Our pastor is about to wrap up his sermon series, Look to Jesus, on Hebrews. This past week he preached from Hebrews 13:7 – 19; next week he will preach on the final verses of the book. This has been a favorite sermon series for me. In recent years, I have been reading more from the Old Testament, learning not just the history but seeing the “big” story arc of Scripture. The author of Hebrews is a master at highlighting the Old Testament themes of sacrifice, temple, and law together pointing us to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! If you are interested in our pastor’s series, you can find it here.
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.Hebrews 13:9a
All throughout the book of Hebrews, the author encourages his readers not to fall away, to endure in the faith, and now, he reminds them not to be carried away by strange teachings. With that warning the author offers these FOUR reminders – how to avoid being caught up in strange teachings.
Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. … Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?Hebrews 13:7, 17 MSG
ONE: To avoid strange teachings, pay attention to the very teachers, preachers, spiritual leaders that taught you the Word. God holds those He calls into ministry to a high standard. Specifically, those who teach are judged more strictly (James 3:1). Our leaders are deserving of our respect and prayers. Obviously men in pastoral ministry are human, may make mistakes, may not meet our every expectation. For that, we forgive as we have been forgiven.
A word of caution – if your pastor or spiritual leader is caught up in moral failure, hurtful behavior – then definitely step away and report it. The author of Hebrews is not suggesting blind loyalty to a person, but for the many preachers who are faithful to the Word, faithful to Christ, we follow, imitate, respond to their direction, and contribute to the joy of their leadership!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!Hebrews 13:8
TWO: The same Christ that raised up our spiritual leaders will also support us! By studying His life, His words, His teachings we avoid strange teachings. BUT more than that, by clinging to Him, walking in fellowship with Him we avoid strange teachings. The sacrifice of Jesus, the grace He gives, His sustaining power is the same for us as for the teachers of old that we revere.
It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.Hebrews 13:9b NIV
THREE: Throughout the book, the author of Hebrews has warned his readers to avoid drifting away, not going on to maturity. Here he reminds us that there is no substitute for grace. No ritual, checking the boxes, even right living will benefit without grace. In our culture we see all sorts of meditation apps and exercises, lifestyle changes, self-help plans and programs. While there may be a place for each of those for a period of time, none of them replace the work that the gospel of grace does in our hearts to bring us to maturity.
We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.Hebrews 13:10-14 NLT
FOUR: We avoid strange teachings by focusing on both the sacrifice of Christ and the reward that comes from following Him! We die to self and recognize that our life is hid in Christ – outside the camp. We bear His disgrace – even as Moses thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. This is a reiteration of an earlier reminder from Hebrews 10 where the author spoke of their suffering, even the confiscation of their property.
Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.Hebrews 10:32b-35
Remember the great reward it brings you!
THEREFORE! In light of what we have been taught and especially in light of what Jesus has done for us, we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. We do good to others and share with those in need. These are our sacrificial offerings.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.Hebrews 13:15-16
I can’t help but hear Jesus speaking in these verses when He taught us to love God and love our neighbors. All the law and the prophets hang on these two great commandments. Speaking up, shouting out praise to God, the fruit of our lips expressing our love for Him is first. And then the overflow of that love is our sacrificial offering to care for those in need.
Clearly we are NOT to chase strange, new ideas!
All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
he alone calls my heart to be his own.
Human pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple, fall to dust.
But God’s power,
hour by hour, is my temple and my tower.
God’s great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendour, light, and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
from his store new-born worlds rise and adore.
Daily doth the Almighty giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand; joy doth wait on his command.
Still from earth to God eternalJoachim Neander
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ his Son.
Christ doth call
one and all: ye who follow shall not fall.