If We Want Different Results

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.”

Examples of Faith

In Hebrews, chapter 11, we have an accounting of some of the greats of the Christian faith who have gone on before us. They serve as this “great cloud of witnesses.” By faith in God (in Christ) they obeyed the Lord, and they did what he said, and because they obeyed, many human lives were impacted for eternal salvation. Many put their faith and trust in God (in Christ).

They serve as an encouragement to us to also follow our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives, not only for ourselves, but for all people whose lives will be impacted by our lives, and for the glory and praise of God.

They were imperfect people, though, so let us not get sidetracked by their imperfections and therefore miss what the Lord desires to teach us here. He does not demand perfection of us, either, but he does command us to walk (in practice, in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Tit 2:11-14).

Weights and Sins

We have an illustration here of someone running a physical race. The runner is able to run much better if he doesn’t have things weighing him down preventing him from being able to run the race or to not be able to finish the race. And that is why you will see runners with very lightweight clothing.

We, as followers of Jesus, are to run, not a physical race, but a spiritual race to which God has called us. This walk of faith in Jesus Christ (our race) involves us first dying with Christ to sin, by the Spirit, then us being reborn of the Spirit of God (resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him).

Since Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, faith in Jesus is like the runner throwing off every hindrance and the weight of sin which weighs him down so he can run the race God has for him to run (to live) with perseverance.

But this is not a one-time event in our lives and then we are good to go until we reach heaven one day. We must daily die to sin and to self and daily follow our Lord in walks of obedience to his commands. And the same Holy Spirit who transformed us from death to life will also empower us to continue to put sin to death in our lives and to live for righteousness.

This involves us daily saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and us living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives, by the Spirit, while we wait for our Lord’s soon return. It is a daily discipline of putting on the armor of God to fight off Satan’s schemes against us, too (Tit 2:11-14; Eph 6:10-20).

Thus, if something in our lives is regularly tripping us up or pulling us down and keeping us from living a life of righteousness as we are called of God to do, then we must get rid of whatever it is that is leading us into habitual sin. This is just pure logic, and it is wisdom, as well as it is obedience to God.

We don’t go to places we know are going to tempt us to sin where we know we are bound to fail, because wisdom teaches us that if we follow the same plan each time that we are going to get the same results. Wisdom also says, “Change the plan if you want different results.”

So, this isn’t just about forsaking our sins and living to Christ and to his righteousness, by the Spirit, but this is about getting rid of those weights, those hindrances to our walks of faith weighing us down which are keeping us from walking the walk and not just talking the walk.

Those hindrances could be laziness, selfishness, pride, the distractions of this world, and addictions, including addictions to social media or games or movies or novels or whatever it is that is keeping you from being fully surrendered to Jesus Christ.

Yet, if our hearts are bent towards sin, and if it is our pattern to repeat the same sins over again, we will not be inclined to throw off the weights and the sin which so easily entangles. Thus, we must first die with Christ to sin and be transformed of God’s Spirit if we are going to forsake sin.

Looking to Jesus

And this is the key here. We can’t do this in our own flesh. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. We can only be free from our slavery to sin and become slaves of God and of his righteousness in the power and working of God’s Spirit in our lives.

But this is also key here. We must surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, die with Christ to sin, and live to Christ and to his righteousness in the power of God’s Spirit as we yield our lives over to the Spirit’s control, and as we cooperate with God in his work of transformation of our hearts.

Jesus made the way for us to be set free from our slavery to sin and for us to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, but we must walk in that way via submission and obedience to our Lord (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:1-6; Lu 9:23-26; Tit 2:11-14).

And this is moment by moment and day by day surrender to our Lord, looking to Jesus for our strength and counsel, and then following him in the way that he leads us to go, resisting the devil, and fleeing temptation to sin against God.

And this is following Jesus’ example, too, for how he lived his life, how he resisted the devil and fled temptation to sin, and how he walked by the Spirit and did not give way to the flesh.

And this is following him in putting sin to death in our lives and in being willing to be hated and persecuted, too, for the cross of Christ and because we are living in unadulterated fellowship with our Lord, too. And it is because we are also following his example of speaking the truth of God’s word to the people, too, that we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

When in The Stillness

An Original Work / September 26, 2011

When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.

While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.

Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.

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