Resolutions in Hebrews

Note: this article was originally published in four parts in our weekly bulletin, but has been combined into one article for the website.

Resolution: “a resolve; a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.”

Resolve: “to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something).” (Both definitions from

Though resolutions are often associated with the beginning of a new year, the Bible contains a number of exhortations to make firm determinations and these decisions need to be made whenever one encounters them and then reaffirmed on a regular basis throughout the years. In this article we will use the book of Hebrews as the source of some resolutions we all need to make. Please note that the original author intended these for Christians, so if you are not already a disciple of Jesus, some of these may not apply to you yet; however, we believe the things found in this article can help you understand why should become a Christian and please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help.

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (2:1). Because Jesus is higher than the angels and because 2:2-3 points to the impossibility of escaping punishment if we neglect the salvation in Jesus, we need to be resolved not to allow these things to slip from us. And doesn’t the warning against allowing them to slip point to the danger of it happening?

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts....Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God: but exhort one another daily...” (3:7, 8, 12). If we hold fast to the end (3:6) there is a great reward, but just as Israel rebelled in the wilderness, it is easy for unbelief or lack of trust in God to creep into our lives. And not only do we need to resolve to guard our own faith, we need to be looking out for and exhorting our brethren to be steadfast in their faith.

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (4:1). While the author of Hebrews offers many positive exhortations and eloquently proclaims the blessedness of the hope to be found in Jesus, he also calls on us to resolve to be fearful. The promised rest is so wonderful and the threatened punishment so horrible that we must maintain the kind of godly fear which keeps us in the way of righteousness.

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (4:11). While we again see the warning, do we also see the promise that the rest can be ours if we diligently seek it? Let’s resolve not to simply hope or make a wish for heaven, but let’s be determined to make it our home.

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:14-16). It will not always be easy to hold fast, but if we are also resolved to spend more time at the throne of grace we will find the help and strength we need. The Lord’s desire is to do more than tell us to hold on—He wants to help, but to obtain that help we must utilize the blessing of prayer.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection...” (6:1). Having rebuked his readers for a lack of growth, the writer challenges them to grow. In order to avoid discouragement, it is sometimes necessary for Christians to appreciate how much they have grown and changed, but if we aren’t careful we begin to measure our lives more by where we once were than where we are to seek to be. Are we where we should be at this point in our lives? Most of us would probably say no, but will we resolve to go on to perfection or be content to live in immaturity? Let’s not be complacent, but let’s do as the next exhortation suggests.

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (6:11, 12). We all need to make earnest decisions not to be sluggish, but be diligent in our zeal and determination to grow, serve, and ultimately enter that final rest.

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” 10:19-25

Let us draw near. Though we must never lose our reverence (12:28-29), because Jesus offered Himself once for all (10:10), we can with confidence come before God’s throne. While access to the Most Holy Place was once limited to the high priest, we can now cross through that veil and we need to be resolved to do so. Having been cleansed from our sins, we can draw near to God as we come before His throne with our praise, thanksgiving, and requests. Let’s be determined to regularly seek the blessedness found only in the presence of God.

Let us hold fast. As we said in the opening paragraph, let’s not allow this to be some temporary resolution discarded as quickly as the new exercise bike or detailed organizer we had planned to use this year. With a faithful God offering us a great hope (cf. 6:17-20), we must hold fast and never waver in our commitment. Too much is at stake for us to allow anything, whether sin or simply life’s struggles, to cause us to waver. “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise...” (10:35-36). “But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (10:38).

And let us consider one another. Though there are other reasons to make congregational worship a priority (e.g. the opportunity to draw near to God, the remembrance of the One who died to save us, instruction in His word, etc.), we should be resolved to be present because others need us. It’s not always easy to be a Christian, but it is not nearly as difficult when we have the support and exhortation of others. Let’s all be determined to make consideration of our spiritual family and their needs a greater priority. Instead of forsaking or neglecting the congregational gatherings, let’s utilize these opportunities to stir others to love and good works.

“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings...” (10:32). While we must not attempt to live in the past, the writer wanted these disciples to reflect back to a time when they had made some difficult choices and endured suffering because of those choices, but had done so willingly because of the “better and an enduring heaven” (10:34). We are Christians because at some point in the past we realized the pleasures of sin were not worth the price we were paying in terms of guilt and fear of judgment. At that point we turned from the life of sin and were willing to pay any price necessary to escape the judgment and enjoy the reward, but could time have dulled our remembrance of why we made the choice we did? One of the best ways to live for God in the present is to remember the difficult choices we made in the past and realize nothing has changed about the better and enduring possession in heaven.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2). As the writer had said several times, the aim is endurance, the kind of faithful endurance seen in the heroes of faith in ch. 11; but such cannot be done if we don’t lay aside any and everything which might hold us back. While sin may be the chief concern, it also possible there are lawful pleasures, pursuits, or distractions which are keeping us from running the race with total commitment (cf. Luke 8:14). We need to engage in honest examination and eliminate anything that might slow us down and then we need to set our eyes on Jesus. Our fellow-saints can be a great help to us (10:24-25) and the witnesses of old are certainly inspirational (12:1), but the prize lies with Jesus and we need an intense focus upon Him. He wants to be the finisher of our faith as He is “bringing many sons to glory” (2:10), and He will be that finisher if we maintain our focus on Him and the joy set before us.

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (12:3). Christians, the very salt and light this world desperately needs (Matt. 5:13-16), often have to endure the hostility of those who need that which we have to offer. Such can easily discourage us and keep us from running the race with endurance (12:1), but in this section we are offered several encouragements. First, keep looking to Jesus (cf. 12:2) and remember all He endured on our behalf. If He could endure the spitting, mockery, brutal scourging, and the cross, surely I can persevere through whatever hostilities I am called to face. Second, when he writes of not having yet “resisted to bloodshed” (12:4), he reminds them it could be much worse. Third, the hostilities we face can make us better as they refine our character (12:5-12). Let’s not be discouraged by the difficulties which can make us what we ought to be.

If we have heeded the exhortations of 12:3-11, we are ready to strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…” (12:12-15). Though some deny this, Christians can come up short of the grace of God and because of this we must always be on guard and must do the three things he mentions in these verses. One, we must get our heads up and stop feeling sorry for ourselves. With all God has done, is doing, and promises to do, why would we ever hang our heads and let our shoulders droop? Two, we are to pursue peace. We will never be at peace with all, for after all Jesus had to endure the hostility of sinners, but let’s minimize the conflict in our lives by showing love to all and foregoing vengeance when others do not. Three, we must practice holiness. We may be cheerful and peaceful, but without holiness we become as Esau and have no hope of obtaining the blessing (12:16-17).

“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks” (12:25). Hebrews has much to say about the grace of God which takes away our sins, grants us access to holiest of all, leads to a great reward, etc., but grace does not negate the essential nature of obedience. In 5:9 Jesus is called the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him and in this twelfth chapter he stresses that there is no escape for those who refuse to listen. Let’s be determined to give careful, reverent attention to God and His word.

“Let brotherly love continue” (13:1). Why is the word continue (remain—NASB) used here? Does this not imply the possibility of brotherly love fading as they faced their times of trial? In the best of times our brothers and sisters can do things which make it harder to love them, but the book of Hebrews makes it clear these saints were facing some adversity. And when we face adversity in our lives, though it should draw us closer to loved ones, we sometimes take out our frustrations on the ones we love. Even if we are not taking it out on our brethren, the pressures and difficulties may cause us to more readily notice faults in people and be less cognizant of their many good attributes. No matter what is happening in our lives, let’s resolve to have the love for one another described in 1 Cor. 13:4-7. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (13:2). Instead of “entertain strangers,” the ESV and NASB have “show hospitality to strangers.” In a time when hospitality seems to be a dying art, or perhaps we should say, a neglected command, we need to first resolve to show hospitality. However, we must not stop with seeing the need for hospitality, but must continue on to the second part, viz. showing this to strangers. Not all are determined to show hospitality and even fewer are inclined to do so for anyone other than family or close friends, but to imitate Abraham (the most likely reference here—Gen. 19), we must step out of our comfort zone and show this kindness to others.

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also” (13:3). In this country few, if any, Christians are being thrown in jail because of their faith, but there are still those who pay a price for their faith and stands for the truth. Can we be more aware of those whose families may have turned against them or who are having issues on the job because of their faith? When men and women stand for truth and are being criticized, will we offer them support or do as those of Asia did Paul in 2 Tim. 1:15 and turn away? Will our brotherly love continue when it is most needed by another member of the body?

 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (13:4—ESV). While this verse is translated as a simple statement in the KJV and NKJV, in the context of exhortation after exhortation it seems best to go with the ASV, NASB, and ESV and take this as another decision we are exhorted to make.

It was God who created marriage (Gen. 19:4-5) and who expects it to be treated with respect and honor. So how then do we hold marriage in honor? One essential way is by seeing it as the only lawful fulfillment of sexual desire. Because many view marriage as no more than some antiquated social tradition and others have lost sight of the God who judges the sexually immoral (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8), sex without marriage is viewed by most as being as natural and normal as breathing. People engage in “casual sex” and live together without being married. We see them proudly show off pictures of babies from their “longtime girlfriend” or as the celebrities like to say, the “baby daddy.” While we are not think sex is something dirty or vulgar, we are expected to see it as a blessing and pleasure restricted to the undefiled marriage bed. No matter what our society may say on this, we are still to be resolved to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18).

Our culture’s widespread acceptance of sex before and without marriage reflects a nation not listening to God about keeping marriage honorable, but the writer also warns of judgment against adulterers. When the married stray, they certainly don’t hold marriage in honor or keep their bed undefiled. When the Lord said the two shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24), no place was left for a third person. When we marry we are making a promise and entering into a covenant, one to which God is witness (Mal. 2:14). Let’s not invite the wrath of God by failing in our loyalty to our spouse (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

While sexual sins with anyone other than our lawful spouse (Matt. 19:9) appear to be the focus of this passage, let’s not stop there. Is marriage really held in honor when we fail to accept the roles assigned us by the Almighty (Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7)? Doesn’t Jesus tell us marriage is not held in honor and the bed is defiled if we don’t keep our promises and divorce for any cause other than sexual immorality (Matt. 19:3-9)? Another way Heb. 13:4 is violated is by ignoring the statement they were “made male and female” (Matt. 19:4) in order to justify “same sex” marriages, and thus dishonoring marriage as God intended it to be. We could list other examples, but let’s all resolve to “let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (13:5). The appetite for money and the things money can buy easily gets hold of us and turns us into idolaters (Col. 3:5). We must see the love of money for what it is—a root of so many evils (1 Tim. 6:9-10). One real key to overcoming the grip of greed is realizing its destructiveness and how it will destroy our souls. But in this context there is another aspect to this—greater faith will help us overcome the worries which lead us to a covetous hoarding of wealth. The Lord has promised not to leave or forsake us and in the Sermon on the Mount He gave assurance that those seeking first His kingdom and righteousness would be fed and clothed (Matt. 6:25-34). Let’s be resolved to put away covetousness and learn contentment.

“Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (13:13). Jewish Christians had to make a choice—they could continue to be part of the Old Testament system and be accepted by family and friends, or they could go, figuratively speaking, outside the camp to Jesus with the better sacrifice, priesthood, covenant, etc. Since everything with Jesus was better, the proper choice was obvious, but not all were willing to suffer the reproach it might entail. What of us today? Are we willing to follow Jesus and His teachings even if it impacts our relationships with friends and family? Are we willing to stand for truth when it is unpopular? Let’s not allow the reproaches of this world to blind us to the promise: “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (13:14).

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (13:15-16). With all God has done, is doing, and has promised to do, we should be a thankful people and that needs to be expressed in praise and thanksgiving to Him. Let’s be determined to worship our God more and more from a sense of gratitude and less and less from a feeling of obligation. And as we grow in our awareness of God’s blessings for us, let’s resolve to grow in our willingness to share with others.