The Outsiders

Hebrews: Jesus is Better  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Have you ever felt excluded? Have you ever felt like an outsider? It’s one of those feelings innate to human beings that causes us to cringe and seek any means necessary to make sure we never feel like an outsider.
That’s why it may come as a bit of surprise that this is exactly what the writer of Hebrews wanted for his readers, exactly what God wants for us.
God’s desire for us is that we would leave the ways of this world to identify with Christ as aliens and strangers here but sons and daughters where it ultimately matters. Hebrews 13:9-16 is going to lay out for us just what that looks like.


If you look up at the heading above chapter 13 in your Bibles, you’ll see where the ESV editors have titled this section, “Sacrifices Pleasing to God.” That designation is helpful as we come to this passage tonight because that’s exactly what the author is addressing.
Hebrews 13:9 ESV
9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
“led away” = literally: carried away from (para phero)
“strengthened” = confirmed, established, sustained
If this is just about Judaism it would be odd for the writer to refer to it as diverse and strange, but as it is this was most likely a legalistic strain that had crept into the community there emphasizing the Jewish teachings about clean and unclean foods.
Our author reminded them that their standing before the Lord had little to do with food an everything to do with grace.
They weren’t to “keep themselves” in the faith by observing ritualistic food laws or legalistic requirements being imposed by false teachers.
Galatians 3:1–3 ESV
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
1 Peter 1:3–5 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Taking a little shot towards the end, he asks, “How have those food laws worked out for those so devoted to them?
Hebrews 13:10 ESV
10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.
The altar here is most likely a figure of speech meant to represent the cross where the ultimate sin offering had been made.
At this altar, those who want to continue in the Judaistic ways are prohibited from fellowship.
Food now becomes a metaphor for partaking of the benefits of the sacrifice offered.
Romans 3:20 ESV
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The idea here is that those who still wanted a part of Judaism were disqualified from a share in Christ.
Galatians 5:4 ESV
4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

P1: Fear Anything that Lessens Christ’s Work (vv. 9-10)

This has been a recurring message throughout the book of Hebrews, so it should come as no surprise that he returns to the theme as the book is drawing to a close. But it doesn’t mean we tune it out either because we can learn something new every time we come to the Word.
You and I might not be tempted by food laws, but we have our own proclivities toward our legalistic security blankets.
Discipleship relationship w/ a particular leader or pastor
Not engaging in a specific sin
Praying a prayer
We can be tempted to look to works for a sign that we’re okay with God. We want to bring our merit, our righteousness and ask if we’re good, if we’re acceptable.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
We have to hold fast to the confession of our hope, the gospel of Jesus that tells us that we are acceptable to God because he has died for our sins.
Isaiah 1:18 ESV
18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Legalism isn’t the same thing as sanctification.
Legalism looks at our works as a source of righteousness.
Legalism leads us to boast in ourselves and not in Jesus.
Legalism lessens the impact of the cross.
Legalism can have eternal ramifications.
Hebrews 13:11–12 ESV
11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
Jesus was doing something different. He was offered outside the city.
On the Day of Atonement, the priest was required to take the sin offering and burn it outside the camp.
They were not allowed to partake of the meat of the offering because it was unclean as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of Israel.
In a grand twist of irony, the Jewish priests would be excluded from the atonement offering of Jesus because Jesus went outside the camp to make his offering.
Hebrews 13:13 ESV
13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
“outside the camp”
Break with Judaism and go to Jesus
Leave behind legalistic security blankets and go to Jesus
Die to self and self-glory and go to Jesus
Die to the world and go to Jesus
Again, to stay inside the camp would be to exclude oneself from the benefits of Christ’s offering (vv. 11-12).
Hebrews 13:14 ESV
14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
Hebrews 11:10 ESV
10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:16 ESV
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Going outside the camp to Jesus may bring the reproach of Christ upon us, but it will be worth it when we remember how good it will be in the future. It may cost us to choose Jesus here, but the reward in eternity will be undoubtedly worth everything we might suffer now.

P2: Choose Jesus with Kingdom Eyes (vv. 13-14)

Illustrate: PL signs all of his emails “Kingdom Eyes”
If you hold fast to your confession in the years to come, you will draw the ire of the world.
A pro-life facility in Wisconsin was recently attacked, “firebombed,” and the people who did it left voicemails on the answering machine saying, “Burn, little Jesus freaks.”
It is much more popular today to talk about your deconversion from Christianity than your conversion.
Are you willing to go outside the camp to Jesus?
Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 11:24–25 ESV
24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Why do you think God included Revelation 21 in the Bible?
Over the course of 60 years you might have left on this earth, you are going to need to refocus on the city that is to come.
Maybe you’re in a valley right now and you need to refocus on the city that is to come
Maybe you’ve been battling temptation to give-in to the pleasures of this temporal city and you need to refocus on the city that is to come
Maybe you’re afraid of what this temporal city might look like tomorrow and you need to refocus on the city that is to come
Every day you wake up it’s your decision: are you going outside the camp to Jesus today or not? Just know that this choice will be a battle.
It will always be easier to stay inside the camp.
It will always seem safer to stay inside the camp.
It will always seem more popular to stay inside the camp.
What does it look like for us to be outside the camp? What are we doing there?
Hebrews 13:15 ESV
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
“a sacrifice of praise”
Continues the altar metaphor begun back in verse 10
We go outside the camp to the altar where ultimate atonement is ours, but we do not go empty-handed
We don’t go with the blood of bulls and goats (Hebrews 10:4, 11)
Instead we go with ourselves and our obedience offered as worship
This is “the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
This is the evidence of our profession
Your profession should impact every part of your life
The gospel is about trusting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That first part, “Lord,” means that we are submitting our lives to his Lordship, to his sovereign rule and reign, that we are saying, “Lord, here I am in my entirety to submit myself to you. I recognize your right to rule and reign over every part of my life. I surrender everything to you.”

P3: Worship Jesus in Full Devotion (vv. 15-16)

This is a process, and that’s why we talk about progressive sanctification. This doesn’t happen overnight or as soon as you’re saved. But we have a responsibility to be continually shifting our allegiances from this world, from ourselves, to Jesus.
Philippians 1:21 ESV
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV
9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
Back in our passage, our author describes this process this way:
Hebrews 13:16 ESV
16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Do good and love each other sacrificially.
That’s what it looks like to live in sacrificial praise to Jesus
Metabolism is a great thing when you have it and it’s working quickly
But over time your metabolism slows down and all of a sudden you notice your pants fit a little tighter and your shirts seem to have shrunk the last time through the dryer
The solution to this is to discipline yourself with consistent diet and exercise
And as long as you stay consistent in that, most of the time, your body will respond
But let up, take a couple of weeks off, and guess what? Those pants start shrinking again
Y’all our spiritual metabolism has to be kept up just like our physical metabolism. We live in a world that does not foster a healthy spiritual life. We live in a world of spiritual junk food and Netflix binges. If we don’t do hard things to keep ourselves anchored to Jesus, we won’t do well spiritually speaking.


A pariah is one who is an outcast, one who is of despised estate, one who has been rejected by society. It’s meant to be an undesirable title, but for Christians it should be a welcome moniker. We are the outsiders, the outcasts, who follow a Savior who has been despised and rejected by this world. And he’s called us to follow him. He’s called us to go to him outside the camp, and to bear the same reproach that he suffered from this world in exchange for a better world, a world to come, a world where the outsiders will all of the sudden become the insiders.
Christ be Magnified.
Application Questions:
Read Galatians 5:4. What is it that makes legalism so dangerous to the Christian? What are some signs of legalism that we should look out for in our own lives? What are some of the dangers in misunderstanding what legalism truly is?
Read Revelation 21:1-8. What are some practical ways to foster “kingdom eyes” with one another?
Read Romans 6:15-19 and Romans 6:12-14. How is submitting to the Lordship of Christ different from the legalism we talked about in question 1? What would you say to someone who, when confronted with sin, accuses you of being legalistic and not extending grace?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:9 and Philippians 1:21. When you take inventory of your life, what areas do you see a need for Christ’s Lordship to be more present? What are the biggest barriers you see to bringing those areas into submission to God’s word? What are some practical ways to submit those areas to Christ’s Lordship?
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