The Christian Life, a Foot Race
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, 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.
The Christian life is a race and to run and run well, we must run light and rid ourselves of anything that may hinder us. Many things can hinder Christians today, but one thing that seriously interferes with a believers race, is substance abuse. We are commanded to “put off” or “throw off” anything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us. We are to run with perseverance the race that God has marked out or set before us.
What things have hindered you from running the race and running to win? Do you need to get rid of things that tempt you to sin? Freedom does not come if alcohol is in the refrigerator or there are drugs in the home. Going to places that tempt you to use or drink must be seen as a potential pitfall and you must refuse to go there. Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” The above verse tells you to “make no provision for the flesh.” When you have access to alcohol and drugs you can resolve not to drink or use all day long, but when the flesh gives in, you will crumble. It is so vital to get rid of all temptation and not to have access to that which causes you to sin.
The Bible teaches that you need to be drinking “living water” because “living water” exposes your sin. Are you willing to part with the thing that could make you fall repeatedly? Are you willing to get rid of it now? Matthew 5:29-30 reads, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Jesus was not referring to a physical amputation of your hands or actually plucking out your eyes; because handicapped and blind men drink and lust too. He was telling you to deal with your sin in an extreme and radical way. Get rid of the things that are causing you to fall and be willing to do this before it destroys you.
There is a root cause to this sin and it is not found in a dysfunctional home life or in a persons biochemical make up. The root cause is in the making of an idol and then worshipping it. The idol becomes more important than God and the pursuit of it will seem worth any consequence they may endure during their quest. The addict is so entrenched in their own misunderstanding of Scripture that they don’t fully recognize what they are doing. Running the Christian race is the least of their desires and relief from their guilt is superficial and temporary. Who can they trust, who can they turn to? “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Jesus is the One they should look to and the One they can trust. Fixing their eyes on Christ as the object of their faith and running the race with determination to keep going regardless of the temptation is a faith-filled life accompanied by joy.
Thought: Maybe you are not suffering from substance abuse but there’s something that keeps you from running God’s race and running it attentively. I believe that Scripture tells you what you must do, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” When running a literal race, you need to take off the bulky clothing that keeps you from running your best and fastest. In your heart, you know what it is that you need to rid yourself of to accomplish the goal God has put before you. What is the sin that obstructs you from running and finishing the race? What tempts you to sin more than any other thing? Is it the sin of not trusting God? When you don’t trust God you lack faith, and what does the Bible say about faith? Above all, (in addition to all) taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench (extinguish) all the fiery darts of the wicked. Sin comes when you fail to hear and see Satan’s lies. The temptations are likened to the flaming arrows the enemy shoots at you on a continual basis.
God’s love for us should motive us to live beyond our temptations and rest in the grace of God. Knowing that God gave His Son for us while we were yet sinners, should encourage our hearts to love Him, because He first loved us. While in our sin He loved us, while in our repulsive state He had compassion on us, while in our wickedness, He bled and died on the cross removing our hideous sin. Oh, what love is this!
In running the Christian race, remember that Christ, who is our very life, always runs with us.