Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I love the book of Hebrews. I call it my “Christian Prep Rally” because if you are ever feeling down, just read through Hebrews and by the time you get to the end of it, you just have to be lifted up.
Anyone who has read the Bible, especially the New Testament, comes to realize very quickly that Jesus shows us what sin is, on a whole new level. The reason that it is a whole new level is that Jesus shows us that it is not only what we do, say or act out, it is also what we think and may not have the opportunity to act out. Jesus gives us a number of examples but there is one that always stands out in my mind that is recorded in Matthew 5:27-28 NASB
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The reason that one sticks in my mind is because I am infrequently reminded of it . I could elaborate on that (but I won’t) and I can’t speak for women but most men will know what I am talking about. It’s not that I deliberately go looking for opportunities to let my mind wander but one can be quite innocently driving along a street or walking on a sidewalk and it happens. I have learned not to look twice. In the vast majority of cases that works. You’ll note that “vast majority” does not mean absolutely always.
And the thing is, that’s just one area. The scary part is that there are lots of areas. Pride is another big one and it can take many different forms. My own self will is another. I’ve heard it said that you may think it is relatively easy to be good or not sin, until you actually try to be good or not sin. That involves what you do, say and think, as compared with God’s will on a given subject.
Jesus takes being “good” or not sinning to a whole new level. He basically opens our eyes, minds and hearts to show us how different we are from the intent and will of God our Father. The difference is significant, or for lack of better words, it’s much much more than we normally think it is. God is holy. That’s not a characteristic. God is always holy, He never varies. And God’s holiness is a beautiful thing to behold and keep in mind that it includes God’s love for us.
Which brings me to Hebrews 12:1 as noted above. The writer of Hebrews, according to the NASB translation, specifically uses the words “easily entangles”. I checked other translations and you will find that the words “easily entangles” is sometimes translated as “closely ensnares” or “easily besets”, so the overall connotation is a human characteristic or trait that is common to all of us. We have a fallen nature, we are in the process of being transformed, while at the same time, God sees us as being totally righteous, because of our faith and trust in His righteous Son.
Of course the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were thinking of returning to their original faith. Point by point, the writer of Hebrews goes through a whole series of arguments showing how Judaism was a foreshadowing of Christ, where every promise in the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus.
The point I’m making is that Christians still sin. Not habitually, hopefully not intentionally, but it does happen, and whether we realize it or not, it happens pretty well every day. Some sins are intentional and some are non-intentional. There are other scriptures that validate this reality such as 1 John 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
Notice who is the “righteous”.
I know, none of this comes as a surprise to any mature Christian. But when I say that Christians still sin, the real point I am making is that we sin a lot more than we think we sin. I’ve also heard it said that the closer one gets to God, the more one begins to realize how different we are from God. That’s where God, who is holy, is being compared to us, who are normally, not always so holy.
New Christians have a tendency to make a lot of mistakes, just like a young child that is learning to walk will fall quite often. Those mistakes will dissipate over time but they never completely go away. I don’t care who you are. I remember a woman who told Billy Graham that she didn’t sin. His response to her was “Lady, you just did.”
I’m not providing an excuse for ourselves when we blow it. What I do want to emphasis is that when we blow it, and we will, we don’t lose our “righteousness” in the sight of God because we have blown it. Jesus is our righteousness. That is why Jesus and only Jesus perfectly followed the will of God. He did what we could not and cannot do, perfectly.
Confess your sin, ask for forgiveness and God will indeed forgive you. Please note that this is not a license to be able to habitually sin.
Don’t allow our accuser (Satan) to tell you that because you made a mistake or have not performed up to the required standard, that you are now a frowned upon or “lesser” child of God. The truth of the matter is that some days Jesus just covers us more than others, but it is His righteousness that covers us, every day, always.
Would God ask us to do something that He Himself would not do? Think about that.
Remember when Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who sinned against him? What did Jesus say?
Matthew 18:21-22 NASB
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.“
Seventy times seven is 490 times. How many times do you think it would take you to update your record of the number of times you had forgiven your brother before you got the message Jesus was giving? And if Jesus asks us to do this with our brother or sister, what do you think God does?
1 John 1:8-9 NASB
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Unrighteousness, that’s us, righteousness, that’s Jesus.
We all fall, we all slip, we all sin. No, it is not an enjoyable experience but it’s not supposed to be. Our hearts and minds are in the process of being changed. Confess your sin, ask for forgiveness, take God at His word, get back up, dust yourself off and rejoice in the fact that you have been forgiven and are loved now, just as much as you were before you fell.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!