The Path of Healing
December 11, 2016
Welcome back everyone. Let’s go ahead and take our Bibles, and let’s open to the book of Hebrews. We’re going to get back into our Hebrew study this morning. We’ll be in Hebrews chapter 12 getting in verse 12. The title of our message is the path of healing. That path that God would have us choose. Let’s pray. The path of healing as I start coughing. That’s good.
Man, did you survive that cold? Man, I’m so thankful we live in Oregon because we have very little of that. All right, so the writer is writing to challenge them to increase in their faith. They come to a decision point. You might say they’re at a Y in the road because they’re being pressured, even persecuted, by these Jews living in Jerusalem to go backward to the old testament things. Back to the ways of Moses. So, he knows they’re struggling, so he writes to remind them of what they have in Jesus. Why would you neglect so great a salvation? See, this is important because I think sometimes Christians sometime struggle in their faith. I think that Christians sometimes come to a cross in the road where they have to decide. You going to move forward or press in? See, there’s a lot I think sometimes people are pressured maybe worldly friends, or whatever. Sometimes family, they start pressuring. Why are you so serious about your faith. Maybe you should go back. Don’t you just remember the good ol days. Don’t you remember the good ol days, the good ol days when you used to party, and embarrass yourself, and feel yucky in the morning. Remember those days? It should remind us in Israel. Spent 40 years in the desert murmuring, and complaining against God, and wishing for the good ol days when they were slaves in Egypt. Something is wrong with their perspective. See, it’s blindness that looks back and thinks those are good ol days, when in fact, the blessing of God is in front of you. He says, “My plan for you is to give you a future, and a hope.
Come to a Y in the road, we need a strength of faith.” So, he challenges them back in chapter 10. You have need of endurance. Well, don’t stray back. Don’t throw away your confidence which has a great reward. Those who struggle in their faith need to grasp the value of what they have. We need to press forward to seek after God. To press into our faith. Don’t shrink back. So, in chapter 11 he reminds them of these heroes. These men and women of faith he endured great trouble, and great trial, and great difficulties but they endured because they were looking to the reward. They were looking forward.
The blessing of God on them was amazing. SO, they’re looking forward to this reward. That’s why they suffered much. Then he gets into the early verses of 12, and he uses the analogy of the race. Run that race set before you, this course is the course the way of blessing. The path of tremendous blessing on you. You’re at a decision point, make sure that you make straight paths for your feet. That’s an expression from the verses that we’re going to look at today. It means the way of blessing, the way of healing is to choose to follow after God to press into your faith. Do you believe there is a God? Wonderful, you do well, even the demons believe that and they have a sense to shudder at it, but if you want to understand this that they way of blessing is to press forward. You believe that there is a God, wonderful, but he is the rewarder of those who seek him. You need to press into that.
You need to grow deeper in your faith, and so he shows in these verses what it looks like. What does it mean to live that path because he’s going to show the contrast that to go backward is a life of trouble, but the way of blessing? The way of God’s favor is to press in. and so he shows us this in chapter 12 beginning in verse 12.
I. Pursue Peace with All Men
Therefore, he writes, “Strengthen the hands that are weak, and the knees that are feeble.” And he means those that are weak in their faith, “And make straight paths for your feet. So, that the limb which is lamb” in other words limping, “May not be put at a joint” which is actually much worse. “But rather be healed, make straight paths, make the right choice. Persue peace with all men.” This is what it’s going to look like. The blessing, the favor of God, pursue peace with all men, and pursue sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it, now see this was a very strong way to say it. See to it, make sure of it that no one comes short of the grace of God that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and buy it many be defiled, and that there be no immoral, or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. You know that even afterward when he desired to inherit the blessing he was rejected for he found no place for repentance though he sought it with tears. All right, great verse, that’s very practical in making this choice to press in, and he shows us what it looks like to live after God, and he begins very practically here in verse 12 or 13 rather where he says, “Pursue peace with all men.” The key here is the world pursue, to make that a priority. To understand that it is a significant thing that God wants us to have in our relationship. It’s the path of healing. The path of healing, the path of blessing is peace.
A. As far as it has to do with you
There’s peace in our relationships. It means a lot to the Lord how we relate to the people around us, and so I love this phrase that we get in another place where he says, “As far as it has to do with you pursue peace with all men.” See, in Romans chapter 14, verse 19 we get some of these great phrases. “So, then let us pursue the things, which make for peace, and pursue the building up of one another” and then Romans 12, verses 17 and 18, “Respect what’s right in the sight of all men, and if possible so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.” I love the fact that he ads that phrase if possible because frankly, some people are impossible. But he does add this phrase so far as it depends on you. In other words, you make every effort. If it is possible, make sure that you do it. It is like a very important thing. Means that you make the imitative, you make sure of it. Do it because of your faith. Because you’re walking in that path of blessing. Of greatest healing, it heals relationships. It heals people. You are seeking God, and you’re walking closer to God. There is peace in your life. You bring peace to relationships. Choose that path, don’t choose the way of contention, or conflict. Too many people, they take hold of their differences. Things that they don’t like in another person, and so they find themselves in contention, and conflict. That’s not the way of healing.
Too many people, they take hold of even small things too boldly. Reminds me of a story of a man who was walking across the golden gate bridge, and as he was walking he came across a man who was sitting on the edge contemplating taking his life, and so he came up to him and he started a conversation and he said, “Did you know that God loves you?” And as he said it he saw the man react to that in a wonderful way. He said, “Are you a believer?” And the guy says, “Actually I am.” He says, “Well are you protestant or catholic?” He says, “Well I’m protestant.” He says, “Really, what denomination?” He says, “Well, I’m a Baptist.” He says, “Me too, I’m a Baptist also. Are you a northern or southern Baptist?” And he says, “Well, I’m northern Baptist.” “Me too, really? Me too. That’s amazing. Are you northern conservative Baptist, or are you northern liberal Baptist?” “No, I’m northern conservative Baptist.” “That, me too. That is amazing. Are you northern conservative evangelical Baptist, or are you northern conservative reform Baptist?” “No, I’m northern conservative evangelical Baptist.” “That’s amazing, me too. This is amazing. Are you northern conservative evangelical Baptist from the great lakes region, or from the eastern region?” “Well, I’m from the great lakes region.” “That – this is like a miracle or something. Me too. Are you northern conservative evangelical Baptist from the great lakes region of the counsel of 1912, or of the counsel of 1989?” He said, “Well, I’m from the counsel of 1912.” “What? From the counsel of 1912, die you heretic” and he pushed him off the edge.
B. Pursue sanctification
Okay, that part was not true. Just to be sure of that. The point being too many people – there’s too many differences that they seize hold of, and they make their lives contention. He says, “Pursue peace, it’s the way of God.” And then he adds a phrase. Notice in verse 14. Peruse peace with all men, and then had adds pursue sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. That’s an interesting phrase. This is the path of greatest blessing. What does that mean though? Pursue sanctification. It’s a big word, I admit. It has to do with the process of becoming righteous, or becoming Holy in a person’s life. Now, there is an aspect of sanctification that’s passive, which is to say you simply receive it. It’s done unto you. There’s an aspect of sanctification that is passive. So, for example God gives to a person who is a believer in Jesus Christ, the gift of righteousness. Notice the words, God doesn’t just forgive sin. I mean, that’s an amazing thing in and out of itself. He gives the entirety of sin when they receive Christ, but he also adds to them the very righteousness of God, which is found in Christ Jesus. It’s an amazing thing, but it’s a passive thing. You simply receive it. IT’s a gift. Now, that’s the aspect that’s passive, but there’s also an aspect of sanctification that is active. That you peruse, that you desire, that you seize hold of in your life.
So, let me give you a great verse. In first Thessalian’s chapter 4, verses 3 to 5. He says this way, “If this is the will of God, your sanctification.” And then he describes what it means. “That each of you know how to poses his own vessel that is to say your body.” In sanctification and in honor. Not in lustful passion, like the gentiles, who don’t know God, which is to say well they don’t know God so what would you expect? But you do know God. You know him, and therefore because you know him you know that he’s righteous and Holy, and he wants you to share in his holiness. He wants you to be transformed because it is the way of greatest blessing, and so he knows that this is important. It’s the will of God for you. That each of you know how to poses his own vessel, his own body. In other words, you are to be the Master over your own passions. That’s a good description of the fleshly desires. They are not the Master over you. There’s an active part of sanctification to poses your own vessel with honor. It’s a great word, but the interesting phrase that he adds. He says, “Pursue sanctification without which no one will see God.” What does that mean? He’s not suggesting here that the only way a person can see God is if he becomes advanced in personal sanctification because we know that no one sees God by his own qualifications. No one makes himself righteous to the point where God says, “Oh, I’m impressed. I have to receive you.” No one does that, but what we understand is this. What he’s saying is that sanctification that God gives is such an important part of salvation. It’s such an important part of eternal life that you should embrace it, you should seize hold of it, you should pursue it, you should desire it, you should press into it. See, Philippians chapter 2, verses 12 and 13 great perspective. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Now a lot of people just got to stop right there. They’re misquoting the thing because the rest of this phrase is really very key. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. In other words, God has worked salvation into you, now you work salvation out of you. In other words, you work your salvation through your life. You seize hold of, you pursue, you desire sanctification because he wants you to share in his character. Now, when people hear that phrase pursue sanctification a lot of the times people resist that. They resist the idea of that. They’re like, “Oh, can you move onto something that I really desire to talk about, or hear? I mean pursue sanctification. I’m really not into sanctification.” What is that? Why is that? Or maybe we can be more specific. What part of a person resists that? Is it their flesh, or their spirit?
Well, it’s the flesh. The flesh is the part of a person that resists the idea of personal growing in sanctification because the flesh doesn’t like to be constrained. It doesn’t like any kind of boundaries. It likes to be free. That’s the flesh, but the spirit knows that is the way of God, that is the way of blessing. That is the path of healing, and there’s a part that the spirit of a man or woman desires. I know in my heart that the character of God is righteous and Holy, and I want that. So, we need to distinguish in ourselves really the conflict. The flesh says, “I don’t want any constraints. I don’t like the idea of sanctification” but the spirit says, “I do, I want it. IT’s the path of blessing.”
II. Don’t Come Short of Grace
Then he begins to show very specifically in verse 15 the significance of God’s character of grace. Notice what he says? See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God. Don’t come short. What does that mean? It means don’t lack. No lack of grace. No lack in it, but would you notice this in verse 15. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a directive. Pretty strong word here. “See to it, make sure of it” he’s saying. It’s not like a suggestion. He’s not saying, “Well, here’s something to think about. Here’s an idea. It’s not really serious or anything, it’s just a suggestion. You don’t have to really do it. Just an idea I came up with.” That’s not it at all. It’s a strong word. Make sure of it. See to it.
A. Grace heals relationships
This is a key, this is the character of God. You want the way of blessing? You want the path of healing? Make sure of this, don’t lack in grace. Don’t lack – see because grace heals. Grace heals relationships. That’s what God wants. You want to see the favor of God? He will heal. He will heal relationships, and grace is the way to do it. Make straight paths for your feet, he said, “So, that they limb that’s lame” which means it’s limping. It’s not put out of joint, which is worse, but instead he says, “It’s rather healed. Grace heals.” It’s the way of God. Grace is the character of God seen in a person’s life, and has great blessing because grace comes back to you.
Let me give you a great verse. Luke chapter 6 verses 36 to 38. “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” Mercy and grace are the flipsides of the same coin. “And do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give and it will be given unto you. They will pour into your lap a good measure. Press down, shaken together, and running over for by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Grace comes back to you. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are those who are gracious for they shall receive grace.” It comes back to you, but anger also comes back to you. Anger begets anger. Well, that’s a word which means it has children. Anger has children, but grace does to. Grace comes back to you.
Reminds me of a time Jody and I were driving to the beach. It was a Sunday afternoon, beautiful day, and so we decided to go to the beach. So, we’re heading down, and I got tired. It’s a Sunday afternoon. I had been teaching a bunch of services that weekend, and I was tired. I needed a nap. Thank you. Thank you for the support, and the encouragement, and I needed a nap. And so, I said to my wife, “Would you mind driving, and I’ll just take a nap.” So, she says, “Well, fine great. I’d love to.” So, she gets in the driver’s seat, and I get in the passenger’s seat and off we drive, and soon I find myself in a wonderful state of restful bliss. Ah. And she’s thinking in herself, you know, I want to give him a nice smooth ride so we can sleep so I’ll use the cruise control. So, she puts the cruise control on, and I’m resting. I drop into a wonderful sleep. Blissful peace, ah. All was well until we got into the hills, and she left the cruise control on. You know where I’m going with this? So, I’m over there in the passenger seat. I put the seat back a little bit, and I’m resting beautifully, and peaceful. I’m in bliss, and all of a sudden, she goes around a corner bonk. It’s like – so we go around another corner, and pretty soon have you ever wakened up and you start feeling a certain state of irritableness coming over you?
Have you ever experienced this? And I’m gradually waking up from my state of blissfulness, and I’m waking up into a state of irritable grumpiness, and as I’m waking up, and I’m realizing what she’s done, she left the cruise control on. I can tell because it hits my head, and I’m waking up and immediately I’m aware of myself. Do you know what I’m saying? I’m aware that I’m grumpy, and right away when I feel that state of grumpiness there’s this warning that comes – warning. What you say next, can I have a witness? Yeah, it may not be good. Warning, and so I checked myself from saying anything, and I sat there to process it, and I started chuckling to myself. You know when you stop to think about it, it’s kind of funny. And so, I made a funny statement, and she made a funny statement, and pretty soon we were laughing. And I thought later, that could have ended very differently. If I woke up in a grump state, and because I felt grumpy. Started saying grumpy things. It probably would have not ended well because when you say grumpy things to your wife it doesn’t usually end very well. You know what I’m saying? Thanks for the support, but grace comes – we laughed. We laughed today. Grace comes back to you, but so does anger. That’s why he gives grace.
B. A root of bitterness causes trouble
Now, he gets even deeper. Even deeper with it when he ads this. “See to it that no one lacks in grace that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, for by it meaning be defiled.” Wow, it’s getting deeper here. A root of bitterness causes trouble. Choose the way of healing, choose the path of blessing. Don’t choose the way of trouble. There’s a lot in that verse right there. He says, “And by it many be defiled.” That’s a really powerful word. What is the word defiled mean? It really means stained. Bitterness is a stain. It’s an ugly stain on a person’s personality, and it affects the whole of a person’s life. The bitterness comes from unforgiveness over a long period. See, bitterness is deep. It’s a deep root. It’s a deep-seated thing. It comes from holding onto her from a long time. It’s like harboring anger for a long time, and the problem is it’s unseen. So, it’s like a root is unseen, but it’s a picture of a root that has made its way into a well, and so it makes all the water bitter. See, the roots undergrown, and you can’t really tell it unless it starts to affect something else. Anyone who drinks of that water will taste its bitterness.
So, anyone who tastes of a person who is bitter will taste of that bitterness like that bitter well. It’s like the opposite of the fruit of the spirit. See, the fruit of the Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, and it’s good. Fruit is tasty, fruit is sweet, and so love, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. These are good things that bless other people, and they bless others. Anyone who tastes of that fruit of the person who is mature in the Spirit taste something good, but when they taste the fruit of someone who is bitter they taste something bitter. Reminds me of a time we had a house where we had a little bit of land in the back, and we had a little place for a garden, and we had a garden when I was young. So, I thought I’ll grow some vegetables, and I was so looking forward to these tomatoes, and corn, and cucumbers, and the cucumbers were just like vines, and leaves. I couldn’t wait, they started pluming up, and getting riper, and I couldn’t wait. So, I picked one, sliced it up, and put some salt and pepper on it, and put it on the table for dinner. And the girls tasted it, and went, “Oh, dad, it’s bitter.” I thought, “What, my cucumbers?” I took one too. “Oh, my goodness. This is terrible. Absolutely bitter.” And I started looking. How do cucumbers get bitter? And I discovered. Did you know that cucumbers cannot handle stress? They get bitter. Cucumbers that are stressed get bitter. I looked this up on the Internet so you know it’s true, but they do. They can’t handle the changes of weather. The changes – you don’t water them right. They get stressed, they get bitter.
There’s these poisons, there’s these chemicals in the leaves, in the vines that are bitter, and then under stress conditions they move into the cucumber, and interestingly they actually moved into the seeds, and make the next generation of cucumbers bitter too. Now, there’s a lesson because bitterness is so deep that it can become generational. It can affect the next generation. Therefore, be very careful. He’s giving us a very important word. The path of healing, careful because it is a deep thing that can create deep wounds, and deep bitterness that last into generations. Perhaps, the feud of the most famous feud in American history. You probably know what it is. Hatfield, and McCoy’s. This is a feud that started when one accused the other of stealing a hog. That’s how it started? Yeah, one accused the other of stealing a hog. It actually went to court, and then one accused the other of colluding with the judge, and it got bad from there. Someone’s life was lost, and then the children got involved, and more lives were lost, and more lives were lost as weapons started coming out and shooting, and finally it got to the point when one clan was living in Kentucky, and another clan was living in West Virginia right across the river, and it got to the point where they had to call out the national guards. Did you know that that feud even made it all the way to the united states’ supreme court? How bad can it get? How far can bitterness go? Oh, it can go pretty far. You know what’s interesting though? The McCoy’s were going to have a family reunion in the year 2000, and they looked up all the relatives of the McCoy’s, and they were going to invite everybody to come, and then someone had the idea, “Well we should invite the Hatfield’s.” And so, they invited the Hatfield’s, and there were a huge gathering of the McCoy’s, and the Hatfield’s. Like it was in the news, this great big event, and everything went so well until they started tug of war at the end of the day, and everything broke lose. Okay, I was joking about that part, no. But the point he’s making is really important for us. Like this is a deep thing. “See to it” he says, “That no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
C. Treasure your birthright
Then notice this in verse 16, very interesting, “And that there be no immoral, or godless person like Esau who sold his own birthright for a single meal.”
That comes out of nowhere. Why did he put that in there? How does that relate to this thing, but it’s very important. It does relate, and it’s giving us a great lesson. Treasure your birthright. The story is this. Jacob and Esau were twins. Esau was born first, even by a few minutes, made him born first gave him the birthright of the first born. Double inheritance, all the rights of the patriarch, and more importantly the blessings of Abraham. Well, one day Esau had been out in the fields hunting all day long, and was famished. You could imagine not eating all day. You come back late in the evening and you’re famished. Jacob had been making this stew that just smelled delicious, and here comes Esau from the field. He smells this deliciousness, and he says to Jacob, “Give me some of that stew there.” And so, Jacob, being a bit of a conniver, seizes upon the opportunity and he says to Esau, “Trade me your birthright for it.” Birthright? Hm, let’s think now. Birthright, bowl of stew. Birthright, bowl of stew. Hm, birthright, bowl of stew. I’m not sure, really? You’re not sure? Anyone in their right mind would look at that and go, “It’s not a good deal.” Birthright, bowl of stew. That’s not a deal. You know what Esau said? “Okay.” Okay. You know what Jacob said next? “Swear it. Swear it.” He said, “I do.” Why is that put in here? Why is that relevant? It’s relevant because of this. These Hebrews that he’s writing to aren’t valuing what they have in Christ.
Why would you neglect so great a salvation? Do you know what you have? Do you know what you are? See, we have a birthright. If you have received Jesus Christ, you’re born again, and therefore, you are an inheritor of tremendous blessing. You have been adopted of the son or daughter of the living God. The inheritance that you have, the favor of God, all the blessings, everything that is behind the name of Jesus. Do you know who you are? DO you know what you have? Do you value it? That’s why he’s challenging them. Really? You think about going back? You think about going back to the shadow and the copy of the thing when you have the substance in Christ? Really? Don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know what you have? Value it, and value it deeply. Press forward, press forward. Seek after, draw nearer. Let’s pray.