The Race Before Us

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.”

Laying Aside Every Weight

I believe the “great cloud of witnesses” to be a reference back to the previous chapter, chapter 11, which is regarded as the “faith chapter” of the Bible, for it records for us the faith of many people who have gone before us who, by faith, followed God and did what he said and/or they did what pleased God and their actions revealed that their faith was genuine. They are examples to us as to what our faith should look like.

Therefore, by faith in Jesus Christ we are to lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, so that we can run the race God has set before us to run. So, what is a weight? It is a burden, a hindrance, something that holds us back or slows us down and hinders us from running this race. Sin is definitely a hindrance, especially if it is habitual sin, and we will get to that in a minute, but there are other hindrances, as well.

A weight is something that slows us down, something that prevents us from doing what we ought to do. It can be such things as poor time management or lack of organization, or it can be distractions and, in our day and time, distractions abound! They are everywhere! And what slows us down can also be not setting priorities but just letting life happen to us as it comes. And hindrances can also be what lead us into sin which need to be thrown off.

For example, if we know that certain things tempt us to sin and have, in the past, led us into sin, we should cut those things out of our lives, which is what that Scripture talks about when it says that if your eye or your hand causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away, for it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell (Matt 18:8-9).

Now, I take this more metaphorically in the sense that this is just letting us know the degree to which we should take sin seriously, and if there is anything in our lives which keeps leading us down a path of sin, whatever that is, we should cut it out of our lives. We should get rid of it. For we need to sometimes take drastic measures to insure that we don’t keep falling into sin, and so we will now have victory over darkness, so we don’t land in hell.

For example, if your sin issue is lust and sexual immorality but you keep feeding that sin by watching TV shows or movies which give glory to sexual sin, or if having a smart phone and private internet access in your pocket is what hinders you, then you should not have a smart phone and private internet access. I am 72 years old. Smart phones have only been out now about 20 years or less? Somehow we survived without them for a long time.

Out of the Heart

But truly we can cut out all sorts of physical hindrances and still be led into sin if our hearts do not change. For the Scriptures also teach that out of the abundance of what is in our hearts our mouths speak, and out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. So, if our hearts are still inclined to sin, nothing will stop us from sinning when we are tempted to sin other than us saying “No!” and then refusing to yield to the sin. [Lu 6:45; Matt 15:17-20]

And when I think of sin which clings so closely, I think of habitual sin, which does cling so closely to the person who is addicted to the sin. And the sin is not going to just go away on its own. And it will not go away if we continually feed it. And it will not go away if we do not put up guards against it. And it will not go away if our hearts are not transformed of the Holy Spirit away from sin to following Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways.

If we do not die with Christ to sin and then continue to die daily to sin and to deny self and to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands, we will not conquer sin and it will still have victory over us. We have to set our faces like flint (Is 50:7) in full determination to not let sin conquer us and to walk with perseverance in faithful obedience to our Lord. For the devil is out to defeat us, and he will have us if we are still playing with sin and if we are still feeding the sin and if we are not willing to cut out all hindrances to our walks of faith and get dead serious about holy living.

Run With Endurance

When we have died with Christ to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, and daily we continue to deny self and to die with him to sin and to walk in obedience to his commands, and to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return, by the grace of God and in his power and strength, then we will be able to run this race with endurance.

And what is our race? It is really our walks of faith in Jesus Christ which involve actively and daily saying “No” to sin and “Yes” to God. And this is necessary for us to maintain our walks of faith but for us also to remain in the faith, for our faith in Jesus is not a one-time experience, and neither is our salvation. Our faith must be continuous. We must be believing in Jesus Christ when Jesus comes to take us home, and that believing involves us dying with Christ to sin daily and walking in obedience to his commands.

But we don’t do this in our flesh. Flesh can’t put flesh to death. We do this only by faith in Jesus Christ in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us. We walk by faith and not by sight, and this faith also is not of ourselves, but Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, and our faith comes from God and is gifted to us by God, and we can’t even come to faith in Jesus unless God the Father draws us to him.

And because Jesus is the author of this faith, our faith will submit to him as Lord (Owner-Master), and we will forsake our lives of sin to follow Jesus in obedience to his will and to his ways. And we will look to him as our example for how we are to live our lives in his power and strength, for he endured the cross in order to provide for us our salvation from addiction to sin so that we can now, by God’s grace, be slaves of God and of his righteousness.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

He Lifted Our Burdens

An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.

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