Hebrews 12:12-17 ESV
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
Training in Righteousness
We who are God’s children, by faith in Jesus Christ, should expect to be disciplined (reproved, chastised) by God for our good, as part of our normal everyday Christian living. For God disciplines (trains, corrects) us for our good so that we may share in his holiness. Although the discipline is painful when we are having to endure it, later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (see Hebrews 12:1-11).
Therefore, knowing that this discipline comes from God, and that it is for our good, we are to lift up (strengthen) our weary (relaxed or neglected) hands (deeds, works) and our relaxed and weakened knees. And weak knees are usually symbolic of nervousness, lack of courage, and giving way to fear. We are to not let the discipline discourage us or overtake us, but we are to let it grow us in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ to maturity in Christ.
And we are to make straight paths for our feet. And a straight path is one that is not crooked (dishonest, wicked, immoral), but it is upright, godly, holy, righteous, morally pure, honest, trustworthy and faithful. This is how we are to live in the power of God’s Spirit who is living within us. We are not to keep on in deliberate sinful practices. And we are not to teeter-totter back and forth between faithfulness and wickedness or slothfulness.
And we are definitely not to retreat at the first sign of opposition, persecution, trials, and tribulations, but we are to let God’s discipline do its work in our minds and in our hearts in producing perseverance, steadfastness of spirit, spiritual maturity, wisdom, discernment, compassion, and understanding within us. So when we are being disciplined, we are to yield control over to God’s Spirit and let him do his work.
We are to chase after (in order to take hold of) and we are to earnestly desire peace (wholeness) with all people. But this is not talking about compromising our faith, our morals, our values, or our biblical principles in order to be at peace with all people. This is not about finding some common ground where we can all meet and where we will agree to all remain there so that we no longer have differences of faith and practice.
We are to pursue and desire healthy relationships with others to where we are not sinning against them and to where we are not embittered by their mistreatment of us. So, we are to live in forgiveness of others for their offenses against us and we are to remain free of hate and revenge. And we are not to sin against other humans in any way, especially deliberately and as a matter of practice. But we are always to be kind.
Obtaining the Grace of God
Depending on your theology that you hold to, you may have a difficult time interpreting or accepting this next part here. But the grace of God is not a one-time thing that happens to us or for us. We don’t “get saved” and then we live our lives on this earth and then one day when we die we get to go to heaven because “we prayed the prayer” at one time in our lives. That just isn’t biblical.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23]
For, the grace of God, which brings salvation, trains us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. For Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
So, if someone fails to obtain the grace of God, it is because they failed to walk in holiness and righteousness, and they failed to obey the Lord, but they continued in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord and against their fellow humans and they refused to obey the Lord and to submit to his Lordship over their lives and to forsake their sinful practices.
So, the encouragement here is that we are to get rid of all bitterness. And not one of us is to be sexually immoral. God’s grace, contrary to what some people are teaching, does not give us carte blanche to continue in habitual sin, only now without guilt and without the fear of punishment. For God’s grace delivers us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so that we will now be slaves of God and of his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23).
So, we can’t just “pray the prayer” and then be congratulated that we are now saved from our sins for eternity and that heaven is now guaranteed us as our eternal destiny, and so we are now “good to go.”
The Scriptures teach that we must forsake our sins and that we must follow the Lord in obedience, that we must walk (in practice, in conduct) no longer according to the flesh, but now according to the Spirit. Sin is to no longer have control over our lives because Jesus set us free. And if we continue in habitual and deliberate sin against the Lord, and we don’t obey him, then we don’t have eternal life with God, but we will spend eternity in hell.
And that is why we are being given the example of Esau here. He gave up his inheritance in order to fulfill the desires of his flesh. And later when he desired to obtain that inheritance, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance in his own heart, even though he emotionally sought after it with tears. He just was unable to repent, probably because of pride or a hardened heart or a bitter spirit which would not let him repent.
And this is where many people are today who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but who gave up their inheritance with God in order to follow after the desires of their flesh. They know they are doing wrong. They know what the Scriptures teach. They are not ignorant of the Scriptures, but they stubbornly hold on to their sin out of pride to the point of having their own consciences seared to where they are not capable of true repentance.
For they have cried far too many “crocodile tears” (tears of sorrow that are insincere) so that they don’t even know how to be sincere anymore. They are sad, for certain, that they are not going to receive their inheritance and that they are going to end up in hell, but not with a godly sorrow that leads to repentance, but with a worldly sorrow that goes nowhere, while they still hold on to their sinful practices and they will not yield control over to the Holy Spirit, and this is so very sad.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
Sing to Me of Heaven
Songwriters: Ada Powell / Benjamin Burke Beall
Sing to me of Heaven, sing that song of peace
From the toils that bind me it will bring release
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so
Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow
Sing to me of Heaven, as I walk alone
Dreaming of the comrades that so long have gone
In a fairer region ‘mong the angel throng
They are happy as they sing that old, sweet song
Sing to me of Heaven, tenderly and low
Till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go
When my heart is weary, when the day is long
Sing to me of Heaven, sing that old, sweet song
Sing to me of Heaven, let me fondly dream
Of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall
Sing to me of heaven, sweetest song of all
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