Hebrews 12:3-11 - Faith Overcomes The 'Weight and Sin' To Not Entrust Ourselves To The Father
Last week we considered Hebrews 12:1-2. In that text we used the Apostle Paul to illustrate three points: we are to consider the great cloud of witnesses, we are to lay aside every weight and every sin, and we are to look to Jesus.
The apostle Paul did these three things. As he ran the race that was set before him he considered the faithful saints that had finished their race. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:3, “I thank my God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience…”.
We also learned that Paul faithfully addressed every weight and every sin which clung so closely to him. The apostle Paul took seriously the warning that the LORD had given to Cain in Genesis 4:7, “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
On Paul’s way to Jerusalem he faced many temptationsto quit his race but he did not succumb to the pressure. One of the reasons for this was because Paul had made a habit of consistently laying aside every ‘weight and sin’ that was found in his own heart and he was made ready for His Master’s use.
Finally, we saw in 2 Timothy that there were times when Paul was abandoned by everyone. For example,at his trial no one came to his defense but in that moment he said thatJesus stood with him and He strengthened Paul in that moment (4:17).
After writing about these thingsin 2 Timothy he ends the letter by saying, “The LORD will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (4:18)
This morning let’s read Hebrews 12:3-11. It states,
Consider him (Christ) who endured from sinners such hostility (opposition) against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (loose heart). In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you (completely) forgotten (this word) the exhortation (encouragement) that addresses you as sons (as a father addresses his son)?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
This text encourages us to ‘consider Christ’. Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father and He determined to do His will even when He faced such great opposition from sinful men who hated Him (12:3). Hebrews 5:7-9 gave us a glimpse of how Jesus did this. It says, “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…”.
What an example Jesus is for us when you and I face ‘difficult providences’ in our own life. Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42).
We are also encouraged in our text to not forget that through Christ’s obedient sacrifice we have now become sons and daughters of God. As such we can expect to be disciplined. We should not regard lightly His discipline or be weary when we are reproved by Him (3). Rather we should understand that this proves God’s love for us and reminders us that the LORD has adopted us into His family (7-8).
The text goes on to give us a biblical way to understand how God uses ‘difficult providences’ that come into our lives. Our Heavenly Father allows these things to produce in us His holiness and the peaceful fruit of righteousness. We shouldacknowledge our Heavenly Father’s wisdom and trust His good intentions in allowing these ‘difficult providences’ as Fatherly discipline in our lives. We should whole-heartedly entrust ourselves to the Father of spirits and live a life of worship to Him and glorify Him in all occassions. (9-11). We should determine to be like Job who did not sin with his mouth when the day of these ‘difficult providences’ came upon him (1:22, 2:9-10).
Is this something that you are ready to do because of your faith in God? Let me say again, “We should acknowledge our Heavenly Father’s wisdom and trust His good intentions in allowing these ‘difficult providences’ as Fatherly discipline in our lives. Weshould whole-heartedly entrust ourselves to the Father of spirits and live a life of worship to Him and glorify Him in all occasions.”
As I have considered this text I often thought about the first time I met with Kyle and Allison S. They told me that they really loved their last church. One of the reasons for this was because they saw the LORD doing so many good things in the lives of that congregation. They testified that the people in were being set free from sin and growing in sanctification. They testified that marriages were being restored. They testified that relationships were being reconciled through forgiveness by the members of the church.
What caused all of these things to happen?
Well, they told me that a lot of this came from the fact that their church practiced biblical church discipline. I observed the smiles that Kyle and Allison had on their faces as they spoke about these things. I could hear the joy in their words as they testified about how God used biblical discipline to promote holiness, peace, righteousness, and sanctification in that congregation. As I witnessed these things I knew that Kyle and Allison had a healthy and biblical view regarding God’s discipline.
Are you at all surprised that being part of a congregation like that did not weigh them down, or oppress them, or make them flee from that congregation to another that would be less intrusive?
No, Kyle and Allison had recently moved here to Wisconsin and it was evident that they really missed those covenant relationships when they left. Kyle and Allison are an example of how church discipline is healthy, good, and promotes fruitfulness in the lives of those who engage in it.
Consider that if this is true of church discipline then how much more of a blessing is God’s discipline for you as we submit to it as Hebrews 12:3-11 is encouraging us to do. The author of Hebrews unashamedly says that the LORD, ‘disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness’. The author of Hebrews, like Kyle and Allison, probably writes these things with a smile on his face because he knows that this discipline will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness in God’s people (11).
Even though God’s wisdom allows these things for our good, and even though discipline is a testimony of God’s love for us, and even though it produces in us spiritual fruitfulness that would otherwise not be present in our lives; the author of Hebrews needs to admonish us to submit to the Father of spirits and live (9). We have to be admonished like this because discipline is painful. Discipline is not pleasant. Discipline is confusing to us and we struggle to understand it. Discipline makes us feel like God has abandoned us and that He does not love us.
This is an an assumption on my part but it did not appear that Kyle and Allison would come to this text and have to lay aside as many heavy ‘weights’ regarding God’s discipline as some of us may have to do when we consider a text like this. I know one thing for sure as I look back on that conversation with Kyle and Allison. When they consider God’s discipline they may be more prone than most to allow their hearts to break forth in worship and exaltation as they say with the apostle Paul, “To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (4:18)
Over a week ago I already had a sermon written for this morning on this text. However, earlier this week I came back to that sermon and read through it again and I struggled with it. All week I tried to re-write the sermon and ended up with several versions of it. Despite my best efforts I still was not comfortable preaching it.
Throughout this process I began to realize that this text had revealed to me that my heart and my mind are full of ‘weights’ (12:1). These ‘weights’ were keeping me from appreciating this text and from submitting to my Heavenly Father regarding these things.
When I speak of ‘weights’ I would like to say two things. First, I am stressing these things as ‘weights’ but they could also be called ‘sins’ because the author of Hebrews aligns them together very closely in Hebrews 12:1-2. These ‘weights’ can become ‘sins’ if I ignore them and if I do not confront them and lay them aside. These ‘weights’, just like ‘sins’, will entangle me and keep me from finishing my race well if I will not ‘lay them aside’.
Secondly, let me define what I am referring to when I use the word ‘weight’. When I speak this way I am speaking about those beliefs, attitudes and assumptions that I hold to that are not biblical. When I come to the scriptures I should be submitting my heart and my mind to the truths of scripture and respond to them in faithful obedience.
This week I have not wanted to do that. I have not wanted to submit to God and trust His wisdom in disciplining me with the ‘difficult providences’ that He may wisely bring into my life. As a result, these ‘weights’ anchor my thoughts and my heart to the temporal world and I become less aware of the eternal things that are so important to my faith. These ‘weights and sins’ make me want to argue with God rather than submit to His will.
The proof that these ‘weights and sins’ were present in my heart and mind was very subtle and it took me a while to notice them. When I would read the text I did not have any strong reaction against what I was reading. In fact, I would have no hesitation confessing to anyone that I believe these things. And yet, I saw that I had ‘weights’ when they kept me from submitting to God and when I hesitated in wanting to worship God for the things that I saw in this text. While reading this text I did not smile like Kyle and Allison.
I came to a text that could give me comfort, joy, peace, and strength. But it didn’t. I came to a text that sought to encourage, strengthen and build me up. But it didn’t. I came to a text that was written to Christians so they would endure and not give up, but I found myself feeling like I should quit. I came to a text which seeks to clarify how to consider the suffering of a Christian as the discipline of the LORD; however, my heart kept trying to confuse these things. I came to a text which gave me so many reasons to worship, praise, to magnify and to exalt the LORD, but I wasn’t.
Because my heart was hesitant to submit to these things and because it was not being moved to express worship of God through what I was reading in Scripture I realized that I had ‘weights and sins’ in my heart that needed to be addressed.
But how was I going to deal with these ‘weights and sins’?
Well, I often thought of Paul in Philippians 3 where he lists many ‘confidences’, or we could say many ‘weights and sins’, that he had to lay aside. Paul used to have a lot of ‘confidences’ that he used to put his trust in: he was circumcised on the eighth day, he was an Israelite, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, he was a Hebrew, a Pharisee, he was zealous for God, and according to the law he was blameless (4-7).
When he became a Christian he had to ‘consider all these things aloss’. He had to consider these things as ‘rubbish’ for the sake of knowing Christ. But by doing this he became a person ‘who worshiped by the Spirit of God and gloried in Christ Jesus’ alone (3:3).
What does it mean that Paul worshiped by the Spirit of God?
Through the mighty power of God Paul was changed and now considered all these confidences (‘weights’) as a loss so that he could have a righteousness that cames by faith in Christ alone (9). From that time on Paul set those things aside and he began to share in Christ’s life, Christ’s sufferings and even in the hope of Christ’s resurrection (10-11). Paul’s faith and hope in these things became an expression of worship in every area of His life by the powerful working of God’s Spirit (3).
Therefore, one way I can deal with these ‘weights and sins’ is to lay them aside with the help of God’s Spirit and then entrust myself to the Father of spirits so that I can really live (12:9). In doing this my faith and life will be an expression of worship to God. My Heavenly Father is good and trustworthy.
This morning I have given you two examples to consider when thinking about ‘difficult providences’ and God’s discipline. We considered Kyle and Allison who are two members of our congregation. We also considered how Paul who laid aside all these ‘confidences’, which are really ‘weights’, and became a worshiper by the Spirit of God who gloried only in Christ Jesus. Let me leave you today by considering one more example.
To do this I would like to consider Psalm 66. This Psalm speaks of many of the things that are addressed in our text today in Hebrews 12. For example…
The psalmist entrusts himself to the steadfast Fatherly love of God who will not abandon His children.
v.20: Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
The psalmist had been tested by God through ‘difficult providences’ and the Father’s discipline.
10-12: For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water...
Through this testing, this discipline, this difficult providence the psalmist resolved to put aside any cherished sin and iniquity (and weight or sin) from his heart and he prays to the LORD for His grace.
v.17-18:I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
God responds to the psalmists prayer by reminding him of past deliverance and by displaying His great power and awesome deeds in his own life.
v.3: Say to God, How awesome are your deeds!
v. 5 (in the past): Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.
v. 16: Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
God brought the psalmist into a place of abundance and he was not destroyed.
v.12: You have brought us out to a place of abundance.
As a result, the psalmist worshiped in the house of the LORD and honored the LORD faithfully. (The Old Testament saint and the New Testament saint considers Christ’s sacrifice which fulfilled these things.)
v. 13-15: I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats.
As a result, the psalmist desired to shout for joy, sing the glory, and give glorious to praise to God
v.1-2: Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise!
As a result, the psalmist gives a universal call for all to respond and submit to this process, just as the author of Hebrews has done, so that we might have life and share in God’s graces.
v.4-5: All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds towards the children of man.
v.16: Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul.
This Old Testament saint invited the people to come and see the awesome deeds that the LORD had done. He invited them to come and hear what He had done for him personally in His own soul. All of the things that the Psalmist points to have now been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. If these Old Testament saints experienced the faithfulness of God in this way, how much more can we entrust ourselves to our Heavenly Father who spared not His Son that we might become the sons and the daughters of God.
As we come to communion let us say: Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise! Say to God, How awesome are your deeds!...All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds towards the children of man...Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul.