“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.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Fixing one’s eyes on Jesus is easier said than done. Life is distracting. We have responsibilities. We have commitments. We have hopes and dreams, hobbies and interests–what does it look like to focus one’s eyes on Christ?
Meditation on God’s word is a gigantic part of it. Constant, consistent prayer is a large part of it too. But before you quit your job and join a monastery, remember that God is with us always. We don’t have to isolate ourselves from normal everyday life to focus on Him. As He said to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
God is always near. God is always present. God is always listening. God is always actively involved in every aspect of our lives. Acknowledging this fact, rejoicing in this fact, and taking advantage of our right-relationship with Him by consulting Him in prayer and filling our minds with His perfect Word–this is the walk of the Christian who is looking to Jesus, fixing his eyes on the love and grace of his Savior. And everywhere you turn in scripture, it can’t be ignored that focusing ourselves on God involves turning away from evil.
Lord, fill us with the knowledge of your love which surpasses all understanding and help us turn our eyes and hearts to you completely!
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:1-5).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23)
“Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
Not one word
The Lord is not loose with His tongue like we are. Every word He says, He means. Every thing He promises, He will carry out. He is trustworthy. He is reliable. He is faithful.
- Exodus 34:6; “The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness….”
- Deuteronomy 32:3-4; “I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
- Psalm 36:5; “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
- Psalms 40:11; “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!”
- Psalms 57:9-11; “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”
- 2 Corinthians 1:18-20; “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
All the good promises that the Lord had made…all came to pass
God’s faithfulness to Israel serves as an assurance of His faithfulness to us. According to Romans chapter 11, we have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel and stand by faith. Furthermore, according to the book of Galatians, we are sons of Abraham by faith. We are the circumcision–Israel–who worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in our flesh. As surely as God was (and is) faithful to Israel, He is faithful to the church.
The promises He has made to us will be kept.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
Sanctification: practical righteousness here on this earth. Blamelessness at His coming: an eternal righteous standing before God. He who calls us is faithful, He will surely do it.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
- Philippians 1:6; “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In everything, God is faithful. Faithful to return for us, faithful to give us eternal life, faithful to make us righteous, faithful to guard us against the evil one. He is faithful to sustain us, faithful to present us to Himself without spot or blemish. And since He is faithful, let us now, with confidence, draw near to Him with a true heart in full assurance of faith, through the body and blood of Christ.
- Hebrews 10:19-23; “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places [God’s presence] by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”
If you are willing
We can look back at this moment of Christ’s anguish and rejoice, not in the physical pain of His suffering, but in that God was not willing for His work to go unfinished. If there could have been any other way to forgive our sin, perhaps God would have spared His Son. If there had been any other way to make us righteous, Jesus would not have had to die. But there was not.
God was willing, in this hour, to crush His Son so that He might secure for us an eternal redemption.
God’s desire, since time began, has been to bring man to Himself. He accomplished this through Jesus Christ. So when all the purpose of God for all eternity was focused on Christ on that night in the garden, God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer was already known.
- Isaiah 53:10; “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
- Hebrews 10:5-10; “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘ When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will [the will of God] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
God’s will has always been to sanctify us through the offering of Christ’s body. Jesus came to complete that will–to crushed for our iniquities and raised for our justification.
Not my will, but yours, be done
We might, at first glance, think that Jesus didn’t want what God wanted. Detach yourself from human logic for a minute to remember that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. It was the physical pain, the separation from the Father, the tormenting act of bearing an entire world’s sin that brought Jesus into agony that night. He did not resent the result–it was His will, just as it was God’s, to bring all men to Himself even if by means of His death. He knew what He had to go through to make us His, so He endured the cross, despising the shame in light of the joy that was set before Him.
- Luke 13:34; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
- John 17:24; “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
- John 12:32-33; “‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
- John 3:14-18; And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
This is the will of God
Usually when I consider God’s will for my life, I am more apt to think in terms of the course I should take. Where should I go? What should I do? However, the more I read the scriptures I am becoming persuaded that, though God does provide guidance and direction for our life’s path, He is much more concerned with our conduct. Instead of asking where I should go, I should be asking how should I conduct myself wherever I am.
I cannot open my bible and defend my course of life. I can not say for sure that God wants me to be working where I work or living where I live. I can, however, open my bible and tell you exactly what God’s will is for me as concerns my conduct. According to the passage before us, I know without a doubt: “this is he will of God, your sanctification.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
- Romans 6:12-14; “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
- 1 Peter 2:11-12; “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
Who gives his Holy Spirit to you
You’ve probably heard the adage: “When the Lord guides, He provides.” Another saying that’s similar is: “The Lord’s commandments are His enablements.” This is never so true as when said in context of our sanctification. He reveals His will to us: I want you to live a holy life. He provides the means: the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we are both born-again and sustained through life.
- 2 Peter 1:3; “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
- Philippians 2:13; “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
- Hebrews 13:20-21; “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”
- Galatians 5:22-25; “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”
Trust in Him
God promises He will take care of us. He tells us He is the Good Shepherd. He is faithful; we ought to trust Him
We are often prone to doubt Him because we don’t always understand what He wants to lead us in and how He wants to do it. Our thoughts are not His thoughts neither are our ways His ways.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
“He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The Lord is determined to lead us in the paths of righteousness. He promises He will never let us go. As the psalm before us says, “He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light.” It is simply our job to trust in Him; to commit our way to Him who is faithful and able to carryout what He has promised.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:4, 8 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He leads us in truth.
We are quick to think of God’s leading in terms of the course of our life. Where He leads we will follow. The Lord is absolutely able to lead us through life, and He does. But I believe God is much more concerned about the conduct of our life. He leads us in truth–His word is truth.
- Psalms 25:5 “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
- John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
- Psalms 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
Let us commit our ways to Him who is faithful to lead us and faithful to keep us. As Abraham, the father of faith, let us not weaken in faith or let any distrust make us waver concerning the promise of God, but grow strong in our faith giving glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he has promised (Romans 4:19-21).