Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 12:15-17

“Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

All product user guides follow the same basic format. They begin with warnings, go on to instructions for proper use, and end with a section on troubleshooting. Troubleshooting is essentially one more set of warnings. It is a list of things that might go wrong, and what to do if they happen. Here, as we draw near to the end of the letter, the author of Hebrews offers us a bit of troubleshooting. Let’s take a look at one last warning and how we can avoid some trouble.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 6:1

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

For the last several weeks, I have been working through the Gospel of Matthew with our Wednesday night Bible study group. It has been an absolute delight taking our time examining the story of Jesus as told by the converted tax collector. In particular, for the last few weeks we have been wading through the Sermon on the Mount. In the second part of Jesus’ most famous sermon, He talks about giving, praying, and fasting. And if you’re not paying close attention, it seems like those three things are really the focus of His comments. But they aren’t. Instead, Jesus is using those three things to talk about something that afflicts all of us. As we wrapped up our look at this section this past Wednesday night, I spent some time unpacking His larger (and more significant) point here. This morning, I’d like to share with you some thoughts on what Jesus had to say about self-righteousness.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 12:19

Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you can’t decide between two options? If possible, you choose both. This past week I finished watching a miniseries and finally watched a movie that first came out a couple of months ago. I had always planned to write a review of both once I finished watching them. I hadn’t planned on finishing both in the same week. And yet, as I have gone back and forth on which one to write about first, it became clearer and clearer that they both covered a whole lot of the same theological ground, although from different directions. Trying to treat them separately just didn’t make sense. Today, then, we are going to span two totally different media universes and talk about the recently completed Marvel series, Moon Knight, as well as the fairly recent latest offering from DC Comics, The Batman, and see how two different visions of the world reveal the Gospel is still the greatest vision of reality there is.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 6:10-12

“For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I’m going to ask you a question about which I want you to be totally honest with me. In fact, I don’t want you to answer immediately. I want you to think about it for a second. Then, I want you to raise your hand in the air if the answer is yes. No, really, raise your hand. Commit to your answer. If you’re by yourself, no one will see it; and if you’re in public, it’ll just look like you’re stretching. (If you’re reading this in class, you might want to raise two hands to disguise it a little better…and also stop reading this in class and pay attention to your teacher.) Are you ready now? Here goes: Do you struggle with sin?

Okay, survey time: How many of you raised your hand? I suspect it wasn’t just a few. But, in doing that, some of you are lying to me. In fact, I might even go so far as to say many of you are. You can’t fairly characterize your interaction with sin as a struggle because there really isn’t any struggle. When sin comes calling, you go right along with it. Maybe there’s a brief flash of resistance, but that doesn’t last long. What I want to talk about this morning with you is how to actually struggle with sin and why it will eventually become no struggle at all.

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Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 11:4-6

“Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath, but righteousness rescues from death. The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What benefit is there in being right with God? If you’re a follower of Jesus, before you jump all over yourself offering a litany of answers to that question, pause for just a minute and think on it. What benefit is there in being right with God? Let me ask that another way. What benefit is there in righteousness? It’s amazing how changing just a couple of words there puts a whole different spin on that question. Righteousness is a theological word. Being right with God and being righteous are generally two different concepts in our minds. Let me add one more element to this: What benefit is there in being right with people? Now, that’s a totally different question. Except it isn’t. I have been journeying through the book of Proverbs with my deacons for the past few weeks. This morning I want to reflect with you for just a minute on something that caught my attention in our passage for this week. Let’s talk about the benefits godly living.

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