Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
False doctrine seems to be very attractive to most people. God tells us here not to be carried away with divers and strange doctrines. Throughout my lifetime, I have observed that most religious people do not agree with God on this important point. I was raised in a religion that had some divers and strange doctrines. I learned as an adult that they once held a more Biblical view of things, but they changed. When a person does not believe the Bible, there is no stopping the sliding into divers and strange doctrines. There is no anchor when God’s Word is rejected.
I have also observed that most people want some “wiggle” room when it comes to their religious beliefs. When a person reads the Bible, it is very clear that God does not give wiggle room. God was very clear with Adam about what he could do and what he could not do. Adam chose to test God’s standard and he found out that he lost out. Cain wanted some wiggle room when he brought his offering before God and he found out that God had given very clear instructions with regard to sacrifices and his was not accepted. He did not like that, but he also found out that God did not need his approval. Cain insisted on having his way, but he just dug himself a deeper hole.
By the time we come to Genesis 6 we see that most of society did not take God seriously. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God tells us that Noah walked with Him. Only Noah and his family entered the Ark. All the rest of humanity perished in the flood that God brought upon the world.
In Genesis 11, Nimrod taught the people that God’s way does not matter, but they also discovered that God is always right and He does not need to change, and He does not change.
Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
We have looked at several different doctrines already in our study of the book of Hebrews. We have also noted that most religions have changed God’s doctrine. The Biblical definition of “doctrine” is sound teaching based upon the Word of God. Doctrine is not a matter of opinion. It is absolute. The doctrine of salvation is absolute. We noted yesterday that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. That is part of the doctrine regarding Jesus Christ.
Strange doctrine is anything that is not exactly as the Bible declares. It matters what a person believes. It is important to look at all that God has to say on a particular doctrine to make sure we have the right understanding of it. A careless approach to God’s Word is not helpful for those who use that method and it will not be excused in the end.
There is a reason why God commands those who are saved not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need to learn the right doctrine. We need to know what God declares.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Knowing and believing the doctrine is liberating. God wants us to be set free from bondage. False doctrine puts a person into bondage. A person is not truly free until he or she is saved. God exhorts His children to grow in the Lord according to His Word.
Paul continued to explain this fact in verse 9 of our text. The heart needs to be established by grace. Again we are confronted with that word “grace”. Biblical grace is not a license to sin or a license to live according to my opinion.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Grace, in the context of our verse refers to: “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech”. Biblical grace is always defined within the bounds of knowing God. God is talking about that which brings joy to the true child of God, that which brings pleasure to the true child of God and so on. It is not an open ended statement that is left for us to define.
Paul was directed further to give an example of living by grace in our text. In the first century, there was much controversy over the eating of certain meats. In Acts 15 the “Jerusalem council” came together to discuss the means by which Gentiles could be saved. Under God’s direction they came to the conclusion that Gentiles are saved in the same manner that Jews are saved. All are saved by the grace of God through faith.
In the book of I Corinthians, Paul was directed to teach on the power of idols. The basic fact was that idols are nothing. However, there were people who were saved out of idolatry who still had a problem with some of the teaching they had been indoctrinated in from their youth. Paul was directed by God to teach us that we need to show grace toward the person who has been taught something in the past that is wrong. We do not condone the wrong teaching. However, we do not try to put a stumblingblock before the person who needs to see the truth as God declares it.
Back in our text, God reminds us of the futility of thinking that law keeping can save. The Levitical law taught that there were certain meats that were unclean. We know that the Jews were commanded not to eat pork in any form. Law keeping did not save a person. Obedience to the Law was the evidence of a person who trusted in God and chose to follow Him.
Jesus Christ did away with the Old Testament Levitical law because He fulfilled it. In Acts 10 God showed Peter the importance of a right understanding of God’s law. The illustration given to Peter there was to prepare him to go and preach the Gospel to Cornelius (who was a Gentile) and his household. Peter had a problem with accepting Gentiles in the same manner as Jews. He was saved. He was an apostle. However, he still had things to learn. God graciously showed him the facts and the result was that Peter was willing to go and preach to Cornelius and his house and God worked to save that household.
Paul was also directed to teach that if eating meat offends a certain brother, he would not eat meat. Paul was not directed by God to tell us that we should all be vegetarians. Paul ate meat after he was directed to write that. However, he understood he needed to be sensitive to the brother who needed to get beyond certain false beliefs that were not based on sound doctrine.
Those like the Pharisees, who taught the need for law keeping did not benefit from that. Jesus called them hypocrites. He called them whited sepulchres. The Bible is clear that no one is capable of keeping the law flawlessly. Thus those who think they can be saved by law keeping condemn themselves. Jesus Christ kept the law flawlessly. He fulfilled the law.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Christians do not live by law keeping. I do not read my Bible every day to try to work my way into salvation. I read my Bible every day because I have been saved by the grace of God and I want to know my heavenly Father better and I want to know my Saviour better. His love is in me and He motivates me to read my Bible to grow in Him. It is not a burden for me to read my Bible every day because the love of God in me is what directs me to obey God. My salvation is by grace through faith.
True Biblical doctrine is essential. We need to know the truth and we need to believe the truth. If we believe the truth about salvation, we will be saved. At salvation we will be given the power needed to become sons of God. We will be able to serve God faithfully and we will know His joy and peace in our hearts because we are living by His grace, not by our efforts.
God has many blessings in store for His children. Those who are on the outside looking in will never know those blessings. Those who humble themselves and turn to God in repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation will begin to enjoy great blessings from God.