Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3

How to Run the Race

Hebrews 12:1-4



·         One of the greatest dangers in the Christian life is staying stationery, and not advancing.

·         Inevitably that will lead to sin and backsliding. This is why patience, and perseverance is a key virtue in this book.

·         So Paul now gives us an illustration to show us how and why we should have patience- the Christian life is a race!

·         We are called to run with patience the race that is before us!

·         The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:24-27, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

·         Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" (Gal. 5:7).

·         And Paul wrote in Philippians 2:16, "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."

·         And he said in Philippians 3:14, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."


I.                    We are surrounded by witnesses

a.      Here in our text, we see the Christian life is compared to a race that is to be run.  Therefore, we can consider these "witnesses" referred to in Hebrews 12:1 as believers that have already ran their race, and now they are up in the heavenly grandstands watching the race down here on earth.

b.      These previous champions of faith are cheering us on as we press on to overcome present discouragement as in an athletic competition.

c.       All of heaven is rooting for you!

d.      We must also consider from a biblical standpoint what “witnesses” means here. Many think that people in Heaven are observing everything that goes on in this world. I don’t believe this is the case

                                                              i.      The focus of Heaven is Jesus!

                                                            ii.      Heaven is a place where people are always happy and untroubled. It is hard to think that those in heaven are happy and untroubled if they see what is happening on the earth! So, it is difficult to say that people in heaven are actually observing us. Perhaps the Lord may allow some things to be viewed, but certainly not all-comp. Luke 15:7

                                                          iii.      This is why some Bible teachers believe the “witnesses” here are not witnesses of us as we conduct our lives. Instead, they are witnesses to us of faith and endurance.

II.                  Lay aside every weight and sin

a.      Laying aside sin is very obvious

b.      Sin is anything we think, do, or say that breaks God’s commands

c.       All known sin must be dealt with. "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us" (Heb. 12:1).

d.      Repentance is essential. Our Lord said to the impotent man by the pool in Jerusalem, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John 5:14).

e.      Our Lord told the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).

f.        First John 2:1 says, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not."

g.      The Bible is very clear that Christians must make a clean break from all known sins.

h.      But there is a distinction between sin and weight

i.        Weight- Some things may not necessarily sinful, but if they are slowing us down spiritually they are weights and it is wise to lay them aside.

j.        Just as the runner will be very careful and meticulous regarding what he eats and what he wears for his race- so the believer must be vigilant and watchful in his behavior and conduct

k.       There may be things that are lawful, and even pleasant- but they are weights.

l.        What then are these weights? Every believer must determine that for himself. What may be a weight for me, may not be for you.

m.    It may be some habit that impedes spiritual growth, hinders prayer and Bible reading, etc.

n.      For example, there are many devices and inventions in our modern day and age that hinder Christians from serving God -- distractions like the radio, television, the Internet, the telephone, etc.

o.      These things may not in themselves be sinful (and sometimes they can be very helpful), but if they are hindering you from growing spiritually they must be put aside (Heb. 12:1).

p.      This reminds us that the Christian’s race is one of sacrifice, and self-denial

q.      The Christian life is all about choices. Often it is not choosing between good and bad, it is choosing between good and best

r.       Notice the sins easily beset- or you could say trap or ensnare us!

III.                Let us run with patience

a.      Race is the ancient Greek word agona, a word used for conflict or struggle of many kinds

b.      The Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon!

c.       Patience/endurance- the idea of bearing under the weight of something

d.      William Barclay, this “does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things but the patience which masters them... It is a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.”

e.      God has set before you a race. You must run it, and it will involve effort and commitment. Being passive never runs or wins a race. God wants us to run the race and to finish it right.

f.        The race that is set before us- The race is personal, individual- Acts 20:24- my course

IV.                Look unto Jesus

a.      He is our highest example

b.      Illustr- shooting a basketball

c.       The Greek word for looking is a strong word which implies turning our gaze from everything else! Fixing our eyes upon Christ- Keep your eye on the prize!

d.      The goal is Christ!

e.      Don’t focus on the trial, focus on the Lord of the trial. God is not just trying to bring you out of a trial, He’s trying to bring you closer to Christ!

f.        He is the author and finisher of our faith

                                                              i.      He has opened up a new and living way into the Holy of Holies as our Great High Priest

                                                            ii.      He has inaugurated the New Covenant

g.      Who for the joy that was set before Him: Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy. But He could look past the horror of the cross to enjoy the joy beyond it. The same mentality will enable us to endure.

h.      Psalm 30:5 “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning!”

i.        Sat down at the right hand of the throne of God: This speaks of Jesus’ glorification. The same promise of being glorified (in a different sense) after our shame is true for the Christian.

j.        Consider Him- Knowing that Jesus doesn’t ask more of us than what He has Himself experienced

                                                              i.      Shame

                                                            ii.      Contradiction of sinners

k.       This race is not ran before witnesses who are just men, but before God Himself!

l.        Let’s run our race with joy focused on Christ!


·         "The athlete gladly foregoes much that other men value, and which is pleasant to himself, because his mind is intent on the prize; and he considers that he will be amply repaid for all the hardships of training if he be permitted to bear it away, though it be a belt he will never wear, or a cup he will never use. How much more gladly should we be prepared to relinquish all that hinders our attainment, not of the uncertain bauble of the athlete, but the certain reward, the incorruptible crown, the smile and "well-done" of our Lord!" (Meyer).