Cast Off Those Weights
Running the Race of God's Will
Heb 12:1-2 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. (KJV)
We have just completed the 2000 Olympic games in Sidney, Australia, and we experienced the spectacles as a great cloud of witnesses. The author of Hebrews used the analogy of the Greek Olympic games to communicate the importance of doing the will of God.
Lets consider some questions that should cause us to reflect on our walk with Christ. Are we running with patience the race that God has set before us? Do we even recognize that we are participants in God's divine master plan? What is the race that we must run?
Rom 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (KJV)
Heb 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (KJV)
The race that is set before all Christians is the Will of God. It is very important we understand that God has a divine master plan for our lives. His plan is the race we must run should we desire to win the glorious crown of victory.
We read in Hebrews that those who have done the will of God have the joy of receiving His promise. What is the promise of God? In the book of Romans we see that the prize is four facetted.
The promise is profound and sure, those who run the race have the hope that they might receive the crown of victory.
Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (KJV)
The victory prize goes to those who "overcome" the race set before them, and they shall inherit all things through Christ.
Reference: Matt 10:22; 24:13 Heb 6:15; James 1:3; 5:7
Cloud of Witnesses
Heb 12:22-23 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, (KJV)
Rev 6:9-11nd when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: (10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (11) And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (KJV)
Matt 10:17-18 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; (18) And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. (KJV)
1 Pet 5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1 Cor 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NIV)
The author of Hebrews used the symbolism of a cheering crowd at the Olympic games to describe the truth that our lives are examples of the saving power of Christ. Consider for a moment the crowds who watch us with wonderment on a daily basis.
Our lives, and in some cases our deaths, are constant displays of the grace and glory of Christ. How are we running the race of God's divine will? Are we setting on the sidelines oblivious to the great cloud of witnesses observing and watching our examples? Could our children follow our example of faith and trust in Christ? We may personally decide that we do not desire to run the race of God with all strength and intensity. In fact we may choose to walk the race track of God's will, or we may try to build our own personal race track. Ponder for a moment what a 100 meter race would look like should every participant run the race of their personal choosing. How the crowd would laugh at the stupidity of the runners.
Never loose sight of the fact that we must run the divine race of God's master plan set before us. While we ponder our personal commitment to the plan of God, consider for a moment the cloud of witnesses that will see our example (testimony). Take the time and read Fox's Book of Martyrs should we desire to see true examples of men and women who took serious their personal obedience to God's divine master plan.
Conditioned to Run
2 Tim 2:3-5 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (4) No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (5) And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. (KJV)
2 Tim 2:3-5 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer. (5) Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. (NIV)
Paul used the same basic symbolism as the author of Hebrews to describe the self-discipline in order to win the victor's crown. Self-discipline can be a confusing concept. Simply stated, self-discipline is the principle of doing what we known we must do, even though its contrary to what we want to do.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (KJV)
Should we desire to be Christ's disciples then we must learn the basic spiritual principle of self-discipline. Let me weave this principle into a sports analogy.
My sons love to play football. It never ceases to amaze me to watch them during their first weeks of conditioning, and see the physical rigors they must endure. One day while driving my son home from football practice, I noticed how exhausted he was. I asked him why he endured the pain of such physical conditioning. I will never forget his response; "Dad, I love to play the game." Are we willing to endure the conditioning of the Holy Spirit, because we love to run God's divine race? Will we endure the hardships necessary to condition ourselves to compete for the victor's crown? Jesus Christ is our commanding officer and our coach, much of the hardships and self-discipline we endure is based on the fact that we want to please our commanding officer and coach.
Holy Spirit conditioning is designed to remove the weights and sins that so easily beset us. Anything that could hinder our personal ability to run the race is the object of Holy Spirit conditioning.
Weights and Chains
weight - ogkos (ong'-kos/3591); probably from the same as 43; a mass (as bending or bulging by its load), i.e. burden (hindrance): KJV-- weight.
ogkos- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
whatever is prominent, a protuberance, a bulk, a mass;
hence, a burden, a weight, an encumbrance
To an Olympic runner excess flesh (fat) restricts his or her ability to compete in a winning fashion. We don't see many 300 pound athlete running the 100 meter dash.
Lets apply this metaphor to our spiritual life in Christ. What are some of the weights that prevent us from being competitive runners?
Matt 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (KJV)
Jesus taught that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches chokes out the word of God. When we become overly encumbered in the affairs of life we gradually minimize our spiritual competitive edge. Let me list a few areas where weights can be found that chain our lives.
The Bible teaches that a sound heart if life to our flesh, but envy brings decay to our bones (Prov 14:30)
Numerous are the possible weights that can hinder our ability to run God's race. All these weights can become sins in our lives should we allow them to grown unrestricted, but all the weights have one root and that root is our human carnal flesh and pride.
Rom 8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Bible teaches that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches can also become weights that disqualify our competitive edge. Again, our carnal flesh is the root of these thorns that choke out the word of God.
Wiles of the Devil
Beset us - euperistatos (yoo-per-is'-tat-os/2139); from 2095 and a derivative of a presumed compound of 4012 and 2476; well standing around, i.e. (a competitor) thwarting (a racer) in every direction (figuratively, of sin in genitive case): KJV-- which doth so easily beset.
euperistatos- (Thayer Greek/English Lexicon)
skillfully surrounding, that is, besetting
The author of Hebrews clearly indicated that these weights which can plague our lives can easily beset us. It is interesting to note that the Greek word "Euperistatos" has the application of being skillfully surrounded and thwarted in our endeavors.
Eph 4:27 Neither give place to the devil. (KJV)
Remember this simple truth. The devil can only take place in our lives to the degree we give him place. In order not to give place to the devil we must put away the weights that so easily beset us. Paul warned his readers that Satan has fiendish wiles and devices formed against us that are designed to cause us to stumble during our race down God's narrow path. The wiles and devices used by Satan follow the path of the flesh and come out in our lives as the weights that beset us (2Cor 2:11; Eph 6:11).
Conditioned to Run the Race
Ps 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (KJV)
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV)
The most important thing we must understand about our weights is the ability they have to hide their existence in spiritual blindness and self-imposed ignorance. We must examine our hearts to discover our personal weights and fault that frustrate our competitive edge. We must cast our burden on to Christ, this is an action we must take. Christ's sustaining power is discovered in our repentance and self confession.
Matt 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
In order to run free from our carnal weights we must take upon ourselves the yoke of Christ. Each and every person has the same yoke and it is obedience to the revealed will of God. The ability we have to run the race of God's divine will is directly connected to the yoke of Christ.
Gal 6:1-5 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (3) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. (4) But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (5) For every man shall bear his own burden. (KJV)
It's also important we understand that we are part of the body of Christ with each and every member giving into the corporate supply. We must realize that we have brothers and sisters who will help us cast of the weights that beset us. Our problem is the foolishness of our pride. Should a brother or sister, in meekness, come to us about our personal faults we become resentful and leave churches. Should we want to be free from our weights then have the courage to submit to the body of Christ in love.
Rom 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (KJV)
The Bible teaches that we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, and this action is the result of self-discipline. How can we ever be spiritually successful without submitting ourselves to Christ and the power of His cross to crucify our flesh and lusts? We cannot be Christ's disciples with first learning to deny ourselves (Lk 9:23) through self imposed discipline. We must endure the conditioning of the Holy Spirit in order to run the race of God with the hope of victory.
Running With Patience
The author of Hebrews admonished his readers to must run the race of God with patience. Why must we run God's race with patience? The answer is quit simple; our personal race associated with God's divine master plan is not a 100 meter dash, it's a 26 mile marathon.
Rom 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (KJV)
Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (KJV)
Heb 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (KJV)
James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (KJV)
Our involvement with God's plan is predicated on a life dedicated to His service. Spiritual victory is obtained by those who patiently endure the rigors of the long race. Generally speaking, the human soul is not a patient being. Many are the Christians who approach God's divine master plan as a 100 meter sprint, but they fail quickly because they ran the wrong type of race.
Heb 13:21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. (NIV)
The goal of the Holy Spirit is to equip us with everything that we will need to run the race. The Holy Spirit will not equip us with everything we think we need, but only with what we truly need.
We must read between the lines when we consider these thoughts. The Holy Spirit will only equip us to do Godís work not our perceptions of Godís work. Another point we should consider is the possibility that we have a call and placement by God in his work and ministry. The body of Christ is in need of our personal ministry Ė every joint must supply (Eph 4:11-16). We are equipped by the Holy Spirit with every spiritual blessing necessary to do the work of God.
Consider this thought with me. Its possible that much of our spiritual frustration with the ministry is the result of our not abiding in the equipping process? We formulate plans and strategies based upon our human perception of need, but are these plans birth out of the equipping process. Remember, the Holy Spirit equips us with everything to do Godís work.
Remember, we must be repaired and healed before we can be equipped by the Holy Spirit to do Godís work. Our spiritual frustration could also be the result of our desire to move quickly through our spiritual repair in order to be equipped to do the work of the ministry. The Holy Spirit may not agree with our personal spiritual evaluation. We may want to be equipped while the Holy Spirit is still in the process of conditioning.
It is possible that slothfulness could be a result of impatience. We donít receive immediate gratification from our submission to God's plan, then we turn our attentions to other worldly pursuits. Only those saints, who through faith and patience, endure the rigors of God's spiritual marathon will inherit the promise; the overcomer's crown of victory.
We must acknowledge the fact that God has a divine master plan for our lives, and this master plan is the race set before us. Consider for a moment the years of sacrifice and work each and every runner must endure in order to participate in the Olympic games. Are we willing to endure the same type of self-discipline in order to win the victor crown? What sacrifices will we endure in order to compete in God's race? Do we have the competitive edge necessary to stand in victory? Each and every one of us must consider this simple question. The question may be simple but our answer may demand our total dedication to the plan of God and His kingdom (Mt 6:33).