Oct 20

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As Christians living in today’s world, there are many reasons to become discouraged but at the same time, there are God’s reasons not to become discouraged! Much of this discouragement comes when we are looking in the wrong direction, at the wrong being; recall here the words in the letter to the Hebrews, who were going through a time of great trial: “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” (Heb. 12:1-2). These Christians of the first century, were receiving all kinds of difficulties at the hands of the Jews. At that time, the inspired words came to them: 1) “let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” and 2) “Looking unto Jesus!”
How would these words sound to you, at such a time: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin?” (Heb. 12:4). The apostle’s words are challenging! Just what was he calling them to do? They had suffered and if not “to blood,” it was so very near it! Here let us examine the words used. First, the word “yet,” which is the Greek, “oupo” and means: “not yet,” and “as yet” (Thayer). The time had not come “as yet” for them to “resist unto blood!” Is this encouraging or discouraging; seeing they had endured so much and seeing what was now ahead of them? Second, we have the word “resist” and it is the Greek “antikathistemi,” this is a term that might be used as two armies set for battle and means: “to set down (troops) against, that is, withstand: – resist” (Strong). To say the least, this word calls for standing like an unmovable strong wall standing against all the powers to knock it down, in their case it included all the evils facing them, which may and more likely will call for their blood! Third, is the word “unto” and this is not the word we see so often but is the Greek “mechr” and means: “1) as far as, until” (Thayer). It is like a promise that they will have to do something, as in more than they have done; and which we learn in the next word. Fourth, is the word “blood,” and is the Greek “aima” and it refers to: “to the seat of life!” In the Old Testament these words are found: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, …” (Lev. 17:11). Therefore, these Hebrew Christians knew that when they read the words, “ye have not yet resisted unto blood,” was another way of saying, that they had not yet given their lives! Fifth, this answers the question, for what were they called to resist? The apostle wrote: “striving against sin.” The word “striving” is the Greek “antagonizomai” and means: “to struggle, fight.” What kind of “fighting” is a Christian allowed to do? Unlike the world, which uses physical weapons, Christians are told, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, …” (Eph. 6:12) and here we recall the words of Jesus to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). Even though physical weapons were used against Christians they were not to give back as they received. Therefore, as they read the words to them, and as they recall the words of their Lord, their life was not about to get easier! So, demanding in their minds these words must have hit them: “striving against sin” but did you get it? These Christians were told it is not those who heap upon them physical evils, their battle is with; no, their war, is against what, it is “sin!” This is truly a turnaround in their and our thinking! Keep in mind, physical acts may take their and our physical lives, but it is sin that would separate them and us from God!! Their, as it is with our, greatest resistance must be against sin!
What are the inspired words of encouragement? The answer to “sin” and all the temptations that go with it, is: “Looking unto Jesus!” But as they and we, “look unto Jesus,” just what did they and what are we to see: “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” (Heb. 12:2). Are these encouraging words to you? Don’t miss the words, that our King “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Nothing on earth can change this truth! It might be said to us, just as it was to these Hebrew Christians: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin!”
In all our efforts to stand against sin, we have not willingly given our life, “as yet!” On the other hand, Jesus did just that! He resisted all the evils that were thrown at him and yes, finally, he shed his blood not for his sins, but ours! Therefore, the words, “Looking unto Jesus” are not empty words, they are not words that have no meaning; no not to us! For we remember: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8).
Therefore, my brethren, when discouragement stands at the door, open your spiritual eyes and see Jesus, as he is the demonstration of God’s love for us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). So, who are you looking at? If it is not Jesus it is worthless!

Frank R. Williams

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