Hebrews 12:1-2 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.
One of my favorite movies is a very old one called Sgt York. Tennessee born, Sgt Alvin York (played by Gary Cooper) was one of the most decorated Army soldiers in World War I. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for charging a German machine gun nest, and for killing at least 20 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others. Alvin is a Christian. When he was told he had to submit to the draft and go fight the enemy Alvin refused to go. When his Pastor asked him why, and told him that if he didn’t go he would be in trouble, Alvin said “The Book says ‘Thou shalt not kill’, and I ain’t gonna kill!’ “ I like what the Pastor (played by Walter Brennan) said to Alvin. He said:
“Alvin, most people have the Sunday go to meeting kind of faith –
but you have the living kind of faith”
What the Pastor said to Alvin is truer todays than it was back when Alvin York walked this earth. Too many people have the Sunday go to meeting faith – but that’s not the kind of faith God wants us to have. God wants us to have the overcoming kind of faith. Life is tough. Hard things happen in life. But we are not – if we are Christians – to be overcome but to be OVERCOMERS.
How Can I Have OVERCOMING Faith In A Overwhelming World?
1 My Faith Must Be Placed In The Right PERSON. I must first of all do as the Scripture says:
Hebrews 12:2 …. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith ….
Our eyes must be on JESUS. Our focus must be on JESUS. Our ears must be tuned to His Word. Our faith is to be in Him. Do you see that work “LOOKING”? The beginning of salvation is to LOOK at Christ. To FOCUS on Him. Jesus Christ is THE Author of salvation. Salvation is a Book written by the Blood of Christ. When you look at Christ and put all of your focus on Him then this belief will save you. The Bible says:
1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
The Bible declares that those who are “born again” are those who are “born again by faith in Christ”. The Bible further states that the “born again” are “born again as overcomers”. That it is the natural state of Christ’s children. We are overcomers – not to be overcome. Salvation is a gift, a free gift, but it is an overcoming gift. Salvation is given to those who acknowledge their inabilities:
Romans 4:5-7 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,  Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
It was not the LEPER that stood far off from Christ TRYING HARDER who was healed.
It was not the BLIND MAN who QUIETENED DOWN and who got Jesus attention.
It was not the TEARLESS MOTHER who saw Jesus RAISE HER BABY from the dead.
It was not the CONTENTED CRIPPLE who rest by Siloam to whom Jesus GAVE STRENGTH.
None whom Jesus saved were ever saved to be defeated once more.
2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which ALWAYS CAUSETH US to triumph in Christ…
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM that loved us.
You cannot be saved apart from LOOKING UNTO JESUS. Salvation is more than just a cursory glance. We are to be LOOKING unto Jesus.
Isaiah 45:22-23 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.  I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
a We Look Unto Jesus, Not Unto The Crowd. We are told in our text:
Hebrews 12:1-2 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
We are to be LOOKING unto Jesus. But before we come to that part of the text what are we told?
“seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight”
There are a thousand opinions on right and wrong in the crowd. There is a cloud of witnesses – a crowd around us – every day. But we are NOT to be focused on that crowd. If you ask the world an opinion on anything, and particularly on Jesus, the world will give a thousand answers. Things are worst today than in Biblical times. Today there is television and internet and mainstream media and liberality. There is a great crowd of witnesses all about telling us what is right and what is wrong. Put all that away and LOOK UNTO JESUS.
Do not run for the crowd. Do not run for the statue quo. LOOK UNTO JESUS. Run to His arms regardless as to what others may say or think. Don’t let the crowd be your controller. Let Jesus be your Christ.
b We Lay Aside Every Weight. Put away doubt and despair. The devil loves doubt and despair. He loves to convey hopelessness and lostness.
IA young boy recently entered into college stopped by his grandmother’s house. “Grandma, I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know anybody. I feel so alone. My teachers seem to hate me. The whole world seems against me.” His grandmother – a good Christian lady – said “Darling, is God dead? Is Jesus yet in the Tomb? Has He not risen? Is He not sitting on the right hand of God? Look up and reach up to Jesus before the devil drags you down to hell!”
Lay aside the doubts. The fears. The questions. LOOK unto Jesus. See Him Who:
Hebrews 12:2 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.
Jesus went TO the Cross and then THROUGH the Cross. He was not defeatist. Jesus knew that God is in control.
Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Jesus laid His life down for you. He did not allow the momentary and temporal trials to defeat Him – praise God. Trust Him. As He laid down His life for you lay your life down for Him. Surrender your broken life to Him. Do not follow the Crowd – follow the Christ.
c Lay Aside The Sin. The Scripture says:
Hebrews 12:1… let us lay aside every weight, AND THE SIN which doth so easily beset us,
Besetting sin must go. Confess yourself a sinner before Christ, and ask Him to forgive and quench that sin from you. Christ must lead your life – not sin. Do not believe that you shall SEE GOD if you are not first LOOKING AT CHRIST and NOT SIN. We are told:
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and HOLINESS, without which no man shall see the Lord:
That word HOLINESS means “to be focused on being used of God”. To be HOLY is to follow CHRIST and not SELF. Your faith will not be overcoming unless sin is OUT of you and CHRIST IS IN YOU.
Illustrate We are not to be like the little girl who was overheard praying:
“Lord, please make me good, but not TOO GOOD.
Just good enough not to get a whipping.”
If you enter the Family of God by faith in Christ then you are under the loving discipline of the Father. Sin must be laid aside to be saved. Sin must be laid aside to run the race and to prosper. Sin in the unbeliever is understood. It is something that Christ came to save us from.
The Savior will not receive you if you hang on to your sin and your selfishness. The first word in the Gospel is REPENT.
Hebrews 12:15-17 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;  Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.  For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
Esau was a selfish man who sought gratification in every moment of his life. He was supposed to receive the blessing of his father. Instead he chose to sell his birthright for a bowl of lentils, satisfying his temporary hunger. He failed the Grace of God by rejecting it and choosing the temporary. And though he later sought that Grace by tears – he could not receive it. If God speaks to your heart today do not deny Him.
Run to His arms.
Mark 8:35-37 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Esau gave his soul away for a bowl of lentils. What are you giving your soul away for? Turn unto Jesus!
d Lay Aside The LAW. Salvation is all of Grace. You cannot “run with patience the race set before you” while you worry about your salvation. We are told:
Hebrews 12:18-24 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,  And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:  (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:  And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
In these verses two mountains are compared – Mount SINAI where the Law was given and MOUNT ZION where Grace is given. When the Law was given only Moses went up into the mount. It was a frightening mountain, one from which came smoke and voices and lightening and if you touched it you could die. It was so frightening that Moses said “I exceedingly fear and quake”.
Some so called Christian’s religion is like that. Some who profess Christ do not know which mountain we are on.
We are on Mount Zion.
The Lord Jesus in love for us climbed that Mountain. We belong to the Kingdom of God. We who believe in Christ are one day to enter “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels”. We are part of the “general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”. We are loved by “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant”.
Sin has no dominion over us. Satan has no dominion over us. We belong to neither sin nor Satan, but to the Savior!
2 My Faith Must Be Actively Follow The Right PERSON.
Hebrews 12:1-2 … let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …
If you’re running a race your eyes are FRONT not BACK. You’re looking FORWARD. We run the race set before us LOOKING UNTO JESUS. We keep our eyes on Him as we run. The overcoming life runs following Jesus.
1 John 4:4-6 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.  We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Jesus said in John 16:33 …. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. The only One who has EVER – in the history of all mankind – overcome the world is Jesus. When Jesus cried out
IT IS FINISHED
from the Cross it was the VICTOR’S CRY. He defeat death. He defeated the grave. He defeated the political powers that be. He defeated the devil.
Any time we get our eyes off of Jesus we will fail.
Abraham failed. He got his eyes off of Jesus and listened to Sarah. “Honey, why don’t you go into Hagar – let’s help God out!” What did he get out of it? Ishmael, and a group of people that hate God’s Israel to this day.
Moses failed. He got his eyes off of Jesus and began to focus on a complaining Israel. He struck the Rock that was Christ and lost the Promised Land because of anger and frustration.
Elijah failed. Standing on the top of Mount Carmel he singularly defeated an overwhelming foe while focused on Jesus. The Prophets of Baal were destroyed. God was vindicated. But the very next day he got his eyes on Jezebel, Satan’s bride, and fell into despair.
David failed. He who defeated Goliath when his eyes were on Jesus became a murderer and an adulterer when he kept looking at Bathsheba. He should have kept on looking at Jesus!
Peter failed. Bold Peter, brave Peter, was questioned by a milk maid. “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” No, I am not! “Are you sure?” I am not! “But I saw you …” Then Peter curses, and the rooster crows.
I wonder if that same milk maid saw Peter on the day of Pentecost. “Why, isn’t that the man who said he didn’t know Jesus? Wasn’t he the frightened person huddled in the crow that night, scared of his own shadow. I wonder what happened to him? Now he speaks with POWER and without fear. What happened to him?” I’ll tell you what happened.
He stopped looking at the crowd and started looking at Jesus.
He stopped listening to the politically correct and started listening to the Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords.
Listen Beloved: We LIVE by faith in Christ. We STAND by faith in Christ. We WALK by faith in Christ. We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are like old Jacob who commits to Christ, saying:
Genesis 28:20-21 …. If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,  So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
Jesus Christ is with His children. Jesus Christ meets the needs of His children. But we are to run with patience the race set before us, following Jesus our Lord.
The great Evangelist D.L. Moody told this story. A very wealthy but stingy farmer met the Lord Jesus one day and was converted, born again, gloriously saved. Soon after his conversion a poor man came to him and asked for help. The man had lost his home and all he had in a fire. The farmer offered some help, then decided to give the poor man a ham from the smokehouse. As he headed toward the house the tempter whispered “Give him the smallest ham you have”. He struggled all the way to the smokehouse trying to decided whether to give a small or a large ham. In order to defeat his selfishness he took down the largest ham and gave it to the poor man. The tempter whispered “you are a fool!” The farmer said “If you don’t keep quiet I will give him every ham I have in that smokehouse!”
Run the race with Jesus. Run the race set before you. If you are selfish, give something. If you are envious, do a good thing for the person you envy. That will kill it! If you are angry at someone, do good toward that person lest your anger be your demise.
Run with patience the race set before you. Run with Jesus. Run for Jesus. Tun knowing that Jesus is running with you.
There are eight “overcomes” in the Book of Revelation. The first is:
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life” (Revelation 2:7)
Run the race with Jesus. You were saved to run. There is no life to those who do not run! Leap into His arms!