Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

My Brotherís Keeper
Pastor Steve Schell
Hebrews 12:15-17
The author says that while pursuing peace and holiness (v 14) believers also ought to be “carefully watching” (observing, caring for, visiting) in order to prevent three distinct categories of sin: 1) anyone falling behind from the grace of God; 2) any troubling bitterroot growing up; and 3) any fornication (all forms of illicit sexual behavior) or unholy person (profane, spiritually unacceptable to God, defiled, impure) like Esau who in order to eat gave up his rights of the firstborn. Before we examine the meaning of each we should note the overall principle he is applying here. He’s saying to all believers, “Remember, you are responsible for the faith of others.” This means when we observe someone struggling we should do what we can to help. It’s not enough to strengthen only my own “hands” and “knees” (v 12), I am commanded to do the same for others. Though he doesn’t specifically list ways he wants this done, fulfilling this command would undoubtedly include such responses as prayer, confrontation, teaching, encouragement—all of which would require that we make room in our busy lives for someone else. Of course, this must be done wisely and at the leading of the Lord, but the point here is that we are indeed our “brother’s keeper” (Ge 4:9). Obedience here begins by accepting our responsibility to lovingly watch for those headed in the wrong direction and to do what we can to restore them (Gal 6:1, 2).

A. Why am I to watch?
1) Genesis 4:9
2) Leviticus 19:9-18 “love your neighbor…”
3) Luke 10:25-37 “Who is my neighbor…”
• Someone who crosses your path (v 30)
• Someone in genuine need (v 30)
• Someone ignored by others (vs 31, 32)
• Someone who offends your prejudice (v 33)
• Someone who God loves (v 33)
4) Loving God and loving people are inseparable.

B. What am I to watch for?
1) Returning to legalism
2) Spiritual disloyalty infecting others
3) Indulging in sexual sin or other compulsive appetites

C. Falling behind the grace of God
The first category for which we should be “carefully watching” is anyone “falling behind from the grace of God” (literal). Taken in a general sense this statement could refer to anyone to whom God’s saving grace does not extend. But in the context of this letter, where a major concern is believers ceasing to pursue Christ by returning to Judism, it very likely points to those who were falling back into legalism The author pictures the church moving together as a community like Israel during the Exodus. The main body of the group was walking forward, firmly trusting in the grace which is received by faith in Jesus Christ, but some were falling behind as stragglers, tempted to return to the Law of Moses (Heb 3:12-19; 4:9-11).
1) Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 – Parable of the Prodigal Son
2) Parable of the Prodigal God, Timothy Keller, Dutton, 2008. p. 33-37, 52-54
3) Self actualization: escaping God; obligating God through meticulous obedience.
4) Neither brother loved God. Both only wanted what they could get from Him.
5) Legalism: Careful rule-keeping based on fear of punishment on the notion that God must bless me if I keep His rules.
6) “What do I have to do to get God to give me what I want?”
7) God wants “sons and daughters” not rebels or people who are trying to control Him. He wants us to love Him, trust Him and obey Him.
8) Two views of God: up and out (Creator); down and in (Immanuel)
9) On our trip to Israel: religious spirits focused on rocks, holy objects, temples, ceremonies, symbols, place
10) We see there what the passing of time tends to do to religions and people (including Pentecostalism, evangelicalism).
11) The radical Jesus
• The synagogue at Chorazin
• Matthew 6:1-8 “your Father”

D. How do I remain in grace?
1) Colossians 2:6-23
• Keep believing the truth about Jesus
• Keep growing in faith
• Keep being thankful
• Refuse to be seduced back into religion
• Keep walking in the new covenant which has freed you from the old
• Keep trusting His cross and resurrection

E. What am I to do when I see it?
1) Watch with the eyes of a doctor not a judge
2) Pray:
• Daily mention
• Don’t gossip; expect prophetic revelation
3) Confront: Matthew 18:15-18
4) Restore: Galatians 6:1

F. Questions
1) Our church motto is “relationship with Jesus, not religion.” If someone asked you what that means, what would you say?
2) Has there been an occasion in your life when someone loved you enough to confront you about an attitude or behavior where you were going in the wrong direction? How did you respond?


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