Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
This passage describes the Christian life as a foot race. In order to run fast, we must run light. We are instructed to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Here, temptation and sin are described as those things that hinder and entangle and they must be thrown off.
This may mean “throw off” the TV, giving away your laptop computer, smart phone or tablet, avoiding certain situations that tempt you. If you’ve already progressed into actual physical relationships that are sexually impure, it means you have to sever those, as well.
For some, running light may mean not being alone with certain people or even ending a relationship entirely. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but purity is worth it, whatever the cost. Think about the things that have hindered you from running this race to win and consider getting rid of them.
It’s proven that those who don’t rid their lives of entanglements just never seem to get free. They find themselves constantly falling and each time promising never to do it again. It’s very important to identify and remove that which caused you to fall. You may make excuses and say you have learned your lesson; because temptations are lessened right after a fall, you may think that you “have a handle on it” now. But it’s just a matter of time before you fall again… and usually within two weeks, down you go. This will continue unless and until you throw off that which causes you to stumble.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14
We should “make no provision for the flesh.” For as long as you have access to pornography; for as long as you still keep company with fornicators; you can pray about not falling all day long, but as soon as you get the slightest chance, you will surely go down. Why? You fall because a provision has been made to gratify the lusts of your flesh. But when you removed them all from your life, there will not be any provision for your flesh to be gratified. This may mean such extremes as breaking friendships with those that cause you to fall, severing links with those who speak suggestively and with those who live an impure lifestyle. This is a key principle to freedom. If we allow ourselves access to that which causes us to sin, we will inevitably find ourselves giving in during a weak moment.
Take a moment and think of the areas in which provision is still made for your flesh to be gratified. Friend, if something came to mind, that is where your next fall to sexual sin will be. It’s just a matter of time. You can be drinking the living water, exposing your sin and asking for help, and praying to be reconciled to God but, in a weak moment, you fall because there is provision made to fulfil your lusts. It’s imperative that, right now, you eradicate that from your life. If you keep it around, you are trying to run a race with a huge burden on your back; and every time you fall in that area, you add weight to the burden. Eventually, you will not be able to run the race. You’ll have fallen down off to the side of the road in the thorns and weeds.
Right about now is when we start getting objections. They usually go something like this: “But it is not the Internet that is the problem, it is my heart. Jesus says that out of the heart come the things that defile us, so I don’t want to just deal with the symptom, which is viewing pornography, I need to get my relationship right with Jesus so I can be strong enough to say “No” to pornography, no matter where I might be tempted with it.”
This is true! However, we must understand the manner in which we get our hearts right with God, so that we can say “No” to sexual sin when we are tempted by it. And there is only one scriptural way to do this: the total removal of anything that causes us to stumble. The way to be free is to remove the temptation.
You may imagine you would get to the point where you are able to look temptation in the face and say “No;” that you would finally be a strong Christian when you could face temptation and stand up against it. But do you want to be ‘strong’ or ‘pure?’ This is not the way to victory over sin.
Take careful note of this next passage:
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30
The above verses could be summarized by the words “radical amputation.” Jesus was not referring to physical self-injury actually cutting of our hands or plucking out an eyeball. (Handicapped and blind men still lust!) What He means is that we must deal radically with whatever causes us to sin: cut it off, pluck it out, hack it off. Jesus’ method of dealing with sin is radical amputation.
Dear friends, run the race to win. Remove anything that hinders or entangles you. It’s worth it! You may delay in removing entanglements, you may remove it part-way. In every instance of a half-done job, a fall inevitably comes. Don’t hesitate to be radical in dealing with this. After all, God was radical in dealing with sin!