Audience of One
Hebrews chapter 12, let’s dive into this together. If you’ve been with us in this series, you know that we’re looking at the supremacy in Christ in all things, how it affects our life, to know God as he desires to make himself known in scripture. The book of Hebrews is a beautiful book and we have just been blowing through this book, just chapter and time, taking out the chunks of the big pictures that are created for us in these passages of scripture, very important.
Book of Hebrews is a beautiful book. Sometimes we come to it, it’s difficult to understand it. It’s one of the more complex books in the New Testament, and the reason is, is because it’s so deeply rooted in the Old Testament. It ties together, from beginning to end, the picture of scripture. And so if you get the concepts of what Hebrews talks about, you have a good overview of what the Bible is about.
Then, it switches gears as we’re going through that. We’ve done that through the first 10 chapters, and about chapter 10 it switches gears for us and it starts making the practical application. In light of all that Christ is, Hebrews ties together the story of redemption in Jesus, how the Old Testament was a shadow of what Jesus would ultimately fulfill for us in him.
And so we now look to Jesus. Everything is in Christ. In fact, Hebrews starts off that way. In times past, God spoke to us through the prophets. Today, he speaks to us in Christ. And what God has done for us is establishing this new covenant. Old Testament, they looked for this new covenant. Jeremiah 31:31, Ezekiel 36:26 talks about a new covenant, what Jesus would do for us on the cross, bringing us in relationship to God because he paid for our sin and reconciles us to the Lord as we put our faith in what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.
Religion will never do it. Only Christ could do it. In fact, to choose anything other than Jesus is to diminish what Christ has accomplished for you on the cross. It talks about that in Galatians chapter 2, and as you get to chapter 10, it starts to share with us now how do you apply this to your life. And you probably notice as we go through this series, this is where I really tap the brakes, and I want to move through this in a very … let’s just say not as fast as we’ve done before. I want to be aware of exactly what the writer is saying as we look through this verse by verse and relating all of this to our lives.
In chapter 12, he summarizes the idea with the thought of running, and he uses this concluding word when he begins this chapter, saying, therefore. “Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses, let us run with endurance or let us lay aside every encumbrance and sin and let us run with endurance, looking into Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Now, he’s calling us to run in Christ, to look at the hope that we have in him.
When we talk about running a race, and especially with endurance, let’s just be honest and say sometimes it’s just not easy. Life can take it out of you, and that’s true with the people in the book of Hebrews. They’re about to face tremendous persecution in the early church that would last 250 years. Life has adversity, and sometimes you just don’t feel like running, and this passage calls you to not only run, but to do it with endurance. It’s thinking towards the longevity of your life, and sometimes you’re just like, “Man, I just want to make it through today.”
And so the author starts to share in the book of Hebrews where you find that strength. That’s the first 11 verses of this chapter. That’s what we took some time to go through. That was broken up into two weeks. “You’ve been surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. Let us run with endurance the race that’s set before us,” reminding us that this cloud of witnesses, they’re just not watching you as spectators, but the word witness actually means martyr. They’re not witnessing of you, but witnessing to you, that what God calls you to, he provides the strength for you.
And sometimes we look at what scripture says about Godly individuals, which we’ve seen in Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews chapter 11, that’s the story of faith. We see all these great leaders in Christ and we try to compare our lives to that, and the news for us, guys, is you’re not them. Truthfully, if you examine their lives, they weren’t that great. They were deeply flawed in their own walks with the Lord, and you’re not them.
So, when God calls you to run this race, look, I think it’s very important to understand. God’s not calling you to run another person’s race. He’s not calling you to look at other people and to see all the things that they have and all the Godly things that they do and just stress yourself out about all the things that you’re not capable of because you’re not them. God doesn’t call you to be them. God calls you to be you in him. God knows where you’re at.
I think even in position of being in ministry, man, my heart is for people. I love people, and I want to be everywhere that people are, and I can stress myself out if I just think about how I could fail people, not always being able to be there. It can get ugly. You just start serving the ministry. You know what happens to a person after they feel the need to always do and always do and it’s never enough or people put that demand on you, which I will just reject that. You get cynical and you get bent, bitter, and you get burned. We’re going to talk a little bit about that today. And you end up hating what this created in pursuing God.
God doesn’t call you to that. God knows right where you are. He’s not surprised by your circumstances. He’s not surprised by the challenges, but he calls you to run the race with endurance. So, where you are before the Lord. Who cares what other people think? Before the Lord, are you faithful to him? That’s it. You live your life for an audience of one. And that’s what Hebrews chapter 11, Hebrews chapter 12, that’s what God’s calling you to in him. It’s faithfulness.
When you get to the end of your life, God’s not going to look at the list of everything you performed in comparison to other people and try to judge you based on those standards. He just wants to know one thing. Are you faithful? Did you come to Jesus, trust in Jesus? Just walk with Jesus. This run of endurance, what these cloud of witnesses are saying to us that God is able. What he calls you to, God is able. Just place a trust. He says, “Put your eyes on Jesus. Don’t compare to these other things. Put your eyes on Jesus.”
Here’s how you know you can do it, because Christ came in the flesh and Christ lived it. Verse 3 and 4, that’s what it said, Christ lived this out in the flesh. He lived what it was like to be a man, so we know it’s possible. He’s demonstrated that in his life. And then he says this beautiful thing for us in chapter 12, verses 5 to 11, we looked at last week. He’s talking about this idea of discipline, which is a scary, freaky word, if I’m being honest. Use the word discipline, and I’ll talk about all the other Godly topics. I am not signing up for discipline, God.
But what discipline is actually saying is maturity. Discipline doesn’t have to be bad. God loves you where you are, and God loves you too much to leave you there. God wants to do a miraculous work in your life, in your heart. So, for us, it’s about surrendering to this king to let him do it in us. It’s not by our strength. And so he compares it, and this verse says, to this thought of a father coming alongside of a child.
When you think about parenting a kid, as a parent it’s not about winning the little battles. It’s about the overall war. It’s about looking to where you want your child to be in the future. What kind of man or woman do you want them to be? So, you’re training them towards that ultimate goal. Sometimes you give in to battles to win the war, right? And so this is God walking with us as a loving father side by side. So, when he calls us to run this race, he’s not saying, “Good luck. You’re on your own. I don’t care. In the end, I’ll tell you if you fail or not.” He wants to walk with you.
And so in verse 12, this important passage, this is where we’re going to pick up. In verse 12, he says, “Therefore …” He gives us another summary word, so the first 11 verses are running this race, and it’s everything God wants you to know about your position in him. So, this is where God’s meeting you in running this race.
And now in verse 12, he’s saying, “Now let’s run this. This is how we want you to do it.” He’s going to give you five ways to run this race in this passage, but this is where he starts, “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble. Make straight the paths for your feet so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” So, he’s saying, “Get up.”
Life can take it out of you. It can. But here’s where we got to put our eyes. We got to put our eyes on Jesus and understand where God meets us in this running with endurance, and you’ve got to get up. God is with you. He knows where you are. Get up. And he’s saying in this passage that as we get up as God’s people, we make these paths straight. The limbs which are lame may not be put out of joint, but rather, they’re healed.
Here’s what I think happens, guys. When God starts working in us as we’ve given our lives to him and we see him moving, sometimes we find ourselves in different positions in the body of Christ. Sometimes we’re on mountaintops. We feel strong. Sometimes we feel weak. But you know what happens when God’s doing something in the life of a believer and they start to just acknowledge it? People are encouraged by the way God heals and the way God works and the way God moves, and it just breathes life to the body. That’s a beautiful thing.
We’ve been doing baptisms over the last few weeks of people that have talked about what God’s done in their lives and how beautiful that is, how encouraging. See in this valley God working, and as we move together, we just think about the hope of all that comes in Christ because of what he’s doing. What Jesus does in our … It’s a walking miracle. So, he says, “Make these paths straight and let God work.” Just get up, and we’re running with him who is a father.
And then he starts to list off these five ways that we should run as believers and how to set this trajectory. This is what he says, “Pursue peace with all men.” Pursue peace with all men. What a beautiful word. Pursue peace. If you just let that thought, there’s just two words to set in your soul. I think as human beings, we crave for that. I just want peace. If everyone would just do what I wanted to do, then we would have it. Right? If you don’t see the fallacy in that statement, then I can tell you you’re the problem.
Pursuing peace, and this idea of pursuing literally means strive. This is something we’re working toward. And sometimes when we think about the word peace … I want to be careful with the perception that we have about peace because sometimes we look at peace, and we’re like, yeah, the person that we call pansy. Being someone of peace, you’re just a pushover, and you just want to slide everything under the rug and make sure everyone gets equal treatment, which we do want equality as people who were created in the image of God. But let’s just get along. Can’t we all just get along? Who cares? We’ll just give in to the bad bully so that we can just have peace.
If that’s your picture of peace, yes, that’s a pretty pansy picture of peace, but that’s not Biblical peace. When you think about peace and the idea of striving for peace, it’s saying we’re working towards something. And I’m just being honest when we think about this, that when we talk about Biblical peace, it takes a strong individual to live that out. In fact, Jesus said it like this in Matthew 5. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” And sometimes we think about pansy peace, we read it like this, “Blessed are the peacekeepers. Guys, don’t fight. Let’s just be nice.”
That’s not what Jesus was saying at all. He’s not saying you’re keeping the peace. He’s saying you’re strong enough to make the peace. That’s a completely different concept, and the idea or the perception it creates for us as being peacemakers versus peacekeepers. Peacemakers are not wimps. I think peacemakers have to carry a bit of a meekness with them, but if you think being meek is weak, try being meek for a week. I’m a poet and didn’t know it. Right?
Blessed are the peacemakers. You know why? Because this peace is rooted in something. Peace isn’t just about let’s just be good or let’s not work through struggles or you have your truth and I have mine. The idea of peace in this context in scripture is rooted in an identity from where it comes, and that identity is in the gospel.
So, he’s saying in this passage that we’re called to pursue peace with all men. And so when you think about the idea of peace, the context from which we pursue it is all men, and if we know something about all men, not all men are interested in peace. And yet, God calls us to that. The idea is we can’t force peace. You can lay the road for it. In the book of Romans it says it like this for us. It says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Sometimes it’s unattainable between two individuals because someone else just isn’t interested in it. When it comes to being a believer, the attitude that we carry is that we make it hard for people to hate us, that we aren’t the problem. Rather, we are the gospel. We live the gospel. We don’t throw mud.
Some people are unhealthy. And if you’re a peacekeeper, you tolerate it. You just let them be, but in tolerating it, it doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help them, it doesn’t help the people around you. What God calls us to is to make peace. We come to the situation, we say, ‘Look. I’m not going to contribute to what this is, but here’s where we’re called to. This is the path of making peace.”
We’re called to making peace. It’s meaning we lay the foundation or we pave the road for reconciliation in the circumstance. We don’t necessarily give in to the demands of someone else, because what they’re living in may not be healthy. So, we can’t make peace with everyone, but we certainly don’t shut the door for the opportunity for God to let the gospel work in their lives.
Do you know who does this beautifully? Jesus. Peace was a mark of the gospel. Jesus says, “I love you,” and Jesus still calls out sin. Some of the craziest things in scripture when you read. The Pharisees get so mad at Jesus, but the people that are hanging out with Jesus tells you are the sinners, the drunkards, the prostitutes, the tax collectors. They were attracted to Jesus.
Jesus didn’t shy away from the truth that made for peace in relationship to him, and he still loved them deeply. In their lives, there was the attraction to who Christ was because he valued their identity. In our lives, what we end up doing because people don’t agree with us is we not just disagree with the idea, but we diminish the person.
Leading the path for peace, God calls us to be peacemakers. In fact, it says this in 1 Peter 2. By the way, this first point I want to tell you, I want to spend more time on this idea of peace because it carries the concept through in this passage. But 1 Peter 2, it says this, “Keeping your behavior excellent among the Gentiles in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds as they observe them glorify God on the day of visitation.”
What you see Peter calling them to is … Look. He knows people are not going to pursue peace. He knows that the world is going to stand in opposition, but God’s people seek and pursue things that make peace to the point that they make it hard for people to hate them, and those people are able to see the glory of who God is. Peacemakers, to be a peacemaker, you have to come to serve for the benefit of others, and the truth is it’s found because of your confidence in your position before God. Make peace.
Why peace? Because for us, peace isn’t just about being calm. Peace is about reconciliation. You put it in the context of our world today, I’m going to probably turn on the TV some time this evening and I’m probably going to watch some football, and you can’t help but think Jesus is sure being clouded in the last year or two over just some controversial things, people arguing back and forth about positions and certain things. I find myself, I’m just being frankly put in the middle of a context.
I find myself as a person looking at this position and saying, “I don’t like racism, and I like honoring people.” And people throwing these two positions together, can I tell you the thing that heals all of it? The thing that brings truth to everything? We could go on in our country today, Democrat, Republican, Hilary, Trump, Russia and on. Right? Just pick it. Everyone’s got opinions and your opinion’s going to fix it. Right? But do you know what really heals all of that? At the end of the day, if one of those sides wins, do you think that’s the cure? Temporarily, it might bring relief, but can I tell you what heals it all? It’s the gospel. It’s the gospel.
Government isn’t the ultimate hope, guys. You are really into racism? How about the one who created us equally in him? It’s not the social issue that’s going to win. That social issue will only be as good as the people that promote the gospel behind it, because it’s God who defines the purpose for our existence and the identity that we have as people. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the issue.
I’m not saying issues aren’t important. I’m not saying that. But the issues aren’t what drive it. It’s truth. You can always get to the end of those issues, but that issue wins, you can be like, so what? Why? Why is that important? Why is that important? Where is the foundation for why this is important? And just doing it because gives you no foundation for it to ultimately matter in the end. It’s the gospel. It’s the gospel. It is.
It’s what gives us the ability to understand what it means to honor people because we’re created in the image of God. It’s the ability in racial tension in the lives of people, because we’re all created as one people. There’s only one race in scripture. It’s the human race. There’s different ethnicities, but it’s the gospel, the gospel that unites all of it for us. So, this idea of pursuing peace carries the thought of just knowing in our mind what makes for peace for us is the gospel. So, this word peace is rooted in the gospel.
And I think even in our context, some people don’t like the majority of their community, things that happen around them. Rather than love people, we bash them. Rather than build bridges and share the gospel of peace, we tear them down and make war. Guys, it’s Biblical to love people regardless of where they are and to serve them for the sake of the gospel. That’s the only thing that changes hearts.
That’s what changes yours with Jesus. You were an enemy of God, and he made the way for peace. You think about people that irk you or get you tense, and you think about what Jesus says to us in scripture. I may not have it. Oh, man, I don’t. Jesus says in Matthew 5:43, he says, “Love your enemies. Pray for those persecuted.” Love your enemies.
It’s the idea of making peace, and so let me just say this bluntly and move on. But, therefore, if you call yourself a follower of Jesus and you have no want or desire to love and care for the people around you, let me just ask two things. One, be honest with God where your heart is. When God calls you to be a peacemaker, just be honest in that struggle. Two, if you have no concern in being honest before God over the word in your own heart, you have no care or concern for the people around you, you’d rather bash them than serve them, go worship somewhere else.
Now let me say, guys, I say that for the sake of believers. So, if you’re in a place where you’re questioning and challenging and wanting to live in scripture, good. If you call yourself a follower of Christ and you’re more interested in tearing the people down around you than to lovingly serve them and make peace, for the health of the church, worship somewhere else.
I care about this community. I care about their hearts. God doesn’t call us to fight against them. God calls us to fight for them. The people in this world, they’re not the deceivers. They’re the deceived. If you have the gospel that lays the foundation for reconciliation with God, make peace. You look at this passage and you think about running, my heart … In this verse, just look at it and say, “God, please, please let this be me. I know I’m not perfect, but, God, do not let my heart run from these words. And these words can be painful, these words can be hard. God, I want to quit running.”
And then verse 12:13 says, “Get up. Make peace.” Make peace. And then he says it like this in the rest of the passage. He says, “Pursue peace with all men and the sanctification with which no one will see the Lord.” This idea of sanctification is the word for holiness or set apart. So, let me put it like this for you. You want to know what I think about this verse? Nobody? Does anybody want to know what I think about this verse?
Okay. What I think about this verse is it doesn’t matter what I think about this verse, but when we talk about running after the Lord, what it means is, God, what do you think? Right? And so this idea of sanctification and holiness is saying, who cares what Nathaniel thinks for a minute? In our culture today, we base a lot of theology off of how we feel. It’s this post-modern existential way of thinking. You define your own truth and reality.
But the problem with that is, is we didn’t create it. And if we didn’t create it, we shouldn’t be defining it. And if you want to step into a healthy pattern of living in this life, it doesn’t start with you. It starts with God. And so rather than … Sorry, I baited all you guys to say yes there, that said yes.
But rather than caring about what I think, this idea of sanctification which no one will see the Lord, is saying to us, look. Holiness is setting apart your heart for Christ. So, it starts with God, what do you think? Pursuing peace, setting apart myself for your glory? Otherwise, no one will see the Lord? So, my heart surrendered in this thought for you, God. And then he goes in these last three things, he talks about in the beginning, it’s you and what you’re pursuing, so this idea of peace, setting yourself apart, laying down your life that God can work through you.
And now he talks about external to where you are. In verse 15 he says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.” See to it means to oversee. Oversee that this happens. We all have this responsibility. This is where you’re looking. Oversee for everyone around you. You kind of oversee that no one fails or falls short to see the grace of God.
There was an emperor, fourth century, Emperor Julian. Thinking about Christians and the grace of God, he said about Christianity … He was alive from 330 to 363. He referred to Christianity as atheism, believe it or not. It’s kind of a unique thing for Christianity, but in the first century, Christians only worshiped one God. In Rome that has tons and tons of gods, when you look at a Christian only worshiping one God, they got referred to as atheists quite often.
And so he says this, “Atheism, or Christian faith, has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well, while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”
What Julian is saying is the Christian community got so good at caring for people and the grace of God that was bestowed to them, that they even started to care for people outside of their community, so much so that the people outside of the community didn’t need to turn anywhere else and it was a shame to them because the Christians oversaw this. Let me say it like this. If you think there’s someone around you that doesn’t deserve the grace of God, you don’t understand grace. By definition, it’s meriting favor that we do not deserve.
There isn’t a person in this room that got to where you are today apart from grace. And so for us, we understand that this is the root of the gospel, that God’s grace meets us in our darkest places and heals our grievous needs. And so we oversee the idea of his grace in this world. We aren’t surprised when people act in sin because we know our own heart. We’re sinful, but God’s grace renews us every day. That well never runs dry, and as people, we have opportunity to emulate and share it.
I love how he then talks about this grace, and then he shares this next thought against that, because when we go serving in this world and you extend his grace, what often can happen to us is what happens in this next part. It says this, “That no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble and by it many be defiled.” This is so important.
And when you do ministry, you’ll meet people that rub you wrong. People will take advantage. And when you care about a soul and that soul is in a place that needs help, sometimes you get to those places because you’ve taken advantage. And so as you minister in those arenas with people that are sinful, people will disappoint you.
And then what happens? It can make you bitter. You help somebody out and they take advantage, and the next time a different person steps in and you say to yourself, “Oh, I’ve already seen how this goes.” Root of bitterness comes in. You start projecting future failures on past experiences and assuming things, and so that attitude of bitterness just takes root in your heart, and really, Satan uses that to prohibit you from all the hope that God can bring in the life of the people around you.
The people in this context, they’re going to go through persecution. They’re going to suffer. In fact, we looked at it in previous chapters, in chapter 10, where they saw friends going to jail. They had the loss of their possessions, their property. Opportunity for the root of bitterness. It says in this passage, “It will spread.”
If you looked at it in the context of Ephesians 4, it says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.” This is actually a building of what happens with bitterness. This is why it becomes so toxic for people. You get bitter and it starts with anger and clamor and wrath and gets all the way to the point of malice. And malice literally means in the Greek, physical harm.
At first, it roots in your heart. Then it comes out in your vocabulary and you start spewing the toxin till you just sock somebody in the face. Then it contrasts it. We contrast that thought in verse 32, “But rather, do this. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as Christ has also forgiven you.” If you get bitter, I think what happens to us first is we start to get cynical, and the cynicism, negativity can come out.
You know what’s interesting about cynical people? Cynicism doesn’t exist in people because they didn’t care. Cynicism really is a reflection at some point, you did care. You just got burnt. And in this passage, he then calls us to step into this. So, if being bitter and cynical is about past failures on future successes, we live in the past, the answer to that is, yes, the world has problems, but before you can start taking the step out of cynicism, here’s what you got to do. You got to live in the solution.
You ever meet those people that are like, you want to do something but they want to tell you 500 problems of everything that’s going to go wrong? That’s great, you know what the 500 problems are. I’m not looking for the 500 problems. I’m looking for the path of success. And all those problems now that you’ve got that identified, and sometimes we have to work with that, it’s good to know what causes a problem so you can prevent it in the future, but here’s the step. What’s the solution? How do you move forward in the solution.
And that’s what he’s saying in verse 32. He’s talking about words that are words of solution here. But can I tell you what the solution is? You’ve already seen it in Hebrews. Fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith as you serve a big God full of power and hope. So, get up. Start risking again over what a big God can do. And as you serve, listen, our motivation, sometimes we can project expectations on people and we see them fall short.
Then the failure of that, we get jaded by that and get cynical by that, but our goal, our goal in serving God is never about people. It’s about honoring him. Our goal is about pleasing him. We don’t live our life based on what people do or don’t do. We pursue people in ministry. Ministry exists for people. But it’s regardless of what they do. It’s always about glorifying him. The goal is always about him. And so people are going to sometimes embrace it, sometimes people are going to reject it.
But if you live your life for an audience of one, either way, it’s not going to matter because before the Lord, you’ve been faithful. God’s not putting on you the ability to change their heart. And don’t wear that. You don’t have the power to change someone else’s heart. Just walk in the solution. It’s not changing them. It’s living for Jesus. It’s faithful.
How do you do that? Well, he tells us not to do this, but, look. It’s kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as Christ has also forgiven you. Look. Jesus could have been bitter about you. You don’t always do what he wants you to do. Right? And thank you, God, you’re not, because he keeps moving towards a solution in your life. He keeps promoting that gospel in us.
And I got to move on. One more thing. This last thought, he says to us in verse 16, “Let there be no immoral or Godless person like Esau who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”
I like this last thought in the example, because this really becomes an examination for us. Because we could talk and be like, “Do you like peace?” “Yes, I like peace. I live for peace.” “Do you like holiness?” “Yes, I like holiness.” “Do you like grace?” “Yes.” “Do you want to be bitter?” “I’m not bitter. I don’t want to be cynical. And so, therefore, I’m Godly.”
Then he gives this last illustration. It’s sort of a testing ground. And when he talks about in verse 16 that there be no immoral or Godless behavior, or person, he’s actually … That word for immoral is actually the [foreign language 00:35:52] where we get the same word for porno or pornography. And he compares that to Esau. The stories are in Genesis 25 and 27 if you want to read it. But what made Esau’s life, what drove Esau’s life was instantaneous gratification, where he puts himself first and he sells his birthright.
In an existential culture in which we live, our tendency is to become the definers of our own reality. And when we wake up every day, we start with this question. What will make me most happy? And then we pursue that. In the end, we find really no joy in the people around us either, but no ultimate joy anyway.
But that’s what this is. This is defining existential behavior. And to put it in context, he just puts it in sexuality for us. And again, it goes back to the thought, who defines? Who defines what’s right or wrong? Because when it comes to living our lives the way God has created us to, you didn’t create sexuality. God did. And the one who creates it defines it. Now that’s a difficult statement, because I know in humanity we have struggles, or you can compromise it to define it in three ways, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life.
Everyone in this room, everyone in this room has to work through and struggle through sexuality in some way because there’s always a temptation to go outside of what God calls us to. There always is. There isn’t a person in this room in some way … If you can’t think of your way, you can come ask me. I can tell you whatever is. Hey, whatever you know in your context, I can just … Everyone has to … Heterosexual male, attract to the opposite sex. God calls you to define that sexuality in the context of boundaries. Everyone has to.
Let me ask it like this. Just to be consistent with this, guys, is rape wrong? It’s kind of an easy one, right? Hopefully, we all say yes. Rape is wrong. What if someone comes to me this morning and says, “No. I believe rape’s right. I believe in existentialism as my truth, so you define it for you and I’ll define it for me.” What are we going to appeal to to help that person understand rape is wrong? Existentialism? Well, he thinks it’s right. Define your own reality.
When we’re not careful in our society, we let people do it that way, that’s the path it leads to. You don’t define truth that way. When someone’s seriously thinking that rape could be right and you’re trying to argue it wrong, you’ve got to go outside yourself to an objective truth to appeal to, right? So, when we think this way, let’s just be consistent with the way we define sexuality.
What about bestiality? Again, what if someone comes to you and says, “Well, I think it’s right,” what do you appeal to to show it’s wrong? What about pornography? What about sex outside of marriage? Where do you stand on homosexuality? Look, when you talk about sexuality, the point is to be consistent. At no point are we the definers of that reality. God is.
But the picture in all of this is for us to examine our heart, right here. What do you allow to define your identity? Because he appeals to this because he knows, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life. In these three degrees, we struggle and sexuality’s a big part of it. We make sexuality our identity, and we live in that impulse for our own pleasure.
And so he’s saying here in this passage that there be no immoral morality among you like Esau. Esau sold his birthright. He gave in to sensuality because that sensuality demonstrated what Esau was pursuing in his life. If everyone would do what I want to do, then we’d just all be happy, right? What we said in the beginning.
What he’s saying to us in this context is that the sexuality is a demonstration of what is ultimately leading your heart. It’s a good litmus test to saying when it comes to peace, holiness, grace, bitterness, how do you know if God’s gauging life, if God’s leading your life? Well, just think about this area of sexuality. What do you surrender to? Run the race that’s before you. Are you surrendered to God and serving others for his glory? Or do we put our desires first?
We end every segment with a picture of church history, but let’s define church history today as it relates to you, because running this race is about your time to run. How are you running? What are you running for? At the end of all these weeks of going into church history and I’ve taken a leader that’s made an impact in church history and I’ve given a quote, sort of a quote that summarized what their life was about.
Because at the end of your life, what will be your quote? What’s your life about? If people hear you follow Jesus, are they shocked by that? Or is this consistent with who you are? When God calls us to run this race, he calls us to be peacemakers, set apart from him, extending the grace to the hills. Not walking in bitterness, cynicism, but to the hope that rests in Christ. Not given to our own sensuality that leads but surrendering ourselves for the cause of Christ.
And why can we do that? Because all before us have gone, individuals who have walked by faith in Christ, and their witness to us has demonstrated God is able to do that in you and through you. As a father loves a child, so God walks beside you. Don’t let Satan sideline you to the circumstances that you endure, but point to a greater and stronger hope that you have in Christ.