Weights and the sin that so easily entangles
Today we are to enter the practical session of obeying God’s word, of throwing away the weights that hinder us from running the race with God.
In Hebrews 12, the writer says that to run with Jesus, without being hindered, we need to strip off two things: weights and the sin that entangles and clings, that is the sin that you keep repenting of many, many times. Those are the two things to strip of: weights and clinging sins.
When I will be writing my own sins, one of the sins I will write is the impatience of always correcting my translators. I have repented of it alone, many times. To interrupt a message in order to correct something is not wisdom. And for people who are not lovers of truth, all they see is the humiliation. I don’t despise any of my translators a little bit, but nobody can enter my heart and see that I don’t despise them. So, for those who are far, and who are not very interested in truth, but in behaving, it is an offense, and we should not make anybody stumble, by small things. And the bigger the ministry becomes, things that we could tolerate in a small scale, will become offensive to other cultures and other backgrounds, and we may cut our own legs while wanting to run. I repent about it.
Believe me and pray for me. Part of humility is patience. Humility manifests in patience. A humble person allows people to make mistakes without becoming distracted by those mistakes. Humility is coping with errors, not allowing errors. Humility is living with the mistakes and the weaknesses of others, not allowing it. Who has understood the difference? In an intimate context, when you are alone with the person, you must insist that people change, your love may make the person a bit better for the eyes of God with whom he will spend eternity. You owe God and that brother that little perfection that will make heaven more holy and make him more pleasing to God.
But we have to throw away weights that hinder our running with Jesus. The writer of Hebrews says: there are two negative things to throw away: weights and clinging sins.
But also to be able to run with Jesus, there are two great incitations and motivation, two great incitations motivating us to keep running. And he tells us what the two motivations are.
The first of those motivations are the believers, especially those that we love who finished strong. The bible says: since we are surrounded with this great cloud of witnesses, that cloud of witnesses are the heroes of faith that he had been enumerated in chapter 11. Look at Abel’s faith, look at the faith of Enoch, look at the faith of Noah, look at the great faith of Abraham, look at the faith of Isaac, look at the faith of Jacob, look at the faith of Joseph and look at the faith of Moses. And when he reached Moses, he says; Look at the faith of Rahab, then he says, the list is long, I have just mentioned these few, then there is –Gideon, there is Rahab, there is Japheth, there is David, there is Samuel and all the prophets. So, if I continue the chronicles of faith, my book will not finish. So he says: surrounded by this cloud, inspire yourself by those whom you know who have finished well. That is the first great motivation in the Christian race. Look at others, how they finished. So that you don’t slack so that you don’t stop so that you don’t congratulate yourself. So that you press on. The cloud of witnesses.
By the time the writer was writing Hebrews, he already said the witnesses were a big cloud. Now, if we add the martyrs, the apostles, the Christian leaders, the pioneers, the missionaries, and when we add to this list of church history, and that is not all: our young community has its own heroes, dead and alive, and some of them, you know them, in our ministry: Mama Lydie Sen, a woman of prayer, making many people rich and remaining poor. Who here knew sister Lydie Sen? I want to do a test: who here knew sister Lydie Sen and sister Lydie Sen gave you a gift? Sister Lydie Sen had a table where she sold groceries. From that little table, she gave to God, she ran the Douala house of power which is what we call today the Douala House of Prayer for all Nations, and she loved the brethren, cooked for the brethren.
We have had heroes. Then there is Jeanne Njawe, a devote woman, the husband cut up with politics, a woman of prayer, servant of Madeleine Bikitik, totally uninterested in the politics that surrounded her home, a lover of God.
We had heroes. Brother Timothy Ngwa, joyful like a child, always joyful like a child, and serviceable, practical. He was an elderly man, possessed by the joy of the Lord. A man who loved the brethren, so simple-hearted that you can deceive him, humble. One of the pioneers of the church in Douala and the pioneer of the church in Bafoussam, paternal to the core. Each time I think about brother Tim Ngwa, it is that broad smile, that joy, as if it is yesterday the world was created.
And they have gone to be with the Lord. I am calling the ones that you are not used to be hearing, because you have been used to hearing the ones that we use to call.
Surrounded by this cloud of witnesses, run the race, think about them and finish well. The heroes of the bible, the heroes of the church, the heroes of our own community, surrounded by all these people, be inspired, be motivated.
So, there are two things from which we are to strip in order to run, in order to be light to run.
And there are two great motivations if we want to run the Christian race.
It may surprise you but the bible recommends that we should know our heroes, those who are alive and those who have gone.
Remember the testimonies of the brethren, that is the reason why we created the program of Profiles in the convention, so that you may know and imitate, and run. That it may add speed to your legs, so that you don’t become indolent. And that was the only reason why we had profiles, it was not for fame. We are to know one another, because like the Psalmist say in Psalm 20:5
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
What I am trying to bring out here is this: be victorious in order to give us an opportunity to feast, and be victorious so that we may raise the banner to celebrate the name of God in seeing your victory. It is said here that in seeing your victory we will feast and take out our little flags. So that we can rejoice so that we can deploy the banner in the Name of our God. You are in our team, so score the goal, and give us the opportunity to raise the flags of our God, so that we can deploy the banner in the Name of our God.
So, among the motivations, the first one is the cloud of witnesses., our brethren who are watching us from the other side of the veil or from this side. They are watching us and the bible says: run the Christian race because many witnesses are watching you. Those who have died and those who are alive, are watching you. Remember them when you are being tempted. Remember them. Remember them when you feel discouraged.
The second motivation that the writer to Hebrews says we should use to run, says: “keep your eyes on Jesus, the author, the finisher of our faith”. He started it, he has finished it, he has shown you the whole race. He has shown you the whole race, and the bible says: learn from Him, he kept his eyes on the joy of the Father when he will finish well. He endured many things because he wanted to get to the end and let the Father be glorified. He wanted to get to the end and be victorious and receive the Holy Spirit and liberate the Holy Spirit from only being with the Father and the Son. It is after Jesus’ death that the Holy Spirit stopped being only with God the Father and God the Son, and was released to fill the creation. He was desperate to free the Holy Spirit upon all creation. The joy that was set for him, he was looking forward that when the Father marks him and accepts him and crowns him, approve him, he will bring the Father multitudes of other sons. It is that joy that He was anticipating. When Satan tormented Him, when Judas betrayed Him, when Peter denied Him, when the disciples were slumbering and even stupid, when they did not understand spiritual things, He was patient, He had to succeed because if He succeeded and the Father was satisfied, He would have been opened the way for Him not to be the Only Son anymore, but to fill heaven and earth with children of God. His goal was the joy ahead of him.
I heard people saying: “Why do we have such great goals? It is falsehoods, it is real? Can they really be accomplished? You see, all those questions are not terrible, but ask the other question: if we succeed with the goal, will the Father be happy? You can look at the difficulties and ask: are we not being over-ambitious? Is it only our ministry that is serving God? Please, when you finish asking those questions, ask the other one: if we succeed, will the father be glorified? Would it have been worthy for Christ to die?
The writer says: fix your eye on Jesus, make Jesus your focus. And then he writes, because he knows us very well he says, if you think that the Christian life is difficult if you really think that your own road is very difficult, ok, Jesus was holy, he was the Son of God, full of the Holy Spirit, sinless, but look at the kind of opposition he had form sinful men look at the opposition that he had! He was perfect love, he was perfect truth, he was perfect holiness, but look at the way men hated him and opposed him, how somebody who has lived with him for long can go and sell him for only thirty pieces of silver. Even if Judas wanted to sell Jesus, is it only for thirty pieces? If you carry somebody to the market, If you carry an article to the market, you will sell it according to its value. Even from an economic point of view, Judas needs to go to hell. You carry a miracle worker and sell for only thirty pieces, Judas could not even buy a car with the money for which he sold Jesus. For such economic foolishness!! But consider Jesus, holy, lovely, gentle, faithful, and look at the violent opposition that he faced, and then look at your own difficulties! Your own, you can even understand that you are a sinner, you deserve what is happening to you, and even though you deserve far worse, have you been opposed with the violence Jesus was opposed? the whole religious system, the whole political system, your own brothers and sisters, and your own disciples.
At the cross of Calvary, the other day when we were talking about the four pathways of relationship with God, no, the day we were talking about the way of the cross, I stopped at the Sanhedrin. If you follow the way of the cross, after that is the praetorium of Pilate, and there, all the political experiments of mankind came to condemn Jesus. In the praetorium, theocracy went there, theocracy came there in the person of the high priest, theocracy is government by believers following the law of God, like in Israel where the President is a child of God and the laws are the ten commandments, theocracy is a government based on faith in God. it came to the court to try Jesus. So theocracy was there, Herod was there, tyranny was thee, oligarchy came and Pilate invited democracy to come. They were all united to judge Jesus. He said, I am used to liberating for you a prisoner, now, there is this king of the Jews and there is this terrible criminal, what do you choose? Scriptures tell us that all democracy shall vote for the devil. What did democracy choose? Did they choose goodness? Did they choose truth? Did they choose God? They chose a criminal whom they know to be a criminal. Suffrage chose evil.
At the cross of Calvary, if you are one of those who trust any government, they were all there to judge Jesus and none of them was sympathetic, none of them is from heaven, none. Jesus’s own political party, his disciples betrayed him, denied him. In fact, at the cross, the greatest human sympathy that Jesus experienced came from Pilate’s wife. So, if you are looking for political sympathy for the kingdom of God, that is the only person that brought a little sympathy. Pilate’s wife told him: don’t touch him. Pilate’s wife did not want Pilate to touch Jesus because of the consequences of touching holiness. Not because of the love of holiness.
When he finished at the praetorium, he has to go to Herod’s court in Jerusalem. There, Jesus was brought to mockeries. The old temptation, only at Herod’s court did the voice of the devil become so clear. Of all these other places, satan was not as clear as to when he was in the desert. Signs seek miracles seekers, those who tempt God.
Part of the way of the cross is the challenge to prove your ministry. When you want to follow the Lord as a disciple and are resolved to embrace the cross, part of the life of the cross is the pressure to prove your ministry; you have become a clown before men to prove that God is with you. We said that the way of the cross is the way Jesus reacted.
Each of these Stations of the Cross brings the Lord… like the seven steps downwards of Joseph: he went down at Dothan, down in the pit, down in Egypt, down in Prison… Just like these steps downwards of Joseph, Jesus had to go down at each step of the cross, and the life of the cross became deeper at each step, and it became more spiritual. On the cross, the unbelievers told Jesus: preach to us by saving us. Didn’t you come to save sinners, we want to believe now. And Jesus refused to preach.
In Pilate’s palace, all the political systems converged and all condemned Jesus. So if you are a believer and you want to belong to a political party, thinking that there are political parties that are favorable to the Kingdom to come, the Lord Jesus said: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” We disciples do not fight political battles. We pray for governments, for those that are in place, and not for those that we wish were there. All political systems are anti-Christ.
The Lord suffered till the point of death, to the shading of his blood, and the writer says: you have not resisted sin, to the point of shading your blood. And then he said that all the difficulties you are having are just the chastisements from your heavenly Father, which is a mark of his love, and a proof that you are not a bastard. Then you are complaining. Your hardships are only a manifestation of your heavenly Father to discipline you. And the writer says, instead of being discouraged, you ought to be happy that your heavenly Father loves you
So, those are the motivations for the race.
The witnesses, past, and living.
And the Lord’s focus gazes to the joy that was ahead of him. There is no more legitimate joy than the joy of victory. All other joys are taken or given, it is only the joy of victory that is earned. The joy of alcohol cannot be permanent, but the joy of having your first degree, nobody can take it away from you, it is yours.
And the Lord invites us to the joy of victory, like what He has. If you think that your road is hard, look at the Lord’s road. No curse was operating in his life, no judgment for a sin committed was operating in his life, no witchcraft was operating against him, and look at the opposition he faced, so that you may understand how Satan hates spiritual progress and how he does everything to take you off the race, and it is not a cruse manifesting, and it is not witches and wizards moving forward, it is their big man himself, called the devil making your moving forward difficult. And the bible says: consider Jesus, and how He endured opposition.
There are some things in life that you endure, you don’t cast them down, you don’t bring them down, you don’t uproot them, and you don’t terminate with them, you endure them. You don’t escape them, you endure them.
In God’s house there will be enmity, not because you have wounded your brother, not because you have not greeted him, but if you decide to walk with God like Joseph, and God’s presence follows you, and God’s glory surrounds you like the dress that Joseph’s father had given him, and God shows you His vision, your brother will hate you.
The Lord endured. When God wounds a man, the marks remain till eternity, and if you quarrel with the wounding of God! He endured. So you, run with perseverance the run that is before you. Run with wounds, run with oppositions, run with the goal in view, and run with the joy in view that you are not feeling now but that you will feel at the end, run not with felt joy but with anticipated joy, run. Run with not with the testimony of immediate gratification but with the ultimate triumph. Run. Finish strong. Many have collapsed on the road, the writer to the Hebrews tells us, they collapsed, many of them because of weights and many of them because of clinging sins. And many of them, because they became discouraged.
What is discouragement? Eyes that are off Jesus.
What is discouragement? Exaggerating your own difficulties until you forget the difficulties of others.
Consider him who endured such oppositions from sinful men. He endured. He endured.
Leave the crusade this night, know that your difficulties are insignificant, only your discouragement is exaggerating them, consider the Lord Jesus and the opposition he endured. Like sister Valery, cry your tears, and run.