Summary: Hebrews # 22. In the race of life if we are to run a good race there are four things we must do!
A Study of the Book of Hebrews
Jesus is Better
Sermon # 22
“The Race of Life”
The scene that is set in Hebrews 12 is that of a Track and Field event. The runners have gathered and the event is about to begin. We read in verse one, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (3) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
There can be little doubt that the “cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (v. 1) are those who have just been described in the earlier part of Chapter eleven as who have through faith have faced all kinds of difficulty. Leon Morris suggests that the language may refer to a relay race, in which the “witnesses” are those who have already finished their leg of the race and have passed the baton on to us.
[Leon Morris. EBC p 133]
The heavenly arena is filled with those who have gone on before. The question is are they “witnesses” in sense that are watching and cheering for the contestants or are they witnesses in the sense that they have left examples for us to follow. Although it may be encouraging to believe that it is both. The word “witnesses” does not mean spectators. It is a word from which we get the English word “martyr.” They are witnesses to us that God can see us through. Think for a moment about who is there.
Abel is there, having offered a better
sacrifice, a sacrifice offered with an attitude
Abraham is there, a man who was willing to leave the land of his father’s and follow God’s command to go to a country that he had never seen before.
Enoch is there, a man not known for his impressive accomplishments but rather for his walk with God.
Noah is there, the man who trusted God enough, to withstand the ridicule of his neighbors and obey God’s command to spend 120 years building a boat on dry land
Mighty Moses is there, who led Israel out of slavery in Egypt and delivered the Ten Commandments, he stands with the shine of having been in the presence of God still upon his countenance.
Before we consider what this passage has to say, I need to make one matter very clear. The race is not in order to get to heaven and only those who win get in. What every original reader understood is that one do not get to compete unless they were a citizen. Our citizenship in heaven is settled the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior. We are as sure of heaven at that moment as well will be when our life is over and we are escorted into His presence.
Now the moment of our race has come. The writer encourages us that if we are to run a good race there are four things we must do!
First, We Must Lay Aside Every Hindrance (v. 1) “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…”
•Lay aside every weight.
“Let us lay aside every weight…”
When it speaks of laying aside “every weight” the “weight” (onkos) is not bad or evil in itself it is simply something which weighs us down, diverts our attention, saps our strength or dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God.
“The army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat. Alexander immediately commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned.
The men complained bitterly but soon came to see the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, “It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again.” Victory was assured.” [Our Daily Bread, July 3, 1991 -www.bible.org/illus./Hebrews]
Wilbur Chapman said, “The rule of my life is this: Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life or makes Christian word difficult, it is wrong for me, and as a Christian I must turn from it!”
•Lay aside every sin.
“… and the sin which so easily ensnares us.”