We've just seen the examples of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before. The apostle has held out to us the lives - weak, feeble and failing as they were - of men and women of faith. Many have gone before us - by grace, through faith - and we need to follow them as they follow Christ.
In verses 1-3 we are given a practical "how to" on doing so. These are "put off/put on" verses. We are to put off "every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us." Matthew Henry writes that we are to put off "that which has the greatest advantage over us and against us by the circumstances we are in, by our constitution, and by our company."
What are our weaknesses? What things lend themselves to tempting us towards our weaknesses? What situations do we find ourselves most tempted to entanglement from? What people are most likely to drag us into those encumbrances? Know and be aware of your Achille's heel - your constitution - and be aware of the circumstances and company that most lend to the re-opening of that destroying wound.
"If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:29-30)
"Christians have a race to run. This race is set before them; it is marked out unto them, both by the word of God and the examples of the faithful servants of God, that cloud of witnesses with which they are compassed about. This race must be run with patience and perseverance. Faith and patience are conquering graces, and therefore must be always cultivated."
OK - so nicely said but not necessarily so easily done. I am reminded of the words of John Monsell - "My sins, my sins, my Savior! They take such hold of me." His words echo Paul's - "Wretched man that I am, who shall save me from this body of death?" Our sins entangle us and that by which we are entangled can be quite difficult to lay aside. Oh - grace - amazing grace how sweet the sound!!
Have we need of laying aside our sins and running the race? Yes we do! And not only do we have a need but we have ONE who has supplied all that is necessary to accomplish the task to which we've been called - the LORD Jesus Christ! See the fullness of this command : "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." As is always the case, it is through Christ that we can do these things. He is not only the object upon whom we fix our gaze but He is the author and the perfecter of the faith by which we may do so!!
Look to Christ! See Him in His Word! See His works on your behalf! See His mercy and compassion! See His power and promise! Fix your eyes upon Him - your Lord, your Savior, your Elder Brother, your Advocate, your Surety, your only Hope, your All in All! Christ sets us free from the encumbrance and entanglement of sin - only Christ, always Christ! Fix your eyes, O sin gripped saints. Fix your eyes upon Him "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."
Christ endured the cross for us that we would be set free from the damning bonds of sin. He did His difficult duty with joy knowing what His obedience on our behalf would accomplish. And it did accomplish what it was intended to - the price was paid, the chains were broken and He has now sat down at the right hand of the throne of God as a testimony to the sufficiency of His labors!! Fix your eyes upon Him who has taken your punishment upon Himself and has given you precious promises in its place!!
We have a race to run - so did Christ - and He ran it with great endurance. Fix your eyes and "consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart." Are you weary in this race? Look to Christ! Consider Him who has endured for you! Consider Him who has endured, persevered, and conquered that we may not grow weary and lose heart!
"Our duty is to look unto Him and set Him continually as our example. We should meditate much on Him. And in so doing we shall see that His sufferings far exceed ours and His patience far excells ours." (Matthew Henry)
Run with fixed eyes looking not upon your sin but upon your Savior!! Run with fixed eyes staring not at the mess but at His mercy!! Run with fixed eyes gazing not at your weariness and fatigue but at His strength and faithfulness!!
"There is a proneness in the best Christians to grow weary and faint under trials and afflictions. The best preventative is looking to Jesus. Faith and meditation upon Him will fetch fresh supplies of strength, comfort, and courage!"
Let us lay aside our sin and run the race with fixed eyes upon our Beloved Savior!