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March 11, 2008 / beidson

How A Dead Man Can Keep You From Sinning

casket.jpgHow can you fight the temptations to sin that daily confront you?  According to the author of Hebrews, consider dead people.

Hebrews 12:1-2 reads. “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.”

Who belongs to this great cloud of witnesses?  Those men and women of faith listed in the previous chapter who, by faith, clung to Christ, even at the cost of their own lives, in the hope that God would bring salvation to his people. 

Consider these people, who all died without having received what was promised, the Son of Eve.  All of these were sinners who did not harden their hearts, but turned to God in faith, waiting for the redemption of their broken bodies.  They considered that God was able to raise the dead, even their own dead bodies, and that he was not ashamed to be called their God.  They endured suffering and shame, seeing him who is invisible, and believing that he would soon prove himself faithful in a very visible way.  They chose to be mistreated rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin, looking forward to the reward they would find in Christ.  They were strangers and exiles on the earth, of whom the world was not worthy.

So consider these people when you are tempted to enter into sin.  Consider this great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us in faith, looking to Christ to deliver them from sin and death.  And since we are surrounded by a great multitude of believers such as these, let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking also to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.  Consider Jesus, 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.  He endured to the point of blood and death; he is faithful to bring us through the same as well (Hebrews 12:1-4).

And do not only consider those who are listed here in Hebrews 11, but consider mothers and fathers, and grandparents, and uncles and aunts, and mentors and close friends, who looked to Christ and endured in faith to their final breath.  Consider these dead people also, because in reality, they are not ultimately stuck in the ground, but will be raised on judgment day to an immortal and indestructible life. 

We consider these people because they have proven the faithfulness of God in Christ to lead us away from temptation and to deliver us from the evil one.  We consider those who have died because we know and understand that we too shall soon lie in graves such as theirs, forgotten by the world, but remembered by God.  We have not hoped in Christ for nothing.  We have not set aside the pleasures of sin for no good reason.  We look to the day when we, along with the saints who have gone before us, will receive what was promised to us.  We will have our Christ in the flesh, and he shall finally make us perfect.

So then, consider these dead people when sin crouches at your heart’s door, and consider Christ, because your life is a vapor, and you too will soon become part of the “cloud,” if you endure to the end.

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