Five Corrosives to Faith. Christian Sermon by J. D. Greear
Hebrews 12 offers five corrosives to faith, each of which seems rather mundane. But for most of us, the greatest danger to our faith is not a cataclysmic event, but the gradual dulling of our heart toward God.
1. Division (Heb. 12:14)
Division and strife have a way of making us forget all about how Christ is “our city.” Someone offends us and our pride gets riled up; before long we are marshalling troops to protect our city.
But the author of Hebrews encourages us to “seek peace,” which means that we should be the first to offer forgiveness, even when wronged.
It means that we take the towel and wash the feet of those in conflict with us, like Christ did. It means that we serve our “enemies” and seek their well-being. This takes the focus off of our city and refocuses it on Christ’s.
2. Worldliness (Heb. 12:14)
The author of Hebrews tells us to pursue holiness, which is the opposite of worldliness. As long as our minds are saturated with worldly pursuits, we will never be able to “see” God.
The Greek word for “pursue” lets us know that this takes a lot of discipline. The word literally means “persecute” or “hunt.” Think Jason Bourne. We are supposed to track it and hunt it down relentlessly.
3. Bitterness (Heb. 12:15)
Idolatry is like a poisonous weed, or as the author of Hebrews says, a “root of bitterness.” It starts very subtly, but soon infiltrates the entire garden.
Tragically, a lot of us will miss the grace of God because we are distracted by idolatry. We allow something to carry more weight in our heart than God.
Those of us who think idolatry is a non-issue should ask ourselves: What dominates our thoughts? What upsets us? What makes us jealous? Whatever that thing is, it is an idol to us, and if we are not vigilant, it will choke out any desire for God.
4. Sensual pleasures (Heb. 12:16)
For many of us, the addictiveness of immorality or bodily comforts is drugging us and keeping us from thinking about what really matters.
Think about how much people arrange their lives just to “feel good.” Many of us are slaves to “Esau’s stomach,” which the author compares to sex, and this keeps us from thinking about what is eternal.
5. Inattention (Heb. 12:25)
Many of us are familiar with the details of Jesus’ brutal beating and death. A cat-o’-nine-tails with pieces of bone and metal shredded his flesh to the bone.
Isaiah says that he was beaten so brutally that he no longer looked like a human. He was then nailed up on a cross, naked, in full view of the public, to suffer and die humiliated.
If God did all this to save us, and we make him a secondary thought, how can we hope to escape? This is God speaking! Our eternity depends on whether or not we listen—how can we take that so lightly?
J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Under Pastor J.D.’s leadership, the Summit has grown from a plateaued church of 300 to one of over 12,000. Pastor J.D. has led the Summit in a bold vision to plant one thousand new churches by the year 2050.