Hebrews 12:3-11 ESV
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“’My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.’
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
“Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
The Struggle Against Sin
This word “struggle” literally means to struggle against, to resist, to contend with, or to strive against (sin). And to resist means to fight, to battle, to counterattack, oppose and defy (sin). And to strive is to go all out, to make every effort, and to do all that you can to oppose (sin).
Yet, this is not how many people are using the phrase “struggle against sin” today. For, many who claim they are “struggling with sin” mean that they are regularly and habitually giving in to sin, and they are making minimal effort to resist, for they are still leaving the door wide open to continue.
The encouragement here appears to be for the former, who appear to be growing weary of heart in their fight against sin but who are still fighting, and not for the latter who are regularly and habitually yielding to sin. They are to consider Jesus who endured hostility against himself from sinners and the fact that they had not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood, as Jesus had. And they were to draw on his strength.
Also, they were to consider the fact that, as followers of Jesus Christ, that suffering is par for the course, as is being opposed by Satan and having temptations thrown in our paths. But God allows us to go through spiritual battles and difficulties which try our faith, but for our good.
For, the Lord is disciplining us, pruning us, conforming us to his likeness, and he is making us holy. He is teaching us to rely on him and not on ourselves. He is humbling us, and he is teaching us patience and endurance which is developing within us godly character and hope.
And yes, it hurts to suffer, and to be disciplined, and sometimes corrected and chastised, but if we respond in the right way to our trials and tribulations which test our faith, the discipline will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives, if we have been trained by it, and not resisted.
Hebrews 12:12-13 ESV
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”
Strengthen Your Weak Knees
So, the encouragement here is to not grow weary or fearful or fainthearted when we go through difficulties, disciplines, pruning, and trials and tribulations and temptations. But we are to strengthen ourselves in these areas of weakness in the strength of the Lord, in submission to him.
And the Scriptures give us all kinds of instructions on how to do this, too, and regarding what resources we have available to us, too, to help us. We have the Lord and his Word. We have the Holy Spirit living within us. We have been given the armor of God, and we have prayer.
We also have to make straight paths for our feet. We can’t just flounder, living by our feelings, doing whatever we feel like doing, just going from this thing to the next to the next, all of which are just taking up space and which provide no spiritual benefit to us whatsoever.
We can’t not have a plan in motion, either, and then just wait until the inevitable happens and then wonder why we weren’t able to resist temptation. And we can’t leave doors wide open where we know we are going to fail. We have to shut those doors and lay aside all weights.
So, going back to the beginning, we have not yet resisted to the shedding of blood, so we can still resist because of what Jesus did for us on that cross when he shed his blood for our sins. “Can’t” is not true. “Won’t” is true of those who make no plan and who shut no doors and who keep providing a way for Satan to tempt them, knowing they will give in.
So, to make straight paths for our feet, we have to remove all barriers and all weights, and we have to shut the door to all habitual sins by cutting out of our lives everything which leads us to sin, and by using that armor of God to fight off Satan’s attacks, and by closing all back doors.
And then we have to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, listen to him, make it our habit to obey him immediately when he speaks or when temptation arises, and we have to be walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we can’t be lazy about spiritual disciplines.
We must make certain that we are taking into our minds and hearts what is wholesome, and which is not contrary to our Lord or to his will or to his moral standards. And we have to make Jesus our Lord, and we must let go of control over our own lives. Then we can win this battle!
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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