Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Defiling Root of Bitterness

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Defiling Root of Bitterness

Two Streams of Grace into the Believer’s Life
Empowerment and Chastisement

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:5-17).

The book of Hebrews is filled with warnings to people who think they can believe almost anything, or worship in almost any way, and still consider themselves to be saved.  We have such a warning as this in Hebrews 12:4-17.  The warning regards compromise and is twofold in its application.

1. A professing Christian’s compromise may reveal a lack of understanding (Matthew 13:19) regarding the objective facts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and resultantly misplaced faith.  The warning is that such a person may not really be saved.  This possibility is something those willing to compromise doctrine should carefully consider and evaluate regarding the reality of their own faith.
2. When a professing Christian compromises the truth that he professes to believe, such compromise is sin.  He should expect to be supernaturally chastised for such an act of disobedience.  If chastisement does not happen, he should understand that the lack of chastisement regarding the compromise of the Gospel manifests that he is really not a child of God after all in that God chastises His children when they disobey.  Such a person really fails of the saving “grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).  The word “fail” in Hebrews 12:15 is from the Greek word hustereo (hoos-ter-eh'-o), which essentially means to come short of in the sense of missing it

The question to which Hebrews 12:5-6 refers is the “exhortation” of Proverbs 3:11-12.  In the context of Hebrews chapter twelve, the reference is used to correlate “chastening of the LORD’ as a blessing that belongs to the intimacy of a genuine relationship with God as the believer’s “Father.”  The intent of the correlation is that God does not chastise or discipline people who are not His children “by grace through faith.”  We should not try to escape persecution, afflictions, and/or various kinds of difficult situations through compromise.  God may be using these very things to try the genuineness of our faith (James 1:3). 

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: Anchor12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

Every believer has filial obligations (that which is befitting to a son or daughter) as the children of God.  As a child of God, a believer is given much more than a mere escape from condemnation.  Every believer who is “born again” of the Spirit of God “by grace through faith” has literally become a child of God.

The moment a believer becomes a child of God; he takes upon himself the Name of God.  With the Name of God comes all the responsibilities to protect the testimony with which the Name of God identifies him.  To fail in protecting the testimony of what the Name of God represents is essentially what is involved in taking God’s Name in vain, which is the predominant sin of any sin a believer commits.  To take God’s Name in vain is to live in any way that might reflect a distorted image of God in the world.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

          When God says His children are not to “take” His Name in vain, He does not mean use.  “Take” is from the Hebrew word nasa' (naw-saw') meaning to accept or to carry.  To “take” the Name of God is like a wife taking the name of her husband or as a child takes the name of his father.  This is exemplified in Genesis 4:25-26.

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. {Seth: Heb. Sheth: that is Appointed, or, Put} 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD {lit., to call themselves by the name of the Lord}” (Genesis 4:25-26).

          Anytime a professing believer lives in a way that is contradictory to the Word of God (any sin, any action, and/or any inaction) that might cause someone to get a false impression of God or what Christianity is all about, that person has taken God’s Name in vain and perverted the glory of God.

8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient {just what is needed} for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee {belie thee; meaning to give a false idea or misrepresentation}, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and {by stealing} take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30:8-9).

          This is why God hates any form of idolatry.  Idolatry causes men to form a false image of God and when they think of God or pray to God.  They form a mental picture and think about that false image in their minds.
          A central concern of a spiritually revived child of God is the sanctity of the Name of the Father.  A true child of God is concerned about his own testimony and image, because his testimony and image misrepresents Who God is and what God allows.  The spiritual child of God is concerned about how he lives, because he is reflecting the image of God through his way of life.
As a believer is confronted in life by persecution, afflictions, and/or various difficult situations, we are to act upon them in two specific ways as directed by God in Hebrews 12:5:

1. “despise not thou the chastening of the Lord”
2. “nor faint when thou art rebuked of him”

The word “despise” is from the Greek word oligoreo (ol-ig-o-reh'-o), which means to disregard.  The idea of the meaning is to give “chastening” little or no value.  The word “chastening is from the Greek word paideia (pahee-di'-ah), which refers to tutorage.  The idea in this word is educational training through practical discipline.  The end result is an outcome where the individual chastened learns to be proactive in his own discipline and begins to acts responsibly according to the Father’s will.

After having taken into careful consideration the loving purposes of the Father in our “chastening,” then we should not “faint when thou art rebuked of him.”  “Chastening” should not discourage a believer, but it should rather encourage him.  When God chastens a believer, He is telling him there is an area of his life that needs his immediate attention.  Although God, like any father, never wants His children to live completely independent from Him, He does want His children to be mature enough that they do not need His constant leading.  He wants them to begin to govern their own lives according to the principles of righteousness established by Him in His Word.  “Chastening” is God working to get us to a place of maturity and self-discipline in our lives. 

The words “come short of it” in Hebrews 4:1 are also translated from the Greek word hustereo (hoos-ter-eh'-o), which is translated “fail” in Hebrews 12:15.  The warning regarding coming short of saving faith is continued into the rest of the text of Hebrews chapter four.

6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached {to the Jews in the wilderness in the water from the rock and the manna from heaven} entered not in because of unbelief: Anchor7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Anchor8 For if Jesus {literally Joshua} had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. Anchor9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall {the idea is to begin to take flight and then fall to the ground in failure} after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:6-11).

The key to understanding the context of the verses of Hebrews 12:4-17 is found in verse 15; “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.”  This statement parallels the statement of Hebrews 4:10 and is a similar warning.  The warning is about evaluating the reality of faith.  A faith that has not ceased to trust in “works” (Moralism or Ritualism) for salvation has not rested in Christ’s work and is still lost.  The words “looking diligently” encourage the professing believer to take careful consideration about what verse four says; “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”  The thing to be considered is that you might discover yourself to be short of the saving grace of God.  A similar warning is found in Galatians 5:1-12.

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised {that a circumcised person is part of the Abrahamic Covenant because of physical circumcision}, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. 11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach {justification through} circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. 12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:1-12).

Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved “by grace through faith.”  The phrase “by grace through faith” refers to the salvation referred to in the Abrahamic Covenant, which connects to the Protevangelium of Genesis 3:15.  When faith is misplaced in a false belief system or it is not sincere and genuine, it never touches the gift of salvation given by grace.  That kind of misplaced faith is not faith at all and it comes short of that grace and falls out away from it.  Such a person is not closer to being saved, but rather further away. 

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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