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Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri

 “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Heb 12:1 [KJV])

“Wherefore Seeing We Also Are Encompassed with so Great a Cloud of Witnesses

The book of Hebrews 12:1 begins with “Wherefore” or “subsequently” which has to do with what was laid out in Chapters 10 and 11. In chapter 10, Hebrews are told that if they apostatize (to denounce or give up one’s faith) and return to Judaism, they have no possibility of forgiveness because God no longer accepts the blood of bulls and goats as sacrifice. The only thing God now accepts is the sacrifice of Jesus. Bulls and goats will never atone for sins, nor could they ever have cleansed as fully and completely as faith in Christ does. “For since the law was but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb 10:1 [ESV2011])

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered Himself for all time as single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Heb 10:11-17 [ESV2011])

The Hebrew 12:1 text was written in the context of Hebrews chapter 11 about the heroes and heroines of faith such as Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah; David, Samuel, and of the prophets “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:33-38).

These are a part of this great heavenly amphitheater arena. Those persecuted before us are sitting there looking on as we run the race that is set before us, cheering us on, encouraging us, rooting for us, encouraging us to keep on keeping on. It can be like hearing them shouting from the grandstands, ‘don’t quit, you’ll make, don’t give up, we made it, and you will make it too. You will overcome the insurmountable odds that are against you victoriously. We did it and you will too!’

There were some we have heard, who while they were alive encouraged us. They were discouraged, experienced failure, were beaten down by life, their ministries faced persecutions and are now an encouraging voice and presence, letting us know that we too could make it as they had, encouraging us to keep on keeping on, not to quit or give up. ‘Don’t quit or give up regardless of what might be coming against you. You’re going to make it – God promises to bring you through to a successful finish!’

Great Cloud of Witnesses

The word cloud is used frequently (as “nubes” in Latin and “cloud” in English) to suggest a vast multitude of persons.” The ‘great cloud of witnesses’ therefore suggests ‘great multitude of heroes and heroines’ of faith, those who by their actions have testified to the worth of faith by surrounding us with many testimonies of their faith in God.

The great cloud of witnesses are the ones named and suggested in Hebrews chapter. 11; persons whose lives witnessed to the work and triumph of faith, and whose faith was witnessed to by Scripture, cf. Hebrews 11:2; Hebrews 11:4-5 They are preaching to us even today about living by faith and in obedience to God. Each of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’, spoken of in the Hebrews chapter 11 had a test of faith, that is, their faith was tested and they passed the test and were counted as right before God. Each became a witness to the faithfulness of God because they chose to believe the faithful God.

What is faith?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by faith, the elders obtained a good report. Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Heb 11:1 [KJV]) The witnesses (the saints mentioned in Hebrews Chapter 11) walked by faith, not by sight, thereby pleasing God. “Without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6 [ESV2011])

God is Faithful

And we need witnesses to testify to those of us who have not heard about the faithfulness of God. These witnesses are letting us know that God is faithful and that he is worthy of our complete faith and obedience. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1Thess 5:24 [HCSB]) The Amplified Bible says that “Faithful is He Who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you].” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (Amplified Bible) We can count on Him entirely with our whole being: spirit, soul and body for He is “utterly” trustworthy. No one comes second or no one comes close to His Faithfulness, others are reliable, only GOD is faithful. If any man will say that God is unfaithful, then he is a liar. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His word is forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). God’s eternal faithfulness was exemplified when Jesus Christ promised to send to His disciples another Helper after ascending to the Father in heaven. “But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:5-7 [HCSB])

 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you in form of the Holy Spirit” (John 14: 15 – 18).

The Promise of the Father

The Father promised to give the new believers the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth. The promise of the Father was first made by God to his servants the prophets, that he would one day pour out his Spirit on all His people. God said this through Joel chapter 2 and verse 28, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” You see what God is emphasizing here that no longer will it be men like prophets and priests and kings who will receive an endowment of power by the Spirit. All who trust in the Lord will have it. Everyone without exception, young and old, men and women, Jews and Gentiles would become the recipients of God the Holy Spirit.

“And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. And while He was blessing them, He left them and was carried up into heaven. After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continually in the temple complex praising God.” (Luke 24:49 [HCSB])

And on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came as promised with great signs and wonders and has been here with us since then. “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they (disciples of Jesus) were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4 [ESV2011]) What a faithful God that we have. The disciples of Jesus who were Jews received the Holy Spirit during that epic day of Pentecost as they had been promised by Jesus Christ. Gentiles from every nation under heaven who had assembled in Jerusalem that day also received the Holy Spirit. And later on we see Peter being led to a Gentile to preach to him about Christ so that he (a Gentile) also with his household would receive the Holy Spirit. “Then Peter preaching to the household of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, (and a Gentile) opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, you know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” (Acts 10:34-48 [KJV])

God promised through prophet Joel 400 years Before Christ that He will give all who believe in Him His Holy Spirit now and in the future, because He is not a respecter of persons. “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28)

God is faithful. He has promised and will forever fulfill for His promises, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2Cor 1:20 [KJV]) Another version says that “All the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.” (2Cor 1:20 [ESV2011])

The great cloud of witnesses lived by faith and they pleased God. For every man or woman who fought the good fight of faith, finishing the race with glory and honor, not one can be found who did not live a life of discipline and devotion to the God who had called them.

Those saints who have gone before us all testify eternally, through God’s written Word, to anyone who will listen, that we too can trust the Lord, and that we too can live by faith, and we too can walk in obedience to God. Think about the examples He chose for witnesses: Almost all the ones he named or alluded to were people with fairly serious failures in their lives. They were not “Super-Christians” by any means but they had faith and believed in Lord God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth and He credited them as faithful.

Let us recognize and appreciate that we are surrounded by a great multitude of witnesses who walked by faith and in obedience to God. A case in point is Abram. “Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the LORD; and He counted (credited) it to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). (Genesis 15:6 Amplified Bible) Why was Abram counted by God as righteous? Because he walked before God blameless, believing in God and in His spoken word and in obedience to God.  The saints mentioned in the book of Hebrews chapter 11 walked by faith, not by sight to please God.

Our testimony on His behalf is a powerful witness to the truth of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Believers are required to testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1John 4:14 [ESV2011])

 “And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:42-43 [ESV2011])

“Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21 [ESV2011])

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)

“Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)

That is why the message that the disciples preached as the first church was that Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah which means the Anointed One, and His Anointing.

“He (Andrew) finding his own brother Simon said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ.” (John 1:41-42)

“Martha said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:27)

 “Simon Peter answered and told Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

The word anointed means ‘rub into, smear all over, fill in. When the Bible talks about “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 New International Version), believers are supposed to preach everywhere the good news (Gospel) that God will rub Himself into the flesh of Jesus, smear Himself all over those who believe and fill the believers with the Holy Spirit to empower them to heal who are oppressed by the devil. Jesus is the Christ, the Anointing One and He is the Anointing on all who believe in Him. The anointing is God’s presence. His essence. It is the thing that makes God be God. The anointing is God on the flesh enabling flesh to do those things that are impossible for flesh to do. For instance, flesh cannot heal anyone. Even Jesus’ flesh could not heal anyone because it came from Mary. It was as human as hers. He had to wait until He was anointed with the Holy Spirit for Him to start doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. (And Jesus after overcoming temptations of the devil returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.  In Luke 4:14 [KJV], Jesus confessed that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor”. His perfect, sinless flesh speaking the words of a perfect sinless God caused God’s anointing to be poured upon Him without measure. That revelation that Christ can be in us as recorded in Colossians 1:27 is the best news (gospel means good news) revealed to us at this point in this age. “The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:26-27 [ESV2011]) It is the best news ever hidden over the ages and is now being revealed to the believers saying that the power of God can be in us to enable us do things which natural flesh cannot do. That we can cast out demons in Jesus name. That we can lay our hands on the sick and they get healed in Jesus name. That piece of news is too good to be true, but it is actually true. “Afterward Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” (Mark 16:14-20 [ESV2011]) That is a confirmation of how good and faithful our God is. He said that He will pour His Spirit on all who believe and He did and He will continue fulfilling His promise.

Let us Lay Aside Every Weight, and The Sin Which Does so Easily Beset us

The author exhorts us to lay aside every weight, and to lay aside the sin that so easily besets us. The author differentiates weights and sins. Weights are not sins but they can bog us down and prevent us from going to heaven. Sin on the other hand is a transgression of the divine law (1 John 3:4), a rebellion against God’s commandment (Deut 9:7, Joshua 1:18) and it leads to death. The punishment one receives upon sinning is death, delayed or instant. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” (James 1:12-15 [KJV])

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23 [ESV2011])

Let us first talk about the weight that bogs us down, preventing us from running the marathon race of our Christian life. The weight in the context of Hebrews 12:1 includes the baggages that bog us down preventing us from moving forward or growing as believers in Christ in the marathon race of life. Innocent as weights may look, they drain our faith leading to backsliding, stagnation, lukewarmness, prayerless life and waning faith. On the other hand, the sin that so easily besets or entangles us is a sin no matter which other name we give it: pet sins, small sins or big sins. Laying aside every weight and the sin that does so easily beset us are the necessary preparations one must undertake to be eligible to compete in the Christian marathon race of life.

Therefore, let us lay aside those things that encumber us and bog us down. We must shed off the weights, lay them down and disown them so that we run the Christian race set before us. God does not want us to be bogged down with the cares of this world which bog us down and choke God’s instructions for us to finish the race. Some Christian marathoners behave like the seed that was planted among the thorns. According to the Parable of the Sower Jesus gave in the book of Mark 4:2-20, He said that while the sower was scattering the seeds, some of the seeds fell among thorns. When the seed germinated and grew, the thorns also grew with it and choked it such that it became unfruitful. When Jesus was explaining the parable, He identified the thorns to be some factors that hinder a believer from bearing fruit and from moving forward. The factors are the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things listed in Mark 4 verse 19: “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things are the weights that entangle our feet and choke us like thorns, hindering us from running the race that is set before us by God Himself.

The Cares of This World

Christians whose lives are run by the cares of this world turn to crave for a lot of things leading them to covetousness, extravagance and or materialism. And if they do not lay their hands on their cravings, they get frustrated and lose their joy and peace in the Lord, becoming discontent, ungrateful, and offended with God.  In Jesus sermon on the mountain, He told the crowd not to worry or care for themselves so much as if God does not know of their needs. He told them instead to seek first the kingdom of heaven and all the things they need shall be added unto them.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:25-33 [ESV2011])

Jesus told the devil in the book of Luke 4:4 that “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” The Bible is saying that you need something more than bread, more than food, more than clothing to exist. That very thing that you really need is the Word of God. That is the needful part. We must understand spiritual priorities and understand that the most important treasure of a Christian’s life is the Word of God found in the Law of God. The Bible says that the Law of God is more valuable than fine gold, sweeter than honey. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”(Psalm 19:7-10 [KJV])

You are being encouraged today to “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9 [ESV2011])

The Deceitfulness of Riches

The Lord Jesus told another parable about a farmer whose business really prospered, so much that he resolved to build a bigger barn to store his produce, then relax and enjoy the benefit of his good fortune. But that night he died. His riches and prosperity had deceived him and cheated him. He never benefitted from it. Had he heeded the word of God he could not have died prematurely. Jesus asked: “What does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life?” (Matt 16:26 [NET2]) Above everything else, God tells us to “seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things (that we need) shall be added unto us.” (Matt 6:33 [KJV])

The Lusts of Other Things

There are three different types of desire namely lust, covet and zeal. Lust is sexual desire and worldly desires. Covet is to desire earthly possessions and what does not belong to you while zeal is desire for God. Lust and covetuousness are sins against the commandments of God and God warns us against being tempted by our own lust for it leads to death. The tenth commandment forbids coveting anything that belongs to a neighbor, including his house, his wife, his servants, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to him. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 [ESV2011])

“Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” (James 1:12-15 [KJV])

“My zeal (devotion) for your house consumes me, and the mockeries of those who insult you fall on me.” (Psalm 69:9, International Standard Version) Zeal is very strong desire for God. David’s “zeal for God’s house” was shown, first, in his establishment of the tabernacle on Mount Zion (2 Samuel 6:12-19); next, in his earnest desire to build a permanent and magnificent dwelling for the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 7:2; Psalm 132:2-5); then, in his careful collection of materials for the building which he was forbidden to erect himself (1 Chronicles 28:11-18; 1 Chronicles 29:2-5); and finally, in the directions that he left to Solomon with respect to building the temple (1 Chronicles 28:9, 10, 20).

God warns us against lusting for worldly things that do not please God. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides forever.” (1John 2:15-17 [KJV])

Fear Has Torment

A very common weight that any aspiring athlete must lay aside to be eligible to compete and at the same time increase his or her chances of finishing the race is fear. Some athletes fear that they may not qualify for the race as they are convinced that the training they have done will not make them physically fit for the race. They have a low opinion of themselves. Fear is one of the biggest road blocks that the devil has put up against us to stop us from going to heaven. The words “Fear not” are mentioned in the Bible 365 times. This means that we should never fear at any single day. Fear is self destructive. Fear is the response of the body caused by anticipation of impending evil or impending danger. Fear is a form of bondage we put ourselves inside where the victim is enslaved and gripped by anticipation of an impending danger. One can respond to the impeding danger by either fleeing or fighting back. The Bible says that “fear has torment” (1 John 4:18). The longer you continue anticipating impending evil, the tighter you are gripped by that fear leading to worry, stress and panic, panic disorders, post traumatic stress disorders and anxiety disorders. Such stress is self inflicted punishment and torment which we are advised every day with shouting words of “Fear not.” God has harsh words to the fearful because He knows that cowards hide from God when they have sinned. Adam and Eve hid themselves from God after sinning. Jonah hid from God to avoid doing what God had commanded him to do. Jonah tried to escape from the command to proclaim the word of God in Nineveh by fleeing to Tarshish, because he was displeased with the display of divine mercy of God to the great heathen city of Nineveh.

Cowards fear to get saved for fear of being laughed at. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night to seek God for fear of the Pharisees. God has condemned all cowards to hell where they will be dumped together with sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers and liars. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8 [KJV])

In his letters to the Romans, Paul told them that “…you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

Fear is diametrically opposed to faith. When fear enters through the door, faith leaves through the window. When we confess fear, we possess fear. If you fear that you will be disqualified from taking part in the race, you will be disqualified. Job had actually confessed fear when he said that “… the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” (Job 3:25). What Job did not know was that we are not supposed to fear for anybody. We are not supposed to fear anything or confess fear because if God be for us, who can be against us. Job confessed fear and he possessed fear because what you confess, you possess. In other words, we possess what we confess. Job feared that the sins of his children might bring disaster to the whole family. And because he was anticipating that the worst might come upon his family, that became an open door for the devil to get in and destroy him and his family. What he feared eventually came upon him. Doubts lead us to expect evil to come our way and they come. Jesus said in Mark 11:23 that “…verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says.” Job confessed doom and it came upon him. He confessed fear and the consequences of fear came upon him. Whatever you fear will surely come upon you. You fear to fail; you will end up failing. But fear starts with the word “may be” or “perhaps”. You say that ‘Perhaps I have not done enough training, my body will fail me, my diet will fail me, I might be disqualified because of my weight or skin colour or religion and sure enough you will not make it in the race because what you say is what you get. Weights like fear of failure, worries, doubting yourself or doubting that God might forsake you in time of need, and even harbouring, unforgiveness, strife and other baggages, luggages in your heart are heavy weights that require to be laid off so that you can run and finish the race with glory and honor so as to receive a reward. Do not run aimlessly as busybodies and jokers but be disciplined athletes who will not be bogged down by idle talk.

“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” (1Tim 5:13 [ESV2011])”

 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1Cor 9:24-27 [ESV2011])

Believe in God, Doubting Nothing

Doubt is another weights that bogs us down and prevent us from moving forward in the Christian walk. Doubt is unbelief. To doubt is to question the truth. Some people doubt themselves and think highly of others. Others believe the negative opinions people have about them. If someone tells you that you will fail, cancel that negative word that has been released by the enemy against you in Jesus name. Others doubt anything that does not originate from them because they are know-it-alls, so full of themselves, so wrapped up in themselves and considering everything in light of “it’s either me-me or I if not ours” mentality. They believe in themselves, similar to the one who said that he does not believe in bishops unless he is one..

 Some people even doubt what God has said in His Word, a poison that was planted in the hearts of the first parents Adam and Eve. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” (Gen 3:1-4 [ESV2011]) The devil misquoted what God had said so as to deceive her upon realizing that Eve had actually misquoted God since God had not mentioned fruits and he cunningly ‘danced to her tune.’ God had actually commanded Adam that “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16-17 [ESV2011]).

Indecisiveness Is a Terrible Weight If It Hangs Around our Necks

Another weight that does so easily beset us is indecisiveness. There are people who are unable to make right choices and right decisions. We are living in a confused world and people seem to be reeling in indecisiveness. Your decisions will always determine your destiny. Every decision you make will create a good or bad result. You are a product of your choices. Your fate is determined by the choices you make. Make personal decisions and do not follow the crowd. Do not always follow the majority because maybe all the fools are on one side. You can choose your choices but you cannot choose the consequences of your choice.

Decisions made today cannot affect your yesterday or your past. But a decision you made yesterday or in the past will continue affecting you today and in future unless you cancel it in Jesus name. Some people are neither cold nor hot, Jesus calling such people lukewarm. The writing is on the wall and Christ’s warning is louder today than ever as He shouts that “you are neither cold nor hot: I wish that you are cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm and you are neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:14-16). Lukewarm Christians are fence sitters. They are neither cold nor hot as they want to please both sides. They want to eat the cake and have it while others eat also from the enemy camp. It is baffling to hear both blessing and cursing coming out of the same mouth. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:10-12 [KJV])

At one time somebody is an angel and the next minute he or she is quarrelling, cursing, bullying or threatening another. People look good until they open their mouths to speak what is stored in their hearts. In one instance speaking niceties and full of courtesy and the next minute throwing tantrums at someone or telling a lie. One then wonders whether bitter fruit and sweet fruit can proceed from the same tree at the same time. Or is it two people living in one body? How can one be both positive and negative at the same time? And because we know that positive plus negative equals negative, then it goes without saying that being both good and bad renders one to be a bad person altogether. It is a high time that you decided which team to cheer or which side of the road you want to travel along. Either you travel on the left or on the right but not on the middle. The only things found in the middle of the road are dead dogs and worn out tyres. Furthermore, the two sides of the road lead to opposite destinations.

Procrastination Weighs Us Down and Prevents Us from Making Important Urgent Decisions

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something that should be done. One reason why some people procrastinate is fear of the difficult, fear of failure, fear to take a risk and fear of the unknown. Another reason why many people procrastinate or delay to commit themselves or make a decision today is because there is disobedience and unbelief in their hearts. One example of a person in the Bible who responded to a call immediately in obedience and faith in a God he hardly knew was Abram. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” (Gen 12:1-5 [KJV])

If he had delayed in obeying God and believing in a God he hardly knew, he would not have been blessed. Through him, all the families of the earth can receive the blessings of God. “Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Gal 3:6-8 [ESV2011])

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal 3:13-14 [KJV])

If you don’t believe in the above statement and you delay in accepting Jesus Christ who died for you to be saved promising to consider salvation tomorrow, then you are guilty of procrastination. Do not procrastinate any longer! Today is the day of salvation! “for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” Behold, now is “the day of salvation”– (2 Corinthians 6:2 NASB)

The Holy Spirit is talking to you in a still small voice, urging you to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of your soul and He will save from the ravages of sin and adopt you and you will be called son of God. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” (Hebrews 3:7-19 ESV)

The Sin Which Does So Easily Beset Us

The writer is comparing sin with a garment—either a loosely fitting garment by which the runner becomes entangled and tripped up, or one that clings closely to him and thus impedes his ease of movement. The thought here is a sin that wraps itself around our life and is always tripping us down. Though the primary sin the writer was probably referring to in this passage was the sin of unbelief or a lack of faith in Christ, it could well be said of any sin that hinders us in running the Christian race. By the sin that does so easily beset us, we understand that sin to be the one which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed to on daily basis. This is a most important exhortation; for while a man’s sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him or her from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement.

Pet Sins

My pet is that which I am unwilling to give up. The sins that you hold onto, cling to are called pet sins. The pet sin is that sin which refuses to go away because your spirit has rejected it but your body is clinging to it. That sin that you cling to will entangle you and stop you from moving ahead. And because it entangles you so easily, then it must be a sin that you are not ready to release. It is like telling someone to throw away or do away with a pet he or she cannot do without. Pet sins are those that you are addicted to, entangled with, obsessed with and engrossed with and sometimes you are so deep inside them that concepts of time and conduct mean nothing to the victims. Those engrossed in their pet sins are in a world of their own and do not feel guilty and they will continue in their sins until they die in their sins. “Again, Jesus warned them, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He (who was sent to save those lost in their sins), you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). That is how dangerous pet sins can be when they lead you to that slippery downward path.

Jacob was not ready to release his favorite son Benjamin to be taken to Egypt on their food begging mission. “And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” (Gen 42:36 [ESV2011]) Some people are very strongly attached to their pet sons, similar to what others are strongly attached to their pet sins. Some sinners’ hearts are so glued to their lusts, that they would rather part with their dearest valuables and dearest ones than part with their sins! Yes, they would rather part with God and all the glory of heaven than part with their darling sins and lusts.

Pet sin is our Benjamin, the child we are unwilling to let go as Jacob refused to part with Benjamin, his favorite son. We can cling tightly to our favorite sin, we repent other sins, but protect that one pet sin and keep it secret until death. That sin that so easily besets us is our secret sin, the sin that one does behind closed doors, the sin that is kept secret even unto death, the secret sin that one dies with. Sin is not a pet to tame but a beast to slay. And, you cannot slay it on your own. We need God to help us slay that sin that is sleeping in our hearts awaiting to be ignited by our lusts and it wakes up as a giant Goliath to kill us. Harboring pet sins or secret sins in your heart will make you to continue sinning against your vowed intentions. You find yourself doing the very evil you have promised or vowed to avoid because “the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

Paul lamented that “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;” but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:15-24 NIV)

The Bible calls this sinful nature of always returning to our pet sins as foolishness. “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11 (NIV) “And the dog is returned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2Pet 2:22 [KJV])

To avoid the sin that does so easily beset us, let us not allow our minds to drift away from the race that is set before us. Let us fix our eyes on the one who died for us for our sins to be forgiven; Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. Ask God to give you His Holy Spirit to cleanse you with the shed blood of Jesus to obtain forgiveness for your sins. Forgiveness is found in no other way but by the shed blood of Jesus, not the blood of goats and sheep which cannot wash away sins, but by the precious blood of Jesus. “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Heb 9:22 [ESV2011])

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb 9:24-26 [ESV2011])

“so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28 [ESV2011])

You Must Be Born Again

The sinful nature mentioned in Romans 7:19 (“For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do”) is that part of us that wants things that are contrary to God’s desires for us. Our sinful natures desire to serve only ourselves. We can be saved but we are not free from the cravings of our sinful nature because the old man is still in us. Unless we are born again, we shall continue struggling with our pet sins because the old man is still tucked somewhere at a corner of our hearts. The only way for us is to be crucified with Jesus so that the old man in us dies and we resurrect with Jesus in newness of life and become new creatures in what is called being born again. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Rom 6:6 [KJV])

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor 5:17 [KJV])


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