Summary: The Master Carpenter now strips the tree of its branches and begins to peel away the bark. We must rid ourselves of the things that hinder and the sin that so easily entangles.
Our theme for this Christmas season is The Carpenter’s Workshop. The Master Carpenter, Jesus, is busy working on His project – us, the Church, preparing himself a gift for his return.
Last week we talked about how a tree needs to be felled in order to get to the wood. The Master Carpenter must first take the ax of truth to chop down our pride and arrogance. Every one of us must come to Jesus in humility, flat on our faces in brokenness and repentance.
And now you can see that the felled tree has been stripped of its branches. It’s a bare log. Without the greenery of the branches, the tree really looks dead. Modern woodworkers don’t see much of these first two stages – a felled tree and a bare log. We just go to Menards and select the boards we need. But before we get to the beautiful boards, the branches must be cut off, the bark peeled away.
We must get to the place where we are nothing but a bare log.
[Hebrews 12:1-6] 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, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Let us throw off everything that hinders…
Throw off = to put off, aside or away
Hinders = a burden, weight, encumbrance
A couple from Bakersfield, California purchased a new boat, but they were having serious problems. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get the boat going. It was sluggish no matter which way they turned or how much power was applied. After an hour of trying to make it go, they putted to a nearby marina, hoping someone could tell them what was wrong. A thorough check on the topside of the boat revealed everything was in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the out drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. Then, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking with laughter. Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer!
There are far too many Christians still strapped to the trailer, strapped to things that are weighing them down.
Things that hinder…
Worldly cares, honors, promotions, the weight of the law, friendships, habits, riches…
[Matthew 19:16-30] Rich Young Man
What do you have a hard time letting go of? Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
The branches have to go.
Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles…
Sin (hamartia) = to miss the mark
Easily entangles = besetting, skillfully surrounding, well standing around, encircling (a competitor thwarting a racer in every direction)
No particular sins are mentioned, but if the Holy Spirit is at work in us, we know the sins that easily entangle us. Here are some passages that lists sins we are to rid ourselves of…
[Romans 13:12] The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
[Colossians 3:8] But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
[James 1:21] Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
[1 Peter 2:1-3] Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Let’s not forget the sin of unbelief and doubt. Hebrews 11 is all about faith, and we are to keep our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of that faith.