Lay aside every weight

SERMON TOPIC: Lay aside every weight

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 16 April 2023

Topic Groups: RUNNING THE RACE, DISCIPLINE, CHRISTIAN LIVING

Sermon synopsis: The author of Hebrews calls on the image of competitors in ancient races who laid aside every weight of clothing. The competitors wore only a bare minimum, so added incumbrances didn’t defeat them. In the spiritual realm, unnecessary weights can compromise our endurance and outcome.

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There is a worldly saying “Ignorance is bliss”. However even in civil society, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

For the Child of God, Scripture makes it very clear that spiritual ignorance is very dangerous.

Hosea 4:6.

My people perish due to a lack of knowledge.

The setting of the Scripture text that I want to look at this morning is

“The Faith worthies of Hebrews 11”.

The writer to the Hebrews calls to mind the great exploits that were done by these Old Testament Saints.

Hebrews 11:32-38.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Hebrews 11:32-38.

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them.

The writer to the Hebrews then gives the Hebrew Christians the following exhortation.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Weights keep us from the joy Jesus has set before us.

The author of Hebrews calls on the image of competitors in ancient races who laid aside every weight of clothing. The competitors wore only a bare minimum, so added incumbrances didn’t defeat them. In the spiritual realm, unnecessary weights can compromise our endurance and outcome.

On the heels of those listed in Hebrews 11, who experienced suffering (and some even martyrdom), we are given some practical advice. If we want to run victorious as they did, we must also lay aside inhibiting loads and look to the finish.

What other weights might be hindering your race? Have you prayerfully analyzed your use of time? How often are you online? Does social media occupy too much of your life? Money and finances can become weighty. Dark and difficult days add emotional burdens. Physical or unhealthy habits might weigh us down. Addictions or some types of entertainment may need to be laid aside.

Sometimes even good things may hinder God’s best for us. Overinvolvement throws us off balance. Responsibilities may need paring down. Even the best causes need to be prayerfully considered before adding them. Placing cares at the feet of Jesus rather than carrying them on our shoulders helps us day by day to run well.

Laying aside every weight includes learning to bear only what Christ desires. Jesus assures us in Matthew 11:29-30 that His burden is light. He provides the rest we need to complete the race and the strength to sustain what we need.

A real mark of a spiritual person is they are always hungry and thirsty for more and more and more. But there are certain things that spoil our appetite.

Sometimes we feed on spiritual junk food and diminish our spiritual appetites. They are not even bad things in and of themselves, but some things just take the edge off our appetite.

So periodically we need to ask ourselves a question: Is this thing I am engaged in, this relationship, this pursuit, this activity, making me more or less hungry for spiritual things?

Does it draw me closer to God, or does it in some way keep me away from Him? Is it a wing or a weight in the race of life? Does it speed me on my way, or does it slow me down?

Hebrews 12:1. ‘Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.’

If you are really hungry and thirsty for righteousness, you will find it. Because if you really want something, then you will put yourself in that place where you will get it.

Alcohol

Cigarettes

Prescription drugs

1 Corinthians 6:12.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.

“I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

What does it mean “I have a right to do anything”?

In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul tells the Church in Corinth that all things not explicitly called sin are lawful for them, but not all of them are helpful.

1 Corinthians 10:23.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.

“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others”.

Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 10:23 by saying not all things build up.

He’s telling them that they are asking the wrong question and that their focus is off.

Instead of focusing on what is technically permissible, Paul challenges us to ask,

“What might be helpful for me to lay aside in order to run the race set before me?”

The NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:12 brings out more clearly the idea that Paul is quoting those who objected to his reprimand:

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say, but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

It seems that some within the Corinthian church were using “I have the right to do anything” as a mantra, repeating it whenever they were questioned about their behavior.

Paul responds to their mantra by adding his own clauses:

“but not everything is beneficial” and “but I will not be mastered by anything.”

Even if all things were lawful, not everything should be done, and nothing should be allowed to enslave us as a sinful habit.

1 Corinthians 10:23.

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God even as I try to please everyone in every way.

For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

In 1 Corinthians 10, the issue is eating meats offered to idols. Paul again turns to the mantra of the Corinthians:

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (verse 23, KJV).

He then goes on to make the case that eating meat sold in the marketplace is not wrong in itself; however, if eating meat offered to idols caused anyone to stumble, then that activity becomes wrong.

The NIV words 1 Corinthians 10:23 this way:

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say, but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’, but not everything is constructive.”

So, Christian liberty is limited by at least two considerations:

1) What is the effect of this action upon oneself? and

2) What influence will this action have on “Jews, Greeks or the church of God” as a whole (verse 32)?

Our goal must be to seek “the good of others” (verse 24), not just our own good (cf. verse 33).

Christian teaching about God's grace can create uncertainty for believers about what is or is not acceptable behavior.

On the one hand, Scripture is emphatic that those who are in Christ are not subject to the law of Moses.

Christians are free to eat old-covenant-restricted animals, for instance, and not to participate in all the special holidays required for religious Jews.

More than that, as Paul has written in the previous verse, those in Christ have already been washed of their sins, sanctified in Christ, and declared justified by God. That transaction is complete. We are saved.

Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Seeing that we are not our own, but that we belong to God, we should take care of what belongs to God. That includes not only our body, but our resources. We are not owners, we are stewards.

Not only does this mean that we need to live moral lives, but we must take care of our bodies and be careful what we put into them. That includes what we eat and what we drink. It also means that we need to give our bodies the exercise they need and the rest they need.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Scripture is very clear that drunkenness is a sin.

Leviticus 10:8-11.

Then the Lord said to Aaron, You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die.

This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean,  and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses.

Alcohol was forbidden in certain instances.

Alcohol was forbidden in certain instances.

Numbers 6:1-3.

The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink.

Proverbs 31:4-7.

It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 

Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Proverbs 20:1.

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Luke 1:15. (John the Baptist)

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 

When an Airline was initially launched, an educated Christian gentleman was traveling in the first class section.

An air hostess approached him with a complimentary drink, this was an alcoholic drink, but the man politely refused.

The air hostess returned but this time brought the drink on a platter, designed to appeal and impress someone.

Yet, the Christian man again politely refused, explaining he doesn't drink alcohol. The air hostess was concerned and informed the manager.

The manager approached the man with another platter, now designed with flowers. He questioned, “Is there something wrong with our service? Please enjoy the drink, it is a complimentary offer.” The man replied, “I am a Christian and I do not drink alcohol? The manager still insisted that the man take the drink. Then, the Christian proposed that the manager should give the drink to the pilot first. The manager stated, “How can the pilot drink alcohol, he’s on duty! And if he drinks there are all chances for the plane to crash”.

The Christian passenger with tears in his eyes, replied, “I am a Christian and I am ALWAYS on duty in order to protect my FAITH and if I Drink Alcohol I will crash my whole life here and hereafter. I AM ON DUTY 24/7!"

*Your weakness might not be alcohol*

It may be temptation or lust, or battling to control your anger, unforgiveness, pride, profane and vain babblings, ungodly dressing , your attitude towards people and finally not sharing the Word.

Do you know that souls are dying because of our reckless behaviour? No matter how lucrative the offer may appear to you, no matter the presenter of the offer, if it is sinful, don't accept it, don't compromise your faith because;

WE ARE ON DUTY 24/7.

1 Corinthians 8:9-13.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 

So, this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

(Give example of Peter Pollock)

Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 

They shall say to the elders, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard. Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Gluttony & drunkenness.

Is gluttony a sin? Gluttony seems to be a sin that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins, but for some reason gluttony is accepted or at least tolerated.

Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette but have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table.

Proverbs 23:20-21. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Proverbs 28:7. He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.

Proverbs 23:2. Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.

This like some other sins, man has renamed so that it doesn’t sound so bad.

A disobedient child is hyper active or independent or strong-willed.

And the modern day phrase for gluttony is “They have an eating disorder.”

Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife.

We are not to let our appetites control us, but we are to have control over our appetites. (Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, & 2 Corinthians 10:5.)

The ability to say “no” to anything in excess, self-control, is one of the fruits of the Spirit common to all believers (Galatians 5:22).

Recommended Resources:

Eat This and Live by Don Colbert, M.D.

God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and pleasurable.

We should honour God's creation by enjoying these foods and by eating them in appropriate quantities.

God calls us to control our appetites, rather than allowing them to control us.

Recommended Resources:

Eat This and Live by Don Colbert, M.D.

All too often lust is associated with sex or material goods, but often in God’s Word it is seen in food and man’s appetite for it.

Genesis 3:3-6.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden?

The woman said to the serpent, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.

Genesis 3:3-6.

You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Esau sold his birthright for a plate of stew.

Genesis 25:27-34.

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.

He said to Jacob, Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished! That is why he was also called Edom

Genesis 25:27-34.

Jacob replied, First sell me your birthright. Look, I am about to die, Esau said. What good is the birthright to me? But Jacob said, Swear to me first.

So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

The Unknown prophet was killed by a lion when he broke the fast the Lord instructed him to take.

1 Kings 13:7-10 & 15-25.

The king said to the man of God, Come home with me for a meal, and I will give you a gift. But the man of God answered the king, Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here.

For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came. So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.

1 Kings 13:7-10 & 15-25.

Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. Their father asked them, Which way did he go?

And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken. So, he said to his sons, saddle the donkey for me. And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, Are you the man of God who came from Judah? I am, he replied.

1 Kings 13:7-10 & 15-25.

So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat. The man of God said, I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the Lord: You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.

The old prophet answered, I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water (But he was lying to him.)

1 Kings 13:7-10 & 15-25

So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house. While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah.

This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.

1 Kings 13:7-10 & 15-25.

When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it.

Some people who passed by saw the body lying there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived.

The sons of Eli.

1 Samuel 2:12-17.

Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord. Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot.

Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh.

1 Samuel 2:12-17.

But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.

If the person said to him, Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want, the servant would answer, no, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force. This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.

Numbers 11:4-9;13; 31-34.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, If only we had meat to eat!

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin

Numbers 11:4-9 &13 & 31-34.

The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil.

When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down…. Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, Give us meat to eat!.....

Israel’s sin in the wilderness.

Numbers 11:4-9 &13 & 31-34.

Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.

All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp.

Numbers 11:4-9 &13 & 31-34.

But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.

Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

1 Corinthians 13:17-29.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.

In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.

No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.

1 Corinthians 13:17-29.

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.

Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

Philippians 3:17-19. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

Remember Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread, but unlike Adam and Eve who were tempted in the midst of abundance, Jesus was tempted during a 40 day fast.

Do we right do we have to ruin our health and even shorten our lifespan, not to mention the weakened testimony that goes hand in hand with bad habits like smoking, drinking and gluttony and the drugs that many consume with and without prescriptions.

The Bible never directly mentions smoking. There are principles, however, that definitely apply to smoking.

First, the Bible commands us not to allow our bodies to become "mastered" by anything. "Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12). Smoking is undeniably strongly addictive.

Later in the same passage we are told, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore, honour God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Smoking is undoubtedly very bad for your health. Smoking has been proven to damage the lungs and the heart.

Can smoking be considered "beneficial" (1 Corinthians 6:12)? Can it be said that smoking is truly honoring God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:20)?

Can a person honestly smoke "for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

We believe that the answer to these three questions is a resounding "no."

As a result, we believe that smoking is a sin and therefore should not be practiced by followers of Jesus Christ.

Some argue against this view by pointing to the fact that many people eat unhealthy foods, which can be just as addicting and just as bad for the body.

As an example, many people are so helplessly addicted to caffeine that they cannot function without their first cup of coffee in the morning. While this is true, how does that make smoking right? It is our contention that Christians should avoid gluttony and excessively unhealthy eating.

Yes, Christians are often hypocritical by condemning one sin and condoning another, but, again, this does not make smoking honoring to God.

Another argument against this view of smoking is that many godly men have been smokers, such as the famous British preacher C.H. Spurgeon, who was known to smoke cigars.

Again, we do not believe this argument holds any weight. We believe Spurgeon was wrong for smoking. Was he otherwise a godly man and fantastic teacher of God’s Word? Absolutely! Does that make all of his actions and habits honoring to God? No.

In stating that smoking is a sin, we are not stating that all smokers are unsaved. There are many true believers in Jesus Christ who smoke.

Smoking does not prevent a person from being saved. Nor does it cause a person to lose salvation. Smoking is no less forgivable than any other sin, whether for a person becoming a Christian or a Christian confessing his/her sin to God (1 John 1:9).

At the same time, we firmly believe that smoking is a sin that should be forsaken and, with God’s help, overcome.

Why not continue to do whatever we want, then? Why not participate in what we used to call sexual immorality? Why not do whatever comes naturally, whatever our bodies desire? That's the question Paul seems to be answering in this and the following verses.

In doing so, he also sheds light on the problem of using trite clichés, which don't come from the Bible.

Quotation marks and other punctuation were not used in ancient writing. However, the phrase Paul uses here appears to be a slogan or common expression. Perhaps it was even being used by the believers in Corinth: "All things are lawful for me."

It is true that nothing—including sin—can ever separate a forgiven Christian from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38–39). However, it's possible the Corinthians were practicing sin and using this idea to justify their actions.

Paul writes that this is a wrongheaded standard for believers. Christian liberty is not an open excuse for any behavior or attitude.

Whether participating in something will "send me to hell" is not a sufficient question for the born-again believer.

Instead, we must ask, "Will this help me and other people?" "Will this activity master me, cause me to lose control of myself?"

Paul is urging the Corinthians to live up to who they are now in Christ.

He is encouraging them, and by extension, all Christians, to make this the standard for their choices.

This contrasts with "living down" to the standards of what is acceptable in a sin-drenched culture.




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