70. fail to make straight paths for one’s feet, so that his lame walk gets turned out of the way of the Lord, because he refused to receive correction and be healed. Heb 12:13
So this is it, the final myth. I have had a great time explaining away more than 70 “scary scriptures”. As I have stated at the commencement of the series, the intention of the series is to establish the fact that these verses actually point out the establishment of your salvation rather than the possibility of you losing it.
Let’s look at:
New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[a] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Did you know that the writer when writing in Hebrews was actually quoting the following verse in the Old Testament?
New International Version (NIV)
26 Give careful thought to the[a] paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
- Proverbs 4:26 Or Make level
Look at Proverbs 4:25
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Notice the way one “make level paths for your feet” is to “let our eyes fix its gaze” at something or in this case someone.
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
The focus and intention of the writer is to ask us to focus therefore on to Jesus. That is how we make level the paths for our feet.
Dear friends, traditional Hebrews 12 is used by many to teach that God will discipline or even give you sickness if you despise his discipline. While I agree that Hebrews 12 speaks about God’s discipline but the goal of the discipline is not related to obedience of the 10 commandments or the law of Moses. The focus is fixing your eyes on Jesus.
Hence what is this passage talking about?
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Let’s ask ourselves some questions here:
What is this sin that hinders us?
Notice it says, it says “the sin” and it is not sin. This sin that easily entangles us is the same sin in Hebrews 10:26. You will notice this when you read this in context. It is the sin of thinking Jesus’ blood is not enough to satisfy God of your sins past, present & future. It is called the sin of unbelief. That is why he asks us to continue to look at Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
This what John MacArthur said:
“Obviously all sin is a hindrance to Christian living, and the reference here may be to sin in general. But use of the definite article (the sin) seems to indicate a particular sin. And if there is one particular sin that hinders the race of faith it is unbelief, doubting God. Doubting and living in faith contradict each other. Unbelief entangles the Christian’s feet so that he cannot run. It wraps itself around us so that we trip and stumble every time we try to move for the Lord, if we try at all. It easily entangles us. When we allow sin in our lives, especially unbelief, it is quite easy for Satan to keep us from running. (MacArthur, John: Hebrews. Moody Press or Logos) (Bolding added)”
As such the context in which God disciplines us is not due to our misbehavior but when we fall back on our works or that we go back to sinning in Hebrews 10:26. The sin there talks about treating Jesus’ blood as common. More importantly, I will give reasons why I believe the sin refers to unbelief.
Many believers interpret that as being sinning in conduct.
That is not correct. If so, then there is no more forgiveness for you. Secondly, everyone sins willfully. As such sinning willfully must be interpreted as something you return to “after you have received knowledge of the truth”. What then is the knowledge of the truth. This knowledge is what is stated in Hebrews 9 and 10. The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. That is why it has to be offered again and again. Thus it can never take away sin although the law demands it. It could never take away the guilt of the believer. That is why the priest of old does it STANDING year after year and day after day. This ministry became a ministry that reminded you of your sins. As such it could never take away guilt.
On the other hand, when Jesus offered his blood, he did it once and for all and SAT down. Your sins are not only cleansed, they are taken away once and for all. Once and FOR ALL time. Hence this is how our guilt is taken away. Because we know our sins have been totally taken away and we have forgiveness of sins forever! This is a ministry that “remember your sins no more”.
Hence, the blood of Jesus is not common like that of the blood of bulls and goats. As such, when we say that his blood is not sufficient we commit this sin mentioned in Hebrews 10:26, thinking that while Jesus is the author of our faith but we have to perfect our salvation. That is how this sin easily entangles us. Thus, in Hebrews 12:1 the sin causes us to lose sight that HE IS the author and perfecter of our faith. NOT US.
As such God disciplines us, not by holding back his presence when we sin, but rather disciplines us by helping us to focus on the finished work of Christ. The unpleasantness there does not talk about sufferings and sicknesses. The unpleasantness talks about crucifying the former way you live your life in self righteousness.
What is running the race with perseverance?
Paul spoke about this as well. Often we equate this question by performing and serving Christ to win the ultimate prize of salvation the “crown of life”. Thus from young we are encouraged to be “like Paul” in our enthusiasm to fight “the good fight” and “run the good race”. Streaming from this teaching, we preach a struggle to leads to “blood sweat and tears” to emulate Jesus in his sufferings to carry the cross and his invitation to carry the cross ourselves.
The term “run the good race” originates from Galatians 2: 2. Let’s read:
Galatians 2:2 (New Living Translation)
2 I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing.
Paul then continues to use the same terminology in Galatians 5:7
Galatians 5:7 (New Living Translation)
7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?
The term “running the good race” must be interpreted in the manner in which Paul used it elsewhere. This includes the following:
Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hence to understand the above referred verse in Galatians 2 and 5, we have to understand the context in which the words were stated. After Paul had appointed elders and left Galatia, some people came and began teaching that belief in Jesus was not enough. These likely were some converted Jews from Jerusalem who had received Jesus as Lord and Savior, but who felt that they had to hang on to the law and Judaism. Four thousand years of Jewish traditions were hard for some to give up. They thought that Christianity ought to be an updated version of Judaism and couldn’t accept that Gentiles could be included into the Church, much less allowed to remain as Gentiles.
These teachers came to the Galatians and said something like, “Listen, we’re here to follow up and improve on Paul’s ministry to you. He was absolutely right in saying that you need to have faith in Jesus—that’s how you get started in the Christian life. What he failed to tell you, and what he would have told you if he had time, is that in addition to Jesus you need to follow certain religious laws and rules.”
The religious formula these teachers were using was … “Jesus plus something.” Paul was livid about this because he knew and was convinced that the true equation isJesus plus nothing equals salvation. He also recognized that any time someone teaches “Jesus plus something,” even if it is just a little something, they are not improving on the Gospel, or even distracting from the Gospel. Teaching Jesus plus something is the utter destruction of the Gospel.
To see things in a better light I will now refer to Galatians 5 for the sake of context.
New International Version (NIV)
Freedom in Christ
5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”
The yeast that Paul speaks about in chapter 9 is highlighted in verse 3. Hence if you obey a small part of the law, you are required to obey the whole law. Many argue that it is only the ceremonial law that has been abolished by Christ. Paul teaches here, the law is a composite whole.
The reason the Hebrews think as such is that they had been under the old system where they had relied on the blood of bulls and goats to cleanse their conscious which did not work at all. Hebrews 10:1 and 3 tell that they are offered under Law.
Hence the writer exhorts us to perserver in the race to fix our eyes to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. In other words, the writer is saying to run the good race is to fix your hope of your salvation in Christ and Christ ALONE. This is the same with what Paul is saying. Live by Grace and grace alone. Do not mix it with Law. As such to run the good race is to keep your salvation free from LAW or human performance to curry favour from God. Favour from God is secured in the finished work of Jesus and the finished work of Jesus alone.
It is grace that will allow the Spirit to bear fruit. It is by believing “Jesus plus nothing” that will cause Christ to be formed in you. The minute you try to be righteous by obeying the Law you are cut-off from Christ. Hence you stop running the race. Jesus then become of no benefit to you.
Let me just quote a brother who puts it plainly:
“Suppose some one had paid a million dollars into the bank in your name, and had given you a check-book so that you could draw out just as you wanted: would you go to work and try to live on ten dollars a month? Yet that is exactly what many of us are doing as Christians. I believe this low standard of Christian life in the Church is doing more to manufacture infidels than all the skeptical books that were ever written.”
As such fix your eyes upon Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith. It is he that perfects your faith, not you.
Does God discipline us to wheat out bad children from the family?
It must thus be noted that the discipline that God places upon us is because WE ARE ALREADY SONS AND DAUGHTERS. God does not discipline us so that we fall out from being a son or daughter or he shifts his family to wheat out his forlorn children. ““7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” It says He disciplines us for our good!
What kind of opposition did Jesus endure?
Did Jesus endure opposition from sinners? Did Jesus endure opposition from people who break the 10 commandments? Well, what do you think? Yes, the Pharisees, Scribes, Priests and the teachers of the law! The opposition came from the religious systems the Jews were under. Hence Jesus endured the opposition of the persecution of people who believe in righteousness by way of obedience to the Law. As such this is written to people who face the same problem. It was written to Hebrews believers who were tempted to go back the religious system of the Law.
See the Context
The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d]
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn,whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
You would hence note that writer distinguish Sinai and Zion. Sinai where the law was given, Sion where the Spirit of God came. Law vs Grace.
Hence, the passage above actually confirms that believers who place their faith in the finished work of Christ are keep in discipline by God to ensure that they are saved. In fact they produce a harvest of righteousness.
Now what happens to those who refuse to be discipline? Those who turn back to trying to believe that “Oh… I must obey all the commandments to be righteous. I must confess all my sins before God will accept me as his child.”
Dear friends, it is one thing to be saved. It’s another to enjoy your salvation. Take it from me. Enjoy your inheritance and your salvation. Health, Peace and Prosperity!