by Rev. Elbert Willis
Steadfastness is something you learn if you are going to move with the Lord. God wants us to be continually steadfast in the Word of God and learn how to hold fast without wavering and being bounced around, so we can move into an abundant and victorious Christian life. The devil also knows this and tries every way he can to stop us.
Continuous steadfastness requires knowing certain facts. You must have Bible knowledge of who you are in Christ, and then meditate upon that Word until it becomes a part of you. The Word of God has to become bigger inside of you than the circumstances that surround you. Until then your faith cannot override the devil and the situations and circumstances that he brings.
John 15:7 says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Abide means dwell. That means the Word makes itself at home inside of you. It literally becomes a part of you and then nothing outside can put enough pressure upon you to steal that Word and cause you not to walk in victory. This is why Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” The devil is always trying to pressure us to get us off the Word of God.
There is a mighty move of God today, and God is raising up men and women who will stand upon the Word of God, and not walk by their senses. There are not many places where the Word of God is being proclaimed in its fullness. It is being watered down and diluted by the world’s system and religion. But, brothers and sisters, God’s Word has never changed. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. If He changed His mind about any part of it, He could have changed His mind about heaven and we could be chasing a wild goose. But He has not changed His mind about any part of it. All of God’s Word is true. The devil bombards your mind and tries to make you believe that God’s Word has changed. But it has not, and it never will. I have staked everything on the Word and it always produces.
Steadfastness Possible For All Christians
A steadfast faith will endure until the end, and is possible for all Christians.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “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, (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. (3)For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Notice that in the first verse it says, “let us.” Paul is writing to Christians, and he says, “let us.” He did not say to “let me,” or “let some,” or “let a few;” he said “let us.” Paul is speaking as a mouthpiece of God to all Christians.
Notice the word “joy” in verse two. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross because He knew what was going to happen. He knew that He would not stay in that grave, but would come out. He would be sent back to heaven and would sit at the right hand of the Father. Then the Holy Spirit would come to live in His people and make them new creatures in Christ and anoint them with the Holy Spirit of God and they would continue to do the work that Jesus began. That was the joy that He was looking forward to. He knew that the spreading of the gospel was not over with, but was just getting started. In effect, Jesus said, “I have done my part and I am going home. But the Father will send the Holy Spirit of God back to live in His people. He is going to dwell in His people. He is going to tabernacle Himself in them. He is going to anoint, endue, fill, and empower them so they can carry forth and proclaim the message that I began.”
Jesus started it, and He is coming back to end it. We are to spread the gospel of the Kingdom of God until He comes back. When Jesus was here, He was limited by time and space. Like ours, His body required food and rest. His voice could only carry so far. He could only speak to so many people and reach so many people in the length of time He was here. But, He said He was going to send one back to live in all His people, everywhere. Jesus is no longer limited. He has mouthpieces all over the world today proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross.
We are talking about faith’s steadfastness. The first fact you need to know is that it is possible for all Christians to be steadfast.
John 3:6 says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” When I was born of flesh, I received what I needed to live as a human being. I received a heart, lungs, eyes, nose, and mouth. I received from my natural birth what I needed to flow and live and exist in this natural and materialistic world. When I was born of God, I received the Spirit of God, and through the indwelling power of the Spirit of God, I can overcome every circumstance and situation. It enables me to walk in victory every day.
Acts 1:8 says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…”
I John 4:4 says, “…because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is not some floating mystical figure of the imagination out in space somewhere, but is God actually living inside you to complete and fulfill the spreading of the Gospel. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you. He does not lose power because He is in more than one person at once. His power is steady and constant. He has not lost any of His power because He is in billions of people around the world. That has nothing to do with the power of God. He could be dwelling in a billion people on a billion planets and would lose none of His power or ability.
You have the Holy Spirit of God living in you to enable you to live a steadfast life, and walk in victory every day. The devil and the world have told many people that they cannot do this and they cannot do that. If you go by natural inclination, abilities, and talents, you will not be able to do very much. You will fail many times. But there is one dwelling inside you that enables you to go beyond that. Do not look to your natural strength to live a victorious life, but look to the power of the Almighty God that dwells in you.
By faith, reach up into that spiritual world and tap God Himself. Tap His power, love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, and everything that God is, so it can flow through you and the people of this world will know that Jesus Christ is alive. God is invisible. The natural eye and the world cannot see Him; therefore, they can only see God by what He does in you as you let Him flow through you.
Confess this: “It is possible for me to be steadfast. Not by my might, nor by my power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. That is where the possibility is. It is when my eyes are stayed upon Jesus that I can be steadfast.”
You must realize that there is a prescribed course. When you start driving from one city to another, there is a prescribed course for you to follow. Some people drive the way they want to and end up in the junk yard. You cannot be driving on the interstate and say, “Well, I want to turn left here.” There are just certain places where you go left or right, or where you can get on and off the freeway. Likewise, God has a prescribed course for you to follow. You must follow this course, or you will have problems. If an airplane pilot said, “I am going to fly where I want to, as high as I want to, and when I want to,” there would be utter chaos in the air. Before he leaves the ground, a prescribed course is plotted for him to follow. He is told how high to go, when to turn, and when not to turn. You must learn to follow the prescribed course of God, to be steadfast in the Lord.
Read The Rule Book
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Run the race that is set before us.” It is set before you. If you cannot see it, open your eyes. Get on your knees. Get in the Word. God has a course. He has a plan for each of us. A lot of Christians are going down the highway 90 miles an hour and the next thing you know they are having all kinds of problems and they say, “I don’t know what is wrong.” If I am driving somewhere and do not know where to turn, I slow down to about 10 m.p.h. If you do not know the direction God wants you to go, slow down and just creep along. That way if you see you are about to run off the road, you can stop yourself. But if you are going 60 miles an hour and you are about to run off the road, you cannot stop.
Paul says, “Run the race that is set before us.” Never exclude yourself. The Bible is written to every believer. Every part of it is written to every believer. Every promise is to every believer. Believe, and receive the benefits. For years I did not believe in healing, financial prosperity, or walking in victory every day, so I did not get the benefits of them. You only get what you believe God for.
“Run” and “race” indicate regulated activity with rules and requirements. When you run a race there are rules and requirements. For instance, stock car races have rules. The drivers cannot drive wherever they want to, but must run the race on the track. They have to follow a prescribed course if they intend to finish. As we learn to run the race in the prescribed course that God has ordained for us, we can finish the race. The Bible is our rule book. But most saints of God do not spend enough time reading the rule book to know where they are. They say, “I do not understand what is wrong.”
What does the Bible say? Well, let’s see. “Rejoice,” I believe it says, “rejoice in the…” yes, that is what it says: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” By the time you have thought of that the devil has already run over you. You are going to have to open your mouth immediately and say, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” This is the rule book. There is no other way. The more you know of the Word of God and understand it, the better off you will be.
Energy Must Be Directed
“Run” and “race” also indicate that energy is directed. When you run a race you do not stay in one place, but make advancement. Some saints go through life just spinning their wheels. When asked, “Where are you going?” they say, “I do not know, but I am so tired.”
You ask them five years later where they are going, and they still do not know. They exert energy but are not going anywhere. Energy must be directed.
Your energy has to be directed toward studying and learning the Word of God and moving with God. It is an appointed track. There is an appointed plan for your life. Learn the general rules and live them. Love your neighbor as yourself, rejoice in the Lord always, give thanks in all things, praise Him in the morning, praise Him in the noontime, etc. Learn the general rules and be faithful as a Christian living them, and then God will give you some special tracks. We all have a general track to run on. But God has special things for you. Until you get the foundational things settled, however, He cannot really use you. If you cannot be successful as a general Christian, how do you expect to move into an anointed ministry?
Get your energy directed in the right direction. It means advancement. I confessed a long time ago that I was not going to waste my life. I am not going to live all my Christian life spinning my wheels in one place. I think about Paul when he was in jail. He heard a noise outside, and asked the jailer what they were doing. The jailer told him not to worry about it. But Paul kept hearing the noise, and he asked the jailer again. So the jailer told him that they were sharpening an ax to cut his head off with. Now, if Paul had had a tie on, he would probably have loosened it and said, “I fought a good fight; I am ready to be offered.”
I have purposed in my heart that when I come to the end of the road, I am not going to stand there and say, “Oh God, I sure hope you remember all those good things I did and forget how I goofed off.” I want to be able to stand there and say, “Father, this is your son, Elbert. I have come home. I fought a good fight and I am ready to come home. I have been diligent and did not goof off. I fought a good fight. I am ready to be offered. I am ready to come home.” That is the report I intend to give. I am going to live my life in such a way that when I come before the Father I can say, “Father, I did the best I could.” I believe that is what every one of you wants to say. You want to go before the Father and say, “Father, I fought a good fight. I am now ready to be offered.”
This prescribed course also suggests exertion. Running a race requires exertion. Most people want to be good Bible students by studying ten minutes a week, or by spending two hours watching television and fifteen minutes in the Word. They will spend three hours at somebody’s house talking, and run home and open their Bibles and read five minutes before they go to bed. They do not get tired of talking, but when they get home they say, “I think I will get up a little early in the morning.”
This prescribed course requires discipline. You are going to have to decide in your heart what to do and when to do it. You have to live a disciplined life. I know you want to go on with God, and that is God’s will for your life. You do not want to be a natural Joe Blow religious man, but that man or woman who lives for God and moves with God and stands upon the Word of God. This takes a disciplined life. It takes determination and dedication, because when you begin to say that you are saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, that “greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world; I am more than a conqueror, and I always triumph in Christ Jesus,” the devil throws aside his peashooter and gets his shotgun. And you keep saying those things and he throws his shotgun aside and gets his cannon. He says, “I have to stop that man. I have to stop that woman. I have to defeat them.” Because when you begin to get your feet firmly planted on these truths, you will begin to walk upon the devil and will influence people for Jesus Christ.
Running the race is not easy. It takes exercise. A man who is good in track spends hours working out. A man who is a good stock car racer is the same way. You cannot become a success overnight in any field. We have too many people today who want it to be instant. They want to spend two or three days, a week, or a year in a Holy Ghost place, and say they have it. I have been diligent and faithful now for twelve years and I am just now getting to the place where I feel that I know a little bit so I can go a little farther. There is a prescribed course. Make up your mind what you are going to spend your time doing. Direct your energy.
Obstacles To Overcome
The words “lay aside” in
Hebrews 12:1 mean “relinquish” or “put aside.” Paul mentions the words “weight,” “sin,” “weary,” and “faint in your mind” in these Scripture passages.
What are “weights”? The Greek meaning of the word is “tumor” or “swelling.” That means that the externals spread to control too much. A hard hit will cause a swelling to expand and put pressure on some part of your body. When you get involved in things of the world, they begin to expand in their importance. You may start off watching television 30 minutes a day, and the next thing you know you are watching it for an hour, then two hours. Whatever you get involved in, if you are not careful, it will become like a tumor or weight that could be directed to studying the Word of God, or in prayer and praise.
A good example is men who work an eight-hour-a-day job. They come home, and if they were going fishing or on vacation, they would have plenty of energy. But when it comes to studying the Word, they say they are tired and need their rest. It is time for God’s people to give the Word first place in their lives.
Paul says to “lay aside” all the things that will interfere with your learning God’s Word and moving in the things of God. This is something you have to do. He has put His power and His Spirit in you so you can do it. Weights mean something you are at liberty to cast aside, but choose to hold. It is not something that you would necessarily call a sin. You can cast it aside but you choose to hold it. One brother I know used to get a daily newspaper and read it from cover to cover. He would spend an hour and a half reading the paper. Now, reading the newspaper is not a sin. I am not preaching against newspapers. But if that thing swells and begins to take too much of your time, then it is a weight. You are at liberty to lay that paper down and pick up your Bible.
Ladies, cleaning house can become a weight. God wants you to have your house clean. If you have a dirty house, you are lazy. But I know some women who keep their houses too clean. You walk through their houses and they come walking behind you picking up the dust. We had four or five ladies in our fellowship who kept their houses too clean. They were spic-’n’-spanners. You want to be spic-’n’-span, but you can be so spic-’n’-span that you spend too much time cleaning house, and cannot get into the Word of God. You are exerting all your energy picking up every little piece of trash, although that does not justify leaving trash all over the place. There are more houses that are not clean enough than there are houses that are too clean. There is a spirit behind both extremes, and if you want to be honest and get rid of it, you can get that devil cast out of you.
Another example is yard work. There is no sin about keeping your yard looking nice. But some people could spend two or three hours an evening clipping hedges or mowing the grass. It is good to have a nice clean yard, but if you get too involved, it becomes a tumor. It swells. It should take an hour a week and it takes four. When it does that, it is cheating you of three hours of something that is more important. That yard is going to pass away, but the Word will not pass away. The things of God will not pass away.
I am not against television, but if you spend two hours watching “As The World Turns” and “Doctors and Nurses,” you ought to spend that much time with God. I do not believe you should give the devil’s one-eyed-monster more time than God’s Word. We are talking about directing your energy. There is nothing wrong with television, but it can expand and become a tumor. I guard my time on that thing.
It is not a sin to sleep. But even natural science knows that eight hours is plenty. Six is sufficient. “But, Brother Willis, I have to have more than that.” With a mouth like that, you do. There is nothing wrong with sleeping, but if it expands and takes too much of your time, you do not have time for God and the things of God. You may like to have a nap in the afternoon. Make it 15 or 30 minutes, not two hours.
What about talking? It is not a sin to talk if you talk right, and if you do not talk too long. But some people get together in the evening with two or three other families and talk until midnight. “Oh, but we are talking about the Lord.” Well, why don’t you go home and get your Bible and talk to the Lord? It will do you much more good. He says to lay aside every weight. What you are going to have to do is examine your life.
Fishing and hunting is not a sin, but you can let that thing become a tumor. “Well, I have to have some kind of enjoyment for myself.” I changed my enjoyment. I can get into the Word of God and get more enjoyment from it than you ever thought from killing a hundred birds or catching a thousand fish. “But Brother Willis, I am not like you.” No, you are not; and you will not be by the way you are talking.
You act as though you like these things more than Jesus by holding on to them. There is nothing wrong with them. Go ahead and do some of them, but do not let them become tumors. Do not let them swell up and take too much of your time. God does not say to quit living, but He does not say to put Him in the back yard either. He does not say to edge in 15 minutes a day for Him. Give Him first place.
Sometime if you have a chance to get away for a weekend, and have not had a chance to study as you should have, say, “I am going to stay home this weekend and study.” Or take a Saturday and say, “I am going to study today; do not bother me.” Try studying for eight hours. Most Christians can only take about 30 minutes to an hour of revelation at one time, then they have to go do something else. Their revelator cannot take very much. About an hour of study is all it can take. Get that thing where you can spend two or three hours a day with the Lord.
Weights are not a problem in good times, but they hinder when Satan attacks. There is nothing wrong with spending so much time in your yard, sleeping, watching T.V., or sports, as long as everything is going well, but when the devil socks it to you, you do not have enough of the Word in you to stand. As long as everything is going well, you will be all right. But as soon as the devil starts putting the pressure on, you will blow. Tumors dull your conscience. You will still be a Christian and you will still love God, but your fire will be burning low. Your edge will be dull. It used to be that if someone would say, “Glory,” you would say, “Hallelujah,” and if they said, “We are going to have a prayer meeting,” you would say, “Where are we going to have it?” Now, you say, “Well, that’s good,” and there are not more hallelujahs coming from your mouth. It blunts you spiritually, and it takes the sharpness off. I know what I am talking about. I have seen times when the sharpness was off. We all experience them.
About 99 per cent of the time, it is not sin in your life but weights that are causing the problem. It is your piddle-diddling around that allows the devil to control your life and keep you out of the Word of God. He dulls your conscience. He takes the sharpness off your knife. The devil will start coming at you, and you will start hacking but you will not be able to hack through. And you will say, “I do not understand. I have been fighting him for six weeks, and I used to get my victory in a week.” You have been piddling around so much that your knife is dull, and when you hit him with your dull edge, the devil sits there laughing and says, “I took the edge off, and they do not even know it.”
That tumor has expanded, and is spreading, and is eating up your time, and still you want to act as though everything is all right. You are a Christian, but you are dull and blunt. Your progress is retarded. If he can blunt that fire and that spiritual edge, it will slow you down. You are still going on with God, but where you used to be going at 25 , you are now going at five m.p.h. You say, “Well, I am just getting more mature.” Maturity does not back up, it goes on. A more mature driver can drive as well at 60 as an immature driver can at 10 m.p.h. Maturity takes you forward, it does not back you up.
Weights are often imposed upon you by customs and society. There are many things pulling at you for your time. The world has told you that if you do not spend most of your time doing things with your spouse and children, the family will split apart. The Bible does not say that. Get your faith working and believe God for time to study the Word, and He will keep your family together.
The world tells Daddies that they are supposed to be big brothers. God did not make me a big brother to my boys. He made me to be their father, and I am not getting out of my socket trying to be a big brother.
The world tells Mammas to be big sisters. Girls do not need a big sister, but a mother. Children need those Mother and Father images.
I cannot love my boy as my brother. He is not my brother, but my son. He cannot love me as a brother. I am his Father. I want to play my proper role. When you get out of your role, you are in trouble. I love my children as a Father. I have a Father’s love for them, and it is better than a brother’s love. A Mother’s love for her children is a greater love than a sister’s love. A Father or Mother can have no greater love than when they put it upon their children and love them from their positions as parents.
The farther you go with the Lord, the fewer the options. If you give a baby a bottle, and when he gets to be a year or a year and a half old, try to take that bottle away from him, he will have a screaming fit. When you start telling some Christians about these things, and try to take their bottles away, they throw tempter tantrums. Well, when they do that I just look at them. I know they are showing their baby stuff. They have to have their bottles in their mouths. God wants to take some of your bottles away from you. He wants you to grow up.
These weights have to be cast aside. Face up to the fact that that thing in your life is a tumor. I can tell you how you can find out. If you really like to read your newspaper and do not think it has a hold on you, cancel it for a month. You will be miserable. You will say, “Where is my newspaper?” If you do not think that T.V. has a hold on you, make up your mind that you are not going to watch it for thirty days, and see how you do.
If you do not think that all that talking has a hold on you, make up your mind that you are not going to do any fellowshipping except with the Lord for about a week. You will be pulling your hair out, and you will find out how much of a tumor it is. Check yourself out. It will shape you up. You say, “It is just a habit.” Yes, it is; and one that you need to cut down on. I am not saying these things are wrong or that you need to throw them away; but if they eat your time up, they are sin. When they take up enough of your time to keep you from being strong in the Lord, then they become sin.
The amount of weights you cut off determines how far you are going to go. You can hold onto a lot of these things and I will see you in heaven, but it will determine how far you go with Christ here. It will determine how deep a Christian you become, how able you will be to influence people to Jesus, and how solid you are.
Ephesians 4:24-5:5 in the Amplified Bible really lays it on. It reads, “And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, (Godlike) in true righteousness and holiness. (25)Therefore, rejecting all falsity and done now with it, let every one express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. (26)When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath — your exasperation, your fury or indignation — last until the sun goes down. (27) Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil — give no opportunity to him. (28)Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.
(29)Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word, nor unwholesomeness or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth; but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. (30)And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, (do not offend, or vex, or sadden Him) by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption — of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin. (31)Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will or baseness of any kind). (32)And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.
(5:1)Therefore be imitators of God — copy Him and follow His example — as well-beloved children [imitate their father] (2)And walk in love — esteeming and delighting in one another — as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. (3)But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people).
(4)Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]. (5)For be sure of this, that no person practicing sexual vice or impurity in thought or in life, or one who is covetous — that is, who has lustful desire for the property of others and is greedy for gain — [for] that [in effect] is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
If you will notice in that fifth chapter he puts foolish talking and coarse jesting right along with fornication and idolatry. Do you think He just put it there by accident? Most Christians do not realize how dangerous these things really are. They take them lightly. God’s Word is serious. Sins are spelled out, and you just do not have any choice if you want to walk in victory. “Brother Willis, do you have victory in all these things?” No. But the ones I do not have victory in, I am working on with the Word of God.
Paul also uses the word “weary.” That means you are exhausted by the pressure. You are loaded down with excess weights and sins. If you let these weights and sins stay on, they become a load. When the storms start coming, you have all this weight and pressure on you, and your knees will begin to buckle. The weights have stolen your time so you could not get in the Word. The sins have hung onto you until you cannot get close to God. And the devil sees all the weights and sins, and blows up a hurricane. You get wearied from fighting and fall.
You say, “Brother Willis, how do you know so much about it?” One reason is because the Word says so, and I have had it happen. If I am not careful, the next thing I know I get myself involved and am fiddling around too much. Then something comes against me, and it will take me a couple of weeks to whip it. And when it takes a couple of weeks to whip something, I do not say, “God, what is wrong?” I say, “Elbert Willis, you have been goofing off. You have been letting up on your homework.” When you are in school and let up on your homework, you make bad grades. Well, saints of God, when you let up on your homework, the devil will punch it to you. He hates you. You are his enemy. A man who is going to run a race cannot stay down at the malt shop and have a coke all the time. If he does, he will start the race like a fireball, then after about 60 yards he will not be able to go anymore, and everybody will just run by him. And he will say, “I do not understand, what is wrong?” While he was at the malt shop, the other boys were out there training. You see, while a lo of people are fiddling around, I am training. And when it comes to the end of the race, I am going to run on down the road to the finish line, and some are going to be back there struggling and saying, “I do not know, what is wrong?”
Sometimes the Lord says, “Slow down a little bit, preacher.”
I say, “Yes, Lord, what?”
He says, “Reach back there and get your hands on them.”
I say, “But Lord, I told them.”
He says, “Put your hands on them, and help them come on.”
When we get strong, we can help others. It is not just so that we can run off and win, but so that we can help our brothers and sisters who are lagging behind.
Are you out of shape? Do you have a desire to perform, but are not able? The reason is because you have not run the race. You want to finish the race and do a good job. You want to walk in victory and be a light, but the devil is all the time loading you up with weights and sins that beset you. Paul said, “Let us lay aside those things that so easily beset us.”
You can throw them aside, but if you do not watch it they will just wiggle back in there. The devil sees that you have made up your mind and that you will get victory, so he backs up a little bit and watches you. After about two to four weeks you have the victory, and you are strutting a little bit. Then you may slow up, and the devil will start talking to you. The next thing you know, he has led you back again into that weight. If you get weary, it will cause your love for the race to fade. There are times when the Word of God inside you just rises up. When it gets rough, you just say, “Glory hallelujah! The devil came against me today and I put the Word on him.” But after a while that love for the race, and the training, kind of fades.
All of you know that when you want to lose weight, you exercise diligently for a few weeks. Then that love and burning desire to lose that weight fades, and the table gets the best of you. You say, “Boy, I am going to do it.” And you do, for two or three weeks, or maybe two or three months, then you find yourself slipping up. Your love for the race has faded. When your love for the race begins to fade, you begin to get despondent and break your resolutions partly or completely. But there was a time when you would have said, “Devil, you cannot keep me away from getting the Word of God; I do not care what you do.”
Saints of God, confess that you are steadfast. You can do it. I am not saying that it is easy, but He put His Spirit in us to enable us to run that race and win. God defeated the devil through Jesus Christ and it is a finished work.
I have not seen anyone who backed up who did not cover up and justify it. They have had some beautiful reasons. They may think it is good, and be satisfied with it, but God thinks it stinks and the devil is on the sidelines clapping his hands. They always cover up and give excuses to justify their actions.
“Brother Willis, what should I do?” Fall on your knees and get in the Word and say, “Father, forgive me for letting the devil put cold water on my fire, but I am fixing to build a fire so high that all the water will evaporate.” Stoke that fire with the Word of God. If you do not put the wood on the fire, it will not burn.
Faint In Mind
Paul also talks about “fainting in your mind.” You are out of shape, so the pressure causes you to yield to doubt, worry, fear and wonder. When you get out of shape with the Word, the devil begins to pressure you and you begin to doubt and wonder and become faint in your mind. You faint
in your mind. The devil puts so much pressure against your senses that your mind chokes off the Word that is growing forth out of you.
Grace Involved, Hebrews 12:2
“Patience” means to be constant. It means always being the same in circumstances and situations that demand
endurance. Patience has to do with circumstances and situations, and long-suffering has to do with people. The grace involved is that holding power that will assure that you win. Once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and go on and get filled with the Holy Ghost, then you have the power in you to run the race. So the devil has to try to sidetrack you, by putting so much pressure on you that you finally just kind of burn out and park your car for a rest.
You need to say, “I do not care what happens, I am going on with God. I know God’s Word is true. I am going on with God. I know they think I am crazy, but I am going on with God. I know they think I do not have any sense, but I am going on with God. I know they say it will not work, but I believe and am going on with God.” Just get like an old mule on the Word of God, and stay with it.
Have spiritual stubbornness. Human beings are hardheaded. If they would take that same hardheadedness and put it on the devil, he would not stand a chance. Say, “Devil, I want you to know, you cannot back me up an inch. I want you to know in case that you do back me up an inch, I am going to knock you back ten feet. I am going on with God.”
Looking Unto Jesus
What is divine encouragement? Does
Hebrews 12:2 say, “Looking unto Elbert Willis, and his dynamic faith teaching? Looking unto Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin and Dr. Freeman because they believe God for everything?” It says, “Looking unto Jesus.” “Looking unto Jesus.” “Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.” That is who you look unto. If you look unto anyone else, you will be in for some disappointments. But if you look to Jesus, there will not be any disappointments. That is the divine encouragement.
Hebrews 11:27 talks abut Moses: “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” It says, “seeing Him,” not saw. He just kept his eyes on the invisible God. And when he got down to Egypt, they said, “Moses, there is no way to get out.” Moses did not look down, he looked to God. And God spoke to him, and he got out. They go to the banks of the Read Sea, and everybody was looking at the Red Sea, but Moses was looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.
Consider Him Than Endured
Hebrews 12:3 says, “Consider Him that endured.” This word “consider” means “draw an analogy.” Look at how much He endured. He said that the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in you and me. Draw an analogy. Compute by comparison. Just think for a moment what Jesus went through and overcame. He endured. He went on through. He counted it joy.
You say, “Brother Willis, that is Jesus.” Jesus said in
John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Jesus said when He left, “I know you cannot do it. I have so many things I want to tell you, but you cannot receive them. I have so much heavenly knowledge and wisdom I want to give you, but you cannot take it until you become a new creature.” So He went to the heavens, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came back and touched their hearts and made them each a new creature in Christ, so that they could receive and comprehend the heavenly wisdom and truths of God. This is the only way you can make it. You cannot conceive and understand these things unless you have been born of God.
Paul says to weigh it well with Jesus. He says that in everything you come against, weight it with what Jesus went through. Jesus’ family came outside to get Him because they thought He was going crazy. The Pharisees called him a hypocrite and a whoremonger, but Jesus kept right on trucking. He said, “I have a work to do. I come to do the will of the Father.” And brothers and sisters, we have a work to do, and it is the will of the Father.
He says, “Consider Jesus, weigh it well with Jesus.” Form an accurate estimation of the finished work of Jesus. When Jesus died at Calvary, He said it was finished. The Word says that the devil goes about as a roaring lion. He roars, but if you look closely, he does not have any teeth. They have been pulled, and the devil cannot do you much harm gumming you if you know what he is. If you listen to his roar, it will set you off, so do not listen.
Stay in the Word. Stay in Jesus. Calculate what He encountered and overcame and realize that
II Corinthians 2:14 says, “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.” Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
John 15:1-7, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (2)Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (3)Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (4)Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except that ye abide in me. (5)I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (6)If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them in the fire, and they are burned. (7)If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
I John 4:4, “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.” Jesus has given us what we need to be steadfast and to walk in victory and to go on with the things of the Lord. This is His will for us.
Confess this: “Father, in the Name of Jesus, I thank you that you have saved me, and filled me with the Holy Spirit. You are my baptizer, healer, deliverer, and protector. I am looking unto You, Jesus, and trusting in You to give me victory in every circumstance and in every situation because the Word of God says, ‘He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.’ And I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.”
Requires We Know Certain Facts.
I. Possible For All Christians: 12:1 “Let us,” John 3:6; Acts 1:8
II. Prescribed Course: 12:1 “Run the race that is set before us.” “Run” and “race” regulated activity with rules and requirements — Appointed track — Energy is directed — Advancement — Suggest exertion — Discipline — Determination — Dedication.
III. Obstacles To Overcome: 12:1 “Lay aside,” Relinquish
A. “Weights” (Tumor or swelling). Externals expand to control too much.
— Something at liberty to cast aside, but choose to hold
— No problem in good times but hinder when Satan attacks
— Dulls conscience — Blunts spiritually — Re- tards progress — Slow
— Often imposed upon you by custom, society (newspaper, to clean or dirty house, yard, TV, sleeping, talking, sports, etc.)
— Babies hold to bottles — Further one goes, fewer options
B. “Sins.” Scripture names and leaves Christians no choice. Eph. 4:24-5:5; Col. 3:5, 8-9
C. “Wearied.” Exhausted by pressure — Loaded down with excess weights and sins — Out of shape because too involved — Otherwise — Desire to perform but unable
— Causes love for race to fade — Despondent, so break resolutions partly or completely — Back up
— Always cover up, excuse, and justify present condition
D. “Faint in mind.” Out of shape, so pressure causes to yield to doubt, worry, fear, wonder.
IV. Grace Involved: 12:2 “Patience” to be constant the same way in circumstances and situations demands endurance — Holding Power — Stickability — Durability.
V. Divine Encouragement:
A. 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus” Constant and Con tinuous, Moses: 11:27 “Endured, as seeing Him who is invisible”
12:2 “The author and Finisher of our faith”
B. 12:3 “Consider Him that endured” Draw an analogy
— Compute by comparison — Weigh well Jesus
— Form accurate estimation of finished work
— Calculate what He encountered and overcame.
I John 4:4; John 14:12; 15:1-7; Romans 8:37; II Corinthians 2:14