“GET RIGHT!” Hebrews 12:1-2
INTRO – Need to make an announcement: I’m not Bobby Welch! This is Bobby Welch (show pic).
Had to reschedule. He will be with us on Jan. 22. More time to pray & prepare & publicize. Luncheon rescheduled for that day, too. Sign up.
Another event that was impacted by “Ice-Mageddon 2017” was the annual Ms. Blues Marathon. Supposed to have happened yesterday morning. Canceled. Just too dangerous. Too cold. Too slippery. Too treacherous. No refunds or rescheduling of race. Have to take that risk when you register that, if an “act of God” happens like this bad weather, you lose your money.
But there’s another race happening right now that will never get canceled. It’s the Christian Life Marathon. It’s on & we are running it even as we meet here this morning. You will run well sometimes. But there will also be times that it is dangerous, times that it is slippery, times that it is treacherous, times that it’s hard. You will fall sometimes. You will struggle sometimes. But you can’t quit. You can’t stop. You can’t take a break. You can’t drop out.
We all have to “run with endurance this race that is set before us.” Amplified Bible: “run with endurance & active persistence.” Other translations use word “patience” & “perseverance.” Hebrews 10:36 in NLT says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”
Not only do we all have to run this Christian Life Marathon w/ persevering endurance, but we all have to run this race well. We all want to be spiritual champions, running well, & finishing strong. Our goal is not perfection, but progress. We aren’t going to be sinless, but do need to strive to sin less. This race isn’t like someone leisurely walking their dog in a park, or casually meandering down the beach on vacation. It’s an intense, challenging race that we must take seriously if we are going to run well & finish strong! The Christian Life Marathon is serious business!
So as the title of the sermon tells us, today we going to talk about how to GET RIGHT so we can all run this race well & finish this race strong! Here are 4 race realities for the Christian Life Marathon:
First of all, for us to get right, we’ve got to realize that it’s a CORPORATE thing – “let us” – (Tim Hawkins video)
Some people are like that in their Christian life. They just want to live their Christian life in a bubble where no one else touches them & they don’t have to touch anyone else. They’re like spiritual “germaphobes.” If they don’t have to touch or relate to anyone, then maybe they won’t get “dirty” spiritually.
Can I let you in on a little secret? The Christian life is not like that. The old “My Christian life is personal. It’s a private thing” just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s not biblical. While you do come to Christ as an individual, the Christian Life Marathon is a corporate thing. We are in it together. That’s why the writer of Hebrews said, “let US throw off these weights” – “let US get rid of this sin” – “let US run this race that is set before US.”
There’s a “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone on before us. Hebrews 11 is full of the names of many of those people. And not a single one of them was perfect. But they ran the race before us, & now it’s OUR turn to run the race. They cheer us on, letting us know that they made it & that we can make it, too. So we press on & we run this marathon together w/ those who’ve gone on before us, & together w/ those who are here w/ us now.
To get right, we have to remember that it’s a COMMANDED thing – “lay aside” – “strip off” – “throw off” – “put off” – “put to death” – “forsake” – “flee” – “resist” – “crucify” – “abstain” – The Christian life is a life of choices. Are we going to honor God or dishonor Him? Are we going live for Him or live for ourselves? Are we going to say “yes” to Him or “yes” to temptation? Are we going to live in purity or impurity, in truth or falsehood, authentically or hypocritically?
While it’s true that sometimes we tend to focus too much on the “thou shalt nots” in our relationship to God, the truth is that, if we are going to run well & finish strong, we must obey the command to “lay aside” those things that weigh us down, those things that trip us up, those “encumbrances” that drag us down in our walk w/ Christ.
- Sometimes those weights are outright sins – things we know we need to get rid of, but we just won’t do it.
- Sometimes those weights are besetting sins – things we have tried to get rid of, but they keep coming back.
- Sometimes those weights are distractions – things that may not be sinful, but still slow us down & impede our spiritual progress.
Third, to get right, we need to remember that it’s a COMPLETE thing – “every” – Suppose you went to the doctor for a checkup this next week. Ran tests & procedures & came back & told you that you had a cancerous tumor. Need to operate immediately. So you go in for surgery & when you come out from under the anesthesia, the surgeon comes in & says, “Well, I found the tumor. It was very easy to get to, & I got 99.9% of it out. Could have gotten that last .1% too, but just decided to leave that little bit in there. I know it will probably end up killing you eventually, but I just decided not to get every bit of the cancer out. Hope you’re OK with that.”
How would you respond to that? Of course you would not be OK with the surgeon not getting all of the cancer when he had the opportunity to do so. He has the training to do it, the expertise to do it, the experience to do it. It makes absolutely no sense for him not to get every bit of the tumor when it was right there in front of him.
And yet, week after week, the Holy Spirit shows us the sin tumors that are in our lives, right in front of us, & we choose not to do anything about them. We reason & rationalize, thinking, “It’s not a BIG tumor. It PROBABLY won’t kill me, at least not for a long time. At least I got MOST of the sin out of my life.”
Fellow Christian Life Marathoners, if we are going to run well & finish strong, we’ve got to get EVERY sin out of our lives. It’s a lifelong pursuit, a daily battle, a constant concern. The farther we run in this race & the closer we get to Christ, the more we will see the sin in our lives & the more we will desire to get it out of our lives as quickly as possible, even those “little sins,” or “respectable sins” as Jerry Bridges called them. It’s like when you open the curtains & you can see the dust particles when a shaft of sunlight beams through. As the light of Christ shines more & more in our lives, we will see our sin more clearly & confess it & repent of it more regularly. We just will not be satisfied w/ allowing any sin to remain in our lives.
Finally, to get right, let’s remember that it’s a CLEANSING thing – “the sin which clings so closely” – Have you ever seen the triboelectric effect? Of course you have! Let me explain it to you: Electrons can be exchanged between materials on contact; materials with weakly bound electrons tend to lose them while materials with sparsely filled outer shells tend to gain them. That’s the triboelectric effect. Still a little confused? How about this? (pic of Addie)
The triboelectric effect is the main cause of the cling of static electricity in everyday life.
Sin has a clinging effect on our lives, too. When we give in to temptation, the sin sticks to us & infuses our lives with its filth & muck. No marathon runner wants to run in mud. No runner wants to get mired down & slowed down in sticky, sloppy mud. A few years ago, a bunch of us went & ran in “The Warrior Dash,” a race that was an obstacle course through the woods. Some of the obstacles were nothing more than deep mud pits with mud so thick & clingy that it would literally pull your shoes off your feet.
All of us have gotten stuck in the muck & mire of sin in our lives at times. Some of us are stuck there right now. If we are going to run well & finish strong, we’ve got to be cleansed of the muck & mire of the sin that clings so closely to us. And the only way to be cleansed of that sin is to bring it to Jesus in confession & repentance.
Ps. 40:2 – “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” (ESV)
Ps. 69:14 – “Rescue me from the miry mud; don’t let me sink. Let me be rescued from those who hate me and from the deep waters.” (HCSB)