Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
“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, 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.”
Heroes of Old
In Hebrews 11, which is called “the faith chapter” of the Bible, we have recorded for us a historical record of many of the saints of old and their walks of faith with the Lord.
We have Noah, during a time when all but him and his family were living it up and ignoring God, called of God to build a humongous boat for him and his family and for two of every kind of living creature (male and female). He obeyed God, and did what he said, although I am certain the rest of the world probably mocked him and criticized him for it, and they probably called him crazy, too.
But, he persevered, and he believed God, and he did what he said, and the rains did come, and the earth and all that lived in it were destroyed, who were not in the boat, just as God had said would happen. But, he and his family were saved, as were a small representation of all living creatures. And, life on this earth was preserved for future generations.
And, we have Abraham, who in his old age was promised an heir, the seed through whom all the nations would be blessed, the seed who ultimately was realized in Jesus Christ, our Lord, through whom we are all blessed who trust in him to be Lord and Savior of our lives. He trusted God that what God had said would come about, and he did become the father of many nations.
And, he did what God told him to do, not perfectly, but even when he didn’t know where he was going, and even when what God had asked him to do didn’t make sense. And, through his family line our Savior, Jesus Christ, came into the world to save mankind from his sins, just as God had promised. And, the nations of the world have been blessed by the salvation from sin that God had said would take place.
And, then there was Moses, reluctant as he was to obey God initially, and to do what he said, who finally surrendered to the Lord, and who did what he commanded. And, because of his obedience to the Lord, even in the face of great opposition, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, were preserved, and they were saved from their slavery to sin, i.e. we who are now God’s chosen people, by faith in him, have been saved out of our slavery to sin.
All of these saints of God obeyed God, did what he said, and because of their obedience, it meant the salvation of human lives, and the preservation of a people committed to God and to his service, i.e. it meant future generations of people who would walk with God, who would follow him in obedience, and who would believe in the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
These were not perfect people, though. But, when they followed the Lord in surrender to his will, and they were walking in obedience to the Lord, and they were not walking according to their flesh, still living in sin, God did wonderful things through their faith in him. And, he will do wonderful things through us, too, who are committed to walking in faithful obedience to him. And, our obedience will also mean the salvation of human lives.
Lay It Aside
But, for us to be used of God in the lives of others, for their salvation from sin, we need to cast aside sin which so easily entangles us, i.e. we need to forsake our sinful lifestyles (practices) to follow Jesus Christ in surrender to his will for our lives. We need to flee temptation and resist the devil, and we need to draw near to God in full assurance of faith.
Daily we must be putting sin to death in our lives, by the Spirit. And, daily we must be putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks, his temptations, and his evil schemes against us. For, Jesus didn’t save us from our sins merely so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He saved us so that we would die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness, and so that we would live godly and holy lives, pleasing unto him day by day by day.
But, it isn’t just the sin which we must forsake. We must cast off every weight, every hindrance to our walks of faith, and every barrier to us living victorious Christian lives committed to our Lord and to his service.
For, many people struggle through life with sinful addictions because they are not willing to remove from their lives those things which they know consistently lead them into sin, or which hinder them from moving forward in their walks of faith with the Lord.
For example, if the sin which so easily entangles you is lust, you have to cut it off at its source, which is in the heart. For, every day that we still live in these flesh bodies is a battle. It is to choose, either to give in to the flesh, or to give in to the Spirit. And, the more we have surrendered to the flesh in our lives, the more our hearts and minds are prone to wander that direction. And, this is why the scriptures speak often of the renewal of the mind.
So, we have to stop taking into our minds what is selfish, lewd, immoral, wicked, and fleshly, etc., and we have to be filling our minds, instead, with what is pure, righteous, holy and good. We have to stop feeding the flesh, and we have to feed on the word of God, instead. We have to stop playing with fire, and going places we know we ought not to go, and then act surprised when we end up in a compromising situation.
If anger and bitterness are leading us to be abusive to others, then we need to let go of that anger and bitterness and starve them, not feed them. For, the more we feed the flesh, the more our minds, hearts and behaviors will follow course.
If fear is what controls us, or what hinders us from obeying the Lord, then we need to tell fear “No!” and we need to go against that fear by doing what we are afraid to do, even if our emotions are not there yet. For, one of Satan’s biggest tactics against us is to lie to us and to get us to be afraid, and then we will recoil rather than move forward in faith.
Run with Endurance
God has called each and every one of us, who are his children, to something very special, uniquely designed for us, like he did with Noah and Abraham and Moses. God has a will and a purpose for our lives which is all the same, but then he has a unique design for us as individuals, too. He has something he wants us to do in a way that is expressly designed for us to follow.
But, Satan is going to fight us, I guarantee it! He doesn’t want us obeying the Lord, doing what he says. And, so he will pull out all the stops to try to get us to retreat. He knows a lot of our weaknesses, too, and he will play on each and every one of them until he can get us to give up and to go right back to following the flesh instead of the Spirit.
And, one of Satan’s biggest lies against us is to convince us that we can’t live in victory over sin, that we will always struggle and live half-hearted Christian lives. But, that is a big fat lie! For, Jesus died on that cross to deliver us out of our bondage (addiction) to sin. So, we can live in victory, and we don’t have to “struggle,” i.e. regularly and consistently yield to the flesh in defeat. We can live holy lives pleasing to God when we choose to say “No” to the flesh, and when we choose to say “Yes” to the Spirit.
But, we don’t have to do this in our own strength. In fact, we can’t. Jesus has given us the victory! And, he will give us all we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to walk faithfully before our Lord. It doesn’t mean we will be perfect, but that we won’t be using lack of perfection as an excuse for willful defiance against our Lord.
So, if we are going to run with endurance, we have to stop believing the lies Satan whispers in our ears, and which his followers reinforce, but we have to keep believing the truth of what God’s word teaches us, and let that be reinforced in our lives daily through spending much time with our Lord in his word and in following him in obedience.
Eyes on Jesus
One of the biggest reasons we retreat in fear, and we lack faith, and we surrender to our flesh is that we get our eyes off of Jesus and we get them on to our circumstances, and thus we begin to sink. We get our focus on the waves crashing all around us, and thus we surrender to the waves instead of to the one reaching out his hand to us to rescue us from drowning.
And, so, despite what is tempting us, despite our fears, despite people mocking us, chiding us, rejecting us and persecuting us, we must persevere. We must keep saying “No!” to Satan and to the flesh and to the waves crashing around us trying to intimidate us to give up and to give in. Even if all forsake us, and if all cry out against us, we must keep moving forward in doing what God has called us to do – all in his power and strength.
For, all things are possible with God, i.e. all things according to his will and purposes for our lives. So, don’t buy into the lie that says you can’t move past mediocrity, or that you can’t move past your sinful addictions to freedom in Christ, or that God can’t use you because of past failures, or that man is stronger than God or that Satan can defeat us. Believe God!
Much Too High A Price / Jesus Paid It All
Phil McHugh and Greg Nelson
You paid much too high a price for me, Your tears, Your blood, the pain –
To have my soul just stirred at times yet never truly changed.
You deserve a fiery love that won’t ignore your sacrifice
Because You paid much too high a price.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019