November 2, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus." Hebrews 12:1-2
Hebrews 11 gives an extraordinary account of many who went through trials and sufferings that we know nothing of. I have often thought that the "great cloud of witnesses" had reference to these stalwart warriors of the faith. But let's apply it another way. Suppose this "great cloud of witnesses" is the vast number of "unbelievers" who are looking very closely to...the way we "talk," the things we "do," and the way we "live." It now becomes a "challenge to us" that relates to the "unbeliever" and how he is impacted by our lives.
The writer says, "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles." It is imperative that, as a believer, we should be intensely concerned with the things that hinder the race we are in. But also consider what effect our lives have on the unbeliever. So often our lives speak so loudly the unbeliever does not hear what we say. Paul says, "In view of God's mercy [God withholding all the wrath and judgment we deserve because of our sin] that we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:1-2).
The question now is..."How committed to Christ do I want to be?"..."Do I want to be a disciple of Christ?"...Paul said, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD...I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him" (Philippians 3:7-9).
We have received Jesus Christ as our Savior, but is He our LORD? Jesus prefaced discipleship with an "IF." "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." His lordship demands the giving up the control of my life to His authority...the surrender of my "individual independence" to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. The passion of Christian discipleship is that I deliberately "sign away my own rights" and become a "bond slave" of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ wants our absolute abandon of devotion to Himself. Until I do that, I am not a disciple of His. Consider what this involves.
The disciple of Christ is not characterized by an attitude of what he gives up, what he does, or what he does not do, this is spiritual legalism. It is rather "to throw off everything that hinders" our devotion and commitment to God. Our life will be judged by the great cloud of witnesses by our intimate relationship and love to Jesus Christ. To be a "living sacrifice" is to let Him have all your powers and will, and let them be sanctified through Jesus.
Are there "things" you do, or say, or are engaged in, that identify you "more with the world" than with Christ? Is Christ the LORD of ALL your life?...your affections, desires, motives, thoughts, habits? Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a person, our Lord Jesus Christ. Man pours himself into creeds, tradition, and customs...GOD pours Himself into the one who "abandons himself" to HIS lordship and sovereignty.
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-11-02
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