Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XXVIII

by Ed Urzi

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” (Hebrews 12:15).

As we saw earlier in our look at Hebrews chapter four, “grace” involves God’s unmerited favor towards undeserving members of the human family. It represents God’s favor towards us without regard to our talents, skills, capabilities, possessions, and/or social standing. Since grace involves God’s unmerited favor, we cannot earn it by performing good deeds or adhering to a set of external rules or regulations.

In one sense, Hebrews 12:15 restates our author’s earlier concern regarding those who might draw back from a life of faith in Christ (see Hebrews 10:38). Paul the Apostle voiced a similar concern in the Biblical book of 2 Corinthians when he wrote, We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

One commentator draws our attention to the sobering nature of these verses with some additional background information regarding this reference to “falling short”: “…[this implies] ‘a falling away from something previously possessed’ (cf. Heb. 6:4-6 10:23,38-39 12:25). Apostasy was a real possibility in this cultural situation… The warnings are serious, challenging, and real.” (1)

Since we cannot earn our way to a right standing with God through our efforts, God’s grace towards us in Christ enables us to enter a genuine, personal relationship with Him. However, we may fall short of that grace if we presume upon it to condone or dismiss Biblically inappropriate behaviors. In other words, God’s grace does not bestow us with a license to sin without impunity.

Paul addressed this subject in the Biblical book of Romans by way of a rhetorical question: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1). His response to that question was direct and to the point: That’s unthinkable! As far as sin is concerned, we have died. So how can we still live under sin’s influence?” (Romans 6:2 GW).

If we seek to continue in sin so that grace might increase, then “grace” becomes little more than an exploitation of God’s unmerited favor. Those who desire to test God in that manner might benefit from the following reminder: “Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NET). Therefore, we must see that we respond appropriately to the grace that God extends to us in Christ to ensure that we do not fall short of it.

(1) Dr. Bob Utley, Free Bible Commentary Hebrews 12 [12:15] Copyright ©2014 by Bible Lessons International http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL10/VOL10_12.html