Faithlife Sermons

Healthy Faith (Heb 13:7-9)

Hebrews: Jesus is Better  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:57
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To run the Christian life well, we need to stay healthy. Hebrews 13 describes how we can keep our faith healthy by following leaders who lived and finished their race demonstrating an unwavering devotion to their unchanging Lord. We need those examples and that same foundational focus because there's no shortage of false teaching out there that would threaten our undivided allegiance to Christ alone.

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If you make it your goal to be profound, you will likely not be sound. But if you make it your goal to be sound, your faith will grow steadily more profound.
2 Timothy 1:13 ESV
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Studies and dissertation’s gone awry (off the correct course, twisted). Every doctrinal heresy that I can think of is a result of this same kind of imbalance in scriptural interpretation, leading to faulty perspective and practice.
(Scott Swain at Ligonier ministries, in an article for Tabletalk magazine, reflecting on ) According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine, identifying doctrine’s source, object, and ultimate end.
If you make it your goal to be profound, you will likely not be sound. But if you make it your goal to be sound, your faith will grow steadily more profound.
(Scott Swain at Ligonier ministries, in an article for Tabletalk magazine, reflecting on ) According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine, identifying doctrine’s source, object, and ultimate end.
2 Timothy 1:13 ESV
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Studies and dissertation’s gone awry (off the correct course, twisted). Every doctrinal heresy that I can think of is a result of this same kind of imbalance in scriptural interpretation, leading to faulty perspective and practice.
If you make it your goal to be profound, you will likely not be sound. But if you make it your goal to be sound, your faith will grow steadily more profound. - Where do we see this more plainly than in ?
Hebrews 13:7–9 ESV
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
Hebrews 13:7-
PRAY
To run the Christian life well, we need to stay healthy. We can keep our faith healthy by following leaders who lived and finished their race demonstrating an unwavering devotion to their unchanging Lord. We need those examples and that same foundational focus because there's no shortage of false teaching out there that would threaten our undivided allegiance to Christ alone.

Copy That (v. 7)

Imitate unwavering, focused faith. (growing?)
Verse 7 has three parts:
Hebrews 13:7 ESV
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
Remember
(keep thinking about and respond accordingly) your leaders… which ones? The ones who spoke the word of God to you. [particularly here the foundational gospel truth of God making himself known through Jesus, providing a mean of rescue through Jesus, offering us restoration to him through Jesus, and through Jesus giving us his Holy Spirit to seal us and guide us so that we continue to be sustained by and grow in Jesus]
Colossians 1:28 ESV
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Examine
(carefully inspect)… what? The OUTCOME of their way of life.
Examine (carefully inspect)… what? The OUTCOME of their way of life.
The sum total: (O’Brien quote)
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews B. Instructions for the Congregation, 13:7–19

They not only proclaimed the word of God; they adorned the gospel of Christ by their faithful lives.

After they are gone seems to be the clear implication here.
This is almost certainly here a reference to some “leaders” who have recently died in faith. Many have gone before, but the path is still warm from these trailblazers.
Like Timothy of this mother and grandmother… and v. 13 (what Paul said would live on in memories… we believe this 2nd letter to Timothy to be in Paul’s 2nd Roman imprisonment, which would end in his death…)
So here in Hebrews we’re reminded of ch. 11 and the trailblazers of faith all the way back to first OT saints, and now possibly the more recent apostles and other leaders who’ve been martyred or simply preceded in death.
In our day we can not only look to these but read biographies of faithful men and women who proved right up to the end that their hope was not in vain. [the free audiobook of the month from Christian audio is on Jonathan Edwards from the trailblazers series, which is geared toward kids and youth]
And then sometimes even legacies so recent as the death of family member (or church family member).
1. What faithful examples have you had and do you have to follow in healthy Christian living? Name the individuals and explain what specifically has helped you grow and persevere in faith.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews B. Instructions for the Congregation, 13:7–19

They not only proclaimed the word of God; they adorned the gospel of Christ by their faithful lives.

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews B. Instructions for the Congregation, 13:7–19

They not only proclaimed the word of God; they adorned the gospel of Christ by their faithful lives.

2. What situations are you facing in life right now where it will do your heart good to lean on this foundational truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”?
3. There’s no “vaccine” to protect us from false doctrine. But what are some key factors that we learn here (in Heb. 13) and elsewhere in God’s word that can really make a difference in helping us be on guard against subtle lies?
Imitate
Imitate (reproduce behavior, copy)… what? Their faith.
We are greatly blessed when we have leaders whose faith lives on in our memories and in our imitation of their faith.
(reproduce behavior, copy)… what? Their faith. - not their mannerisms and preferences… their FAITH
This is almost certainly here a reference to some “leaders” who have recently died in faith. Many have gone before, but the path is still warm from these trailblazers.
Like Timothy of this mother and grandmother… and v. 13 (what Paul said would live on in memories… we believe this 2nd letter to Timothy to be in Paul’s 2nd Roman imprisonment, which would end in his death…)
So here in Hebrews we’re reminded of ch. 11 and the trailblazers of faith all the way back to first OT saints, and now possibly the more recent apostles and other leaders who’ve been martyred or simply preceded in death.
In our day we can not only look to these but read biographies of faithful men and women who proved right up to the end that their hope was not in vain. [the free audiobook of the month from Christian audio is on Jonathan Edwards from the trailblazers series, which is geared toward kids and youth]
And then sometimes even legacy’s so recent as the death of family member (or church family member).
Have others left you an example that the Christian life is so much better than what the world or religiosity offers because they knew that Jesus is indeed better? Did they not only speak it but also model Christian love—with a special place in their hearts for fellow believers, a special regard and hospitality toward outsiders, and they showed particular compassion for the mistreated and hurting? Did they honor marriage and display hatred for what loving money can do to people?
Imitate their gospel proclamation in word and deed.
(O’Brien says)
Have others left you an example that the Christian life is so much better better than what the world or religiosity offers because they knew that Jesus is indeed better? Did they not only speak it but also model Christian love—with a special place in their hearts for fellow believers, a special regard and hospitality toward outsiders, and they show particular compassion for the mistreated and hurting? Did they honor marriage and display hatred for what loving money can do to people?
The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews B. Instructions for the Congregation, 13:7–19

They not only proclaimed the word of God; they adorned the gospel of Christ by their faithful lives.

Have others left you an example that the Christian life is so much better better than what the world or religiosity offers because they knew that Jesus is indeed better? Did they not only speak it but also model Christian love—with a special place in their hearts for fellow believers, a special regard and hospitality toward outsiders, and they show particular compassion for the mistreated and hurting? Did they honor marriage and display hatred for what loving money can do to people?
Did they need to live licentiously to demonstrate abundant joy and pleasure in knowing and growing in God? And didn’t their lives demonstrate that stuff is just stuff and that funds and influence are meant to be used to the glory of God?
Did they keep growing and giving evidence that intimacy with Jesus is better? Imitate that.
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you sure should be able to observe an older believer still be growing inwardly more like Christ even as their body gives out.
And finally, and perhaps most significantly, did they do it to the end? Did they endure in this kind of faith to the end? Copy that.
And finally, and perhaps most significantly, did they do it to the end? Did they endure in this kind of faith to the end? Imitate that. Copy that.
An implication of considering the outcome of their way of life: Does God want or need his people to run at a constant frenetic pace?
We are greatly blessed when we have leaders whose faith lives on in our memories and in our imitation of their faith.
What truly made them leaders worth imitating? They taught and lived, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Imitate their unwavering, focused faith.
Imitate their growing faith.
Imitate their gospel proclamation in word and deed.
What truly makes these leaders worth imitating? They teach and live what comes next, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Before moving on completely, I want to add this then about the kind of leaders we choose to follow: The marks of a great leader are NOT that he has a large following and has it all together and has all the right answers and has the ability to get people to fall in line. The marks of a godly leader ARE that he is humble before God, that he loves others and serves them, and that his goal is to get people to follow Jesus. - Don’t set your sights on a leader bc he is attractive, not even in gifting. Instead, look to the guy who aims to make Christ’s Bride attractive, who humbly but courageously calls you to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus, and who consistently demonstrates in his life that he himself follows Jesus. (and btw, that’s what we should all aim to be and do—that’s Christianity)
Don’t look for a leader who is attractive, not even in gifting. Instead, look to the guy who aims to make Christ’s church attractive, who humbly but courageously calls you to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus, and who consistently demonstrates in his life that he himself follows Jesus.
What truly makes these leaders worth imitating? They teach and live what comes next, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Yesterday & Today & Forever (v. 8)

The mark of a great leader isn’t the person
Jesus was in the past what he is today and always will be in the future—Risen Son and Reigning King.
Hebrews 13:8 ESV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
I’m gonna say the first part, and I want you to say aloud with me “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
I’m gonna say the first part, and I want you to say aloud with me “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Other leaders will come and go, but “Jesus is the same...”
Time will pass, nations will rise and fall, cultures will change, but “Jesus is the same...”
Our situations will change (whether in comfort or suffering), but “Jesus is the same...”
I’m gonna say the first part, and I want you to say aloud with me “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
When earthly leaders fail you, Jesus is the same…
When your outward beauty fades, Jesus is the same…
When your nation falls, Jesus is the same…
When feeling overwhelmed by a culture that is fatally sinful, Jesus is the same...
When your child is the miracle baby (with all her special beauty and challenges), Jesus is the same…
When you have family members who are near death, Jesus is the same…
When you or people you love are experiencing severe health issues, or depression or other mental illness, Jesus is the same…
When you’re trapped in sin and can’t seem to give it up bc you’re loving your sin more than you love God and you’re afraid to come clean to His people , Jesus is the same…
And even when you might think that your sordid past is insurmountable for God to rescue, forgive, and accept you as his own, you’d be wrong, Why? b/c Jesus is the same…
Jesus is the same, and his grace is sufficient. ( and see v. 9 here).
- Jesus did, Jesus does, Jesus will do... what you cannot do apart from him.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The foundation for our ongoing better life in Christ is that Jesus was, is, and always will be enough. - Jesus did, Jesus does, Jesus will do... what you cannot do apart from him.
(When earthly leaders fail you, Jesus is the same… When your outward beauty fades, Jesus is the same… When your nation falls, Jesus is the same… When feeling overwhelmed by a culture that is fatally sinful, “Jesus is the same...” When your child is the miracle baby (with all her special beauty and challenges), Jesus is the same… When you have family members who’ve recently died or are dying, Jesus is the same… When you or people you love are experiencing severe depression
Is Jesus enough for you? If he isn’t, you’re going to be led away by v. 9, “diverse and strange teachings.”

Be On Guard (v. 9a)

Listen, you don’t have to be an obnoxious fighting fundie to protect yourself against false doctrine. In fact, the person who picks a fight about every nuance of doctrine, who stands to die on every hill, is in fact demonstrating an imbalanced and unhealthy side of their Christian walk.
Regardless, the Bible frequently warns Christ’s people to stay healthy and be on guard against that which detracts from God’s truth.
Hebrews 13:9 ESV
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
Heb.
- diverse and strange teachings (varied and foreign, wild and weird) - keep in mind that it is nearly always subtle, or at least begins that way (This is an extremely critical reason why we keep on another accountable.)
What is false doctrine?
- diverse and strange teachings (varied and foreign, wild and weird) - keep in mind that it is nearly always subtle, or at least begins that way (This is an extremely critical reason why we keep on another accountable.)
- anything that pollutes, distracts, digresses, and generally dilutes the Bible’s teaching on who God is and what his desire is for us—that we keep an unflinching faith in Jesus and a clear-headed mission to build His Church
What pollutes Christian faith?
- worldliness & idolatry
This was largely our focus last week involving versions of so-called “love” that the world actually promotes but that the Christian knows are out of the bounds of God’s better design.
God isn’t out to rip us off and steal our pleasure. Instead, His gracious plan and unstoppable promises are designed for our highest good and greatest joy… which actually find their end in Him… but also are experienced even in this life within the boundaries he prescribes. - Sex is meant to be fully enjoyed within the context of marriage btwn one man and one woman, in which it pictures Christ and his Bride, the Church, and promotes one another above oneself and results in further spiritual and emotional intimacy… as God intended. - Sexual pleasure outside of marriage is immorality. Any sexual intimacy (or inordinate emotional and spiritual intimacy) with anyone who isn’t your covenanted spouse is adultery. - These things are worldly, not godly. Sexual immorality and adultery pollute the Christian faith, harming our health. (the community of faith)
Money (or possession and positions of influence) are meant to be tools for caring for our families and one another, and tools for building up the body of Christ. …NOT as something we are to love and seek as an end itself or to utilize as a means to promote ungodly living (including materialism). - Love of money is idolatry. And it pollutes the Christian faith. It harms our health.
THAT is worldly. And it pollutes the Christian faith. It harms our health.
So as we said in vv. 4-6, we must be careful of secret sin (which is worldliness and idolatry). And now in these verses we see that we must be careful of subtle lies (and fake godliness). - Teachings that are varied and foreign to the gospel. They may be subtle, but if we are attentive, we will actually “spot the lie” and find them to be wild and weird.
What digresses and distracts from Christian faith?
What digresses and distracts from the Christian faith? - foods, fads, finances, fruit counting, and traditionalism
- foods (added regulations, “religiosity”), fads (trying too hard to do and be the latest and greatest, thinking people need that to meet Jesus), finances (too high of a value, too much focus), fruit counting (butts in seats and even conversions)...
and traditionalism (elevating traditions to the place of biblical truth - communion vs. the WAY we take communion, the importance of the cross—meaning the importance of substitutionary atonement in Christ’s sacrificial death, burial and resurrection—vs having actual crosses and steeples that we elevate to idols, confusing our cultural tool of recognized membership with actual organic membership—behaving as active participants with Christ and his people to build His body the Church [Yes i think it’s a helpful tool and a want you to be members to demonstrate commitment and submission, but i don’t hold it against you if you don’t, so long as you are serving the local body and seeking the lost. The other is just a tool, helpful but not mandatory. It’s extrabiblical… which is actually fine. But if we elevate that to the place equal with what is biblical, as if it is sacred, we need to fire that thing so fast our heads will spin.])
What else dilutes a healthy Christian faith?
- imbalanced focus on certain doctrines - singling out doctrines that define us, instead of allowing those doctrines to simply be healthy offshoots of the foundational vine—faith in Christ and building His Church.
Healthy doctrine breeds healthy Christian living. Unhealthy doctrine will yield unhealthy Christian living.
We’ll see next week that other things that hurt our healthy progress in the faith are not eating right and not getting out and exercising what’s right. - Actually, the converse will be our focus—eat right and exercise to maintain and grow in healthy faith.

Conclusion:

We want our faith to be healthy like the legacy of the leaders we long to follow.
Notice again that
A healthy faith is a proven faith.
A healthy faith remains focused on its foundation: simply Jesus.
A healthy faith has an undivided allegiance that guards against varied and foreign unbiblical teaching.
- Maintaining a healthy faith will mean we need to stay focused and stick together. (see and )
Now THAT sounds healthy. That’s our goal. So let’s remember those who shared the gospel with us, those who set an example of enduring and growing faith to the end, and let’s stay exclusively focused on Jesus and be on guard against unhealthy doctrine (polluted, digressing, distracting, or diluted). Accordingly, let’s continue spurring one another on toward love and good deeds so that we may remain healthy and grow more healthy in the Christian life.
Discussion Questions: [Read the text and Review main sermon concepts]
1. What faithful examples have you had and do you have to follow in healthy Christian living? Name the individuals and explain what specifically has helped you grow and persevere in faith.
2. What situations are you facing in life right now where it will do your heart good to lean on this foundational truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”?
3. There’s no ‘vaccine’ to protect us from false doctrine. But what are some key factors that we learn here (in Heb. 13) and elsewhere in God’s word that can really make a difference in helping us be on guard against subtle lies?
[Next week] A healthy faith is both strengthened and evidenced through healthy diet and healthy exercise.
Hearts strengthened by grace
not by food and fad, but by going to the source of what is good
Sacrifices pleasing to God
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