Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13
by Pastor David Groendyk

The author of Hebrews gets extremely practical in the final chapter of his letter. When we keep in mind all of the sober warnings from earlier in the letter, all of these commands that we’ve heard before should take on a new sense of gravity and urgency. Notice all the commands in verses 1–5, then think about what sins are being targeted with those commands.
• Command: let brotherly love continue // Sin: hating one another in anger
• Command: show hospitality // Sin: selfishly keeping your home and goods for yourself and hoarding
• Command: remember those in prison // Sin: avoiding your brothers and sisters in prison out of shame or out of fear of being persecuted
• Command: let the marriage bed be undefiled // Sin: letting your passions and lust run wild
• Command: be free from the love of money // Sin: greediness, grumbling, discontentment
These commands combat some of the deepest, most common, heart sins in man: anger, selfishness, fear, shame, lust, grumbling. Especially in light of the warnings not to drift away (chapter 2), not to slowly harden your heart (chapter 3), not to put yourself in a place where you cannot repent anymore (chapter 6), not to go on sinning deliberately (chapter 10), it seems pretty clear what the author is driving at. Do not let your life, your head, and your heart be ruled by your sinful passions anymore. Put them to death so that you might persevere in faith and be found to have been a true believer on that last day.

Notice also the heavy theological reasoning and promises that ground these commands in verses 6–16. The Lord is your helper, he will never leave you nor forsake you, man may be able to kill the body but cannot destroy the soul, Jesus is eternally trustworthy for all time, and Jesus suffered and bore the ultimate reproach so that you might have the eternal inheritance of heaven. Therefore, firstly, we owe our whole lives to him. How could we not give ourselves over to the God who’s done this unbelievable work for us? We become one with Christ when we are saved and must share in his life from now on, both in imitating him by doing good and in bearing reproach and suffering like he did. Also, secondly, your heart is “strengthened by grace” (v. 9). Now, this is just one little phrase within a much bigger paragraph, but that one reminder ought to be focused on. It is God who strengthens you to grow in holiness and sanctification. It is by grace (that is, a gift of God) that we have the strength to overcome sin, temptation, and our own passions. Do not grow weary, then, in striving to grow and do good, because it is God’s immeasurable power that is working in you to sanctify you. You have the ultimate power source at your disposal.

The benediction at the very end of the book drives this point home again (vv. 20–21). God worked the ultimate power of raising Jesus from the dead; he has made unbreakable, rock-solid promises to us in the covenant; and he will equip you with all that you need, so that you are able to please him with your life. Isn’t Jesus so much greater than anything else this world can offer?