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Hindrances to Discipleship

Hindrances to Discipleship

Laying Aside Everything That Hinders

In Scripture, we see the Christian life (which is making disciples for the glory of Jesus) being compared to an endurance race.

Hebrews 12:1-2 “1 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, 2 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.”

Notice the writer of Hebrews classifies these things that hinder us from running a good race making disciples as “weight” and “sin”.

Let’s talk about sin first. In our culture, sin is tolerated and accepted - even by Christians. Within the church, believers rarely hold one another accountable for their sin. That’s why the clear majority of churches do not practice church discipline. Perhaps we don’t want to recognize our brother or sister’s sin because we know our own sin will be exposed and must be dealt with too. It’s like the “you leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” mentality.

But let’s dig a little deeper here. Maybe we tend to look at our sin as nothing more than a “poor choice” we make that results in sin and since we all make “poor choices” then we’re OK. Certainly, sin does involve making a “poor choice” but it’s worse than that – much worse.

The first step in laying aside sin is to recognize what it is. Sin is never harmless. Sin is treason of the highest order. I love how R.C. Sproul puts it:

“Every sin, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is an act of rebellion against the sovereign God who reigns and rules over us and as such is an act of treason against the cosmic King.”

When we sin, we are committing cosmic treason against King Jesus.

What about the “weight” that holds us down? These would be considered the things that are not, in and of themselves, sin but become sinful when we prioritize them incorrectly. For example, it’s good to love our spouse and other family members. But if we love them more than we love Jesus then we are not even worthy to be His disciple – let alone make more disciples (Luke 14:26).

As Pastor Chad says, “it’s good to love these things but love Jesus more.”

When we put other things ahead of the Lord and His Kingdom, it hinders us from making disciples. Does that mean that we can never do any leisure activity like go to football games, or to the beach or to a birthday party? No, of course we can enjoy those things.

In fact, God wants us to leverage even those activities for His glory by using them as opportunities to make disciples. The problem is that we often disconnect these opportunities from discipleship and use them as an escape from it.

So, how do we get rid of these hindrances? Simple. Create good habits.

I know that doesn’t sound uber-spiritual but it’s the truth. I think this is also the reason why Christians resist this type of thinking – because it doesn’t sound very spiritual. I used to resist this too. I’d say to myself “I want to read Scripture because I DESIRE to read Scripture, not because I feel like I HAVE to.” The problem with this is, of course, I often don’t desire to read Scripture I’d rather do something else. If I waited until I wanted to read Scripture I would rarely read it.

This is where good habits are essential. They are a gift from God.

David Mathis with The Gospel Coalition writes:

“At the heart of habit is the brilliance of our Creator. Making decisions takes time and energy, and habits keep us from having to make the same decisions over and over again:”

So, what habits should we be cultivating?

Don Whitney in his book 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health gives us a list of Spiritual Disciplines that Scripture prescribes for us. Here they are in two categories: Individual and Corporate.

Individual disciplines: private Scripture reading and meditation (Psalm 119:15, Philippians 4:8), individual prayer and solitude (Luke 5:15-17, Mark 14:32, 1 Cor. 7:5) and fasting (Mathew 4, Acts 14:23, 1 Cor. 7:5).

Corporate disciplines: congregational worship (Psalm 95:1-11, Colossians 3:16), corporate prayer (Acts 2:42), Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42) and fellowship (Acts 2:42).

Sounds like a great list of habits don’t you think? Are these things prevalent in our lives? Could we be identified by these things? We must remember that just doing these things in and of themselves doesn’t make us like Christ. It is through His Spirit that works in us as we pursue Christ in these things.

We must look to Him as we read earlier in Hebrews 12:2, “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.”

If Jesus is the greatest treasure, then we will want our habits to reflect Him.

So, let’s start making good habits and keep our eyes focused on our great King Jesus!