Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
“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, 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.”
The Sin Which Clings
The sin which clings so closely being spoken of here is an easily encircling or surrounding sin, one that entraps, that is well-planted all around the person, and which is a serious hindrance which hampers the person from moving in a forward direction. This is speaking of addictive and cyclical sin, the kind that traps people and encloses them inside. This sin is their master and they are its obedient slaves. It does deceive them but they are open to being deceived, too, i.e. they open themselves wide to self-deception.
Now, before we believe in Jesus Christ we are all enslaved to sin. And this is why Jesus died, to free us from our slavery to sin so that sin will no longer be our master but that Jesus would be our only master and Lord. But many professers of faith in Jesus never were set free from their slavery to sin because they didn’t want to let go of their sin. Now no one is so entrapped that he can’t get out. I want to make that clear. He may not be able to do so in his flesh, but by the Spirit he can be set free and live in freedom, too.
So, there are absolutely no excuses for anyone professing the name of Jesus to remain in deliberate and addictive sin. But many of them do, because they want to, because they find comfort and enjoyment and pleasure in their sin and so they don’t really want to give it up, even if it costs them everything else in this world. Many people like this have lost spouses and children and jobs and houses, etc. because they have chosen their addiction over everything and everyone else. And that is a very sad reality.
So, their relationships with God and with their spouses end up being one-sided relationships where they want from them what they will give to them but where they refuse to change how they live. They want Jesus to do it all for them but for nothing at all to be required of them. They want the Lord to take them just as they are, still living in bondage to sin, never changing, and with no desire to change, either. And they want to be married but to live like they are still single, in other words.
So, they are really in love with themselves, for they live for themselves, to please themselves, and not to please God, and not to love God or their spouses or children. It is all about them and what they want and what they desire regardless of who gets hurt in the process. They are their own god, in other words, and they are really married to themselves, for they are passionate about having their selfish desires met but they are not passionate about self-sacrificial love for God or for others.
And this is a true picture of sinful addiction. And this is where many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are living now because they want to, which is really the bottom line, but also because they are being given permission to do so by those who are teaching a diluted and altered gospel message intended to appease and to cater to human flesh. And going along with any true sinful addiction is also compulsive lying and self-deception (willfully deceiving oneself) and minimizing and denying the sin, too.
And even if they do confess the sin which clings to them so closely, oftentimes the confessions are watered down and sugar-coated to make it not sound so bad. For the way they remain addicted is by not facing the reality of their addiction to sin, not saying they are not aware of the sin, they are, but that they habitually downplay it and call it something else or they convince themselves that it isn’t as bad as it is, or they find ways to excuse away their sinful practices or to blame someone else.
Lay Them Aside
Because of what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross and via his resurrection from the dead, we can die with him to sin and be resurrected with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We can be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin and we can live free from addiction to sin and as slaves to God and to his righteousness. For we can lay aside all sin which so easily entraps us by surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ and by submitting to him as Lord, and by choosing to say “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to God daily.
For living in addiction to sin is like driving around in circles, like on a cul-de-sac or on one of those roundabouts. You just keep repeating the same sins and excuses and lies, etc. over again and again. And the cycle never changes. Now the expressions of the sin may vary, at times, but the cycle is the same, with the same look in the eyes, and the same body language, and the same facial expressions, and the same words said in all the same ways. All is just repeated over and over again, like a broken record.
And so if you are living in addiction to sin, and that sin is surrounding you and clinging to you closely and you do feel trapped with no way out, turn your life over to Jesus Christ and let him deliver you. He will set you free, and he will give you a new life in him, but you have to be willing for him to do that. You have to cooperate with and partner with him in his work of grace in your life. He doesn’t just take a magic wand and move it over you and now you no longer want to sin. The Scriptures teach you must die to sin daily, by the Spirit, in his power and strength, as you obey the Lord.
So, yes, you can’t do it in your own flesh. But you can’t do it in the Spirit, either, if you are not willing to cooperate with the Spirit’s work in your heart and life. For the Scriptures teach that if we walk (in conduct, in practice) by the Spirit, then we will not fulfill the sinful cravings of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-21). Our lives have to be surrendered to God and committed to following Jesus in full obedience to him and to his ways. If we aren’t, we open ourselves wide to give in to sin and to be entrapped in sin.
But we can’t move forward if we are continually moving backwards. If all we do is just drive in circles we will never get out of that roundabout, will we? And the only way we can get out of the cycle of addictive sin is via total surrender to Jesus Christ as master of our lives and us yielding to him and doing what he says and us saying “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to God daily, by the Spirit, in the strength of the Lord. So this is why we have to keep our eyes and our hearts and our minds fixed on Jesus and not on self.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
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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