|Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,. (Hebrews 12:1).
Even though we have a host of past brave and godly people surrounding and watching us from the heavenly clouds, we still can get held back. Sin is described as an encumbrance, a weight, that would hold back a runner. Sin is pictured as something that might entangle the runner's quick foot. These Christians were only decades away from the life of the Lord's life, death and resurrection, but they were getting held back. What is it that held them back?
Sin. Nothing but sin. Yes there are false teachings about. But it is those seeds of the flesh that seem to cause us to stumble the most. It seems that every week, I hear of another pastor or Christian leader falling into sin. Did they have to? No! But they did. Yes. What makes you and I any different?
We also have a flesh which is eager to be fed with our attention. It begs to be fed. It whispers that it doesn't matter. A little won't hurt. Everyone is doing it. It is such a small matter. A small weight tied to the foot of a strong runner won't make an instant difference to his run. He is so skilled and strong. However, the extra weight will soon cost him. It won't take much netting to get ones foot caught in it. A little bit will cause us to stop. To fall. To stumble. Little tiny seeds, once sowed, will grow up into great trees.
Are you and I vulnerable? Yes, most definitely. The warning is for us who are running. The Lord is not warning those who have given up or have fallen. The warning is for us to avoid these snares. The author gave us one solution.
... Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2).
We need to stay focused on the Lord Jesus who has finished the race, endured all, and kept a pure heart. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is there to work in us to get rid of those distractions to our faith. As the chapter continues, we see how God uses disicpline to help us reach the goal of purity. This is for our good so that our heart will increasingly grow pure. Without this desire for the Lord, we will fall away.
The key for finishing the tough race is to have Jesus before our eyes and in our hearts. Later in verse 14, he says, "Pursue ... sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." Sound familiar? The distractions that we will meet up with in life, those snares, those entanglements that threaten our success, are seeded right into our old hearts. The sanctification process eliminates our affection for these things which otherwise would ensnare us.
The solution is not stopping the other affections. Their potential of springing up and grabbing our feet will always be with us. We of course must cease our other affections of this world and flesh. But this is not enough; we will get caught. Our only hope is to keep our eyes on our glorious Lord. What does this mean? We should all attentive to our Lord. We should be easily enamored by His beauty, touched by His mercy, moved by His grace and stirred by His words. We should want nothing else in life but Jesus. The other things of life, have lost their attraction. We now only want Jesus.
One problem stands by our side ready to destroy us. But the victor has Christ on his heart. He will not only pull into the finish line but live the most full life possible. Let us with a pure heart seek after Jesus Christ. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, the weights on our body begin to fall off one by one.
We read of testimonies of those in the pages of scripture. Let us now take a look at testimonies on how they are seeking after pure hearts. =>