Paul told us how to win marathons, how to run with endurance. To be victorious in the Christian race, we must (1) strip away every sin like a runner discarding needless clothing; and (2) focus on Jesus, like a sprinter looking to the tape.
As to stripping away sin …
On August 24, 1662, 2,000 of England’s finest ministers were ejected from their pulpits for resisting the Act of Uniformity. Among them was Thomas Manton who, in his final sermon, preached from this passage, giving five ways of stripping away sin. He told his people to:
• Seriously purpose not to sin and promise God to yield Him unfeigned obedience. Take up a solemn purpose not to grieve the Spirit.
• Watch over thyself with a holy suspicion. Guard thy senses.
• Resist and strongly oppose the first risings of the flesh and the tickling and pleasing motions of sin.
• Bewail thy involuntary lapses and falls with penitential tears. Godly sorrow is of great use for laying aside sin as salt potions kill worms.
• Recover from thy falls, renew thy combat.
As to looking to Christ …
When businessman Allan Emery was in the wool business, he once spent an evening with a shepherd on the Texas prairie. During the night, the long wail of coyotes pierced the air. The shepherd’s dogs growled and peered into the darkness. The sheep, which had been sleeping, lumbered to their feet, alarmed, bleating pitifully. The shepherd tossed more logs onto the fire, and the flames shot up. In the glow, Allen looked out and saw thousands of little lights. He realized those were reflections of the fire in the eyes of the sheep.
“In the midst of danger,” he observed, “the sheep were not looking out into the darkness but were keeping their eyes set in the direction of their safety, looking toward the shepherd. I couldn’t help but think of Hebrews 12: ‘looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. … ’ ”
Robert J. Morgan