Sermons

Finishing the Race with Grace – part 2 (Hebrews 12:5-17, Ephesians 4:29-31)

Pastor Anthony Bacino, August 11, 2019
Part of the Exposition of Hebrews series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

Introduction:

During World War II the U.S. submarine Tang is credited with sinking 31 ships. This record is unexcelled among American submarines. On October 24, 1944 she surfaced under the cover of darkness to fire upon a large Japanese convoy off the coast of China. Previous raids had left the American sub with only eight torpedoes, the accuracy of every shot was absolutely crucial. The first seven missiles were right on target; but when the eighth was launched, it suddenly deviated and headed right back at their own ship. The emergency alarm to submerge rang out, but it was too late. Within a matter of seconds, the U.S. sub received a direct hit and sank almost instantly. It was a very non-distinguished way for a prodigious war vessel to end its career. In the same way, when a Christian harbors hatred and resentment in his heart, he is often hurt by the poison of his own making. He thinks he is injuring his enemies by displaying his wrath, but the real harm is inflicted deep within his own soul. We are going to examine this truth about bitterness because it can halt us from Finishing the Race with Grace.
However, I want to review briefly the first two points from last week and let’s examine ourselves to see how well we have done.

I. Be an Encouragement to Others (12:12-13). — *Galatians 6:2
1) Restore & Relieve. Some are spiritually lame because of sin; for them to finish the race with grace they need help to be healed. * Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

II. Be a Peacemaker (12:14).
Most conflicts are just an unwillingness to settle differences the way God intended. Many of us have felt the hurt of being treated unfairly, being taken advantage of, or being wrongly accused. (Matthew 18) Jesus makes the statement in Matthew 5:9: Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Did you handle a offend God’s way or the worlds way?

III. Restrain Bitterness (12:15).

1. As the author continues writing about finishing the race with grace, he gives some stern commands. First, Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (12:15). The word grace refers to God’s special favor and the many benefits He gives to His faithful children.
Because of the context, it seems the root of bitterness probably refers to bitterness that is the opposite of practical holiness. For example, the oppo¬site of striving for peace with all men is becoming bitter, which is spiritual poison. Look at Ephesians 4:31.

2. The root of bitterness is resonant of Deuteronomy 29:17-19, where Moses warns the Israelites that worshipping other gods will plant a root that produces poison. “I read that if a rattlesnake is cornered, it can become so frenzied that it will accidentally bite itself with its deadly fangs. — In the same way, when a person harbors an unforgiving spirit and resentment in their heart they are often afflicted by the root of bitterness; it becomes a poison.

3. Bitterness is the cancer of the soul, claiming millions of victims every year. It spreads faster than the common cold and threatens to destroy our families and our churches. Bitterness is like a cancer that deteriorates the mind and heart. If left unchecked, this tendency can eventually poison a person’s perspectives toward just about everything. Bitter people live in a spiritual “wilderness.

Bitterness is characterized by feelings of resentment, cynicism, and hatred. It is also being sharp and disagreeable. Bitterness is a horrible sin because it is the opposite of forgiving others and seeking peace. Having bitterness in your heart toward any person limits your ability to love anyone and opens the door of your heart to the Evil One. Modern medicine has shown that emotions like bitterness and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches, allergic disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart attacks, to name just a few.

To finish the race with grace, encourage everyone, try to get along with everyone, don’t be bitter toward anyone, and…

IV. Don’t Forfeit God’s Blessings (12:16-17).

1. The writer warns of two things that can take us out of the race. The first in Hebrews 12:16 is the sin of fornication. The word translated fornicator (PORNOS, por’-nos) is the word from which we get our word “pornography.” It refers to any sex outside the marriage of a man and woman. Sexual immorality was very common in New Testa¬ment times. Today’s immorality is nothing new. It’s not a new morality; it’s the old immorality regaining ground.

2. The author also warns us not to be a profane (ungodly) person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright (12:16b). A birthright was a special blessing given to the firstborn son. He would receive a double portion of the family inheritance and one day become the family leader. Esau was profane, or unholy, one day when he was very hungry and asked his younger brother Jacob for some pottage, or stew.

3. Jacob offered to buy Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew, which Esau accepted (Gen. 25:29-34a -c). In so doing, Genesis 25:34— thus Esau despised [his] birthright. Esau held it in contempt, and disdain. Esau was unholy because he desired the world’s pleasures more than the pleasure of God. Later, Esau wanted his father’s blessing but was rejected though he tried to change his father Isaac’s mind with tears (Heb. 12:17; Gen. 27:34-38).

4. Esau reminds us sin can cost us things we may never regain-such things as a good reputation, trust, a marriage, and most importantly, some of God’s blessings. If you have dropped out of the “race,” the bad news is you have already lost some of God’s blessings.

Psalm 51:1 There is a saying: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” Don’t let sin take you out of the race of faith.

Conclusion:
We must allow the Scriptures to strengthen us to press on in the race marked out for us. God will reward those who faithfully finish the race (v. 8). Gospel invitation

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Hebrews 12:5-17

5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (KJV)

Ephesians 4:29-31

29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (KJV)

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