Heb. 12:1 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,
Heb. 12:2 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.
Recently I have been studying more and more about faith and learning more than I had ever known before about faith. Faith is one subject you will never fully exhaust in this lifetime, but it is something that every believer has the ability to walk in. When you take a look at Hebrews 11, the great hall of faith as many call it, you begin to see what God calls faith. For years I have heard what many men call faith, but when you find out what God calls faith, now you have something.
God describes faith as an excellent sacrifice, referring to the gifts that Abel had offered which God received, as opposed to the offering that Cain offered God, which God did not receive. Faith is also described as walking with God, for God declares that Enoch was a man of faith. When you go back and study Enoch’s life you read basically one thing that describes Enoch. Enoch walked with God.
Faith is a work, or working for God as Noah is described by God as a man who when warned about the flood to come obeyed God and went to work building an ark. Faith is revealed in Abraham’s life as a pilgrimage, for Abraham was called on by God to leave his family and the place where he had lived to simply go and obey God, even when he did not know where God was taking him. He lived in obedience to God as a pilgrim on this earth awaiting his true homeland.
Sarah also is one who took God at His Word and God called that faith. Moses was a man who made a choice to give up the passing pleasures of sin to go and be with his brethren and then deliver them from the bondage they were in. God called his decision to do so faith. Rahab the harlot is also listed in the hall of faith for she hid the spies and then put her faith in their God by hanging that scarlet thread from her window and God called it faith.
Now as you come to Hebrews 12:1-2, our foundation verses this week, you must realize that Paul begins verse one by saying, “Therefore” which is a reference to all these people of faith he just got done writing about. He even reveals the details of this by saying that we have set before us this great cloud of witnesses who all had a good testimony through faith, and yet they never received in their lifetime the end result of what their faith was believing for, a Messiah who was to come and deliver them. Yet they were people of faith.
Paul states in Hebrews 12:1-2 that since we have all these witnesses of faith we should do three things. We should lay aside every weight, we should lay aside the sin which so easily ensnares us, and we should look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. If you want to be a man or woman of faith, and run this race of faith successfully, you will have to do all three things. This is quite contrary to what some teachings tell us today. They teach that once you have put your faith in Jesus Christ that is all you need to do. Not true if you want to walk by faith and not by sight, which is how the just are to live their life. This week I will talk about these three things that are necessary to live a life of faith.
1. Lay aside every weight.
The reference that Paul gives here is a picture of one who is running in a race, a race that will take endurance to make it to the finish line. Thus the reference at the end of the first verse telling us to run with endurance the race that is set before us. A runner even in today’s times that competes in athletic competition is going to get rid of every encumbrance that would cause them to not be able to run as fast or as far. Faith is a race that we run. That means we are to have action to what we believe. The problem for some is they are not running the race of faith, seeing their trust in God result in what only He can do in and through them. They are to weighed down.
There are many weights that try to hinder us in our walk of faith. There is the weight unbelief, doubt, the flesh, other people, and lifestyles that are focused on the things of this world instead of the Kingdom of God. You see this all the time in people’s lives. The number one thing you hear from Christians when you talk about the importance of being in God’s house, or serving in church, or getting involved with outreaches that are going and doing the work of Christ is, “I don’t have time.” Yet there are people who raise their families, work jobs, and fulfill the same type of responsibilities who don’t miss church, are involved in the work of God both in and outside the church. They have the same 24 hours in a day. The reason laying aside every weight is so important is because you have to realize that the things that take up much of our time have no ability to produce nor help us grow our faith.
If we allow our time to be consumed with things that are in fact countering what God’s Word says, we are going to see the results of such a lifestyle. For example you cannot fill a sponge with used motor oil and then when you need to be refreshed squeeze that sponge and get fresh water from it. When squeezed whatever it has been used to soak up is what will come out. If you instead soak up fresh water with that sponge then obviously when you need to be refreshed you squeeze the sponge and you will be refreshed. It is our choices that we make each day that determine how much faith we will walk in. Choose to lay aside the things that are nothing but a weight in draining your faith and you will begin to see your faith become stronger.
2. Lay aside every sin that so easily ensnares you.
The topic of sin is not a popular one amongst some ministers and believers today, but Paul addresses this as an issue with our walk of faith. First of all as Dr. Lester Sumrall, a great man of faith once said, “You cannot wade around in sin and walk in great faith.” Why else would the apostle here in reference to this great cloud of witnesses we have as an example of faith tell us to lay aside the sin that so easily ensnares you? A vital key to dealing with this issue and how to overcome sin is found in the following verse.
Gal. 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
What is the best way to keep from falling into the snare of sin? Stay full of the Holy Spirit and full of the Word of God. If you walk in the Spirit you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, which is where sin initiates from. We are tempted with our own fleshly desires. To walk in the Spirit you simply need to walk in obedience to His leading, which if you stay full of the Holy Spirit will be easier to do. You must also stay full of the Word and walk in the light of that Word for Jesus Himself said the words He spoke to us, they are Spirit and they are truth.
Just because we have been born again does not mean that if we wade around in sin there won’t be any bad consequences. As Romans 6:23 states the wages of sin is still death, or separation from the kind of life God wants for us. Sin causes us to break fellowship with God. That broken fellowship hinders our walk of faith. As 1 John 3:22 tells us that whatever we ask from God we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and to those things which are pleasing in His sight. If you sin don’t run from God, and don’t fall for the modern day belief it doesn’t hurt your life, instead run to God and return to intimate fellowship with Him.
3. Looking unto Jesus.
The third key given here to walk by faith as these in the hall of faith have done is to keep your focus on Jesus. They all were looking toward the Messiah coming. The amazing thing is Hebrews 11:39 tells us that they all had obtained a good testimony through faith, even though they did not in their lifetime receive the promise of new life. That is a testimony to their faith, seeing a promise that was yet afar off, and now we have received that promise. How much more should we be walking in faith?
This phrase, “Looking unto Jesus” is defined as giving Him our undivided attention. To do this we must remove all the distractions in life that try to pull us away from our walk with Him. He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He not only initiated this faith within us when we put our trust in Him for salvation, He is the one who will help us to complete our walk of faith. To do so we must keep our hearts set on Him, and for that to happen we have to make Him our priority in life.
So as we are surrounded in scripture by these great men and women of faith, you will find that these three things became evident as a part of their life. They learned to lay aside the things that would only become a weight in their life, hindering them in walking with God. They learned to address and deal with sin in their life, like Moses choosing to give up the passing pleasures of sin to instead walk with God and His people. They also had a focus on the Messiah to come, even though they never experienced in their lifetime what He would come to do. Run your race of faith and you will win!
See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”
May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker