everything in life. 


    • Your health.  Your relationships.  Your money.  Sports.  Academics.  Life goals. 


    • The only difference for Christianity is that your “good” is “grace” (v. 9).


“…to be strengthened [confirmed] by grace, not by foods” (v. 9).


Getting back to the basics of the Gospel.


It was July of 1961 and the 38 members of the Green Bay Packers football team were gathered together for the first day of training camp. The previous season had ended with a heartbreaking defeat when the Packers squandered a lead late in the 4th quarter and lost the NFL Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Green Bay players had been thinking about this brutal loss for the entire off-season and now, finally, training camp had arrived and it was time to get to work. The players were eager to advance their game to the next level and start working on the details that would help them win a championship.

Their coach, Vince Lombardi, had a different idea.

“This is a football.”

In his best-selling book, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi, author David Maraniss explains what happened when Lombardi walked into training camp in the summer of 1961.

He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”

Lombardi was coaching a group of three dozen professional athletes who, just months prior, had come within minutes of winning the biggest prize their sport could offer. And yet, he started from the very beginning.

Lombardi's methodical coverage of the fundamentals continued throughout the training camp. Each player reviewed how to block and tackle. They opened up the playbook and started on page one. At some point, Max McGee, the Packers’ Pro Bowl wide receiver, joked, “Uh, Coach, could you slow down a little? You're going too fast for us.” Lombardi reportedly cracked a smile but continued his obsession with the basics all the same. His team would become the best in the league at the tasks everyone else took for granted.

Six months later, the Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants 37-0 to win the NFL Championship.


Knowing the genuine article is what guards your hearts against the counterfeits. 


I used to mentor a young man who always wanted to win Christian debates.


  • I would find him painstakingly reading, The Book of Mormon and The New Century Bible
    • He rationalized saying, “Nobody else has the integrity of reading the other side!” 
    • This was poison for him. 


  • “Bad company corrupts good morals” and “Do not receive [a false teacher] into your house” (2 John 1:10). 
    • He graduated from bible college, joined a liberal seminary, became a liberal pastor who pioneered gay marriage. 
    • Left the faith. 


I have told the story about a family we knew in a former church. 


  • Their little boy’s piano teacher was a high-ranking Mormon. 
  • Became family friend. 
  • Began bringing missionaries over with food. 
  • The husband, a church intern with a great deal of bible training, allowed this to happen. 
  • Their newborn had two middle names. 
    • One after the professor/mentor of his seminary, the other this Mormon piano teacher. 
    • The wife left him and was baptized into the Mormon faith. 



ESV  Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, atossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in bdeceitful schemes.


ESV  1 Timothy 4:1 Now athe Spirit expressly says that bin later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to cdeceitful spirits and teachings of demons


“…strengthened by grace, not by foods” (v. 9). 


  • This is the pivot point of discernment. 


  • The “It is this not that!” moment. 


  • You can tell when someone speaks for God or not when they are speaking straight up Bible.


Tellers are trained in how to tell if a bill is counterfeit, and there are several different ways to tell. The first is touch. Tellers handle thousands of dollars in cash every day, so when they come across a bill that doesn’t feel like real money, it’s not hard to tell it apart from the ones that are real. The texture is usually softer and thicker. The second is cutting and printing. A lot of counterfeits are not printed exactly where they should be on the bill, or the ink is blurry. On real bills, ink is always crisp, and there will always be an exact border around each bill. Third, there’s a hologram in each newer bill. You should always be able to see the face (or currency amount for some $5 bills) in a hologram on the right side. A ribbon of micro-text with the bill’s amount will always be printed on the left side of the bill. Both of these are only visible when they’re held up to most any light, however, they are most apparent in UV light. If the bill doesn’t appear see-through when you hold it up to the light, the weight of paper is probably too heavy, indicating a fake bill. If the holographic face is different than the bill that was printed, the bill was likely washed and printed, indicating a counterfeit. This is common when someone tries to washout a $1 and print a $20 of $100 over it instead, so it will pass the money pen test. Some bills also have other security features like ink that changes color, microprint that spells out phrases that look like parts of pictures, etc.


The broader context of mixing food and religion is what verse 9 is dealing with. 


  • Next week - specifics, comparing priestly sacrifices with Christ. 
    • Being inside and outside the camp! 
    • Applications of true worship from the heart! 


  • For now, see the bigger picture from Leviticus 11. 
    • What was forbidden for the children of God? 
    • What they could not eat and why. 


Leviticus 11 ends up with the punchline in verses 44ff. 



ESV  Leviticus 11:44-47 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and abe holy, for I am holy. zYou shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. zYou shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground.45 aFor I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. zYou shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."

46 This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground,47 ato make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.  


  • The intent of separation was holiness.


  • Holiness in the heart was answered in the Cross. 


This is illustrated and explained by Peter’s experience in Acts 10. 


  • Verses 34-36 bring the punchline. 


ESV  Acts 10:34-36 So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that aGod bshows no partiality, 35 but ain every nation anyone who fears him and cdoes what is right is acceptable to him.

36 As for athe word that he sent to Israel, bpreaching good news of cpeace through Jesus Christ (dhe is Lord of all)


ESV  Ephesians 2:14 For ahe himself is our peace, bwho has made us both one and has broken down cin his flesh the dividing wall of hostility


False teaching came as the result of morphing Truth and its original application into some Nuevo application rendering what was. 


  • What was righteous in the Old Testament. 
  • What was solved by the Cross will creep in as something new!


    • New things that solve what Grace alone cannot?


    • Happened in the early church – what Paul was pastoring and guarding against.


ESV  Romans 14:17 aFor the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but bof righteousness and cpeace and joy in the Holy Spirit.


ESV  1 Corinthians 8:8 aFood will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.

ESV  Colossians 2:16 Therefore let no one apass judgment on you bin questions of food and drink, or with regard to ca festival or da new moon or a Sabbath.


“What makes eating food bad?” 


  • “It is just food right?”  Point is not the food.  Food is not the problem. 
    • When food became an instrument for control. 


    • What someone says you can and cannot have! 


  • Controlling people.  Power is always a deep-rooted sin.


“Why do people allow for something to control them?” 


False religion promises to answer someone’s guilt. 


  • Unrepentant people bend the doctrine to accommodate sin to solve with false grace. 


  • Repentant people bend wills by acknowledging their sin and solve their guilt by fully casting themselves on grace.



Satan pushes anything to undermine complete trust in Gospel grace. 


  • The opposite of grace is human achievement.


  • False teaching thrives on human achievement and robs God of his glory. 


“Why will God bring us to our knees?”  Only to trust in his grace alone. 








[Foods OT – Leviticus 16:27] – Leveraging external practices from the Old Testament – “physical regulations” to try and perfect the conscience is what binds someone in legalism (Heb. 9:9-10) – only blood of Jesus cleanses conscience – the grace of God manifested in the death of Christ and resurrection.  [Shrn] – “external practices were not evil – they separated Israel from the nations as the people of God.  But neither were they intended to be permanent, and they were not effectual. 


[Kent] prob of false teaching had appeared – various or “strange” because came in great variety – foreign to the gospel of grace – centered on “meats” – that heart attempt was to elevate Judaism at expense of true Xianity – some ceremonial distinctives are in view rather than asceticism (cf. v. 10) – maybe part of larger movements – Paul to Colossians (Col. 2:16) – Corinthians (1 Cor. 8:8) – OT Jews blindly following ritual – not profited for ceremonialism alone did not bring salvation – observing distinctions about meats did not make them grow stronger spiritually.  It was by grace – God’s favor – NT believers brought to maturity – readers need greater stability in doctrine. 


[DA Carson – false doctrines contrast single focus of X unchanging – what leaders inculcated vv. 7-8 – opp. Of ‘strange’ – bizarre outside of the community – “hearts strengthened by grace” – new cov. Inward transformation (vv. 20-21; 8:10; 9:14-15) ---- ceremonial foods – outside teachings call for Judaistic dietary practices related to OT priestly ritual (Lev. 6:26; 7:31-32).  Author’s brief response connects argument of earlier chapters – no benefit from these practices (7:19; 9:9-10; 10:1).  


[Barrick] – various strange doctrines – any teaching contrary to God’s Word – NT countless warnings against false teaching and false teachers (Acts 20:29,30; Rom. 16:17; 2 Cor. 10:4,5; Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:16) --- Established by grace – those experiencing God’s grace in Christ have hearts and minds that remain stable – foods – Mosaic Law had regulations for everything – including food (Lev. 11) – but for Xians those laws have been abrogated (Acts 10:9-16; cf. 1 Cor. 8:8; Rom 14:17; 1 Tim. 4:1-5. 


[Foods – legalism in NT – 1 Cor. 8:8 --- 1 Tim. 4:1-5 doctrines of demons --- Acts 10:15 peter --- Rom 14:17 --- Col. 2:16]


* The key is discernment 


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