Open your Bibles to Hebrews 12:1-4. Let us read it, pray, and then wrap up or study on God's Design for Men and Women.
- Hebrews 12:1-4 – “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, 2looking 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. 3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
We forget that to be a Christian is to first and foremost recognize that we are sinful, fallen, desperately sick, broken creatures. Our life, prior to being born again is out of step with our Maker. When God births us into spiritual existence, our new inclination is to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The power of the Gospel is to justify and to sanctify. Meaning that the death of Christ sufficiently pays for all of our sin, and there is nothing left for us to do so as to be reconciled to God. However, the Gospel does not merely justify us, it puts us into motion towards becoming in sync with God's will.
The gospel breaks the chains of our sinfulness and gives us freedom and desire to pursue what pleases God. This is the essence of or text this morning to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” This morning I want to talk about two things 1) The Race and 2) the Weights.
So what is this race that we are running? First, let us understand that the terrain for this race is not the streets of gold found in Heaven, but the muck and the mire of this World. God has ordained that the starting line for our life in Christ begins in a fallen world. This is not a perfect illustration but it may help, it is as if we are running in sand. And not only are we running in sand, but people watching us run are not predominately fans of ours. They are hecklers, scoffers, booers, perhaps at times, even obstacles. For some people, the race actually becomes a gauntlet of sorts.
This was the case for the cloud of witnesses that surround us that are spoken about in Hebrews 12:1. These cloud of witnesses are listed in Chapter 11 we are told their stories involve lions, sacrifice, war, torture, mockery, flogging, chains, imprisonment, afflicted and mistreated. Despite all those difficulties, they endured, they kept running the race.
So what race were they running? They were running the race of faith. It is a race that centered around the promises of God. To each of them, the word of God was proclaimed, God's will was revealed, strategy and design were laid out before them, and each one of them had a choice to make in their life, believe God and run the race, or not believe God and blend into the world.
We have spent months soaking in Biblical text seeking the will of God when it comes to men and women. Our study has led us to one single reality, God has a specific design for men, and God has a specific design for women. Both male and female are equal before God. God loves men and women equally and delights in men and women equally, but we have different callings.
I don’t know how you can walk away from this study and think otherwise, for we looked at scripture after scripture from the beginning to the end and it all pointed to an intentional God with an intentional design. Starting in the Garden, running through the Old Testament, examining the words of Jesus, looking at the early Church, reading the letters of Paul, and studying the remaining letters. All of it pointed to an unchanging God who has ordained unchanging roles.
So the question is no longer what does the Bible say about my role as a man, and my role as a women, for we know what its says. The question is, are you willing to run the race of faith when it comes these roles, when it comes to God's design? Are you willing to trust in God’s plan for you as a male, and God’s plan for you as a female? Are you willing to trust in God’s designed for marriage? Are you willing to trust God’s has designed for the home? Are you willing to trust God’s design for His Church?
At this point, this is really the question before us. Will you chose to run the race of faith? We have stared in the mirror of God’s Word, will we turn and forget what we saw? Will we run the race, or will we go sit in the stands? Or perhaps we will run for a little while, and then we will give up because it is just too hard in this day in age? Maybe the Word of God will sprout up in our lives, but it will be chocked out by the cares of this world, or persecution from your family and “friends.”
What I want to do this morning is to convince you, or remind you, that God’s design for male and female is not a burden, it is not a punishment. It is a design that God declared in Genesis 1:31 to be “very good.” That word good in verse 31 is “tob” which can be translated to pleasing, well, pleasant, delightful, glad, joyful, delicious, sweet. God’s design for men and women is a design that fits. It is a design that complements. It is a design that is harmonious. It is a design the best displays what God desires to be displayed.
I think we as Christians forget this. We see the walk of faith only as difficult, and we fail to see the joy, and peace, and fullness of a life when you are surrendered entirely to your Father. We forget that God promises that truth sets us free, and that there is freedom in implementing God’s design. We fail to recognize the fruit that will come from a life planted by the streams of God’s Word. We must recognize that the weight of this life, is not obedience, but disobedience.
What is the must regular response to the question, how have you been? “Busy.” That is the main response. “We are really busy.” You can see it in people's eyes, they are scattered in their lives and scattered in their hearts. This is a weight upon their shoulders. It drags them down. It makes the race of this life wearisome. I can't help but think the main reason for this is that we are out of sync with God's design for our lives.
Instead of men being at home and leading their wives and children, they are working 50+ hours a week, golfing, watching endless sports, or wasting their life away in a man cave. Instead of men stepping up and leading Church's they shrink in the back and make jokes about the women doing it. They send them out into the world to make money so that you can have a bigger truck. Men are universally failing to be the men that God designed them to be. Gone seem to be the days of valiance. Homes and Churches are now full of 40 year old adolescents.
Women, you have bought into the lie of feminism that equality means being the same. Equality does not mean the same. There is no doubt that men and women are different. Why in the world did we think we can fit them into the same mold? You have pursued the path of man, and you are now doing twice as much work and burning the candles at both ends. Your kids are being raised by secular strangers, and you and your husband are always fighting because the house is always a wreck, you never eat as a family, and the two hours you get the your children is spent carting them around to keep up with the world. And at the end of the night, the last thing you are thinking about is intimacy.
With all this said, we wonder why marriages don't last. And we wonder why Church's are slipping into liberalism, where anything goes. We have ignored, rejected, or twisted the Word of God.
But it doesn't have to be this way for us. We don't have to go the way of the world, and be deceived. We can chose today to lay aside every weight that is clinging to us and run the race that God has expressly set before us. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. God hardly ever calls us into things that are easy. The life of a Christian is described as a fight of faith. We must work out our salvation. We must strive down the narrow path. We must pick up our cross and follow Christ.
So this is my call as we end this series. Each of you make a concerted effort to live out what you have been studying. Pray that God would reveal to you areas that are out of sync with God's will. Then take steps in your life to fulfill God's design for you as a man and a women. It doesn't have to be all at once. Each month do something that moves you in the right direction.
Men, start seeing your home as your Garden of Eden and stand guard against Satan's attack on you, your wife, and your kids. Pay attention to what is on the TV, Computer, mailbox, and phone. Set loving rules and boundaries. Be willing to lay down your life for your wife by reducing your work hours, eliminating your TV time, or giving up a hobby or two. Start leading your family in prayer and devotionals. Look for ways that you can step up to the plate at Church. Encourage other men to be men. Make the choice to stop being apathetic, and instead choose to be a fellow solider in Christ.
Women, think about how you can come up along side and help your husbands and the Church. Be Holy Spirit like, who comes and goes without being seen, but you know that he was there because you can see the effects. Think about how you can make the dance more beautiful. Unleash your God given creativity and live, not as a slave to feminism, but as a slave to Jesus Christ. Make your home a gospel centered home, focus your attention on training up your children in righteousness. Love your husband, encourage your husband, respect your husband.
Lastly, let us, let God be God. Let us submit to Him above all. Let us not think we are entitled to a certain way of life that we believe is the best. Let us run the race of faith and trust in God's design, let us trust in God's Word, and let us endure for the joy that is set before us when we stand in the presence of our Maker and we here him say well done good and faithful servant.