Introduction: Last week, in Hebrews 11 we learned the importance of
our faith in Jesus. That faith will help us through good and bad
times. This week, Hebrews 12 turns our attention to the importance
of right living and specific reasons why things sometimes go “wrong”
in our life. Let’s dive into our study and find out more!

  1. The Jury’s Verdict

    1. Read Hebrews 12:1. All of those faith witnesses that we
      studied last week (Hebrews 11)should bring us to what
      verdict? What conclusion? (We should decide to throw off
      those things that interfere with our relationship with

      1. What do you think it means to “throw off” something?

      2. Notice that we are called to “throw off” not simply
        sin, but “everything that hinders.” What does
        “everything that hinders” mean in your life? Are we
        to be concerned about more than sin? (The Bible
        clearly warns us about what I call “pre-sin.” In
        Matthew 5 Jesus warns us not simply about murder, but
        also about anger. He warns us not only about
        adultery, but also about lust. The point of Jesus’
        teaching is that we shuffle into sin. Read over 2
        Samuel 11:1-5 and decide when it was that King David
        actually committed sin. You will see that the line
        got “gray” pretty quickly. That is why Hebrews tells
        us that “pre-sin” is something to throw off because
        it hinders our walk with God.)

    2. Read Hebrews 12:2-4. Instead of fixing our thoughts on
      “pre-sin,” what does God say is the best focus for our
      thoughts? (Jesus.)

      1. What reason is given for focusing on Jesus? (Looking
        to Jesus encourages us in difficult times. Unless we
        have been killed by our opponents (in which case we
        would not be reading this book), we have not had it
        as bad as Jesus. Jesus is our model of victory over

    3. The writer of Hebrews says, “You’ve made the decision to
      believe in God, stop thinking about those things that
      hinder you, instead think about Jesus. Have you ever tried

      1. How does television affect our focus, our thinking?

  2. Discipline

    1. Read Hebrews 12:5-7. When something bad happens to you,
      what is your first thought?

      1. What do these verses suggest should be your first

      2. There is a popular book by Harold S. Kushner entitled
        “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People.” What answer
        do these verses give to this question? (These verses
        tell us that bad things happen to us for our good.
        Just as the punishment your earthly father gave you
        as you were growing up was for your good, so the
        punishment that your Heavenly Father gives you is
        intended for your good.)

    2. Are all bad things intended to make us better? (If you
      look at the history of Israel, you see God’s people swing
      from doing little to obey God to trying to obey God so
      minutely that they lost sight of God. Neither extreme was
      good. I think a lot of Christians today take the extreme
      position that a loving God never imposes any discipline.
      Bad things never result from sin. This position is clearly
      contradicted by Hebrews. On the other hand, we should not
      take the equally extreme position that every bad thing
      that happens to us is intended to make us better. That was
      the erroneous position of Job’s “friends.” Job suffered
      even though we are taught Job “was blameless and upright;
      he feared God and shunned evil.” Job 1:1.)

    3. Read Hebrews 12:8. If we have never had anything bad
      happen to us, what does that mean? (This text tells us it
      is a bad sign if we do not experience discipline.)

      1. What about those who obey without the need for
        applying discipline? Isn’t there a “hard” way and an
        “easy way” to learn to obey? The easy way is just to
        obey? (I think this is generally true, but the
        parenthetical says “everyone” who is God’s child
        undergoes discipline.)

    4. Read Hebrews 12:9. What is the “downside” of discipline?
      How can we “mess up” when it comes to bad things in our
      life? (This text suggests that we can refuse to submit to
      it. Sometimes we react to problems with a spirit of
      rebellion rather than a spirit of understanding and

    5. Read Hebrews 12:10-11. How should we compare the
      discipline of our parents to the discipline of God?
      (Parents discipline “as they thought best.” Parents can be
      wrong. God is always right in His discipline which, if
      accepted, produces “righteousness and peace.”)

      1. How important is it to know that God’s discipline, if
        accepted, produces “peace?”

    6. Read Hebrews 12:12-13. Is the writer of Hebrews off the
      discipline topic now? Has he suddenly switched to another
      subject? (No. This is the conclusion to the discipline
      discussion. If you are feeling weak and helpless because
      of discipline, accepting discipline as a tool to produce
      righteousness and peace in your life will make things
      easier. It will “make level paths for your feet” and end
      with your healing.)

  3. Right Living

    1. Read Hebrews 12:14-15. On the surface, the instruction to
      “live in peace” is a problem for me since my work is to
      fight religious liberty battles against the “bad guys.”
      How can a lawyer “live in peace?” (The whole idea of the
      judicial system is the peaceful resolution of disputes. I
      think Hebrews adds another layer to this however – don’t
      be needlessly obnoxious to your opponents.)

      1. What is the relationship between “effort” and being
        holy? (Here is a footnote to righteousness by faith.
        Hebrews tells us to make an effort to be holy.)

      2. When working on living in peace, what are we trying
        to avoid? (Bitterness. We do not want to create
        bitterness with those around us.)

    2. Read Hebrews 12:16-17. How are sexual immorality and the
      Esau story similar? (Both are a “cheap” sell-out. You get
      hungry, you really want to eat. But after you eat, the
      meal does not seem that important. There is an excitement
      about sex with a new partner that goes away after a while.
      Hebrews says “Don’t give up eternal life for fleeting
      pleasure.” That would be stupid and Godless.)

    3. We previously studied Hebrews 12:22-24 where we see a
      picture of heaven filled with those who welcome us with
      joy. Let’s continue by reading Hebrews 12:25-27. What
      historical event stands as a warning to us to accept God’s
      offer of eternal life? (The parallel referred to here is
      the failure of God’s people to enter Canaan. (See Numbers
      13 & 14.) The people who lacked the faith to enter the
      promised land died in the desert.)

      1. Hebrews 12:26 quotes from Haggai 2:6 that God will
        “once more” shake heaven and earth. What is this
        “once more” shaking? (The Second Coming of Jesus.)

        1. What special understanding does Hebrews give us
          about the phrase “once more?” (Hebrews tells us
          when God says “once more” I will shake heaven
          and earth, He is telling us there will be no
          later shaking because those things are going to

          1. What will remain? (That which cannot be

            1. What cannot be shaken? (What God has
              promised us cannot be shaken. Hebrews
              is simply telling us that everything
              we trust and covet here on earth is
              going to burn. It will be destroyed.
              We should place our trust and our
              hope on the eternal gifts that God
              promises to those who accept Him.)

    4. Friend, what do you say to God’s offer? Will you, by
      faith, walk in peace in God’s ways even when things might
      get a little difficult? Will you choose those things
      which are eternal?

  4. Next Week: Jesus and Our Future.