Work in Progress: Endurance part 3
– We have spent a couple Wednesdays in Hebrews, talking about endurance:
- “Run with endurance the race that God has set before (you)…by keeping (your) eyes on JESUS”
- Be encouraged! God disciplines his children because he loves them. “Endure this divine discipline…It’s painful… but afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
– The author of Hebrews is encouraging the listener to live this Christian life with faithfulness and endurance, by following the example of Jesus.
- Jesus faithfully endured the race and mission that Father God had set before him, even unto death! (Now joyfully seated at the right hand of the Father.)
– Jesus didn’t just float down from Heaven one day to give the people a pep talk.
– He was born as a baby, endured every season of life, and embraced the cross.
– Jesus can identify with everything you are feeling and going through. He lived as a man too!
- Jesus faithfully endured the Father’s discipline and training, and showed us the example of living a holy and righteous life.
– Jesus had every opportunity to sin that you do, and he chose not to. (100% man, 100% God)
– He knew temptation. Example: Like an unsuspecting “reality celebrity”, the pressure must have been intense to be what the fans wanted. (Literally, giving him the world!)
– Jesus chose the refining of the Father, and pursuit of a holy life, pleasing to God, not to man.
– He worked hard and continuously: fasting, praying, traveling, teaching, enduring the cross… staying focused on the goal!
– Just like for Jesus, our lives are a “work in progress”.
– As we endure through the seasons of our lives, we can follow the Spirit, and chose the plan God has for us.
– We can resist temptation, and faithfully pursue holiness in our own lives.
(Read) Hebrews 12:14-17
Point #1: Your life is a work in progress.
– Verse 14 says, “Work at LIVING…”
– Living: Implies continuous action, as in something you will do for your whole life.
– Work at it: This implies that it will be difficult to do, with continuous effort involved.
– “Work at living in peace with everyone.”
– Peace: Harmony among parties, or being of one accord. (Getting along/ working together.)
– Everyone? – In context of this scripture, spoken to the body of believers, this is referring to “every Christian”. (Not talking about other religions or unbelievers here.)
– The body of Christ is full of diversity in thought, backgrounds, attitudes, personalities, life experiences, and spiritual maturity.
– It will take work to overcome our differences and work together, for God’s glory!
– Harmony should be the goal, not “being right”, or having your own way.
– Romans 14:19, Let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
– “Work at living a holy life…”
– Holy: A process in which holiness is the goal. Dedicated towards God. Sanctification.
– A holy life can only be obtained by someone who has the Holy Spirit inside them.
– 1 peter 1:2, God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
– When is says, “Those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” It means that those people do not have the Holy Spirit inside of them.
– “Holy Living” isn’t just acting right, dressing right, speaking right, not sinning… The Spirit inside you makes you holy.
Training time out: (Basic training and Christian fundamentals)
– Grace based vs Works based salvation:
– Bible says, Saved by grace, alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
– You can’t earn it, but you can honor it. (Being a good person doesn’t get you to heaven.)
– Justified vs Sanctified:
– Justified is being made right with God because of Jesus’s one-time act on the cross. You will never be more justified than the moment you believe Jesus is your Savior.
– Sanctified is the ongoing process of becoming more like Jesus by obeying and imitating Him. This will be you life’s work (a work in progress), that will last till death or Jesus returns.
– The Gospel and our proper response:
– Jesus died on the cross as the perfect and final sacrifice for all sin, by which we can be saved and have eternal life. This is the only way! No more, no less.
– Our response to this information should be to believe it, ask for forgiveness, and attempt to not sin anymore. Christ’s sacrifice of grace when we didn’t deserve it should make us want to obey his commands. Grace motivated obedience!
* The Bible makes it clear that when someone has the Holy Spirit inside of them, it will be evident is their actions, and the way they live their life. (Obeying doesn’t save you, but when you are saved you will obey!)
– James 1:22, But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
– John 14:15, (Jesus says) “If you love me, obey my commandments.”
– 1 John 3:19, Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
– 1 John 3:9-10, Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.
– “Sin in our life” vs a “lifestyle of sin”:
– The struggle against sin, and sometimes failing, is part of the sanctification process. Jesus’s blood (spilled on the cross) has already paid for every sin that you have, or will ever commit.
– “Living a holy life” (sanctification) means drawing on the Holy Spirit inside of you to resist sin, and choose to obey God instead, more and more every day. (Work in progress)
– Romans 6:1&12, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not!” “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.”
– “Lifestyle of sin”, or “making a practice of sin”, is to knowingly and purposefully make sinning part of your regular habits. You know the bible says what your doing is sin, but you don’t care, and just do it anyway. (This approach is actually quite common in our society.)
* When someone lives a lifestyle of sin, their actions testify that the Spirit is not in them.
– I’m not judging their life. They are testifying by how they live their life!
– We have all sinned, and will sin again, thus being “Sinners in need of a Savior”.
– But you cannot declare your sin as “just who you are” and believe that means that God has to accept it. CHANGE WHO YOU ARE! Become “new” by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Point #2: This is a team effort.
– Verse 15, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God.”
– Not that God ever fails to give grace, but WE can fail to receive it.
– We receive God’s amazing grace (salvation and forgiveness) by believing in Jesus, and doing what he says. (To “fail to receive” grace would be to fail to be saved.)
– Look after each other so that none will fail to endure, and become deceived, or otherwise “fall away” from the faith. (Like believing a false gospel, or worshiping idols.)
– Watch out for the “bitter root”:
– This phrase references God’s earlier covenant with the people of Israel:
– Duet. 29:18, (God says)I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you—no man, woman, clan, or tribe—will turn away from the Lord our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit.
– When believers begin to place their hope and faith in the things of this world, and idols, instead of God alone, the “fruit” they produce will become poisonous to “the body”.
– We must “help out”, not “cast out”.
– When we see a fellow believer struggling with their faith, and focusing on the “god’s of this world”, we need to draw them in, and build them up! Focus them back on Jesus.
– Eph. 3:16-17, I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
Point #3: Don’t follow Esau’s example.
– Maybe you’ve heard the story? Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob (Abraham was their Grandpa)
– Jacob, the younger brother, tricked Esau out of his blessing as the 1st born son, basically stealing from him the legacy of the entire Israel nation. He was the “victim”, right?
– Then why is he described in verse 16 as having, “immoral and godless behavior”?
– Esau’s actions and attitudes “testify” to what his heart condition was:
- “Esau traded his birthright as the first born son for a single meal.”
– He didn’t understand the value or significance of being his “Father’s son”.
– Genesis 25:(32-34), “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” “So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.” “He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.”
– We do the same thing when we fail to recognizing the significance of our inheritance through Jesus! And chose instead to place our hope in the provision and protection of this world.
- Esau sacrificed his spiritual blessing to satisfy his physical appetite.
– Esau wasn’t “starving”, he was just being dramatic! He could not say “NO!” to his flesh.
– When you are always focused on your immediate physical needs, it is easy to miss how God is trying to refine you for your spiritual future.
– Example: Try fasting, to put your flesh in submission to the Spirit inside you. (Fasting FOOD is key! You have to eat, your body craves it, 3 chances a day to make it submit!)
– Self Control is a fruit of the Spirit! (Galatians)
– Jesus is the branch, you are the vine, producing good fruit when you are connect to Jesus.
– How can you expect to have this spiritual fruit in your life, if you aren’t connected to Jesus?
– “Will Power” only works when it is the “Will of God” that you are drawing the power from!
- Esau won’t accept the responsibility for the consequence of his own sin.
– Gen 27:36,Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?”
– “The Blessing” is the spoken pronouncement of the inheritance.
– Jacob dressed up like Esau and tricked their father into speaking the blessing over him instead, but Esau had already given the inheritance away to Jacob, much earlier, to please his own flesh in the moment!
– Jacob tempted Esau, but Esau had to willing choose to give up his inheritance. (Temptation is nothing new, but you get to choose your response to it!)
– Gen 27:34,When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry.
– Only bitterness will remain for those who will choose to please their own flesh, and try to be satisfied by the things of this world.
– We are displaying godless and immoral behavior when we fail to recognize the significance of being the “Children of God”, can’t resist our own flesh, and try to blame the consequences on others.
Conclusion: Living a holy life is a work in progress, but we can get there by always looking to Jesus as our example of faithful endurance!
– Phil. 3:12-14, (Apostle Paul says) 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
– prayer –