“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Hebrews 12:1a NIV
The great cloud of witnesses, I believe, are the heroes of the faith of Hebrews 11 who have gone before us. They have set the example for us of what genuine faith in Jesus Christ should look like. For, their faith always resulted in action – in obedience to God.
By faith, Noah built the ark God directed him to build which saved him and his family and many creatures of the earth from the flood. By faith, Abraham obeyed God and went where God was leading him, even though he didn’t know where he was going. By faith, Moses led the children of Israel to freedom from slavery in Egypt, in obedience to God, even though he felt ill equipped to do so. All of these obeyed God as a result of their faith in God.
Thus, since we have such great examples of the faith to follow, we should throw off everything that hinders our walks of faith and our obedience to our Lord, i.e. everything that leads us into sin. And, we should forsake the sin which so easily entangles and entraps us in its snare. We must forsake our former lives of living for sin and self, and we must follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his will for our lives. For, this is genuine faith which saves.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a NIV
I wish that everyone who professes the name of Jesus would get this. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross just to forgive us our sins and to promise us heaven when we die. He died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. He gave his life up for us on that cross to transform us, to turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. This is the “GOOD NEWS!”
Not only must we forsake all hindrances to our walks of faith, and all that leads us into sin, and not only must we throw off the sin which so easily entraps us, but then we are to run with perseverance the race marked out for us by God. For, he didn’t save us just so we could go to heaven when we die. He has a purpose for our lives while we are still on this earth, and it is for us to live holy lives, pleasing to him, for his glory and praise, and to do what he says, and to do what he has called us to do for his honor and glory.
For, he has a reason for each one of us to exist, and it isn’t for ourselves for our own self-pleasure. It isn’t for us to be self-consumed, feeling like we have to be entertained all the time. We are here to give him glory by our lives and to minister his love and grace to others, and to share with them the hope that they can be delivered out of their slavery to sin and that they can live at peace with God, with joy, and with purpose and meaning to their lives.
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2b-3 NIV
The joy that was set before Jesus Christ was our salvation from our slavery to sin and the empowerment he was to give us to live righteously before him, in purity of heart and devotion to him, all because of his grace to us. For that purpose, he willingly gave up his life on that cross, and he willing gave up his reputation, too, and he willingly suffered much abuse, rejection and persecution so that we could find freedom in him from our chains to sin.
So, Jesus sets the prime example for us in how to resist Satan, to flee temptation, to draw near to God, and to endure unjust suffering for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. So, whether we are being tempted to sin, or whether we are being faced with much opposition to our walks of faith, we can find strength in our Lord Jesus to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to endure whatever opposition from the enemy we might face and still remain faithful to our Lord, committed to his service, ready to obey his every word.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV
This is another very important matter about the gospel that we also need to get, for many people these days think that if they just confess Jesus as Lord with their mouths, and if they just believe in his death and resurrection, that they will be saved.
I realize Rom. 10:9-10 states this, but we have to read that passage in the whole of Romans, for Romans teaches us, too, the same thing as Hebrews teaches us, and that is that without holiness will not see the Lord. If we don’t die with Christ to sin, we will die in our sins. We will not have eternal life with God if we live according to our sinful flesh (Rom. 8:1-17).
A Bitter Root
There are two particular sin issues that the Lord is leading me today to talk about, and this first one has to do with bitterness. And, bitterness comes from unresolved anger, irritation and frustration. There are far too many people today who call themselves Christians who have all kinds of bitterness stored up inside of them just waiting to explode when triggered.
They may think that they are controlling their anger by stuffing it down inside them, and by using human methods of anger management or behavioral modification to keep it under wraps. But, those can only work so far, for if the anger is unresolved, and it is stuffed down inside your heart, and you are hiding it inside, thinking you are managing it, it is bound to surface at some time or another. But, even if it doesn’t surface, it will impact your attitudes, behaviors and your relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Lord is giving me a picture today of this hidden anger that is stuffed down inside one’s heart, and that is like a container of balled up socks. For, socks are hits, punches, whacks that you feel inside, which you try to suppress, but they will come out in how you talk to people, how you treat people, in particular the ones you are bitter against. For, it is out of our hearts that our mouths speak, and it is out of our hearts that all sorts of evil are acted out in our lives. And, some of that stems from bitterness.
For, in reality, when we have all this bitterness stored up inside us, we are really angry with God, and so when we behave wickedly, we are rebelling against God out of anger that he somehow didn’t do what we thought he should have done for us. So, we need to forgive God, and we need to forgive all who we believe offended us, and we need to let go of that bitterness and trust God with our lives and treat others with love, instead.
See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done. Hebrews 12:16-17 NIV
This is the second sin issue the Lord is leading me to talk about today. And, what he is showing me is that many people who call themselves Christians are living in sexual immorality because they feel at liberty to do so. They feel they have free license to sin now that they are under grace. But, the grace they feel they have is a false grace, for it is a shortened version of God’s grace, and it is inadequate to save anyone from their slavery to sin and to set them on the right path of living for purity and righteousness.
So, because they have put their hope and faith in a cheapened version of God’s true grace, they feel at liberty to break through God’s moral barriers and restraints that he set for us to adhere to. And, instead of listening to what the scriptures teach on this subject, they are listening to feel good messages which tickle itching ears which convince them that they can live in immorality and that God’s grace covers it all. But, that is a lie.
So, their fat bellies (their insatiable appetites for the lust of the flesh) rule their lives, and instead of following the grace of God which teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, they indulge in what is unholy, impure, and immoral, because they are listening to a false gospel of men which is variable and multi-influenced and bent.
So, God is confronting all who profess his name to reject the cheap grace gospel message, which comes up short of delivering them from their sins, and he is telling them that they need to put on the true gospel of our salvation which delivers from slavery to sin and which empowers us to walk righteously before our God. For, if we walk according to our flesh, we are going to die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity (Gal. 6:7-8).
It’s All You
Lyrics by Tosin Iyawo Ogaga & Sue Love
Music by Sue Love @ Original Works
Vocals by Tosin Iyawo Ogaga
May 31, 2019
You are the reason I want to dance.
You are the reason I want to sing.
You are the reason, expressing myself,
I serve You in all the ways You lead me.
You are the reason my heart gives You praise.
You are the reason that I am alive.
I bring out Your best moves
Just so I do embrace You;
Sing out loud as You lead just to please You.
Let myself follow You. I don’t care who watches me.
All I want to do is to make You smile.
Let every fiber of me bring You praise.
Your love has lifted my feet to dance.
Your faithfulness leaves me singing for joy.
You, Jesus, are the reason, it’s all You.
Your grace gives me life.
*full lyrics used by permission of the lyricists