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Hope from Hebrews #22 - The Pursuit of Peace & Holiness

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Text: Hebrews 12:12-17

Thesis: To discuss what our pursuit should be and how to stay on track.

Introduction:

(1)   As Christians, we are on a pursuit.

(2)   Let us note some details about this pursuit.

Discussion:

I.                   Making Preparation for Our Pursuit (vv. 12-13):

A.    “Strengthen the hands … and the … knees”

1.      Cf. Isa. 35:3

2.      “The picture of ‘feeble arms and weak knees’ portrays exhaustion, an echo of the spiritual and emotional fatigue with which the writer has already shown concern in 12:3, 5” (G. Guthrie 402).

3.      Note: “We are not told to strengthen our hands or our weak and feeble knees, but the hands and the knees, regardless of whose they are” (MacArthur 402).

4.      “The exhortation implies that the readers are acting as though spiritually paralyzed. They are urged to put things right and get moving” (EBC).

B.     “Make straight paths for your feet”

1.      Cf. Prov. 4:26 (v. 27- do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil)

2.      “It is the stronger members of the believing community who are to do this, or at least take the lead in it.  In view of the difficulties and temptations through which all must pass, every Christian should be concerned with removing obstacles, in every way possible, from the course of his fellow believers.  Perhaps, if their paths are made "straight," even the lame, the feeble, and the injured may yet press on to victory.  The tenderness of these lines is moving” (Coffman).

II.                The Goal of Our Pursuit (v. 14):

A.    Peace

1.      Rom. 14:19 – “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (NIV)

2.      Rom. 12:18 – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (NIV)

3.      Matt. 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (NIV)

B.     Holiness

1.      Holiness means being set apart for God. It is characteristic of the believer.

2.      As Barclay puts it, "Although he lives in the world, the man who is hagios must always in one sense be different from the world and separate from the world. His standards are not the world's standards"

III.             Pitfalls that Hinder Our Pursuit (vv. 15-17):

A.    Falling Short of the Grace of God

1.      “‘To fail to obtain the grace of God’ would be to follow Israel's example in failing to enter the promised inheritance (cf. Heb. 3:12,16; 4:2).  The danger is that through sluggishness many will commit apostasy (Heb. 2:3; 6:6)” (LWC).

2.      Paul could speak of receiving God's grace in vain (2Cor 6:1) and of falling from grace (Gal 5:4).

B.     Letting a Root of Bitterness Spring Up

1.      Cf. Deut. 29:18 – Context of idolatry and apostasy

2.      “A ‘bitter root’ is a root that bears bitter fruit. The metaphor is taken from the growth of plants. Such growth is slow, but what is in the plant will surely come out in time. So it is possible for a seed of bitterness to be sown in a community and, though nothing is immediately apparent, in due time the inevitable fruit appears. It will certainly ‘cause trouble.’ The effects of bitterness cannot be localized: it ‘can poison a whole community’” (EBC).

3.      “A person who might spring up among them and infect with malignant growth the vigor of the whole group” (Lightfoot 235)

C.     Becoming a Fornicator or Profane Person

1.      Note: In the OT, there is no mention of Esau’s being a fornicator, unless it is implied in his marrying the 2 Canaanite daughters of Heth (Gen. 26:34, 35); yet, there is mention in various traditions (e.g., Philo of Alexandria, Philo).

2.      Account of selling his birthright – Gen. 25:29-34

3.      V. 17 – Cf. Gen. 27:38, could not change its consequence

Conclusion:

-          How are you doing with your pursuit?

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