Life At Its Best - A Faithful Life

Bible Book: Hebrews  2 : 14-18
Subject: Faithfulness; Commitment; Dedication
Series: Life At Its Best

We have started a series of lessons from the book of Hebrews, and we’re dealing with the theme “Life At Its Best.”

Last week, we looked at “A Focused Life” from some passages in Hebrews chapter one and two. Today, it’s on my heart to speak to you about “A Faithful Life” from certain portions of Hebrews chapter two and three.

Unfortunately, the problem with preaching a sermon on the subject of faithfulness is that those who really need to hear it, in all probability, are not here.

I believe, though, that all of us are subject to the problem of unfaithfulness in our Christian experience. We try to offer excuses for our lapses and our shortcomings and our lack of devotion and our regular absence from church services and our regular neglect of spiritual disciplines. But the truth is that all of these things can be ascribed to spiritual unfaithfulness.

I found a website that listed some real excuse notes from parents (with their original spelling mistakes and omissions) collected by schools from all over the country. Listen to these:

1. My son is under a doctor’s care and should not take P.E. today. Please execute him.
2. Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.
3. Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his father’s fault.
4. Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday.

We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.

( – Address no longer valid)

If we listed some of the excuses that people offer for unfaithfulness in the Christian realm, they would be just as laughable and just as ridiculous.

I read about a Bishop Blomfield who was…once called to ask a vicar to reprove one of his clergy for immorality of conduct, received as an excuse the reply, “My lord, I never do it when on duty.” “On duty!” answered the Bishop; “When is a clergyman ever off duty?” (From the book “Practical Bible Illustrations from Yesterday and Today” published by AMG International)

In the section of scripture before us today, the writer of Hebrews is magnifying the merits of faithfulness. And he does this, first by pointing us to…

(1.) The Example of a Life of Faithfulness

(Hebrews 3:1-2) Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; {2} Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

He then points us to…

(2.) The Example Of A Lack Of Faithfulness

(Hebrews 3:8-9) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: {9} When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

Let us consider the message here of “A Faithful Life.”

I. In Considering Faithfulness, There Is A Word About The High Priest

(Hebrews 2:14–3:2)

A. In Human Form, Christ Overcame Satan

Hebrews 2:14-16) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; {15} And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. {16} For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

Adam Clarke said of the devil having the power of death that…

This is spoken in conformity to an opinion prevalent among the Jews, that there was a certain fallen angel who was called the angel of death; i.e. one who had the power of separating the soul from the body, when God decreed that the person should die. There were two of these, according to some of the Jewish writers: one was the angel of death to the Gentiles; the other, to the Jews. … “There are two angels which preside over death: one is over those who die out of the land of Israel, and his name is Sammael; the other is he who presides over those who die in the land of Israel, and this is Gabriel.” Sammael is a common name for the Devil among the Jews; and there is a tradition among them … that the angel of death should be destroyed by the Messiah! … This is a very remarkable saying, and the apostle shows that it is true, for the Messiah came to destroy him who had the power of death.

1. Christ’s Death Was A Bodily Battle

In order to defeat Satan through His death, the Lord Jesus took part of flesh and blood … “He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” Henry Ward Beecher said…

He “took” – he did not inherit, or receive – a body. It is not the language that describes the ordinary birth of a common man. How strange it would sound if we were to speak of our children as if they had a thought or volition respecting their nature, and as if they were pleased to take on them such        and such a body, when they were born! It describes voluntary action. It was an act contemplated beforehand. It implies not only pre-existence, but power, dignity, and condescension. But the language clearly indicates a choice of one raised higher than all merely created beings. “He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” (From The Biblical Illustrator)

2. Christ’s Death Was A Bondage Breaker

(Hebrews 2:15) And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. bondage – Greek 1397. douleia, doo-li'-ah; from G1398; slavery (cer. or fig.):--bondage.

In Matthew 12:29, Jesus indicated that he had gone into the strong man’s house and bound him and spoiled his goods. So many had run the gauntlet of death in terror because of the unknown element and the fear and the sting of death. But when Jesus walked through the gauntlet, he took the whip away from the one who had the power of death.

(Hebrews 2:14) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

destroy – Greek 2673. katargeo, kat-arg-eh'-o; from G2596 and G691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:--abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

power (of death) – Greek 2904. kratos, krat’-os; perh. a prim. word; vigor [“great”] (lit. or fig.):-- dominion, might [-ily], power, strength.

And as He walked through the gauntlet, He said…

(1 Corinthians 15:55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

sting – Greek 2759. kentron, ken'-tron; from kenteo (to prick); a point ("centre"), i.e. a sting (fig. poison) or goad (fig. divine impulse):--prick, sting.

B. In Helpful Fashion, Christ Obtained Salvation

Hebrews 2:17-18

1. Notice The Atonement Of Our Savior

(Hebrews 2:17) Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Albert Barnes said of the “things pertaining to God” that it means…

In offering sacrifice; or in services of a religious nature. The GREAT purpose was to offer sacrifice, and make intercession; and the idea is, that Jesus took on Himself our nature that He might sympathize with us; that thus He might be faithful to the great trust committed to Him – the redemption of the world. Had He been unfaithful, all would have been lost.

make reconciliation for – Greek 2433. hilaskomai, hil-as'-kom-ahee; mid. from the same as G2436; to conciliate (make peace), i.e. (trans.) to atone (make reparation) for (sin), (or expiate – make amends for – sin), or (intrans.) be propitious (favorable; kindly disposed or gracious):--be merciful.

2. Notice The Assistance Of Our Savior

(Hebrews 2:18) For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

It was A. T. Robertson who said that “to succor” is an old compound verb that means “to run at a cry or call for help.”

Kenneth Wuest in his Word Studies from the Greek New Testament has translated the verse this way…For in that which He suffered, having Himself been tempted, He is able to run to the cry of those who are being tempted and bring them aid.

Wuest said…

The inspired writer has in view the testings and solicitations to do evil that were associated with His expiatory sufferings on the Cross. For examples of these see Matthew 4:8,9, where Satan tempts our Lord to go around the Cross and accept from his hands the world-dominion He is yet to have. See Matthew 16:21,22, where Peter, the unconscious tool of Satan dismisses as absurd the idea that Jesus as Messiah should die at the hands of the leaders of Israel; and Matthew 26:36-46, where in Gethsemane … [the trial and] prospect of being made sin and of losing the fellowship of the Father caused Him to pray, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.”

II. In Considering Faithfulness, There Is A Witness Against The Hebrew People

(Hebrews 3:5–11)

A. They Hardened Their Hearts

Hebrews 3:5-9

1. Notice The Comparison With The Faithful Testimony

(Hebrews 3:5-6) And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; {6} But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Kenneth Wuest said…

Whereas Moses was a servant (?en?) in God’s house, Messiah was Son (?epi?) over that house. Both were faithful in their respective positions and capacities. … The words “hold fast” are the translation of ?katecho?. Among its meanings is one that vividly illustrates its use here. It is used in nautical circles in the meaning of “holding one’s course toward.” Luke uses it in Acts 27:40 where the storm-tossed ship held its course toward shore. The Authorized Version translates “made toward shore.” If these Hebrews would hold their course in life steadfastly along the lines of their present profession, that would show that they were saved. If they veered away from that course, that would show that they never had been saved, but that their profession of Messiah had been, not one of the heart but of the head.

2. Notice The Commentary On The Fathers’ Transgression

(Hebrews 3:7-9) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, {8} Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: {9} When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

provocation – Greek 3894. parapikrasmos, par-ap-ik-ras-mos'; from G3893; irritation:--provocation.

Albert Barnes explained…

[As in the provocation] Literally, “in the embittering” – (en too parapikrasmoo). Then it means what embitters or provokes the mind – as disobedience. Here it refers to what they did to “embitter” the mind of God against them; that is to the course of conduct which was adopted to provoke him to wrath.

[Proved me] “As if they would have made an experiment how much it was possible for me to bear.” – Doddridge. The meaning is: “they put my patience to a thorough trial.”

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary offers this paraphrase of “tempted me”…‘tempted (me) in the way of testing’ - i.e., putting (me) to the proof whether I was able and willing to relieve them, not believing that I am so.

B. They Heard From Heaven

Hebrews 3:10-11

1. God Proclaimed That Their Error Was Continual

(Hebrews 3:10) Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

grieved – Greek 4360. prosochthizo, pros-okh-thid'-zo; from G4314 and a form of ochtheo (to be vexed with something irksome); to feel indignant at:--be grieved with.

alway – Greek 104. aei, ah-eye’; from an obs. prim. noun (appar. mean. continued duration); “ever;” by qualification regularly; by implication earnestly:--always, ever.

err – Greek 4105. planao, plan-ah'-o; from G4106; to (prop. cause to) roam (from safety, truth, or virtue):--go astray, deceive, err, seduce, wander, be out of the way.

2. God Prohibited Their Entrance Into Canaan

(Hebrews 3:11) So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.

The passage here is a quote from Psalm 95:7-11, and this verse is a quote of Psalm 95:11. Both Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3 refer back to Numbers 13 and 14 when the people came to Kadesh- barnea and refused to go into Canaan because of their unbelief concerning the giants.

God said…

(Numbers 14:22-23) Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; {23} Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:

wrath – Greek 3709. orge, or-gay'; from G3713; prop. desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by anal.) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implication punishment:-- anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.

rest – Greek 2663. katapausis, kat-ap'-ow-sis; from G2664; reposing down, i.e. (by Hebr.) abode:-- rest.

The primary application of this “rest” is the promised blessings of Canaan.

III. In Considering Faithfulness, There Is A Warning About The Hardening Process

Hebrews 3:12–14

There is some diversity of opinion about whether this passage is speaking of lost people who are not entering into the transformed life of salvation or whether it is speaking of saved people who are not entering into the triumphant life in Christ. From the vantage point of the writer of Hebrews, the primary application seems to be to those who had stopped short of the life of spiritual victory and the “rest” of Canaan because their hearts were hardened.


It is like the fossilisation of an object which we sometimes see. A piece of wood or cotton is placed under the drip of a waterfall; in a short time it is encrusted, and becomes, to all intents and purposes, a stone. It is hard, unimpressionable, will neither melt nor burn. So the heart of man may become a fossil, incapable of good actions, tender thoughts, holy feelings. (From the Homilist as seen in The Biblical Illustrator)

A. Notice The Attributes Of A Hardened Heart

Hebrews 3:12-13

1. There Is A Departure From The Influence Of The Spiritual

(Hebrews 3:12) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

John MacArthur said…

The Holy Spirit is saying to everyone who hears the gospel: “Respond to Jesus while your heart is still warmed and softened by His truth, while it is still sensitive. Respond to His sweet love and His call of grace. Wait too long and you will find your heart getting hard and insensitive. The decision will become harder and harder as your heart becomes harder and harder. If you continue to follow your evil, unbelieving heart rather than the gospel, you will forever depart from the living God, and forfeit salvation rest. Turning away from Jesus Christ is not rejecting a religion. Turning away from Jesus Christ is much more than rejecting historical, traditional Christianity. Turning away from Jesus Christ is turning away from the living God. It is turning away from life itself.

2. There Is A Deceitfulness In The Influence Of Sin

(Hebrews 3:13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

hardened (vs. 8 & 13) – Greek 4645. skleruno, sklay-roo'-no; from G4642; to indurate (make something hard or unfeeling), i.e. (fig.) render stubborn:--harden.

deceitfulness – Greek 539. apate, ap-at'-ay; from G538; delusion:--deceit (-ful, -fulness), deceivableness (-ving).

B. Notice The Alternative To A Hardened Heart

Hebrews 3:13-14

1. There Is The Message Of Exhortation

(Hebrews 3:13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

exhort – Greek 3870. parakaleo, par-ak-al-eh'-o; from G3844 and G2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation):--beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.

John Calvin said…

For as by nature we are inclined to evil, we have need of various helps to retain us in the fear of God. Unless our faith be now and then raised up, it will lie prostrate; unless it be warmed, it will be frozen; unless it be roused, it will grow torpid. He would have us then to stimulate one another by mutual exhortations, so that Satan may not creep into our hearts, and by his fallacies draw us away from God. And this is a way of speaking what ought to be especially observed; for we fall not immediately by the first assault into this madness of striving against God; but Satan by degrees accosts us artfully by indirect means, until he holds us ensnared in his delusions.

2. There Is The Manifestation Of Endurance

Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

In other words, it is evident that we are truly partakers of Christ if we hold … steadfast unto the end. Barnes said that the phrase “if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast” means…

If we continue to maintain the same confidence which we had in the beginning, or which we showed at the commencement of our Christian life. At first, they had been firm in the Christian hope. They evinced true and strong attachment to the Redeemer. They were ardent and devoted to his cause. If they continued to maintain that to the end, that is, the end of life; if in the midst of all temptations and trials they adhered inflexibly to the cause of the Saviour, they would show that they were true Christians, and would partake of the blessedness of the heavenly world with the Redeemer.

stedfast – Greek 949. bebaios, beb'-ah-yos; from the base of G939 (through the idea of basality); stable (lit. or fig.):--firm, of force, sure.


In conclusion, in my estimation, one of the greatest examples in either history or scripture of faithfulness is the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. When he came to the end of his earthly journey, just prior to his death, he was able to say in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Here is a saint of God who remained faithful all the way to the end. May we all aspire to such faithfulness!