April 19, 2015
This Week’s Take Home Truth:
“Jesus, as the perfect picture of endurance, models for us faithful perseverance.”
This Week’s Resources:
- The Compass Bible Study
- Sermon PowerPoint (scroll down past the worship slides)
- Lighthouse Discussion Guide
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
In this final warning passage from the book of Hebrews, we focus on the command to live at peace with one another and to live a holy (sanctified) life. The writer then warns us to be on guard for fellow travelers who may fall behind in the race, and fail to win the reward of God’s grace, to watch for those who have a “root of bitterness” within the body and can poison the entire body with their evil venom, and to avoid the sin of Esau.
As with all of the warning passages, this week’s lesson should challenge us to examine ourselves to be sure we are truly walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. We cannot pursue holiness apart from being born again by the Spirit.
The picture Jesus drew that is a parallel to this week’s text is found in Matthew 7:22-23, in which our Lord says, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
These verses summarize the warning passages in Hebrews. We can strive to live holy lives, but if we are not born again, then our “mighty works” will prove to be meaningless, because we never knew Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
May the Lord use this week’s lesson as you challenge your Lighthouse members to live out their faith in Jesus Christ and to serve as a shining trophy of His immeasurable grace and mercy in our lives.
- Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
- Can you give an example of a time in your life when you were friends with someone who was a bad influence?
- Why is it difficult, even impossible, to get along with some people? What makes them so difficult?
Read the Text (Hebrews 12:12-17)
In this week’s text, we come to the fifth and final “warning passage” in the epistle to the Hebrews. The writer gives us two positive exhortations—“strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness…”—and three negative warnings—“see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up; that no one is immoral or unholy like Esau. As you read this week’s Scripture, may the Lord open your eyes to see how this cautious warning applies to us in 21st Century America. Read Hebrews 12:12-17.
- As a Christian, how would you respond to someone who believes “it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and we need to fight for everything we want.”
- Verse 14 encourages us to “strive for peace with everyone.” Is it possible to live at peace with everyone?
- How should we respond to others who live in opposition to us and to God?
- In addition to peace with others, verse 14 encourages us to strive for holiness? How would you define “holiness”?
- In verses 16-17, the writer uses Esau as an illustration of the point he is making. What sin did Esau commit, and why is this significant?
- How are we guilty of committing the Sin of Esau?
- Is there someone in your life with whom you need to make peace? What can you do this week to take the first step?
- Can you stand before God and others and know that you are striving to live a holy life? What areas would you point to where you stand apart from the world? What areas would you point to where you (unfortunately) walk in unison with the world? What do you need to do to live a holy, set apart life?
We cannot suppress a natural sympathy with Esau in this scene between the two brothers. He seems as much sinned against as sinning, and in comparison with the cunning, crafty Jacob, he appears the better of the two. There is nothing of the selfishness, the trickery, that make his brother appear contemptible beside him.
Esau’s good qualities are evident—bold and frank, free and generous, impulsive and capable of magnanimity, reckless and passionate. [But] being largely a creature of impulse, he was the plaything of animal passion, ready to satisfy desire without thought of consequences. Without self-control, without spiritual insight, judging things by immediate advantage, there was not in him depth of nature out of which a really noble character could be cut. This damning lack of self-control comes out in the transaction of the birthright. Coming from the hunt hungry, he finds Jacob cooking stew of lentils and asks for it. Ungovernable appetite makes him feel as if he would die if he did not get it.
The Bible writers speak of Esau with a certain contempt, and, with all our appreciation of his good natural qualities, we cannot help sharing in the contempt. The individual who has no self-control, who is swept away by every passion of the moment, who has no appreciation of higher and larger things, that individual is only a superior sort of animal—and not always very superior at that.
True self-control means willingness to resign the small for the sake of the great, the present for the future, the material for the spiritual, and that is what faith makes possible. Of course, Esau did not think he was losing the great by grasping at the small. At the moment, the birthright, because it was distant, appeared insignificant. He had no patience to wait, no faith to believe in the value of the [non]material, no self-restraint to keep him from surrender to present gratification.
[Impulsive] passion has no use for a far-off good. Temptation allures the eye, whispers in the ear, plucks by the elbow, offering satisfaction now. The birthright is a poor thing compared to the red stew.
It is the distortion of vision that passion produces, the exaggeration of the present that temptation creates, making the small look like the great and discrediting the value of the thing lost.—Hugh Black