Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 5:06 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Look to God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB).
Which so Easily Entangles (v. 1)
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
The Christian life is being compared here to a race we must run well to the finish line. It is not like a sprint (short-distance race), but more like a marathon (long-distance race). For a runner to be prepared to run in a marathon race, it requires physical and mental training, self-discipline, proper diet, endurance and adequate rest, etc. He must rid his life of anything that would hinder his ability to race well, and he must adopt into his life all that will assist him in being able to run the race to the end.
Concerning the race that we must run as Christians, we must first of all begin with the correct foundation. We must understand that Jesus Christ did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. As well, Jesus didn’t die to set us free from sin so we could live however we want, but he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:1-14). When we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). This is what it means to be “born again” of the Spirit of God.
So, knowing that Jesus died that we might be delivered from slavery to sin, and so we might become bondservants of his righteousness, and by faith accepting this/his plan and purpose into our lives, via new birth of the Spirit, gives us the correct foundation for running this race. Now, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of our flesh so we can run this race. We lay aside everything which hinders our walks of faith and we, in the power and working of the Spirit within us, get rid of every lingering sin which so easily entangles (ensnares, traps) us. So, how do we do this?
We can’t do this, at least not in the flesh, and in our own strength or willpower. Only in the power of the Holy Spirit within us, as we yield control of our lives over to God, and we cooperate with the Spirit’s work, can we shake off those sins which so easily entrap (trick, deceive) us, and get rid of everything which hinders our spiritual walks of faith in Christ. Yet, we have to cooperate with the Spirit, i.e. we have to obey what God’s Word teaches us, and what the Spirit within us tells us and prompts us to do or not do. And, we have to mean business with God, and take sin seriously, and be willing to cut out of our lives everything that leads us into sin. So many Christians stop short there, because they are not willing to let go of what they know leads them into sin. And, so the sin cycle continues.
Once we have let go of what hinders our walks of faith, and what leads us into sin, then we need to resist the devil, flee sinful desires, and draw near to God. Again, so many Christians stop short here because they don’t flee sinful desires. They either entertain them, play with them, excuse them away, deny their existence, or think they can handle it, and so the sin cycle continues. Yet, if we are going to walk in the Spirit, and not after the flesh, then we need to yield control of our lives to the Spirit and cooperate with him in getting rid of sins which trap us. We need to flee sinful desires whenever the temptation arises to entertain them once again. Then, we can run with perseverance and endurance the race marked out for us.
Our Eyes on Jesus (v. 2)
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
With everything we are to put off from our lives there is a corresponding opposite which we are to put on. For instance, if our sin is lying, we need to tell the truth. If it is stealing, we need to work and then give to others in need. If it is adultery, we need to be faithful and purposefully loving with our spouse. If it is looking at pornography, we need to fill our minds and bathe our eyes with what is wholesome, pure, righteous, loving and kind. If it is overeating, we need to cut our portions in half or greatly reduce them. If it is selfishness, then we need to practice being unselfish, etc.
In our Christian walk, we can’t just cut out of our lives what leads us into sin and what hinders our spiritual walks of faith, and we can’t just get rid of or flee evil and sinful desires. Many people have tried just stopping what is wrong, but they didn’t put on what was right, and thus eventually they went right back to doing what was wrong. The main thing we need to put on is Christ and his Word and what is pure, righteous, wholesome, loving and holy. In other words, we have to fix our focus on Jesus Christ and on what he desires for our lives, and we have to daily be in his Word and in prayer, and then we have to do what his Word says to do. Again, many people stop short here because they are not willing to obey what the Word teaches they must do, and so they continue the sin cycle. But, the only way we are going to run this race with endurance to the finish line is if we keep our lives focused on Jesus and on his truth and on his will for our lives.
If Jesus Christ would go through all he went through so we could go free from sin (the joy set before him), who are we to stop short of what he has for us? The Christian life involves the cross of Christ in our lives, i.e. we are to die with Christ to sin so we can live with Christ to righteousness. He didn’t say there would not be pain involved. Resisting Satan and fleeing temptation to sin (or fleeing sinful desires) involves spiritual warfare, and it isn’t comfortable or easy, but God has given us the spiritual weapons we need to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us and to flee evil desires. And, Jesus made the way of escape for us, if we will just take it. We have to believe, too, that Jesus won this battle for us, and that Satan is a defeated foe, so all we have to do is live in the power of that victory over sin by faith, and in the power of the Holy Spirit living and working within us.
Do Not Lose Heart (v. 3)
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In context, this is referring to the race that is set before us and how we need to throw off every hindrance and every sin which so easily entangles us so we can run the race of the Christian life. We have to remember here that Jesus was tempted to sin, too, yet he never sinned. He resisted Satan and he fled temptation, and in his death and resurrection he put sin to death, and he rose as victor over Satan and sin on our behalf, so we could live in freedom from slavery to sin and walk in victory and in his righteousness. So, we should not grow weary and lose heart, because we are victors in Christ.
Yet, I see another lesson to be learned here, too. This speaks of Jesus enduring hostility from sinners against himself. So, this is not about temptation to sin or fleeing sinful desires, but this is about how to respond to ill treatment at the hand of those who are giving the devil a foothold in their lives, and who are not resisting Satan nor fleeing sinful desires. Sometimes we are the targets of other people’s sins. Sometimes their willful and continued sins against us can lead us to grow weary and to lose heart. We are not made of iron and steel, after all, but we are made of clay, and our hearts can break and they can be wounded when others, especially those who should love us and protect us, turn against us, abuse us, and treat us unkindly and even persecute us because of our faith in Christ.
We are to find encouragement in what Jesus went through for us so that we could be set free from slavery to sin and so we could live in victory and walk in his Spirit and in his righteousness. Following Jesus Christ with our lives will mean that people will hate and abuse us and even falsely accuse us and mistreat us, and they will trample us down, and will wound our hearts, and they will betray us, and play us, and lie to us and cheat on us, but that is what Jesus went through for us. Yet, he endured such hostility from sinners because he loved us so much that he was willing to die for us. And, we, too, must endure and persevere and not give up hope or get discouraged. We have to know that God has a plan and a purpose for it all and that he will work all things together for good for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose. So, we keep our eyes on him, and we believe him to work it all out, and we trust him and rest in him and we do what he says.
Look to God / An Original Work
November 11, 2016
Fear not. Look to God.
He will strengthen you. He is your Rock.
He’ll meet all your needs.
Rest in Him, and be filled with His peace.
When sorrow fills your life, pray to the Lord.
Believe His promises. Trust in His Word.
He’ll lead you each day.
Give your life to Him. Follow His ways.
Lean on Him today.
He will comfort you. Trust Him always.
Read His Word and pray.
Tell the world of His love and His grace.
When trials come your way, be not afraid.
God watches over you. Be not dismayed.
He’ll work all for good,
For the called of God. Jesus, they love.
Sing songs. Praise your Lord.
Lift your voice to Him. Shout out His Word.
He forgave your sins,
Cleansed your heart. You are made new within.
When you are faced with temptation to fear,
Remember God will be with you. He’s near.
He’ll take care of you.
He will keep you in His love, tis true.