Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15 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;
16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
In verse 12 God is continuing His teaching on the importance and the necessity of chastening. He begins there with the word “wherefore”. That is a connecting word used to indicate the response that His children must make to what has come before.
Rather than being discouraged, those who are truly saved need to be encouraged by the fact that God loves them enough to chasten them to get on track with where they need to be. There is no need to hang our shoulders and to tremble and be insecure in our walk with the Lord. What we need to do is get into the Word and be much in prayer to understand and obey God’s Word.
In verse 13 we see that we need to make straight paths for our feet. Rather than playing around in sin, get right with God and pursue His will. A runner that has injured his leg or has aching muscles is tempted to get out of the race. There is no getting out of God’s race for His children. God is not cruel and uncaring. The spiritual limping and feeble knees are the result of disobedience to His will. He provides all the strength that is needed to serve Him faithfully. To be healed is to deal with the sin and get back into the race with greater vigour.
God began this chapter with the example of Jesus Christ. God began this book with the example of Jesus Christ. He is better. He endured the cross. He did not quit. He pressed on and endured the suffering and shame because He saw the reward. The Bible also promises great reward for His children. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3 that there will be those who will be saved though as by fire.
That is not God’s will for any of His children. He wants all of His children to finish strong.
In verse 14 we are commanded to follow peace with all men. It is important to keep this verse in its context. Jesus Christ is the Prince of peace. Following peace is not compromising with all who name the name of Jesus. There are many false Christs and there are many false Jesuses. Peace comes only when we know the Prince of peace. It is impossible to be at peace with those who want to shut down God’s truth. Peter and John did not yield to the evil commands given them in Acts 4 & 5. They insisted that they needed to be faithful to the God that saved them. They would not give in. They would not be silent. They suffered for that, but they were giving out the message of peace. It was just that the false teachers did not want true peace. They wanted their version of peace which was no peace at all.
The apostle Paul spoke plainly and clearly to Festus and Felix and King Agrippa. He offered them peace, but he did not compromise the Gospel to try to find a pseudo-peace.
You notice in our text that we are told to follow peace with all men and holiness. The two go hand in hand. There is no holiness in compromise. Holiness is an affront to the wicked. Holiness is blessed of God and it is through holiness that God works in the hearts of the lost. He shows them they are wicked and need to be saved. He gives them opportunity to turn to Him and be saved.
Without knowing God’s peace and holiness, a person cannot see the Lord. No sin can enter heaven. It must be purged. The lost sinner must be saved and given a new nature. The saved person must be walking in truth. The saved person will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ and any unconfessed sin will be dealt with there. That is where the loss of reward comes in. For the saved person that has walked humbly with the Lord as the apostle Paul writes in II Timothy 4, there is a crown of righteousness awaiting them.
The lost will be ashamed and will meet the Lord at the great white throne judgment and will be exposed for their wickedness and then cast into the lake of fire.
In verse 15 we see that the child of God is actively looking to God for help and direction. Verse 15 is not warning that a person might lose their salvation. Rather it is warning against becoming discouraged in the race and holding back. The grace of God is there to help the true child of God to walk faithfully with Him. We have already seen in Hebrews 4 that we are challenged to come boldly unto the throne of grace to find grace to help in time of need. We cannot afford to get sidetracked. When we do, God will chasten those that are truly His. We can see that there are those who are saved, but do not heed God’s chastening. There are those who will be saved though as by fire. They will be in heaven, but they will suffer loss. No true Christian is content with that fact. However, there will be those who will suffer loss as we noted already.
Bitterness is a festering sin. Bitterness hurts the person who is bitter far more than the person they are bitter towards. There is no benefit to being bitter. Confess it as sin and get on with a walk of peace and holiness with the Lord. Many times the thing that makes a person bitter is imaginary anyway. The devil is good at magnifying things. Forgiveness is important in dealing with bitterness. As we have seen already there is nothing that any true child of God will face that even comes close to what Jesus Christ suffered for our sins. There is no room for a pity party in the Christian life.
In verse 16 God pointed the readers back to Esau. Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac and Rebekah.
He despised his birthright and was willing to sell if for a mess of pottage. He thought he was so hungry that he was about to die. He sold out the long term blessing for the sake of a short term feeling. That is what fornication is. In its literal sense it is sexual sin committed by those who refuse to follow God’s order and wait for marriage. They want the pleasure of intimacy now. They lose out because they refuse to wait. In the spiritual sense a person can commit fornication by being as Esau was. Missing out on the eternal blessings of heaven by choosing compromise now rather than faithfulness to God. Some of those who do so are lost and refuse to get saved. Others are saved but are carnal like those in Corinth. God directed Paul to rebuke the sinner in I Corinthians 5 and the church in Corinth for tolerating the sin. II Corinthians 2 tells us that the church listened to Paul’s godly rebuke and that the sinner repented. Now there was a need to teach how to treat the repentant sinner.
Esau realized too late that he had been a fool. There was no way to go back and recover that birthright. We know that God had designed for Jacob to have that in the first place and we know that it became his due to Esau’s carelessness. God did not pre-program Esau to despise His birthright. This is another case of where our finite minds could get us in trouble if we do not allow the infinite God to act according to His wisdom and holiness. We know that Esau regretted his carelessness but there was no way to go back and recover what he carelessly gave away.
For those who are saved, if we squander the blessings of God, there is no way to go back and recover what we lost. In regard to the fornicator, once that yielding to the sin of fornication has taken place, there is no going back. That is lost. God can and He does forgive, but that precious state that is designed to be exchanged in marriage is lost. Spiritually as well, carelessness toward God’s Word is costly. God is willing to forgive, but there are consequences to sin. God has much to say on these matters in the Bible. What is needed is for good teaching as well as for good listening. Humility is so important. Salvation is so important. Only God can change the heart and create a willingness to listen and to follow God’s way. He knows best. He wants to bless. His blessings are for those who follow His way.