Continued from Part 1…
We left off in Part 1 on Ephesians 4:22 that commands us to put off all hindrances. In Hebrews 12, we are dealing with individual, personal sin. Christians cannot strive to holiness together, they can help and edify each other, but in the end it is a personal matter between God and the invididual.
“All distractions are sin if they hinder us from the glory of Christ” (Rick Holland). God’s glory must refulge in the Christian soul. Distractions hurt and paralyze the soul of the Christian runner. In relationships, for example, if someone hinders us from Christ, we must end that relationship. Why? Because anything that drives our gaze away from the risen Christ stops, stumbles, and prevents us from running the race with perseverance and diligence. This is why we are commanded to put off anything that provokes this negative result (v.1b).
Christian, do you know what is hindering you from running? And if you do know, what effort are you putting into a daily renewal of hatred toward your sin? Matthew 18:8-9 (ESV) is very clear as to what is to be done, “if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” This is spiritual amputation. A radical destruction and anihilation of our sin. No pampering of any degree of sin allowed.
J.C. Ryle put it this way:
“Oh what a condemnation there is here for all those easy-going people who seem to think they may pass their time as they please, and yet be numbered with the saints in glory everlasting! Are those who show less earnestness about their souls than about their earthly amusements, and those who have much to tell you about this world’s business but nothing about heaven, and those who think nothing of neglecting the commonest helps towards Zion, and count it much to give religion a few Sunday thoughts—are these men running the Christian race, and straining every nerve after the prize? I leave the answer with yourselves: judge what I say!
And those who profess to have entered the course, and yet find time to rest by the wayside and trifle with temptation, and find fault with the anxiety of others—and those who stop to take breath and boast of their attainments, and look behind them—are such running the race set before them as if it was a matter of life and death? Oh no! They may get the name of Christians—but they are not so running that they shall obtain.
But those who are taught and called of God may soon be distinguished from the sleeping children of this world. These have no leisure for vain amusements; their eyes are fixed and their thoughts are engaged upon the narrow path they have to tread, and the crown they hope to receive. They have counted the cost, and come out from the world; and their only wish is that they may finish their course with joy.”
Pay attention to this part, “But those who are taught and called of God may soon be distinguished from the sleeping children of this world. These have no leisure for vain amusements; their eyes are fixed and their thoughts are engaged upon the narrow path they have to tread, and the crown they hope to receive.” Only those who are pursuing Jesus are truly sensitive to what’s holding them back from the glory of Christ. Only those that whose nature has been quickened by the Holy Spirit unto salvation and who thirst and pant in the agony of their race are aware of their feebleness and their utter dependance upon God. You are not a Christian if you are not aching or hurting. You are not a Christian if there is no sweat upon your brow, nor blood on your scraped knees, nor strain on your trembling joints.
3) Run the Christian race (1c).
-It is not a competition. We Christians do not run against brother or sister. We do not race to win a perishable reward, but to finish the race and earn an imperishable reward.
-The Christian race is not a sprint, it is a marathon. A sprinter runs his laps, finishes, showers, goes home, sleeps, etc. A marathon is endless. When all apostate Christians have given up on the race and “fallen” from the faith, the true Christian keeps running and panting, looking upwards to the God who saved him.
4) Concentrate your faith on Jesus (2a).
-leader and founder.
-brings to succesful conclusion, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).
-Commander and example.
-Jesus lived by faith so he could give us an example.
-“for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV); “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV).
-At this very moment you are reading this entry you have faith that your heart will keep beating. You have faith the ceiling is not going to fall on your head. You have faith the ground you are standing on will not give way. But you do not think of this all the time. In fact, you take it for granted. So, faith is not that absurd. Even atheists have faith. But the point is, that we live by faith. We have not seen Jesus, we do not know when He will return, but we are given the solid foundation of the Bible with the men God has used throughout it (Hebrews 11) to set an example for us to follow, and to not lose courage, no matter what comes our way.
-Object of our faith
-You cannot focus on two things. You cannot serve two masters. Either your eyes belong to Christ, or they belong to Satan.
-Jesus is the object of the Christian’s faith.
Continued in Part 3…