Our studies this week are
going to take us through Hebrews 12 and 1 John.
Before we get there, it would be good to understand how sin works and
how it affects us. We will use two
Scriptures for this: James 1:12-17 and Ephesians 4:17-20. Today we will examine James. From James 1:12, what shall we do when we are tried
(tested)? What does testing do to our
faith (verse 3
and 4)? Where do these trials come from (Hebrews 12:7; 1
Peter 1:7)? Who causes you
to go through these trials? Now read James 1:13-17. Do temptations come from the same place as
our trials? Who is at fault when we are
tempted? What happens if we don’t flee
from the temptation? What is the goal
of temptation? Read 1 Corinthians
10:13, 14; Genesis 4:7. Is
it possible to conquer the temptation?
Can you master it? Draw a
comparative list between trials and temptations. List the differences in origin, purpose, effects, and goals. Temptations should never bring joy
to you and are not designed to test your faith. Trials are not to be avoided or mastered. They are designed to help you grow and
become strong in your faith. Trials
always bring about righteousness and joy if you persevere and are trained by
them. If you persevere in your
temptations (follow them through) however, you will bring about bitterness,
sadness, lack of self-control and eventually, death.
Let’s look at the second
passage that thoroughly teaches us about the workings of sin. Read Ephesians 4:17-20. Think of “Gentiles” as people in the world, without Christ. Where does the trouble start—in how we are thinking about things or in our
circumstances? What do people usually blame,
their thinking or their circumstances? Verses 18
describe the vortex of sinful addiction—Satan’s
Master Plan of Deception. How many
do you know that are caught up in this?
You’re not caught up in any of this, right? Be honest and earnest and repent (Revelation 3:19)! How does understanding get darkened? How can you eventually become separated from
the life of God? Where does the
ignorance come from? How does the heart
get hardened (Hebrews
3:7-13)? What does hardening
of the heart produce (Ephesians 4:19)?
Is there any way out of this dilemma without Jesus? Is there any hope of forgiveness from a
guilty conscience without the forgiveness from Christ (1 Peter 3:21)? This sinful vortex is what is present in our
fleshly minds from our first sin. Even
when we become Christians, there are elements of this way of thinking still in
us. Why do you think Paul addresses
this? We must get rid of this way of
12:1-3)! This is what Paul
is going to address now in Ephesians 4:20ff. Read it carefully and learn how to be made new in your
attitude and way of thinking! You
certainly will not and have not gotten to know Jesus by the ways of the
world! Why then, would you still live
like one in the world?
Now that we have spoken about
sin, let’s continue our studies in dealing with it effectively using Hebrews 12.
The writer of Hebrews outlines 3 points to deal radically with the sin
that so easily entangles. Point #1: Cut it off! Throw it off! Get rid of it! Quit cold
turkey! Gradual termination doesn’t
work. It only increases your appetite
for sensual indulgence (Colossians 2:23). Jesus said it clearly in Matthew 5:29, 30. Throw it away! Point
#2: Run with perseverance the race of holiness, which is away from sin! Hebrews 12:2-4 teaches what our motivation needs
to be throughout the race: 1- Fix your
eyes on Jesus. 2- Consider how He
handled opposition, not with worldly weapons, but with the weapons of love (2 Corinthians
10:3-5; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
3- Have you resisted to the point of shedding your blood? Your faithful study of Scriptures,
attendance to fellowship (Hebrews 10:23-25) and treatment of the brethren
point out whether or not you are running with perseverance. Point #3: Endure hardship as discipline.
1- Don’t make light of the way God is disciplining you by complaining or
bickering. 2- Don’t lose heart when
things get tough! Trials are a show of
God’s love for you (Hebrews 12:5-11)! 3- You are made holy through trials.
Hebrews 12:12-16 deals with preventive
maintenance once you have gotten out of the vortex of sin’s
deceitfulness. Three points are offered
for exhortation in this area. Point
#1: Strengthen your body, soul, spirit and mind. Be an all-around healthy person!
This involves powerful self-control, a gift of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7).
Point #2: Make level paths for your feet. Walk on the solid
ground of faith, not on the sinking
ground of sight! Don’t turn
growth opportunities into temptations because of your lack of self-control or
pride. Use sober judgement! Point #3: Make every effort to live
in peace and to be holy. Hebrews 12:15-16
offers insight into point #3. 1- Get
rid of all bitterness. 2- Don’t be
sexually immoral. Both of these destroy
relationships and compromise peace and holiness, respectively.