The Book of Hebrews #72 chapter 13:7-9
The Book of Hebrews
Christian Ethics, Part 5:
Steadfastness
Hebrews 13:7-9
 
Once again, I want to ask you to turn to Hebrews 13 where we are studying “Christian Ethics”. What does God require out of Christians? And keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive study, but it does cover much of the primary conduct of life concentrating on our relationship with others, ourselves and God.
 
And again, the big objective for Christian ethics is our witness to the world.  Closely related to that is our personal joy and happiness.  The best representatives of Christ and those who are the happiest in life are those who are most obedient to the Word of God
 
He begins with love and sympathy then broadens it to love, sex, marriage and how to be content in life.  Those are the subjects we’ve covered so far.  And remember, we’re putting an “s” on all of them to make it a little easier to remember so we have sustained love, sympathy, sexual purity and satisfaction.  Let’s add another one tonight and let’s call it
 
3.  Steadfastness 
 
And remember, we’re still talking about our relationship with ourselves.  We are to practice sexual purity, experience satisfaction and demonstrate steadfastness.
 
Verse 9
Now it’s not surprising that he would have to say, “Don't get legalistic.”  Anytime you talk about Christian ethics or conducts there is a tendency to go overboard.  That’s exactly what happened with the Jews.  God gave them simple, straightforward instructions and they twisted and expanded and added to until it became this huge monstrosity of man-made rules and regulations.
 
But notice what the author says in this verse.  “It is good that the heart be established by, what?  Grace, not law.”
 
In other words, let grace be the governing principle in your life.  Let your life be rooted and founded on grace not on external law.
 
They could look around and see all these Jews who were restricting their diet and keeping all the rules and in spite of all that, they were lost.  All the rule-keeping in the world doesn’t change hearts.  Instead, be established by grace.
 
Now back to verse 7.
 
Not only did they have the benefit of the lsit of saints in chapter 11, they also had their pastors and leaders and he is calling for them to follow that example of steadfastness.
 
Then He says in verse 8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever."
 
Look at Him, did He change? He is the ultimate example of steadfastness.  He is forever the same.
 
Did the ones who were your spiritual fathers change, verse 7? No. Did the one who is your spiritual creator change, verse 8? No. Then verse 9, don't you change either, "Do not be carried away with various and strange doctrines." The word "carried away" simply means removed.  Just stay where you are.  The thought is very akin to the closing verse of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul says, “Be steadfast, immoveable.”  Don’t change.
 
You know why there are so many people wondering around today?  They haven’t found a place to sit down and stay seated.  Once they are settled, then they can be steadfast.  But they don’t know what they believe about marriage, so they wonder from spouse to spouse and relationship to relationship.  They don’t know what they believe about work so they go from job to job.
 
They don’t know what they believe about the Word of God so they wonder from one behavior to another.  But once you figure out what you believe, then sit down, stay seated and don’t let anybody get you up.   
 
One of Satan's most subtle approaches to the Christian is to move him away from sound doctrine, to get him wrapped up in some kind of doctrine that happens to be blown about in the breeze by any given point. Christ hasn't changed. Your forefathers haven't changed. Don't you change.
 
One of the saddest things in all the world is somebody who makes a profession of Christ, who believes in Christ maybe is truly saved and all of a sudden gets sucked off into some false doctrine and is rendered ineffective, loses joy, loses reward, loses his effectiveness.
And the key to not being blown around is to be established in grace or by grace.
 
Now if you follow the book of Hebrews, you find the author from time to time telling his hearers that it’s time to grow up. You’ve had enough time to get off the bottle and on the meat.
 
Notice, then how he ties that analogy to what he’s saying here.  We are to establish our hearts with grace not foods which have no benefit.
 
In other words, you not only need to get off the milk and on to solid foods, but you must make certain the solid food is the right kind of food.  Be nourished up in sound doctrine and the key to sound doctrine is the Word of God.
 
He draws a very sharp contrast between the ceremonial life of the Jew and the solid food of the Christian.
 
The Jews were so used to dietary laws and food rituals that it was a tough thing for them to make that kind of a break.   They needed to know what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:8:  "But food will not commend us to God." Pretty simple, God doesn't care what you eat. Food will not commend us to God, "We are neither the worse if we do not eat nor the better if we do eat."
 
In other words, God does not care about your religious diet. That's exactly what he says in verse 9. Let your heart be established with grace. Not with ceremony.
 
That thought is repeated in 1 Timothy 4:3 where Paul says some false prophets are going to come along forbidding you to marry and to abstain from certain foods.
 
It’s unscriptural.  The Bible simply says, "God has created all these things to be received with thanksgiving by them who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." That's why you pray before you eat. So we're not talking about dietary laws.
 
You remember Peter and his vision in Acts 10? He saw all the animals in the sheet and he heard the word, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat. And don't call anything unclean that God has set aside."
 
In Romans 14, Paul says, "The kingdom of God is not food, meat and drink, but righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit.
 
So don't listen to the Judaizers who try to impose their Old Testament dietary restrictions on you.  By the way, don't listen to the Seventh Day Adventists either.  They promote a false doctrine that declares that certain food pleases God and others are restricted. That's not so. Dr. Sabangan tried that junk with me.  I never went back to him again.
 
Christianity has rendered all external observance invalid. And God is concerned about the grace in your heart. If you want to be steadfast in your testimony and consistent in your joy, just be steadfast in sound doctrine.
 
That means you’ve got to study your Bible.  You’ve got to develop some convictions about things.  And those convictions must be solidly founded on the unchanging Word of God.  It’s absolutely essential to the well-being of a believer. 
 
Let me leave you with one final verse and it is an encouragement from Peter to steadfastness.  That’s ironic isn’t it?  The one who was so undependable earlier in his life is now used of God to sencourage others to be dependable.
 
The second epistle of Peter was written to Jewish converts that were under pressure of false teachers.
 
Listen to what he says to them as he closes this letter and closes his life:
 
2 Peter 3:17
 
You're really no use to God unless you're solid doctrinally. You owe it to yourself and to God to be steadfast.
 
Let’s pray.
 

 

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