Summary: We are to be diligent in living our Christian lives with a focus on becoming more and more like Jesus Christ!
Because God is Holy and always right, we are to listen to Him and do what He says (this is Biblical faith: believing in God, listening to what He says, and doing what He says!) We have noted from Hebrews 11, God commended many people in living out this Biblical faith. And so, God continues to teach the Hebrew Christians 2000 years ago in Hebrews 12 and if we are Christians, the lessons are for us as well. Open your Bibles to Hebrews 12 and we can learn much even with just the first verse. Hebrews 12:1……… It is our Scripture of the Week!
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.
Remember, the word “therefore” in the Bible is a hinge word: on one side is a truth, on the other side is the >> right response! Truth? – Many lived by faith, did what God said, and they are witnesses for Christians! (Hebrews 11)
What are witnesses??
Witnesses can truly testify what they heard, saw, or actually did themselves!
Under oath with God, witnesses can testify and be accepted legally as truth!
In Hebrews 11, God Himself testified!
And so, from Hebrews 11, not only are we hearing from God Himself but from many people that the right way to live is to obey God!
How are we to respond to this truth?
We are to “throw” off 2 things that entangles! What does this mean?
First of all, let’s not forget the context of the letter and the verse: the verse is in context with a race; during those times over 2000 years ago, what type of clothing did athletes have on when they ran a race??
Even in running races today, athletes do not wear anything that would slow them down!
Let’s also note other English translations of this verse give us more meaning:
throw off = lay aside
entangles = ensnares, clings closely, beset, distracting (However we interpret entangles, it is not a good thing and must be avoided!)
And so, what are the 2 things Christians are to avoid?
Let’s note the easy one first… Easy one to talk about not necessarily the easier one to do!
1. Avoid sin! Now, we can not avoid something that we don’t know right? What is sin?
The Original Greek word for sin is “hamartia” meaning missing the mark. God is Holy and perfect! Sin is missing the mark which God has set. Sin is not doing what God says! And how do we know what God says?? To avoid sin, we must read the Bible and do what it says. God again is explaining more to us what biblical faith is!
2. Throw off everything that hinders! Let’s talk about the analogy with a Runner Athlete; first of all what does a Runner Athlete desire to accomplish?? – do the best, finish the race, win the race!
Now, what things can hinder (slow down) a runner Athlete to accomplish their goal??
There are many things which can slow down an athlete without being disqualified in a race; too much clothes, overweight, too much hair, mind on something else (log on their shirt, how they look on camera, etc….)
Now, for Christians, what should we desire to accomplish??
Simply, the goal of a Christian should be to be more and more like Jesus Christ the Son of God; and we are also to do our best and finish the race marked out for us!
We know Jesus Christ never sinned, so of course to be like Christ is to avoid sin. But God tells us that there are “things” beside sins which can hinder our goal to be more like Christ! If we think about our analogy, a runner can stop running or actually decide to go backwards, the other way, or be slowed down by other things which we noted earlier..
For a Christian, like an athlete running a race:
- when we sin, we not only stop but we actually go the other way, not towards God.
- when we focus on other things or add other things to our Christian lives, our spiritual growth to be more like Christ will be stunted.
And so, besides sins, what “things” can slow down the maturity of a Christian?? Think of the analogy of the runner athlete being slowed down in a race…..
Simply, Hebrews 11:2 is a help to us…. As we are living our lives as Christians, we are to fix our eyes (focus on) Jesus Christ! So, sin of course pulls us away from Jesus Christ, but there other things in our lives which takes our complete focus away from Jesus Christ! (other people, jobs, hobbies, sports, entertainment, gambling, etc….. can take the Christian's focus away from Jesus Christ!)