“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight the paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”
The writer of Hebrews has tried about every logic there was to convince these believers in Jerusalem to return to grace and abandon legalism under the Mosaic Law. He has also taught them divine discipline and its relationship to believers out of fellowship. Now we will begin to see how to recover from reversionism beginning in verses 12-13 with a quote from Isaiah 35:3.
The analogy the writer used was one often used by the apostle Paul and others. He used the physical to illustrate the spiritual. We are told often in the New Testament to align our “walk” with our position in Christ. This is the meaning of this analogy. The hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble are an analogy to a believer in the state of reversionism. This believer is unable to execute the Christian Way of Life because of his weak spiritual condition.
Therefore, this believer is encouraged to make straight the paths for your feet, an analogy to Rebound and preparing to advance in his spiritual life. If this believer fails to do this, the result will be entering into blackout of the soul and hope for recovery will be almost impossible. This principle is illustrated by the phrase “put out of joint.” Healing is the illustration of the recovery of fellowship with God, the filling of the Holy Spiritand advancing to spiritual maturity.
“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”
We are told to pursue two things in this passage: peace and sanctification. This is not a reference to salvation where the believer receives peace from God and positional sanctification. The peace in this passage is the peace of God and it is something that can be pursued. Pursuing the peace of God is a matter of the intake and application of Bible doctrine. As a believer advances to spiritual maturity, he is also pursuing the peace of God. The peace of God is synonymous with a relaxed mental attitude. We are commanded to live at peace with all men by every means available to us. (Romans 12:18)
Pursuing sanctification refers to experiential sanctification. Even though we possess the righteousness of God, we will not realize the full aspect of this until we receive a glorified body at the Rapture. (I Corinthians 15:50-53) In the meantime, we still possess a sin nature, which tempts us to commit personal sins. It is our responsibility as Christians to learn and apply the Word of God and to control our sin nature. We can do this only through the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a war being waged within every believer. It is a battle to see who will control your soul. Each of us holds the key - it is called volition or free will. God did not make us robots. He gave us the freedom of choice. (Galatians 5:16-26)
The writer of Hebrews continues with this same thought when he uses the phrase “see to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.” Once again, this is not a reference to salvation, rather to the spiritual life of the believer. These believers in Jerusalem had fallen short or come up short of the benefits of grace by embracing legalism. You cannot straddle the fence as a believer. If you are not pursuing grace, you are by default pursuing some form of legalism.
If a believer fails to pursue grace, the result can be all types of mental attitude and overt personal sins. The example the writer used was bitterness. Under divine discipline and self-induced misery, a believer is naturally being bitter. This bitterness may be toward self, others or even God. And this bitterness normally spills over onto all those around him. The analogy the writer uses is a custom used in Biblical times of the chamber pot being thrown over the side of the roof onto a passerby.
Failure to follow the principles of grace as a believer can also lead to sins similar to those of Esau. Esau pursued legalism as a means of finding salvation from God but failed in his attempt. He was seeking repentance with tears. In other words, Esau was caught up in emotional revolt of the soul. He sought repentance, which means a change of mind toward Jesus Christ, by the wrong means – legalism. He wanted everything that God had provided his father, mother and brother but attempted to get it by his own efforts. This story, if nothing else, should have been a wakeup call for these believers in Jerusalem.
Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Grace is undeserved mercy and unmerited favor. Grace is the title of God’s plan and His policy for mankind. Orientation is defined as familiarization with a particular person, thing or field of knowledge. To orient means to set right by adjusting to facts or principles; to put oneself into correct position or relation or to acquaint oneself with the existing situation. Grace orientation, therefore, means to become familiar with God’s grace plan and grace policies by adjusting to the facts and principles found in the Word of God, which puts you in correct relation to God and others. You will never be grace-oriented until you understand that your personal sins don’t condemn you. Adam’s original sin, which was imputed to you at birth, is what condemns you (spiritual death). This means that God’s grace was operational when He imputed Adam’s original sin to you, because condemnation must precede salvation. This is just another part of God’s ingenious grace plan of salvation.
The maximum expression of God’s grace is the Cross. (Ephesians 2:8-10) Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all sin. Therefore, sin is not an issue in salvation. (I Peter 2:24) We are free to accept or reject God’s free gift of eternal life. The plan of God is for all of mankind to come to know His Son, Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:9) Because Jesus Christ completely satisfied the righteousness and justice of God, God is now free to give eternal life and the other 40+ spiritual assets at salvation. (John 2:1-2) Our salvation brings glory to God. (Hebrews 2:9) When we trust Christ as our personal Savior we are adjusting to God’s grace. (Romans 3:24)God’s grace has always been operational in relation to mankind. Even under the Law, God’s grace was at work in the lives of believers and unbelievers alike. God, in His grace, has revealed Himself to the entire human race beginning with Adam. Salvation for mankind has always been on the basis of God’s grace by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. Even the Mosaic Law was a grace gift from God, to show the unbeliever his need for a Savior and to guide him to the Cross. The Levitical offerings pointed to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:20, 4:3; Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:24)
In the Christian life, when allowed to do so, God the Holy Spirit does all the work of producing the character of Jesus Christ in a believer. (Romans 8:29, Galatians 5:22-23) We should be truly thankful that God’s plan does not depend upon us, but upon Him. If you have your eyes on what you are doing for God, or even what someone else is doing for God (even the pastor), you will never be grace-oriented. (James 4:6)
Our focus should always be on what God is doing. God treats us in grace because of His character. Therefore, we are able to treat others with grace by using Divine Viewpoint Thinking. God has a perfect plan for each one of us, but it is up to us to discover that plan. The filling of the Holy Spirit, which means we are being controlled and guided by Him, is a grace provision from God. This gives every believer the potential to understand His Word, regardless of education or IQ. Therefore, we are commanded to be strong in grace. (II Timothy 2:1) We are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:8) We find grace in our prayer life. (Hebrews 4:16) There is stability in grace. (I Peter 5:2) God gives us grace to become the person He wants us to be. (I Corinthians 15:10) God’s grace is always sufficient in our time of suffering. (II Corinthians 12:9) God is waiting to show His grace to every believer. (Isaiah 30:18-19) The Christian life, under grace, is a system of thinking. (Romans 12:1-2)
The opposite of grace is legalism (keeping the law or doing human good works). (Romans 11:6) Legalism is performing human good works in an attempt to gain the favor or approval of God, either for salvation or spirituality. Producing human good brings glory to man. Producing divine good brings glory to God. Human works added to faith in salvation cancels grace. (Galatians 2:16) Human works added to the Christian life cancels grace. (Galatians 5:1)
Trying to work your way to heaven. Trying to impress God with your manner of life, money, church attendance or reformation of the devil’s world, etc. Saying that you must do good works in order to keep from losing your salvation. Telling other believers how they must act, dress, talk, etc. in order to appear spiritual - forcing certain taboos on others. Galatians 5:1 says to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Liberty means that Christ has set us free from law-keeping and legalism (the yoke of bondage). He accomplished this by introducing a new covenant between God and man called Grace.
Learn and apply the Word of God to your daily thoughts and experiences. (II Timothy 2:15; Romans 12:1-2; II Peter 3:18) Love one another as Christ has loved us. (I John 4:7) Share your faith with others. (Matthew 28:19-20) Be tolerant of others. (Philippians 2:1-4) Pray for others. (James 5:16) Stop living in the past. (Philippians 3:13-14) Stop feeling guilty for past failures or sins. (Psalms 103:12, Hebrews 12:1-2) Stop worrying about everything. (Philippians 4:6) Let others see the light of Christ in your life. (Ephesians 5:1-17) Begin to think divine viewpoint. (Philippians 2:5-13) Take your problems to the Throne of Grace and leave them there. (Hebrews 4:16; I Peter 5:7)
Grace is never divided but is always multiplied. God has plenty of grace to go around. From the day you become a believer God’s grace begins to be multiplied to you and will go on forever. God’s resources are infinite and He always has something for you in His grace plan. It is impossible to remove yourself from the sphere of God’s grace as a believer (eternal security is grace). Even discipline from God is grace. Even if you don’t understand God’s grace, you can never escape it! (Romans 8:38-39)
“And Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and walked with God.” (Genesis 6:8-9) Noah is a great example from the Old Testament of God’s grace. You will recall the story of how Noah was told by God to build a boat because a flood was coming. Because of Noah’s positive volition (free will), not only did he believe God, he went on to discover the grace of God and exploit it to the maximum. Noah and his family had experienced God’s grace in salvation, but Noah was about to experience God’s grace in everyday life. By obeying God for 120 years, Noah prepared to be delivered from the universal flood. Though ridiculed by everyone that knew him, he would not be deterred from the task that God had given him. He learned to rely upon God’s justice and grace, and to remain faithful when most would have given up. The Bible says Noah walked with God, a synonym for executing his spiritual life. Because of Noah’s adjustment to God’s justice and grace, his entire family was spared.
God in His sovereignty decided to treat man in grace. (Ephesians 3:11) However, righteousness and justice stood in the way because of the barrier of sin. (Romans 3:23) Righteousness cannot have fellowship with unrighteousness. (Isaiah 59:2) Justice demanded a penalty for sin. (Romans 6:23) In His love, God sent His Son to the Cross to die for the sins of the world and to pay the penalty for sin. (Romans 5:8; John 3:16) The barrier of sin is now removed. (Colossians 1:20-22) So righteousness and justice are satisfied and love, eternal life, spiritual assets and spiritual blessings are free to flow through the grace pipeline to the person who believes in Christ as Savior. (I John 2:2)
You will never advance one step in the Christian life until you orient to (become familiar with and adjust to) the grace of God. This means you must set aside any false information that you have heard in the past and begin to discover for yourself what the Word of God really teaches about the grace policies of God. Learning God’s Word, as you know, is a grace process that takes time. Under the control of the Holy Spirit we apply as we learn. This means we need to guard against becoming frustrated by the overwhelming amount of doctrine that there is to learn. This is a place where we can use the Faith-Rest Technique. Claiming God’s promise of guidance, we can relax mentally, knowing that God will reveal the truth to us as we persist in the study of His Word.