Summary: Faithful living requires believers to give up whatever hinders their relationship with God, to lay aside sin, and to run with endurance.
Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
The need for a faith that endures
Hebrews 6:11-12 “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
But how do we live in faith like Noah, Abraham, and Moses? These few verses in Hebrews 12 offer some insights, with our own life of faith described as a race. The first one is...
I.Witness Of Those Who Went Before
A.We Have So Great A Cloud Of Witnesses
1.Hebrews chapter 12 begins with the word "Therefore." That connects it with the previous chapter.
a.The “cloud of witnesses” refers to those mentioned in the previous chapter
b.Those Old Testament saints like Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.
c.The metaphor refers to the great amphitheatre with the arena for the runners and the tiers upon tiers of seats rising up like a cloud.
2.These are our examples of faith.
a.The “witnesses” are not merely spectators but “martyrs” (martus is the Greek word translated “witness”), not necessarily having all been put to death, but all having been willing to suffer and die for the faith while also living and witnessing for the Lord.
b.They testify from their own experience to God’s fulfilling his promises as shown in Hebrews 11.
c.By their lives, they have borne witness to the value of faith
d.By their example, they encourage us in running the race of Christian faith.
II.Weights We Lay Aside
A.Note The Comparison To Running...
1.The runner who seeks to win:
a.Loses as much weight as possible without hurting performance
b.Wears clothing that is light and allows freedom of movement
2.Excess weight, chafing clothing, etc., can be the difference between victory and defeat!
a.The word rendered “encumbrance” –ogkon- means what is crooked or hooked, that is any thing that is attached or suspended by a hook that is, by its whole weight, and so came to mean weight.
b.As applied to Christians it means anything which would obstruct our progress in the Christian course, even harmless and otherwise useful things which would hinder us in our race.
B.We Too Must Lay These Things Aside...
a.Those things which hinder our spiritual progress
1)Martha’s focus on worldly tasks Luke 10:38-42
2)The parable of the Rich Man
Luke 12:21 (NASB) “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:29 - 31 (NASB) “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
3)The Rich Young Ruler
Matthew 19:21 - 22 (NASB) Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
b.Past lives, material possessions, careers, or family any of these can be an encumbrance if they take priority in our lives.
1)Colossians 3:2 “Set your sights on things above, not on things on the earth.”
2.“the sin which so easily ensnares us”
a.The word which is here rendered “easily entangle” properly means, “standing well around;” denoting what is near, or at hand, or readily occurring.
b.It takes all these words to give us the sense of a single Greek word that refers to something so very close to us that it entangles us. It is like getting caught in the hem of our own clothing.
c.The verb tense suggests a picture of a ring of wild beasts in the jungle encircling the camp-fire at night each ready to pounce upon one who steps out of the light
d.This is the sin that has the greatest advantage against us, by the circumstances we are in, our constitution, our company, our upbringing, our careers, what have you. This is the sin of which we are most familiar. The "sin which so easily entangle us" must be laid aside.
3.It’s a very simple matter. Either we decide to lay our sins aside, or they will trip us up in the race.
Ephesians 4:20-24 But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.