A Verse by Verse Look at the Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 12

Jesus is Our Example

Hebrews 12 is a call to persevere looking to Christ as our example. He endured the shame of the cross to bring us into fellowship with God, in the same way we should keep our eyes on him as we run the race of life. We have received citizenship in an unshakable kingdom so let us show gratitude and offer our lives in acceptable service to Him.

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 12

Hebrews_12:1-3“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” ( Hebrews 12:1-3 )

No matter what circumstances life brings, this passage of scripture is the remedy. Whatever trials come your way, this is the key to success in the middle of it. We even have an entire chapter of faith examples preceding this to encourage us. So whatever comes, if we fix our eyes on Jesus and consider what He endured while here on Earth, we will never lose heart.

Every time I read this, I picture countless men and women lining the streets of heaven cheering for the saints still in the race. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witness who have borne testimony to the truth and have finished their course in this world. Learning from their examples, the writer encourages us to run with patient endurance the race marked for us.

He mentions two things to get rid of, so we can run well. First, he says to strip off and throw aside everything that weighs us down, hinders or encumbers us. This could be fear, this could be excuses, it could be a lot of things. This is unnecessary weight and we are to throw it aside and leave it. Secondly, we are also to remove sin that so readily entangles us. The Greek word here is hamartia, in which the first definition means ‘to be without a share in’ as well as ‘to miss the mark, to err, to be mistaken’. Given the context of faith examples in this passage the writer is talking about unbelief. We are to get rid of any unbelief as it clings and entangles and it hinders us from running well. Remember, faith pleases God ( Hebrews 11:6 ) and it is impossible to do the things of God without faith. So to run our race, we need to get rid of unbelief so we can run with patient endurance, steadily and consistently making progress.

In the middle of life, it is easy to get distracted and off course. So we must always look to Jesus and focus on Him. The Amplified Bible paints a wonderful picture of this, “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” ( Hebrews 12:2 AMP ). We have an amazing example in Jesus, who endured the unimaginable to obtain the prize of redemption. He looked forward with joy to the cross because he knew it meant restoration for mankind. He disregarded the shame of dying a criminal's death because the outcome far surpassed it. We are to consider this in comparison to our trials so that we do not grow weary, become exhausted or lose heart.

When we focus on the example set by Jesus and fix our eyes steadfastly on him, then we will have great encouragement to faithfully continue moving forward with our mission in life, the race that is set before us, until we run through the glorious finish line. We must consider Jesus who endured such opposition and bitter hostility and yet finished what He was called to do so that we too will continue moving forward with great joy and steadfastness.

Endure Hardship as Discipline; God is Treating You As Sons (Hebrews 12:4-9)

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Hebrews 12:4-9‘In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! ” ( Hebrews 12:4-9 )

At one point in my life I was struggling with a situation at work. I felt that I had been treated unfairly. Everything I had worked for was taken away, renamed and given to another who had joined our team under interesting circumstances. To make matters worse, I felt that no one understood my position or validated the feelings of betrayal I had toward the company, toward this individual and toward my boss. It was a tumultuous time in my life both personally and professionally. I greatly struggled over the whole ordeal and after months, things did not get better, only worse.

One day, I went for a walk. While I walked I listened to scripture, it was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The words spoken were as relevant that day as they day He gave them. As I walked, His words burned holes in my chest. Each sentence spoken seemed to weigh a thousand pounds. At the end I was crying and I knew what I had to do. The Lord spoke into my heart that I needed to seek forgiveness from my boss, even though to me, I was the one who had been wronged. The Lord dealt very sternly with me, but as I responded in obedience He gave me the grace to go to my boss, ask forgiveness and then healing began.

After humbling myself, both my professional and personal life got better and I learned an important lesson. The Lord desires the finished product to be pure and refined. Although trials and the circumstances of life do not mean that the Lord causes them, He can and does use them to perfect us. Just as the writer notes in this passage in Hebrews, we should view hardship as discipline which validates our status as God’s sons and daughters.

God will speak truth to us in the midst of all circumstances in life. Sometimes, it is painful to hear but the outcome far outweighs the stretching and pain we experience in the midst. As in my example the primary way God corrects us is through His word. Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” ( II Timothy 3:16-17 ). David observed something similar in Psalm 94, “Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law” ( Psalm 94:12 ).

The word is the tool He uses to break the power of sin, pull down strongholds, correct us and train us in the way we should go. Just as our earthly fathers disciplined us in our youth so that we would turn out as good responsible adults, God also disciplines and refines us so that we are fully equipped and trained in righteousness. This is the perspective we need in the midst of all of life's circumstances.

Discipline Produces Holiness, Righteousness and Peace (Hebrews 12:10-13)

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Hebrews 12:10-13“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. ( Hebrews 12:10-13 )

Christ’s goal is to present His glorious Church to God, pure, holy and blameless. In every sense of the word this was accomplished on the cross. However humanity, being made up of a spirit, a soul and a body ( I Thessalonians 5:23 ), and still being one-third flesh in our soulish realm, will struggle in life and need correction. Just as a father disciplines his children, God will discipline us so that we will share in His holiness.

A few verses before, the writer said to endure hardship as discipline ( Hebrews 12:7 ). Although painful, the results of correction far outweigh the process of discipline. On the other side we come through refined, purified, tried and tested. The goal is to train us in righteousness, peace and holiness.

Since this process is expected and proves our sonship, it is important to understand how God will discipline. Paul told Timothy that the Word is useful for correcting and training, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” ( II Timothy 3:16-17 ). God speaks and trains us through His word. Everything needed for life and godliness comes through the knowledge of Him ( II Peter 1:3-4 ), so it only makes sense that this knowledge, through the Word, will train and correct us in the way we should go.

Paul confirmed this to the church at Ephesus, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” ( Ephesians 5:25-27 ).

Keeping this perspective in mind should allow us to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading in all things. Our responsibility is to heed His word and repent, which just means turning and going the other way. When this happens we allow righteousness, peace and holiness to dictate our lives which is the desired outcome of discipline. Just as He told the church of Laodicea, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ( Revelation 3:19-22 ).

Holiness is the Byproduct of Relationship (Hebrews 12:14)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12:14“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” ( Hebrews 12:14 )

In following the example set forth by the Lord Jesus we are to toss off everything that hinders us looking to Him as our example of perseverance and faith ( Hebrews 12:1-3 ). One way to accomplish this is to live at peace with others and to pursue holiness.

Holiness can be defined in two ways. First holiness means consecration and purification, it is the result of being set apart to God ( I Corinthians 1:30, II Thessalonians 2:13, I Peter 1:2 ). This happens when we enter into a relationship with God by faith in Jesus ( Acts 26:18, I Corinthians 6:11 ).

Paul said in Romans, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” ( Romans 6:22 ). Holiness is a byproduct of our union with Christ, it is the reward of that union. It is not through natural means that we possess this. Sanctification comes only through Christ Jesus as a gift.

Secondly, holiness is also the effect of being consecrated or being set apart. It is sanctification of our heart and what becomes evident in our daily lives through union with God. It is the outgrowth of leaving behind old desires and pursuing the things of God. Sanctification is a process for the believer ( I Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7, Romans 6:19, 22, I Timothy 2:15, Hebrews 12:14 ).

In the New Testament, the process of sanctification or holiness can be understood in these ways, first it is God’s will for the believer ( I Thessalonians 4:3 ). Secondly, it is learned by God and taught by His Word ( John 17:17-19, Psalm 17:4, 119:9 ). Next, the Holy Spirit is the agent in sanctification ( Romans 15:16, II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2, I Corinthians 6:11 ). And lastly, holiness must be pursued by the believer ( Hebrews 12:14 ). We are to be built up by obedience to the Word following the example of Christ Jesus according to the Holy Spirit who enables this change to happen.

Relationship with Christ and attention to His Word will birth holiness into the natural realm. He has already provided this by faith in Him as you were given everything needed to live as Christ in this world ( I John 4:17, Galatians 5:22-25 ). This is why, as believers, we must pursue holiness; letting His truth and life-giving Spirit change us from the inside out. Letting what is on the inside of us match what the world sees, a life set apart, sanctified and holy. Without it, others will not see the Lord working in us.

This is an amazing truth! God has sanctified us and set us apart. He has given us everything we need to live a holy life. We respond by pursuing holiness in every aspect of our walk with Him. By His Word and by His Spirit we are changed and everyone around will experience the result of our sanctification!

Cutting Down the Bitter Root With Grace (Hebrews 12:15)

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Hebrews 12 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” ( Hebrews 12:15 )

Grace does not stop being extended to mankind once they are born again. The opposite is actually true; through Jesus we receive grace upon grace ( John 1:16 ). God’s grace is continually influencing us as believers. His grace is the anchor that keeps us turned and focused on Christ, growing in faith, growing in the knowledge of God and it is what continually strengthens us in His love. Remaining steadfast in that grace protects us from harm.

One of the admonishments from the writer of Hebrews is to be on the lookout for one another; encouraging each other to remain secure in the state of grace, God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing. Grace protects our heart from allowing bitterness from situations and experiences to creep in and wreak havoc. The attitude of bitterness is likened to a bitter root that grows and produces fruit of its kind.

It is interesting that bitterness will not only affect your own life but this verse explains that when it grows it will cause trouble by defiling many. By definition defilement means to stain, to soil, to sully or to contaminate. Bitterness can overflow and take root in others very easily when unchecked and released. This is why we must pay attention to the grace of God. His grace covers a multitude of sins. His grace has the power to wash over resentment, hurt and misunderstandings so bitterness has no place to grow. His grace can replace hurt with healing, which is exactly what it will do when we let it.

In the previous verse, we are encouraged to live at peace and be holy, this verse provides a practical way in which to do this; we are to remain steadfast in God’s grace allowing it to dictate our reaction to all situations. God’s grace is what transforms us continually into the men and women He has called us to be. What an amazing truth!

Beware of Sexual Immorality (Hebrews 12:16-17)

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Hebrews 12 16-17See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears” ( Hebrews 12:16-17 )

Did you know that faith in Jesus brings you into an elite group of royal priests ( I Peter 2:5 ). Jesus bestows His righteousness to you the moment you believe ( Romans 3:21-22, II Corinthians 5:21 ). The result is that God looks at you in the same way, with the same love as He looks at His Son Jesus ( John 17:22-23, I John 4:17 ). This is incredible! Not only are we redeemed and saved from wrath and judgment but we are given the rights of sons and daughters of the Most High God ( Romans 8:15 ) and entitled to an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade ( Romans 8:17, I Peter 1:4 ).

This change happens at the moment we believe and it makes us entirely different than we once were, ( II Corinthians 5:17 ). We no longer belong to the rank of sinners; instead we belong to God as a holy and righteous people. Therefore, it is important for us to act as who we are, not what we were.

Previously, the writer of Hebrews instructed us to be holy by pursuing holiness and acting on the Word of God which gives instruction ( Hebrews 12:14 ). Now, the charge in this verse is geared specifically toward our sexual nature. As believers we are to abstain from sexual sin, because it is God’s will that we are holy ( I Thessalonians 4:3, I Peter 1:16 ).

Paul wrote specifically about this, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” ( I Corinthians 6:18-20 ). The reason the sin is committed against your own body is in the previous verse, “But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit” ( I Corinthians 6:17 ).

To help us understand this, the writer uses the example of Esau, who by tradition, rightfully owned the birthright as the oldest son,. In his lust for the physical, Esau traded this incredible blessing for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34). The Bible calls him godless and sacrilegious because of this ( Hebrews 12:16-17 ). He despised and disdained the family blessing for that which was temporary and afterwards, Isaac honored this transaction and Jacob received the blessing as rightful heir, regardless of the tears and protest of Esau ( Genesis 27:27-29, Hebrews 11:20 ).

In the same way, we are not to trade a holy relationship, defile the marriage covenant for temporary gratification of the body. God has given sex as a special thing between a husband and wife. He has given it to us, to bless us and uses the marriage relationship to illustrate His covenant with us ( Ephesians 5:25-32 ). Which is why, as believers we are to protect this from defilement and honor it our entire lives. God desires so much more for us that what is temporary; “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” ( II Corinthians 4:18 ).

You Have Come To God and Jesus The Mediator of a New Covenant (Hebrews 12:18-24)

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Hebrews 12:22-24You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear” 

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” ( Hebrews 12:18-24 )

God’s desire has always been to create a people for himself. As He assembled the Israelites together at Mount Sinai to give them the law, He told them that if they obeyed His decrees and kept His covenant they would be for Him, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ( Exodus 19:6 ). They were to be His people, a treasured possession ( Exodus 19:5 ).

At this time, the Lord had Moses assemble the entire nation to speak directly to them from a cloud so the people would hear Him and put their trust in Him, following Moses as their leader and mediator ( Exodus 19:9 ). However they were strictly warned not to touch the mountain or they would be killed ( Exodus 19:12 ). The people washed and consecrated themselves as Moses led them out, to meet face to face with God ( Exodus 19:14, 17 ).

The whole sight was terrifying ( Exodus 19:18-19, 20:18-21, Deuteronomy 4:11-12, 5:4-5), 5:22-27 ). God gave the Ten Commandments to the entire nation of Israel and afterwards they begged Moses to speak directly to God on their behalf.“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die( Exodus 20:18-19 ). They wanted Moses to mediate for them, it was such a terrifying experience that they did not want to hear directly from God because they were afraid. They told Moses “Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey” ( Deuteronomy 5:27 ).

This was how it was under the Old Covenant. God’s awesomeness was magnificent but also terrifying. Because of this, the Israelites did not wish to approach God individually they chose to let Moses speak to God on their behalf. However, we as New Testament believers have not come to a mountain burning with fire and to a sight so terrifying that we run and hide. Instead we come to the Mount Zion to the city of the living God and the perfect mediator Jesus Christ ( I Timothy 2:5).

In fact, this illustration is a perfect summary of Hebrews and the differences between the Old and New Covenants. This entire book is focused solely on Jesus Christ and the change He has made in how we approach God now that we are holy and righteous in His sight.

Unlike the Israelites who trembled at the sight and sound of God, we can boldly approach His throne and will always receive grace and acceptance  ( Hebrews 4:16, 10:19-23 ). If Abel’s blood poured out on the ground cried out to God for vengeance ( Genesis 4:10 ), Jesus’ blood poured out on the mercy seat continually speaks for grace upon grace ( Zechariah 4:7, John 1:16, Hebrews 9:12, 14, 15 ).

In light of this, we should have no fear or trepidation in coming to God the Father for anything. We should take a biblical view of what Jesus has done for us and run to Him knowing we are accepted and loved and God considers us holy and righteous. He holds us in high regard and sons and daughters. Therefore,Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” ( Hebrews 4:16 ).

So That What Cannot Be Shaken May Remain (Hebrews 12:25-27)

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Hebrews 12 26-27“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken —that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain” ( Hebrews 12:25-27 ) 

Unlike the Israelites who trembled with fear as God spoke to them from the earthly mountain, we speak directly to God, which is why it is very important to pay attention to the message. If the Israelites did not escape when God spoke to them from earth, how will we escape if we ignore what is spoken to us from His heavenly position?

At that time, His voice shook the earth and now, once again, the promise is that everything that can be shaken will be. In the end, everything created will be removed. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” ( II Peter 3:10-13 ).

Everything created will be destroyed in this way in order that what cannot be shaken may remain for eternity. As believers we have been given a kingdom that cannot be shaken or removed ( Ephesians 1:13-14, Hebrews 12:28 ). Which is why we must pay attention to what God is speaking to us; so that the things in our lives that need to be removed can be, now

His desire has always been to create a holy and righteous people for himself ( Exodus 19:5-6, I Peter 2:9-10 ). Entering into this community was accomplished by Jesus and we enter into this standing by faith. We have been given the Holy Spirit as a guide and helpmate to show us the Father and to remind us of what He had said.

Jesus, when preparing the disciples for the things that would come, gave instruction about the Holy Spirit ( John 16 ). He made it very clear what His role would be in the believer’s life. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you” ( John 16:13-15 ). His function is to relay God’s message to us and to make known God’s will for our lives.

The more we heed the voice and direction of God in our lives, the more the strongholds and struggles of this world wash away so we will be the people that God has invited us to be. We have been called into a life of transformation ( II Corinthians 5:17 ) which is why we must pay attention to the words spoken to us each day. Throughout this process we will find grace to help us and in return we will be changed and what remains, will last for eternity to the praise and glory of God. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” ( Hebrews 12:28-19 ).