After writing my most recent blog post “Grace Upon Grace” I realized there was a lot more I wanted to say, but would take a lot of space to do so. In this idea of “choosing grace”, God has taught me a lot about what that means in our battle with our flesh.
One of the things I struggle with most is this idea of choosing grace. God gives it to us freely because of Jesus Christ (I wrote a lot more on this in my previous post). This however, will not stop the enemy from tempting us. Even more so, when we do fall short, this will not stop the enemy from convincing us that we do NOT have that grace. It is in this moment we need to stand firm. Hebrews 12:1-4 says this:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
When God became man through Jesus Christ and took on flesh, he was tempted just as you or myself are tempted. He then walked the path prepared in advance for Him, doing ministry and trusting in God’s perfect plan. On the night he was betrayed he prayed this, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” And with that, the will of the Lord came to pass when He took upon himself the sin of every man, endured the wrath we very much deserved, and in three days time DEFEATED DEATH AND ROSE VICTORIOUSLY.
WE NEED TO FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we fix our eyes on the one who overcame the enemy. As we persevere, we need to keep our focus on Christ. The enemy will not win with the Lord as our guide. This world is the dominion of the enemy, and we fight a constant war as we pursue holiness. We are desiring something that is completely against everything this world stands for. That is why we need to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and fix our eyes on the perfecter or our faith.
In this passage from Hebrews, we are called to “run with perseverence.” What does that mean exactly? Take a look at the definition of perseverance.
Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
When we pursue holiness, when we are pushing daily to become more and more like Christ, we will encounter hardships and the enemy will push back. Just because you have placed your faith in Jesus does not mean all the difficulties wash away. You are made new, there is no doubt in that, and you are washed in the blood and called “white as snow”, but trials will come and we will fall short of the glory of God.
Steadfastness: fixed in direction; firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, firmly fixed in place or position.
Run and NOT grow weary. Do not focus on the lies, the temptation, or anything else the enemy will throw at you. Be FIXED in the direction of the cross, FIRM in your faith, and UNWAVERING in hope and trust.
As we spend time in the Word and begin to have an attitude of constant prayer, the pursuit of holiness will fall into place. Check out what Paul writes in Galatians 5:
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c]you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
As we read and spend time with God we will begin to understand what it is he desires for us. Our hearts will begin to align with the Spirit, and we will desire to continuously throw of the sin that so easily entangles and RUN with perseverance the race marked out for us. And when we grow weary or tired we will look to the one who already ran the race and remember the power of the resurrection.
The next time you fall down, the next time you feel like a failure, the next time you hear the enemy say “just give up”, stare him back and tell him WHOSE YOU ARE. The pursuit of holiness is a journey through both hills and valleys, but we need to recognize that both exist and learn to praise God from the highest peak as well as the lowest pit. Lean into grace and live freely in your identity as a child of the One True King.