By Vance Drum

We extend our deep condolences to the victims of the tragedy on Sunday morning in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  May God help us in America.

The Sunset pastor on Sunday continued our series “Running the Race:  Facing Life’s Challenges with Confidence and Hope,” with a message, “Obstacles to Running Well.”  The text was from Galatians 5:7:  “You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you…?”

The devil doesn’t like us running our race with Jesus beside us, so he throws up roadblocks—obstacles—to try to hinder us.

The pastor noted four obstacles to our running a good race:  (1) The Obstacle of Legalism; (2) The Obstacle of License; (3) The Obstacle of Entangling Sin; (4) The Obstacle of Apathy.

(1) The Obstacle of Legalism.  Legalism is to trust in how good we are—how good we keep God’s law—for our right relationship with our Creator God.  It is opposed to the Good News of God’s grace.

But v4 says:  “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”

The First Covenant—the Old Testament—was based on law keeping:  “If you do these things, you shall live” (Leviticus 18:5).

But the First Covenant had a fatal flaw, and we were the flaw.

God’s law was fine, but “God found fault with the people” (Hebrews 8:8).  We failed to keep God’s law, so in the New (Second) Covenant, Jesus became our representative in doing right, and we trust in Him for our right, forgiven relationship with God.

We aim to do right because Jesus is our Lord, but we do not trust in our own right doing, because we all fall short.

(2) The Obstacle of License.  Nowadays, there may be less legalism in many places, but the practice of license—of doing what you want to do without regard for God’s will—has become a modern scourge.

Jude refers to this in Jude 4: “…godless men, who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

Some folks say that because God’s grace covers all of our sins anyway, therefore we can do what we want—living for and living like the devil—and God will forgive us.

There’s only one flaw in that thinking:  It disregards Jesus as Lord.   License is what the world does.  They have no godly restraint, which leads to civil disorder—violating all God’s Ten Commandments.

God’s people honor God’s word and will. They are a blessing, bringing peace, wherever they go.

(3) The Obstacle of Entangling Sin.  Hebrews 12:1:  “Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles, and run…” our race.

Question: What is your main temptation? What sin so easily traps and entangles you if your Christian armor is not on?

It may be one of these in Galatians 5:19:  “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:  sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.  I warn you, … that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Whatever your addiction or temptation, the Holy Spirit is your helper. Follow Jesus as Lord. Don’t try to ride both sides of the fence.

(4) The Obstacle of Apathy.  The Bible says to “make every effort” to do the right thing (2 Peter 1:5).  To run in the Christian race requires effort.  Apathy—sleeping in … “I’ll serve God if I have time…if I get to it” won’t cut it with God, who is supremely worthy of our praises.

Think about this:  The Astros won the World Series only through great effort, and we congratulate them!  No one will make it to heaven without putting their heart and soul into their Christian walk.  “Resist the devil” requires effort on our part.

Run the race with Jesus, and you’ll make it!

“From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children….”  [Psalm 103:17]

May God great love bless and help you this week—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.