The "Let Us" Series From The Book Of Hebrews #11




TEXT:         Hebrews 13:11-14


INTRO:       The early Christians who had been Jewish struggled to accept the power of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins!  There was a tendency once saved to go back to those things which they once held dear as practices, things that in truth were only shadows of the greater substance found in Christ. 


It can be amazing the kinds of old laws man will keep just to feel “secure” and have life be predictable.  Yet, these old laws can be meaningless today even if they served a purpose before:


ILLUS:     Young girls are never allowed to walk a tightrope in Wheeler, Mississippi, unless it's in a church.

         In Blackwater, Kentucky, tickling a woman under her chin with a feather duster while she's in church service carries a penalty of $10.00 and one day in jail.

         No one can eat unshelled, roasted peanuts while attending church in Idanha, Oregon.

         In Honey Creek, Iowa, no one is permitted to carry a slingshot to church except a policeman.

         No citizen in Leecreek, Arkansas, is allowed to attend church in any red-colored garment.

         Swinging a yo-yo in church or anywhere in public on the Sabbath is prohibited in Studley, Virginia.

         Turtle races are not permitted within 100 yards of a local church at any time in Slaughter, Louisiana. -- Robert W. Pelton in The Door.  Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 5.


We can follow a similar path once we embrace Christ as our Lord.  If we are not careful we can begin the process of “adding” lots of other conditions for salvation as time progresses.  Sometimes these “things” can be very helpful truths pertaining to living a life of faith, but they can grow beyond that to a type of legalism that demands others practice all these “other things” in order to be saved!


When this happens the Gospel starts to look like a list of do’s and don’ts – even though some of those things should be a part of the life of a believer, they must not become conditions in order to be saved.  There is nothing more to add to the fact that Jesus died for all our sins, and accepting Him is the only basis for salvation!  The living out of faith is the practice of “sanctification” – the life of holiness that grows in the life of the believer.


PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us that Christ is the only way of salvation!  It is not the laws we hold to that are created to make us look “holy” to others.  It is not the expectations that religious people have, the only way to God is through faith in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, His shed blood and resurrection!


I.   SHADOWS!    Heb. 13:11


A.   Frequent Sacrifices!     Heb. 13:11a

1.   The Old Covenant was a bloody one!  Because of man’s constant sinful behaviors it was necessary to have frequent blood sacrifices for their forgiveness. 

a.   Just imagine what life was like!  Constant sacrifices, many animals were killed in order to shed blood for the remission of sins.

b.   It has to be a constant reminder of just how difficult it was to live for God.  Each animal killed was another reminder of the terrible price of sin, and the need for it to be cleansed.

(1.  How visible the evidence of sin’s cost!

(2.  That innocent animals had to shed their blood in order for man to not have his own blood shed. 

c.   There was a terrible pricetag for sin!

d.   All of these of course were but shadows of the ultimate lamb of God that would be slain to take away the sins of the world once and for all!

e.   The shadows were bad enough, but the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary and the shedding of His blood was horrific!

f.    Looking back would only slow them down; they needed to be looking forward to home to move along!


ILLUS:     My horse invariably comes home in less time than he makes on the journey away.  He pulls the carriage with a hearty good will when his face is toward home.  Should not I also both suffer and labor the more joyously because my way lies toward heaven, and I am on pilgrimage to my Father's house, my soul's dear home and resting place?  -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)


2.   Yet, without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sin!

a.   Even in Eden, after the first sin – Adam and Eve were hiding from God, ashamed and feely exposed (naked).

b.   In their own efforts to cover their shame of nakedness they cover themselves with fig leaves.

c.   However, this didn’t appear to cover the shame, they were still hiding from God after they covered their nakedness!

d.   Instead, God comes and takes the skin of animals and clothes them – this very act required that He kill animals and shed their blood to gain the skins that were used to clothe Adam and Eve.

e.   Thus, Adam and Eve witnessed the first blood sacrifice to cover their sinfulness – a sacrifice done by God Himself, but only a shadow of the ultimate “Lamb of God” which would be the final sacrifice.

3.   Thousands of years passed with the constant need to shed blood under the Old Covenant.


B.   Former Security!    Heb. 13:11b

1.   These sacrifices and blood had to be carried into the Holy Place by dedicated priests, and burn the bodies of the animals outside the camp.

a.   Nothing was saved or used for food in these sacrifices for sin.

b.   The people only felt secure once the ceremony had been complete.

2.   And the people had to rely on these priests to perform the duties for them; they could not provide the service themselves.

3.   Their security lay at the feet of leaders who would do the right thing.

4.   And yet, even a careful adherence to the letter of the law could ultimately not save anyone, it all depended on the Messiah who would come and fulfill the law, and the Spirit of the Law and lay His life down for us.  The letter of the law would only kill.


ILLUS:    The pharisaical legalism pictured in the parable of the Good Samaritan is alive and well. As a result, a 15-year-old African-American boy in Chicago is not.

            One a warm spring evening in May 1998, Christopher Sercye was playing basketball with a few friends half a block from Ravenswood Hospital. Three teenage Latino gang members looking for a black target approached and shot young Sercye in the abdomen. His frantic friends carried him to within 30 feet of the hospital and ran inside for help. The emergency room personnel refused to go outside to assist the dying boy citing a policy that only allows them to help those who are inside the hospital. The boys called for nearby police to attend their wounded friend. When the officers arrived on the scene they proceeded to call for an ambulance, but refused to carry the boy inside. While passersby pled with the officers to get the boy into the hospital, he lay in a pool of blood unconscious. When, after several minutes, the ambulance had not yet arrived, the police gave in and carried Sercye into the emergency room. By then, nothing could be done to save his life.

            As is often true, when we legalistically insist on the letter of the law, the needs of others are overlooked. By holding to standard operating procedures, the "royal law of love" was pinned to the mat. Initially, hospital administration vehemently defended their ER's lack of involvement. Only after a barrage of community outrage did Ravenswood Hospital reverse its policy of treating only those inside its doors.

        It was Jesus who observed "Woe to you teachers of the law, you hypocrites. You give a tenth ... but you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy, and faithfulness." (Matt. 23:23) -- Greg Asimakoupoulos. From the files of Leadership.


4.   This was a precarious position to be in, what if their leaders were corrupt, what happened to their sins if there was failure by the priests?

5.   Indeed the Old Testament was full of poor examples, even some priests whom God killed because of their wickedness and improper leadership.

6.   No man could come before God in the Holy Place without being the right clan, and the right kind of priest.

a.   However, in the New Covenant we have a High Priest Jesus who has opened up the Holy of Holies for us all to enter, covered by the blood of the Lamb of God, so we are cleansed and can come individually!

b.   The day Jesus died on the cross the Bible says that there was a terrible earthquake that tore the curtain before the Holy of Holies in the Temple in half, thus opening up the way for anyone to enter – Jesus opened the way!

c.   And as the author of Hebrews says here, Jesus matched that Old Covenant shadow by not only shedding His blood as God’s lamb, but by dying outside the camp, or the walls of Jerusalem.

d.   The writer was clearly identifying Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice that fulfills all the shadows of the Old Covenant in full!


II.  SUBSTANCE!    Heb. 13:12-14


A.   Final Solution!    Heb. 13:12

1.   Jesus is the final and ultimate sacrifice for man’s sins!

a.    Jesus became the substance of the shadow in the Old Covenant.

b.   No longer is there a need for constant blood sacrifices for sins, Jesus’ death on Calvary which took place outside the city gates is the final and full sacrifice for all time.

c.    There is no other place we can go to find cleansing from our sins, only through Christ and His shed blood has all the shadows in the Old Covenant ceremonies been fulfilled.

d.   Any man-made attempt at cleansing would have ruined us!


ILLUS:    At their school carnival, our kids won four free goldfish (lucky us!), so out I went Saturday morning to find an aquarium. The first few I priced ranged from $40 to $70. Then I spotted it right in the aisle: a discarded 10-gallon display tank, complete with gravel and filter for a mere five bucks. Sold! Of course, it was nasty dirty, but the savings made the two hours of clean-up a breeze.

              Those four new fish looked great in their new home, at least for the first day. But by Sunday one had died. Too bad, but three remained. Monday morning revealed a second casualty, and by Monday night a third goldfish had gone belly up. We called in an expert member of our church who has a 30-gallon tank. It didn't take him long to discover the problem: I had washed the tank with soap, and absolute no-no. My uninformed efforts had destroyed the very lives I was trying to protect.

              Sometimes our in zeal to clean up our own lives or the lives of others, we unfortunately use "killer soaps" -- condemnation, criticism, nagging, fits of temper. We think we're doing right, but our harsh, self-righteous treatment is more than they can bear. -- Richard L. Dunagin, Denton, Texas. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.


2.   Christ carried the entire burden for sins, He is the “Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” as John the Baptist declared in John 1:29 (NIV) “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

a.   It does require us to accept this gift for it to be applied.

b.   How tragic that such a gift is available but not accepted.

c.   Even in the Old Covenant, the person who wanted their sins forgiven had to accept the blood sacrifice for their sins.

3.   Christ has made the way possible, though He died outside the gates fo the city, although He was an outcast of the Jews and their sacrificial system.

a.   Their failure to see that Jesus was the substance to the shadows of the Old meant that they remained in their sins.

b.   Refusal to accept the proper sacrifice meant refusal to be forgiven.


B.   Favored Status!    Heb. 13:13

1.   What about us today? 

a.   We too must be willing to accept this once and for all sacrifice of Christ’s in order to experience His cleansing power.

b.   Why would anyone prefer the shadows over substance?

c.   Through Christ’s own blood He shed we are able to be cleansed.

d.   No wonder the writer in Hebrews here said, “Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.”

2.   Do not throw away such a great invitation, such a great salvation!

3.   The idea of “going outside the camp” is to leave behind all the systems and religions of the past or future and going directly to Christ as the perfect sacrifice.

a.   Nothing created or made by man will satisfy a Holy God, man who is a sinner by nature cannot please or satisfy a Holy God – so we must go “outside the camp” to find the acceptable sacrifice that will allow us to be accepted by a Holy God, and only Christ’s shed blood as the perfect sinless Lamb of God can provide that.

b.   There is no other way to God!

c.   We need to pick the way out, not the old ways we know – they will lead to death, but the path out through Jesus leads to life.


ILLUS:    An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?"

             The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.

        Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice."

             The aide said, "What lies beyond the big door?"

        "Freedom," replied the general. "I've known only a few brave enough to take it." -- Don McCullough, "Reasons to Fear Easter," Preaching Today, Tape No. 116.


4.   The emphasis on the first part of Heb. 13:13 is, “LET US, THEN, GO …”

a.   The responsibility at this point is for us to make the move toward God!

b.   While Christ has made the way open, it is still up to us to come to Him!

c.   This means it is possible to NOT COME.

5.   The start of this verse is one of invitation, one of asking for response.

6.   The request is for others to join and go along.


C.   Forever Secured!    Heb. 13:14

1.   For all those who actually go “outside the camp” and discover the sacrifice for sins in Christ, not only is there joy in the forgiveness of sins – there is a future city that will endure forever.


ILLUS:      If we or the world could be saved through human kindness or clear thinking, Jesus either would have formed a sensitivity group and urged us to share our feelings or would have founded a school and asked us to have discussions.  But knowing the ways of God, the way of the world, and the persistence of human sin, he took up the cross, called disciples, gathered the church, and bade us follow him down a different path of freedom. -- William H. Willimon,  Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4.


2.   Today we can guarantee a future by accepting the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

3.   Our hope for the future is dependent on what we do today, about what Christ did yesterday!


CONCLUSION:   This invitation of “LET US” is to find the cleansing from all sin that is needed.  It is an invitation to provide for the future joy and happiness that God intended for man to have.  It is however just that, an invitation – one that has to be responded to.  In order for the blood of the sacrifice to cleanse, one has to apply the blood to the agent to be saved.  Failure to do this means no cleansing.  So, how can we neglect so great a salvation?  “Let us, then, go…”