2017-02-19 Keith Powers Right Living requires Right Thinking Hebrews 13

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It's been a long time since I last preached.  We are at Hebrews 13, the final chapter in the book.

As we have looked at this book we saw Who Jesus is.

He is the express image of the Father.

He is the creator of the universe.

He is our Great High Priest.

He is The Risen King.

He is the author and finisher of our faith.

He is the firstborn Son of The Father.

This is just to name a few of the things the book of Hebrews tells us.

All the time The author of Hebrews is telling us of who Jesus is, what He did, and the great cloud of witnesses testifying to His authenticity,  he punctuates his message with exhortations to pay attention to Jesus, watch Him, imitate Him, focus our eyes exclusively on Him, and in all ways make it our life's goal to become like Christ.

When we finally get to chapter 13 we see less than 20 verses telling us what we need to be doing to make our lives line up with Christ.

One might think that this is an afterthought, except for the fact that the author has in mind one crucial fact of life right thinking leads to right living.

Jesus put it this way in Luke 6:43-45

43 For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.[1] 

So for the past 12 chapters the author has been giving us the tools to: as Paul put it in in in Romans 12:2 be transformed by the renewing of our mind.[2]

Now we get to chapter 13.  Here the author gives us guidelines to follow in order to express our transformed thinking in a way that pleases God.

This chapter can be broken up into 3 sections.

The first section verses 1 - 6 deal with general guidelines for christian living.

The second section 7-19 deal with guidelines on church leadership and doctrine.

The third section is a benediction and closing.

Verses 1-6 give us 5 guidelines for christian living.


Hebrews 13:1-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 Let love of the brethren continue.

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

3 Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”

6 so that we confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.

What will man do to me?”[3]

Hebrews 13 starts with this command let the love of the brethren continue.  In the Mounce Greek Interlinear translation this command is worded “Brotherly love must continue.”[4]

I like the wording here because it makes it clear this is not a suggestion it is a command.

Brotherly love MUST continue.

The first guideline is love fellow christians.

It is no accident that the first guideline is a command and that it is that brotherly love must continue.


Francis Schaeffer in his book the mark of the christian cites John 13:33-35 as the primary thing that marks us as christians.

John 13:33-35 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

33 Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”[5]

This is what Francis Schaeffer said.

This passage reveals the mark that Jesus gives to label a Christian not just in one era or in one locality but at all times and all places until Jesus returns.[6]

John wrote this in First John.

1 John 2:7-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.[7]

Let me paraphrase what John is getting at here.  

If you claim to be a christian and hate your brother (1) you are walking in darkness  and (2) the darkness has blinded your eyes.

We cannot claim to be a christian and hate our brother.

Jesus came to earth to show His  great love.  If we are to live the transformed life then we must also allow His love to transform our hearts so we may love others the same way.

That is why brotherly love must continue is the first and most important guideline in this list.

The second guideline (show hospitality) is found in verse 2.

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

If we look at Paul's letters to the churches we see Paul thanked them many times for their hospitality.  This was part and parcel with church back then.

Also this was not just having a friendly attitude towards Paul.  They took him into their homes.  The further showed hospitality by sending money to help support him in his ministry.


Paul’s letter to the Philippians shows one example of his thankfulness for christian hospitality.

Philippians 2:25-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; 26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;[8]

Notice the second part of Hebrews 13:2. “for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

It is very likely that the author was looking back to Genesis 18:2-15 where Abraham showed hospitality to his heavenly visitors.

Abraham went to great lengths to show them hospitality.  He sent for water to wash their feet.  Sarah had to prepare and bake the bread while he went out to the flock to pick out a tender choice calf to have prepared for the meal.

He didn’t say hey you want me to call out to the local takeout for something, or maybe Hey I got some leftovers you want me to warm them up for you.

No Abraham and Sarah put some effort into showing hospitality to these strangers.

So far we have love fellow christians, and show hospitality.

The third guideline (minister to those in prison and to those who are mistreated)  is found in verse 3.

3 Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

Notice how he is linking us to them.  He is saying we are also in the body.  In this case the author is speaking of those mistreated for their faith.

In our country we do not see imprisonment for matters of our faith “yet”, but we see criticism and ridicule every day directed at people of faith who enter the political arena.

Let’s not forget that this is not the only country in the world and there are many who are imprisoned, mistreated, and even killed for their faith.

Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 12:26 “ And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”[9]     

I live with pain every day many of us here do.  We know what it is like to have some part of our body scream out in suffering.  Paul is saying that we should feel the suffering of others just as deeply.

Before I move on I want to say there are many in prison in our country for crimes they committed and found Christ in prison.

Right now they are living a testimony of God’s grace and mercy in front of those who hate them for the freedom they found.

We need to remember we all committed the great crime of treason against God and deserve an eternity of great suffering, BUT God’s grace was given to us.

Let’s remember to keep all who suffer for their faith in Christ no matter what the circumstances were that brought them to Him.

So far we have love fellow christians, and show hospitality, and minister to those in prison and to those who are mistreated.

The fourth guideline is (hold marriage as honorable and keep the sexual relationship pure).

4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

The word honor in this verse means to consider marriage of great value.

1 Corinthians 3:12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,[10]

The word translated honor in Hebrews 13:4 is the same word that is translated precious in 1 Corinthians

In other words the marriage relationship is to be our precious treasure and we must be very careful to protect it.

We live in a culture that does not value marriage, and looks at the concept of marriage and fidelity as old fashioned and worthy of ridicule.  The matters are getting so bad that our culture is attacking the concept of gender differentiation altogether.

This is nothing new Ancient Greek culture considered certain behavior to be extolled,  ancient Rome considered promiscuity normal, and God destroyed Sodom, and Gomorrah for such behavior.

There is a reason why God commands faithfulness in the marriage relationship.

Ephesians 5 shows that the marriage relationship is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:25-27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.[11]

Marriage is the closest thing we have to personally living out a relationship that demonstrates the relationship between Christ and the church.

Time after time after time God tells Israel that their idolatry is spiritual adultery.

God created man and woman for a marriage relationship.

He takes that relationship very seriously, and He expects us to take it seriously too.

So far we have love fellow christians, and show hospitality,  minister to those in prison and to those who are mistreated, and hold marriage as honorable and keep the sexual relationship pure.

The fifth and final guideline is (be content with your financial status).

The first part of Hebrews 13:5 says this “5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have;”

Notice that this guideline continues by telling us God’s promise is why we should be content.

for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”

6 so that we confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.

What will man do to me?”

There are many old testament verses that repeat this promise.

Deuteronomy 31:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”[12]

In Luke 16:13 Jesus tells us “13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”[13]

The problem with putting a high value on getting wealth is that it can lead to trusting in the wealth and not The Lord.

Luke 12:16-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”[14]

What God wants of us is to cry out with all our heart

Psalm 73:25-26 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.[15]


[1] Bible Gateway. "Luke 6:43-45 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+6%3A43-45&version=NASB>

[2] Bible Gateway. "Romans 12:2 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12%3A2&version=NASB>

[3] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 13:1-6 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+13%3A1-6&version=NASB>

[4] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 13:1 (MOUNCE)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+13%3A1&version=MOUNCE>

[5] Bible Gateway. "John 13:33-35 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+13%3A33-35&version=NASB>

[6] N.a. "." Ivpress.com. 10 Nov. 2008. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.{page 14} <https://www.ivpress.com/title/exc/3407-X.pdf>

[7] Bible Gateway. "1 John 2:7-11 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+John+2%3A7-11&version=NASB>

[8] Bible Gateway. "Philippians 2:25-29 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A25-29&version=NASB>

[9] Bible Gateway. "1 Corinthians 12:26 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+12%3A26&version=NASB>

[10] Bible Gateway. "1 Corinthians 3:12 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+3%3A12&version=NASB>

[11] Bible Gateway. "Ephesians 5:25-27 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5%3A25-27&version=NASB>

[12] Bible Gateway. "Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+31%3A6&version=NASB>

[13] Bible Gateway. "Luke 16:13 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+16%3A13&version=NASB>

[14] Bible Gateway. "Luke 12:16-21 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+12%3A16-21&version=NASB>

[15] Bible Gateway. "Psalm 73:25-26 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+73%3A25-26&version=NASB>