By Robert Wurtz II
The Seven Fundamentals of Spiritual Growth
(The Fourth Requirement)
By Robert Wurtz II
It could be argued that one of the most healthy things that a person can do is to run. Under most circumstances that is correct, however, under the wrong conditions running can be one of the most dangerous things that a person can do. In this lesson we will look at the fourth faze of our spiritual growth and it is that of running; not in the physical sense, but in the Spiritual. There are two ways that we ‘run' Spiritually: one is with Sin as the opposition, the other is our fulfillment of the perfect will of God for our lives (i.e. ministry).
Running with Patience the Race That is Set Before Us.
The bible has a lot to say about running both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Paul often used sports as metaphors in describing spiritual truths. He talked about running, wrestling, boxing, and many other aspects of Olympic type games in his day. The people could understand his use of these analogies quite well, because they were familiar with those things that were so much a part of the culture of that day. With this in mind let us look at what Paul the Apostle had to say about running.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (Hebrews 12:1-4).
According to Hebrews 12:1 we are in a race against Sin in the which-Sin is trying to beset us. Sin is literally trying to knock us out of the race. We are told we MUST 'lay aside' the WEIGHTS that are slowing us down allowing Sin to easily beset us. So we see then that the weights are in a sense companions of the Sin; they compliment each other like cause and effect. In order to thwart Sin's attempt to beset us we must separate ourselves from the WEIGHTS that are slowing us down allowing a particular type of sin to catch us (as it were) that we are generally vulnerable to. The tragedy in allowing sin to catch us- is that we are almost guaranteed to stumble, and possibly even fall. Children frequently fall and skin there knees when they run; however, falling for adults is much more serious.
What is a Weight?
Weights come to us in many forms, but essentially they are ANYTHING THAT IS SLOWING YOU DOWN IN YOUR FLIGHT FROM SIN. For example, the bible says to flee fornication; obviously you will have difficulty ‘fleeing' if you do not lay aside the weights that hinder you from running from it. Remember, sin is a relentless pursuer of you and I in our 'race' against it. You cannot simply stop on the shoulder of the road for a break, you must run and keep running. You cannot afford to be weighted down with things that serve to keep sin in front of you. You need to get rid of some things that are making it easy for the enemy to trip you up! What is that thing in your life that you could rid yourself of and be better off?
James teaches us that there are going to be temptations that we 'fall into.' In other words-they are unexpected and unsolicited. That is a bit different from adding and adding weights to yourself until you have a problem in an ‘area' maintaining the victory over sin. If your ‘vice' is alcohol you should not weigh your self down by eating lunch every day at the corner bar and grill. You would not frequent liquor stores, convenience stores, or any other place that is going to hinder you from keeping a SAFE DISTANCE from alcohol. You would probably go as far as to avoid passing any type of business that made you think about drinking. Otherwise, it would only be a matter of time before the weight of having yourself bombarded by thoughts of drinking, led to your falling into it AGAIN.
Identifying Your Personal Weights.
We must start this section from the premise that there is nothing worth losing your soul over! Jesus said it like this 'For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' (Matthew 16:26). No matter how petty, how seemingly stupid, or how unpopular you become, you must identify your weights and discard them. You do not have a choice. You can go on telling yourself that your vice is going to somehow get better on it's own, but that is a lie hatched out of Hell! YOU CAN'T HANDLE IT! How many years are you going to keep telling yourself you can handle it? If you keep doing what you have been doing you are going to get the same results. Change does not come until you decide to make some changes. What would you be a lot better of without? What would you be a lot better off for having stopped doing? Would you be better off if you quit going to thus and such a place? Would you be better off not talking to so and so? Who, What, or where are your weights? Say to yourself 'I probably wouldn't have half the trouble with this STRONGHOLD in my life if I would simply get rid of or stop (???What???).'
Discarding Your Weights.
I must take this time to announce the seriousness of refusing to discard the weights that lead to the vices in your life. God has a very unique way of commenting on this very thing, in the which He refers to Israel's ‘Vice Sin's' as LOVERS, as it is written... They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed (Jeremiah 3:1-4). What is the lover in your life that stirs the anger of God? WHERE is the Image of Jealousy (Ezekiel 8)? Get rid of it!
Getting Along Without Your Vices
Moving along in life without a vice begins with knowing that God is enough; not God + this or that. Satan does not seem to mind allowing a Christian to gloat of their full time holiness and ignore their part time vice. Getting rid of a weight to keep you away from sin can be a painful ordeal for some people. But you need to look at it from God's vantage point! Just like the illustration of the lovers, so are some weights and vices to deal with for some people. Would a spouse tolerate that? Why should God? You need to reach a place where you HATE sin! At first you cannot imagine life without them, but after a while you will wonder what MADNESS you were thinking and will cry out to God for mercy over your heartlessness and disregard for His feelings towards His Bride. The true definition of whoredom is to take the love that belongs to the one and give it to the other. Are you committing whoredoms against God? Are you in sorrow because you have to leave those whoredom ways? Then you need repentance. A repentance that utterly forsakes sin and all its stepping stones. Do you not think God is tired of all the little black books? Know ye not that the Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
Running in Your Ministry
The second way in which we will look at running is as it relates to our ministries. Satan is working overtime to thwart us in our lives so that he can hinder our ministries. Paul said it like this: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Corinthians 9:21-27). Paul showed the importance of NOT allowing two things to happen 1) Bring a reproach against the Gospel 2) Become a reprobate himself. He brought his body into subjection and laid aside every weight so that he might win the race AND receive the prize; and that prize is Christ (Philippians 3:8). Paul literally wanted to win Christ. Do you want to win Christ? LAY ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT and the besetting sins once and for all!