Yesterday we considered our calling to run the race set before us. And as we saw, that is the same race as the one which those listed in Hebrews 11 ran. To win the prize which they won, we must reach a certain goal, laying aside anything that would stop us from running.
But what is also very important is that we go straight to the finish line, and are not tempted to turn off that path on which we must run. That path is the way of righteousness, and it is run by faith. Therefore the author of this epistle wrote in Hebrews 12:1 , "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
We have that sinful nature of our flesh that wants a different kind of prize. It wants what the lust of our flesh wants, what the lust of our eyes seeks, and what the pride of our life has in mind. Sin is a heavy weight that makes us want to stop, sit down, and not run further.
Surely we have so much against which to contend. It is not men who are trying to beat us in the race. It is things, pleasures, carnal enjoyments off the path that we want to enjoy. There are things Satan through men presents to us, tempting us to stop. And the temptations today are so much more subtle than in the day when this epistle was written. We can today go so much farther off the path. The allurements are many more in number and much more enticing.
But we must take heed to what is written here. We must go forward in faith. Our faith must cause us to look to the blessedness Christ earned for us by His cross, and to call sinful all the things presented to entice us and bring us off the path that leads to the prize.
Do not call sins wise and good. Call them folly and wicked. Heed these words in the text, and run away from sin as fast as you can.
Read: James 1:12-27 .
¼ placing ourselves, our persons, our inmost heart and mind before the face of the living God, we may address an idol, a god of our own imagination, that is neither God nor Lord nor righteous, that is wholly like unto ourselves; to whom we speak but who does not speak to us; whose voice cannot possibly be heard in our inmost heart. And thus praying with ourselves and to ourselves, it is wholly conceivable that we approach this idol of our imagination with our abominable tithes, fasts, works, reforms, charities, philanthropies, devils cast out and wonders performed, and say: I thank thee, God, that I am so good, while all others are evil! . . .
And the reason is, that we did not pray to God, but with ourselves!
We were never in the presence of God!
His holiness did not flash into our inmost soul; His sovereign majesty never overawed our deceitful heart; His voice never thundered into our conscience: Thou shalt love Me!
But what if we pray to God who is God? . . . . – Herman Hoeksema [Standard Bearer, Vol. 8, pg. 218]