The Marks of a Christian; Behavior Modification
(Honoring God in the Family)
Heb. 13:1-8 July 20, 1997
Scripture: Unison Reading, Hebrews 13:1-8, page #1878-79, Pew Bible
Remember when you were a child and your parents sent you off to a week at camp or to stay with some relative? What were the final instructions you received? Did it go something like this?, “Now Johnny, don’t forget to stay out of fights and be kind, and don’t forget to wash behind your ears, and mind your manners. Obey your elders and for heavens sake, don’t steal anything this time. Remember, God is watching even if we’re not.”
It is kind of like that here as the writer of Hebrews ends his message to the Hebrew Christians. He has given them absolute truth about the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as the revealer and mediator of God’s grace. That is, grace is seen in Christ and applied through Christ. Now in an apparently disconnected way he commands them about how this should play out in their lives as part of the Christian family. But it is not as disconnected as it may seem. In verses 1-8, this moral advice covers the various aspects of social, private and religious life that should be the distinguishing marks of how Christians live together. Because of the truth they know, their behavior should follow. When your parents told you to mind your behavior because it would either credit or discredit the family name, so it is here. A Christian modifies his behavior to glorify God within the family of God. And it goes without saying, before a watching world.
Speaking of behavior modification, did you read this week about Dennis (the worm) Rodman who has gone into All Star Wrestling with Hulk Hogan? He said he figured people would enjoy watching him get slammed and twisted around since they thought he had some of this coming to him. I suppose he’s right, but I wonder if it will make any difference. He played basketball like that too. Dennis seems to get off on doing his own thing, but in the wrestling arena he might meet some others who are also just doing their own thing. About every aberration of mankind rears it ugly head in professional wrestling. Every once in a while things do seem to balance out in life. And the highest and best use for a worm is probably for bait.
You know, there is a lesson here, that if we don’t think anything of ourselves, others won’t either. And how we behave reflects what we think. A major lesson in Hebrews is the infinite value of the believer to God. We can be certain of this because of who Christ is (God in the flesh as man) and what Christ did (died on the cross to save us from sin) to bring us to God. All people ultimately desire to be significant, secure, and sufficient. That is, to be worthwhile, safe, and adequate. We desire this because we are made in the image of God. We are all those things in Christ. The writer of Hebrews has tried to correct our thinking, and now he takes it the rest of the way toward modifying our behavior. Those Christ has died for cannot continue to live for themselves. There must be concern for others, faith in action, and love at work. Others are just as valuable as we are.
I. Social Life (vv. 1-3)
A. Brotherly love: God’s family holds to a common origin.
Combines two basic ideas:
1. The exercise of family love
2. The adoption of a family relationship
This relationship is irrespective of race and culture.
There is the sense in which we are all related by blood and potentially related by spirit.
Ro 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
1Th 4:9 ¶ Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.
1Pe 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
Ps 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
1Jo 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
1Jo 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
If a weakening of faith and resolve among the recipients of this epistle led to a weakening of the bonds which united them to their fellow-Christians, this would add urgency to the plea that brotherly love should continue among them.
The following relate to several aspects of this family relationship.
B. Hospitality: God’s family considers others as potential members.
1. It is a means of friendship.
2. It is a means of influence.
Ro 12:13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
1Pe 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
It is better to assume that guests are angels and to act accordingly rather than risk treating worthy people unworthily.
All believers are like angels in the future sense.
Mt 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
To entertain a stranger makes no stranger but a friend.
Some visitors may prove to be true messengers of God to us, bringing greater blessing than they receive, (Gen. 18; Judges 13).
Sheldon’s book, “In His Steps.”
We may be entertaining angels without knowing it at our church picnic.
Guideposts Article: about black female angel that nursed sickly child.
Levels of hospitality: brothers, strangers, angels, prisoners, outcasts.
But it all honors God.
C. Empathy: God’s family remembers those who are hurting.
1. It is an identification in spirit.
2. It is a potential identification in fact.
Why empathize? Because -
Eccl. 9:11b; ---but time and chance happen to them all.
Either it could be me, or it used to be me.
There is a brotherhood of man, but especially of believers.
We must understand our common struggle to overcome the fallen nature both in ourselves and in others.
If one member suffers, we all suffer together.
1Cor. 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 ¶ Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
A capacity for putting oneself in another’s place and exercising imaginative sympathy is part of true charity. This same imaginative sympathy should be extended to all who are ill-treated; those who are themselves in the body are in a position to imagine how they would feel if the same ill-treatment were meted out to them.
II. Private Life (vv. 4-6) (Covet = Desire ardently, crave, long for.)
A. Marriage: God’s families stay intact.
1. Intact families come from intact marriages.
2. Intact marriages honor God because it is a covenant relationship ordained by God.
3. Sexual sin defiles God’s image and God’s covenant (even potential covenant - fornication) and will be judged.
The consequences of these sins in this life is judgment from God because he has warned us of such consequences. Since he told us that these sins are their own punishment in destroyed lives, then that is judgment. Those families who sin sexually will self destruct aside from the grace of God.
Eph. 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-- such a man is an idolater-- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
Col. 3:5 ¶ Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
This all has a strange relevance to our modern permissive society in which the institution of marriage is being increasingly challenged.
Louisiana covenant marriage law:
There is no shame in being naked with your spouse because you are one flesh (Gen. 2:23-25).
B. Money: God’s families recognize true wealth in each other.
1. God’s people know that the other family members bought with the blood of Jesus are more expensive than worldly possessions.
2. We are called upon to love our families more than money.
a. Your spouse is priceless.
b. Your children, and future children, are priceless.
3. To sell our bodies to sin dishonors all holiness (1Cor. 6:15-20).
Lu 12:15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Php 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Php 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
1Ti 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1Ti 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
1Ti 6:8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
1Ti 6:9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Mt 6:31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
Mt 6:32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Mt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The menace of materialism is the root of all evils (1Tim 6:10).
The love of created things more than God is idolatry.
How is sexual sin like a love of money? They are both greed and covetousness resulting from a lack of contentment in God’s provision. He is the content of our contentment. We can trust him to supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19) material and physical as well as spiritual.
The chief pang which pierces the heart of the lover of money is gnawing anxiety. The greedy person can never be happy, but the opposite of covetousness is contentment.
C. Contentment: God’s families depend on God.
1. God’s people know he will provide their needs since they are his family.
2. God’s people know they have no cause to sin.
3. God’s people know they have no cause to fear.
4. God’s people are content with God’s provision knowing he gives the strength to be content in any situation.
Contentment is an attitude of mind based on the character of God, especially on his unfailing presence.
It involves a positive recognition that money is relative.
It is not a passive acceptance of the inevitable but an active faith in God’s provision.
Radio Bible Class article on contentment:
III. Religious Life (vv. 7-8)
A. Honor: God’s family remembers their leaders.
In ch. 11 we saw the faith of those in earlier generations, but here we see those of a more recent past whose lives are in more vivid remembrance.
These are leaders who established this present community of believers.
What they had done, their followers could also do.
They offer a pattern for succeeding generations.
1. Their words
2. Their lives
3. Their faith
B. Victory: God’s family remembers its champion.
If Christ worked for them, he will work for you.
These leaders had died, but their Christ was not dead.
They were no longer available for consultation and wise guidance, but Christ, by contrast, was always available and unchanging.
1. Christ is the object of godly leaders’ words, lives, faith
2. Christ is the same for each generation
It is fitting that the idea of divine changelessness which occurs at the beginning of the letter (v. 1:12) should find a place at the end.
a. Yesterday = a past sacrifice
b. Today = a present intercession
c. Forever = a future consummation
Timeless Truth: Jesus Christ - He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. You can act on it.
The Marks of a Christian; Behavior Modification
Honoring God in the Family
Heb. 13:1-8 July 20, 1997
I. Social Life (vv. 1-3)
A. Brotherly love: God’s family holds to a common o _ _ _ _ _ .
B. Hospitality: God’s family considers others as potential
m _ _ _ _ _ _ .
C. Empathy: God’s family remembers those who are h _ _ _ _ _ _.
II. Private Life (vv. 4-6)
A. Marriage: God’s families stay i _ _ _ _ _ .
B. Money: God’s families recognize true w _ _ _ _ _ in each other.
C. Contentment: God’s families d _ _ _ _ _ on God.
III. Religious Life (vv. 7-8)
A. Honor: God’s family remembers their l _ _ _ _ _ _ .
B. Victory: God’s family remembers its c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .
Timeless Truth: Jesus Christ - He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. You can a _ _ on it.