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.”
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all on a journey. We are on a road to heaven. And, we are walking a path of righteousness. This is our Christian lives. This represents every aspect of our lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the words that we speak, and the things that we do, and it is our attitudes and the things that we value, too.
We enter this journey via faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, via dying with Christ to sin, and by being resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him. But that is just the start. We must die daily to sin and self, and we must walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit of God. But it is a growing and a learning process, and it has its ups and downs and its bumps in the road.
For, it is a process of putting off this and putting on that. That doesn’t mean we hold on to a load of sin, though, and that we only yield a little bit to God one sin at a time. Nonetheless, we still live in flesh bodies, and our flesh is at war with the Spirit, so every day is a new challenge of putting to death the deeds of the flesh and putting on Christ and his righteousness.
But we need to not lag in that process. We must not get slack and then become entangled by sin all over again because we weren’t being diligent in guarding our hearts and in putting that flesh to death daily, by the Spirit. We may also get caught in sin again, too, if we are not diligent in shaking off every hindrance to our walks of faith, too, i.e. those things that lead us to sin against God. They must be cut out of our lives.
Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
Jesus, although he was sinless, was tempted in every way in which we are tempted. So, he knows all about temptation to sin and having to resist the devil and to flee from temptation and to draw near to God the Father. So, he is our model for how to not give in to Satan and the flesh, but in how to walk (in practice) according to the Spirit of God.
And, he made the way of escape for us so that we don’t have to become overcome by sin. He died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. He put sin to death on that cross on our behalf so that we could be delivered out of our slavery to sin. And, he has given us all that we need to resist the devil and to walk in holiness.
So, we just must yield control of our lives over to him. And, we have to say “No” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, by God’s grace, while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).
Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“’My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.’
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
I see in Scripture two reasons for our Lord to discipline us, which includes rebuking and chastising us, too. One is that we have wandered off the path of righteousness and we have become overtaken by sin again, and so he reproves us in order to get us back on the right path and to assist us in forsaking any idols or temptations or hindrances to our walks of faith.
The other is I see this as just the normal course of our lives in pruning us to make us more fruitful, and in conforming us to the likeness of Christ. We need this discipline to keep us on the right track so that we don’t wander off to other gods or to following the ways of our flesh.
So, He allows hardships, pain, sorrow, rejection, persecution, misunderstandings and slander, etc. to come into our lives to keep us humble, to get us to call on him, and so that we learn to rely on him and not on ourselves, and to teach us perseverance.
So, when trials and tribulations come into our lives, although we may see them as something bad, or as something to be avoided, they are actually for our good, that we may share in Christ’s holiness and that we might be fruit-bearing disciples of his bearing the fruit of righteousness and holiness.
And, when we face this divine discipline on a somewhat regular or routine basis, if we respond to it in the right way, it is used of God to train us in holiness and righteousness, and to help us to grow to maturity in Christ. And, God may use it in our lives, too, to direct our paths, and to send us in the direction he has for us that we may not have even thought of. For, the trial possibly is being used of God to open new doors of ministry for us.
Hebrews 12:12-13 ESV
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
Again, we all still live in flesh bodies. We all still have the propensity to sin and to rebel against God. And, we are all still going to be tempted to sin against God, too, and in many ways. So, daily we die to sin and self, and daily we follow our Lord in obedience, empowered by God’s Spirit, moment by moment, as each opportunity or situation presents itself to us.
And, some situations may hit us hard, and our initial reaction may be to be afraid and to want to retreat. And, Satan may be battling us in our minds, too. So, we must fight off our enemy with the armor of God which the Lord has given us. For, the devil may throw all kinds of thoughts at us, and they may confuse our minds, too, and we may feel frustrated or lost, not knowing what to do. So, we must put on the truth and rebuke all lies against us.
We must not let the enemy take us down or make us fearful or to get us to doubt God or to feel as though we must live in fear. But we need to put on that armor of God so that we are strengthened in our walks of faith, and we need to be courageous and walk in the fear of the Lord, not in the fear of man.
And, we need to put off all those weights which hinder our walks of faith, and we must walk according to the word of God in his righteousness and holiness, empowered and strengthened by his Spirit.
Here We are But Straying Pilgrims
By Isaac Newton Carman
Here we are but straying pilgrims;
Here our path is often dim;
But to cheer us on our journey,
Still we sing this wayside hymn:
Yonder over the rolling river,
Where the shining mansions rise,
Soon will be our home for ever,
And the smile of the blessèd Giver
Gladdens all our longing eyes.
Here our feet are often weary
On the hills that throng our way;
Here the tempest darkly gathers,
But our hearts within us say: [Refrain]
Here our souls are often fearful
Of the pilgrim’s lurking foe;
But the Lord is our defender,
And He tells us we may know: [Refrain]
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