“Sacrifices of Lips and Life”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Hebrews 13.15-16
Turn to Israel’s national Thanksgiving day passage in Deuteronomy 26. Picture yourself as a teenage Israelite during the wilderness wanderings. You are old enough to remember how God delivered your people from slavery in Egypt with a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” You recall the miraculous provision in the wilderness when God fed you with bread from heaven.
And at the edge of the Promised Land, you observe several men being sent off to investigate the land that the Lord your God promised your people. And they return after 40 days with their report. “It’s a great land that the LORD is giving to us!” It’s full of milk and honey, the fruit of the land is great … but 10 of the 12 men didn’t trust in the Lord to lead the Israelites to take control of the land; it would be terrifying to go into the land and to take it over because all the big strong men there!
And so the people weep and wail and choose not to enter the land. They fail to trust the Lord. And the Lord rightly responds with discipline … the whole people must wander around in the desert for 40 years! And that whole generation will die off, except for Caleb and Joshua and those 20 and younger…and that’s you.
And then while you’re in the wilderness, Moses is preaching and he gives the Lord’s prescription, as it were, for the first thanksgiving.
In Deuteronomy 26, the Lord commissions his people to bring the first fruits of their first harvest when they enter into the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 26:1–2 1 “Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it, 2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the Lord your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name.
They were to make a sacrifice of the fruit of the ground to the Lord, their harvest. And then in verse 12, they were to give that tithe of their produce to the needy of the land.
Deuteronomy 26:12 12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
And wow, wouldn’t you be happy to finally get there and to be celebrating the harvest after all those years in the desert?
This account of what would be the sacrifices of the first Jewish Thanksgiving are similar to our sacrifices today. Our text this morning is over in the book of Hebrews 13:15-16 … let’s turn there and to get the context, we’ll read Hebrews 13:10-16. And what we’ll see is that we too are to make sacrifices, but they are to be spiritual sacrifices … sacrifices of our lips and our life.
Hebrews 13:10–16 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. 15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Verse 15, we offer the sacrifice of lips … praise and thanksgiving … and verses 16 we offer the sacrifice of our lives…so I’d like to preach this Thanksgiving briefly on “The Sacrifices of Lips and Life.”
TRANS: I see 3 points in the passage….first, the means of the sacrifice …. Christ. Second, the sacrifices themselves: lips and life …. and third, the Divine Delight. So first, the means of these sacrifices …
The means of these sacrifices: Christ
verse 15, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.”
Our sacrifices of praise are to be offered through Jesus Christ. Why is that case?
The text before tells us…verse 12 … “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
Jesus, through His own blood, sanctified the people. Jesus Christ alone is the Great High Priest and the sacrifice for sin. Through His blood, he sanctified, He set apart His people.
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.” Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we can come to God! He set apart His people through His death and resurrection so that we can come to God.
Ephesians 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
Colossians 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Because God saves us through Christ, we serve God through Christ. We don’t come to God on our own, but through Jesus and His sacrifice.
ILL: Since Cain and Able, men have been coming to God through a sacrifice. Under the Old Covenant, the LORD through Moses commanded it to be so. But Christ is the final sacrifice to whom all those animal sacrifices pointed, Heb. 10:1 … all those sacrifices were but a shadow of the true sacrifice to come, Jesus Christ …And through Jesus, we can approach God in prayer and praise.
Apart from a mediator … someone to represent us before God, we could by no means come to God. Without the Lord Jesus and his sacrifice, we have no right to pray to God or to approach him or praise Him in any way … it is “through Him, then that we can offer a sacrifice of praise.” To utter any God-accepted syllable from our sinful lips requires the acceptable sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through His blood followers of Christ are sanctified, set apart for salvation and service to God.
If “haughty eyes and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin,” how much more is it to approach an infinitely holy God without a mediator? That is not safe.
But praise the Lord that we can come to Him, through the only appointed mediator, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, our high priest and mediator, has effectively represented us before the Holy Father through His precious blood, and we have access to God … Let us therefore take advantage of that, and boldly approach the throne of God and offer continual sacrifices of praise through him.
ILL: But the Jewish detractors say, “But you Christians have no altar upon which to offer those sacrifices!”
Yes, we have an altar, Jesus Christ. He is our sacrifice for sin and He is our….
Hebrews 13:10 [He is our] 10 altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
ILL: Just like under the Old Covenant sacrificial system, the worshipper would place his sacrifice on the altar … Just like that, Jesus Christ is our altar. We worship God through Jesus Christ.
We overwhelmingly conqueror through him, we exist through him, through him is our Amen to the glory of God, and we give thanks through his name; we glorify God but only through Jesus Christ.
APP: Do we forget the price that was paid the we might be able to seek the Lord? Do we casually approach the throne of God, totally unaware that without the mediation of Jesus Christ we have no right before our holy God? We are by no means more acceptable to God in our prayers because they are long or because they are more beautiful or because they are more emotional. We’re not more pleasing to the Lord in our praise to Him when we can sing more exceptionally … No, our only righteous standing before God is through Jesus Christ.
TRANS: And so the means by which we can offer any sacrifice to God is through our mediator, Jesus Christ. Now, secondly the sacrifices themselves.
The sacrifices themselves: Praise of lips and life
A. We have the sacrifice of the lips
Hebrews 13:15 15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Our lips are to be filled with praise and thanks to His name.
Notice first how it is described: Praise to God
We must praise God, whether by prayer or singing. This is to glory in who He is and what He has done.
ILL: Jesus taught us to pray and He said first we should hallow His name, set apart His name, praise Him…”Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name.” Set apart His name, praise Him. But you must know Him to praise. To know Him is to love Him and enjoy Him, which will result in praising Him.
Why such praise? Is God so insecure that He needs our praise? Is He so egotistical that He must be honored by all?
No, praise is the overflow of a cup filled up with the enjoyment of God…and enjoyment of His gifts, and creation. When you look at the vast creation God has made … the sun moon stars…and you wonder and marvel … you’re enjoying Him and so then you should praise the Lord! If you are in the habit of enjoying God and making your soul happy in His word, making your soul happy in your service to Him by communing with Him daily, you’ll be able to praise Him continually.
So praise is simply a result of enjoying God, His character, works, and purposes in the earth.
ILL: When I was with my mom coming home one weekend from the first college I attended… this is before I had trusted Christ … we saw a beautiful sunset. My mom had made some comment and then I said, “Yes, it’s like I need more of what that is.” I knew there was something in that scene that I needed [ahem … the heavens declare the glory of God] … but it wasn’t ultimately satisfying … it was like I didn’t have the beauty of all of what that was … I was on the outside, looking in …why? Because I couldn’t praise the Lord … I had no outlet of praise for the wonder and beauty I saw
But now, in Christ, I see the beauty of His creation and I can spill that joy over into praising His holy name … the joy in creation spills over into heart-felt praise, and therein lies true joy.
APP: It could be you’re in a foul mood on occasion because you haven’t put into practice praising the Lord. You see joyful things all around, His grace under every leaf, His glory in every detail, but you’re discontent, because you don’t stop and praise Him for the small things and the big things!
Notice how it is illustrated: It’s a Sacrifice of praise
Hebrews 13:15 15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God
We no longer offer sacrifices of animals or of grain offerings upon an altar as they did under the Old Covenant, but we do offer sacrifices.
ILL: The Jewish detractors might say, “You have ceased sacrificing.” “Well, Jesus is our final sacrifice for sin….”
But we still offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving… “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God…”
1 Peter 2:5 5 you [are] …to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The sacrifices under the Old Covenant were important in their own right; how much more, after Christ has come, ought we be careful to perform the New Covenant sacrifice of praise to God!
APP: It’s a sacrifice. It costs. David refused to sacrifice an offering that didn’t cost him something (2 Sam. 24:24). And what sacrifice is it for us to praise the Lord? Time … study…effort? … know your God in His word and practice your praises in prayer, song and life.
Notice also how our sacrifices are described: Giving thanks to Him
Hebrews 13:15 15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
EXP: The writer to the Hebrews continues the sacrificial theme. We are to give thanks to His name; give thanks to Him.
“Giving thanks to His name” is properly translated here. If you have an ESV it’s translated “acknowledge his name” and if you have an NIV this is translated “confess his name.”
The word is appropriately translated “confess” or “acknowledge” in other passages of Scripture. However, without going into the particulars … ahem … it’s followed by the dative of person … ok I did anyway …. , the Greek construction here directs us to translate it “to give thanks.” And the parallelism in the verse shows us this.
Hebrews 13:15 15 a sacrifice of praise to God [is parallel to … it’s similar to] the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Praise and thanks are similar ideas. We must be thankful to Him specifically. We’re not to just have a general attitude of gratitude but actionable, spoken, prayed thankfulness.
Tell to others your thankfulness; praise the Lord, be thankful to Him … let others hear of it. There’s no room for grumbling in the Christian life … let’s be filled with thankfulness…from the air you breath to the family you have to the material provisions you enjoy … and eternal life in Christ … what should be able to steal my joy?
And notice how it is illustrated: this is the fruit of lips
Hebrews 13:15 15 Let us continually offer up … the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
EXP: This is spoken praise, the fruit of the lips… This is sacrificial language as well the fruit of the lips. Remember Deut 26:1-2. The Israelites were to enter the land and take some of the first of the produce, the fruit of the ground and put it in the basket.
ILL: But this picture goes beyond sacrifice … what goes out from our lips is fruit. The fruit of our lips then reveals the true nature of the soil of our hearts. As Jesus said, “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
What does the fruit of your lips reveal about the soil of your heart? You must fill your heart with thankful thoughts and reject grumbling thoughts. It’s daily and hourly repentance of grumbling and hourly putting on thankfulness to God that will enrich the soul of your heart and allow for thoughts of thankfulness to take root.
ILL: Somebody said, “when it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
APP: So what does your mouth reveal about your heart? Are you a blamethrower … like a weapon spewing out fire, you spew blame and make excuses … are you full of gossip and negativity … you might be surprised if you really surveyed your own speech.
Let’s learn to thank the Lord and forsake grumbling and negativity.
TRANS: But 1 John 3:18 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” and so second … the sacrifice of the life. We have the sacrifice of the lips and now the sacrifice of the life
B. Second, the sacrifice of the life
Hebrews 13:16 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing,
When we’ve been blessed with such blessing, how can we hoard it all to ourselves? No … do good to others, share with them … and how can you be a blessing to someone today? How can you enliven your workplace with the light of Christ? How can you encourage someone who is downtrodden…
James 1:27 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Do not neglect this! How can you do good to someone? And how can you share?
C. To be offered continually
These 2 sacrifices, the sacrifice of the lips and the sacrifice of the life, are to offered v.15 says continually.
You couldn’t say “on Sunday’s” or just in the morning. But continually. Praise without ceasing; morning, noon, and night … and every moment in between. Praise him when confronted by sin; praise Him when tempted, praise Him when you’re sad, in pain … praise Him at all times.
“From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
The assurance of these sacrifices: Divine Delight
And lastly, if this is your practice, you have a marvelous promise … Heb. 13:16… “for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Oh, to know that I have a life that is pleasing to God! Friend, you can have that knowledge. If you’ve trusted Christ and have been delivered from sin by Christ and you go about through Christ to offer up your lips and your life as a sacrifice to God, that will be a sweet smelling savour to God, well-pleasing to Him.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Hebrews 13.15-16
That your life is a sacrifice is nothing new …
Romans 12:1 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Present yourself as a sacrifice to God, your lips and your life.
But you say my voice is bad and my hands too weak. I’m too scared to speak and too weak to serve … But can you praise the Lord? When you pray in your home with your family, do you praise the Lord? Do you thank Him?
Can you sing songs of praise not just on Sunday’s but in your vehicle and in your home? Does your heart ever lift up spontaneously when a song of praise comes to your heart? You need to know some hymns!
What sacrifices can I give unto him? Sing in your homes, sing in your room…praise him at all times… Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
Let your life be full of the warmth of the glories of God! You are a stone in the very temple of God and you are not merely called upon to witness the praise of God, but to be a full participant because in His temple everything says, “Glory!”