Hebrews 12:1-29 KJV
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. 18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”
This passage uses the analogy of running a race to describe how we are to live for God. Jesus died not only to bring us peace with the Father, but also that we would live for righteousness and do God’s will just as Jesus did when he lived on earth (1 Peter 4:1-2). Living for God can be challenging, but the rewards include eternal life, treasures in heaven and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
As we prepare to run and begin running the race, it will behoove us to plant ourselves in God’s written word in the Bible. God’s word contains the promises that we’ll need to stand on in order to finish successfully. The best endurance training includes a daily quiet time with God where we connect with him through prayer, worship and Bible study. It is there where we’ll learn God’s character and become sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We’ll also want to be plugged into a good church that will provide opportunities for fellowship, prayer, teaching and encouragement. Having such elements in our foundation will help prevent injury or disqualification during the more difficult parts of the race.
As we start off, we’ll need to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (12:1). Sin can wrap around our spiritual legs and make it difficult to run or even walk in a forward direction. As we cast aside habitual sin and pursue holiness, our spiritual vision and sensitivity to God will improve. Pursuing holiness will help us avoid dangerous obstacles in the race, such as falling short of God’s grace (15), roots of bitterness (15) and sexual immorality (16-17). The author of Hebrews underscored the value of holiness when he wrote, “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (14).
Jesus is to be our focal point as we run. He was the first to finish the race successfully and he now beckons to us as we run. He is the author and perfecter of our faith as we follow his example. Whenever we start to feel weary and discouraged in the battle against sin (3), we can remember the pain and agony Jesus endured for us on the cross. He resisted sin to the point of shedding his own blood, and now offers to help us resist temptation.
Living in a world hostile to God, we can expect hardship. We are to endure hardship as discipline and remember that God disciplines those he loves and calls his sons. Not all hardship is discipline, but if we seek to learn through every instance of it, we’ll maximize our spiritual growth. If we allow God’s discipline to train us, we’ll receive a “harvest of righteousness and peace.” Such training is necessary to get us into spiritual shape to finish the race and be fruitful in God’s kingdom along the way.
Throughout the race we must heed the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit of truth, he will guide us in all truth and remind us of Jesus’ words. He will help us uncover hidden obstacles along the way and avoid potential landmines that could maim our spiritual life. God’s path for the race is straight, and does not turn aside to sinful pursuits or shortcuts. The temptations to deviate from the path can be more powerful in the middle or end of the race, when we’re getting tired. The devil may try to persuade us to give up or take a shortcut to some pleasure through sin. By standing on the promises of God’s word and relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can stay on path and not get sidetracked into sin. If you know something is wrong, don’t continue to do it. Be thankful that you have the Holy Spirit with you, and worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Amen.
Scripture of the day: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12 NIV
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
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