Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Renewing Your Spiritual Vitality

(Hebrews 12:12-15) “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be {dislocated}, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all {men}, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

The writer of Hebrews discusses the need for endurance in the context preceding the above passage. In verse one he states the Christian’s life as being a race which must be run “with endurance.” The picture is of a marathon, not a sprint. We must maintain our steadfastness to the end of the race. We must continue to the finish. A suggestion is given here as to how we can maintain that focus, it is by looking to Jesus (12:2). When our eyes are locked on Jesus, and we see the hope He has made available to us by His sacrifice, we are given strength to endure to the end.

The idea of endurance is continued in verses 3-11, as the writer discusses God’s chastening of His children. As verse 11 states, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” This trek we are engaged on is sometimes difficult, but to maintain our steadfastness “trains” us and makes us righteous.

Having stated the need for great endurance, the writer now gives recognition to the inevitability of fatigue. Picture again the marathon runner. Is it possible for a man to run 26 miles, and not get tired? Of course not! The arms grow tired, causing the hands to “hang down”. The knees grow feeble, and the legs feel like lead weights. Therefore the writer says to “strengthen” the hands and knees!

How to strengthen and renew your spiritual vitality? There are two things we would do well to remember. First is the need for training. The marathon runner does not get too tired to continue because he has prepared for the race. He has trained. Exercising his body prepares him for the rigors of the marathon. The Christian must also train. He must study his Bible. He must pray. He must exercise his senses to strengthen them. Earlier in Hebrews, the writer discusses the need for study, and says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, {that is,} those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Second, you must recognize your weaknesses. Some marathoners do not finish the race because they do not recognize their limits. They begin the race on too fast a pace for their training, or they begin the race too soon after an injury. The Christian is in danger of this as well. Hence, the writer states that we should, “…make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be {dislocated}, but rather be healed.” We must recognize the impediments littering the path of life, and try our best to remove them that we may not stumble. Proverbs 4:25-27 states, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.” While the image is slightly different, the lesson is the same. Stay away from evil, let your weakness (lameness) be strengthened. Do not allow yourself to be continually tempted with evil, but rather direct your paths in such a way as to stay as far away from temptation as possible.

Listen to inspiration in this matter, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed {is} willing, but the flesh {is} weak” (Matthew 26:41). “{Let} love {be} without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12).

Remember, as indicated in verses 14-15 of the text, the danger is of defilement. Without maintaining steadfastness through exercise and focus, we can fall short of our goal. Therefore we should “pursue peace with all men”, pursue “holiness”, and be diligent, “lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.”

Brethren, let us not falter. We need to exercise ourselves through prayer and study. We need to resist evil, and carefully place our steps on the straight path. And finally, we need to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”