I have some old habits that I am trying to let go of. Some of these habits I have held onto from my before Christ days and carried them with me into my walk with Christ. These habits are part of the “old man” and the Lord and I have been talking about letting them go. Our conversations go something like this, Jesus says, “I cannot use you as I desire until you let go of this habit, this is getting between us.” I respond with, “Yes Lord, I know you want me to let go of this, but I can’t. I have tried, and since You won’t just take it from me, I am stuck with it.” We went through this same conversation this morning, but His response to me was different than all the other times, today, He reminded me that I haven’t really tried.
“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:4
As I read these words from Him, my heart was convicted, because He was right. I have not tried to resist the temptations that these old habits bring into my life, I have fought a little, but when the battle gets too strong I back down, and fall down. The writer of Hebrews lays out for us a picture of a runner who is running a race. He states in 12:1 that we should, “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
For most of us, there is some area in our lives that the Lord has told us to lay aside. He has asked us to let these things go, whether they are sins, bad habits or some of our “old man” nature still rearing its ugly head. Whatever the “weight” may be, the Lord Jesus calls us today to lay them aside, let them go and run after Him. But this is much easier said than done. I have run this race before only to fall down and eventually become discouraged. My thoughts are, “Why even try, every time I try I fail,” or, “Why do I think this time will be any different? This is who I am, this is who the Lord made me to be, and there is nothing I can do about it except ask the Lord to forgive me.” How many of us have said that ourselves? We try to lay aside the weights and the sins but when we fall, we get discouraged and want to give up.
Yet, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we haven’t really fought at all. The word “resisted” means to stand against. It is used to describe a troop of military men, lined up and ready to do battle. We have not prepared ourselves for the battle. We have not stood against these sins, these habits, these weights that the Lord has asked us to let go of. We have not yet stood against them, nor violently resisted the hold they have on us. The word “bloodshed” doesn’t mean that we actually bleed; it refers to the living body of our flesh. We have not yet battled against our flesh, because if we truly had, we would have victory. We know that we will have victory because Christ Jesus has given us the victory. (1 Cor. 15:55-57) So why are we walking around in defeat?
When we know that the Lord has asked us to lay aside those things in our life that hinder our races, and we choose not to, or we choose to give up, or we choose to “live with them” we are allowing sin to have a hold on our lives. The word used to define “weight” in verse 1 means anything that keeps us from running the race that God has for us. Most of us have heard the words, “Let this go and I will_______” (fill in the blank) so we start out running, but then we fall and we get discouraged. We have to get back up again and try again. The more we strive against these sins, weights and habits the more we will battle them. They will come up and try to assert themselves over us, because the flesh is always at war with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:17)
The word race was used in the ancient Greek to define conflict or struggle of all kinds. We give up so easily on this race we run. We give in so quickly to the defeat and just walk away, yet we never really even tried. We have not resisted, we have not fought against the urges or the desires, in fact, we haven’t even gotten our armor on. We have to keep striving, no matter how many times we fall; we must get back up and start again. We must strive, there is hope. We must look past the battle to the finale. We must not look at the war but at the victory that we have been given in Christ Jesus.
Jesus looked past the cross and saw the finished work. He was not “happy” to suffer so greatly, but He was willing to suffer because He knew the glory that was to come, and the joy that He would receive at the end of it all. (Heb. 12:2) We too are not “happy” to have to endure and suffer, but we must also look ahead to the glory that will be revealed in us when we have come through the battle onto the other side. We look ahead to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb.12:2) We look past the struggle and the battle and look to Jesus who is standing on the other side, with the victory flag in His hands. Jesus strove against sin, doubt and His flesh, He resisted and battled that night in the garden, (Luke 22:44) and He was able to resist because He was not focused on the battle but on the victory. We can and will have victory over these weights that hinder us, we just have to keep running, keep getting up and keep our eyes focused on the One who has gained the victory.
The athlete who has seen his own blood, and who, though cast down by his opponent, does not let his spirit be cast down, he has fallen often but rises all the more determined. He goes towards the finish line with great hope. Do not give up, keep striving, and keep battling. Even if we must shed our own blood, do not give up. May the Lord God strengthen and encourage you through His word, amen and amen.