January 14th, 2022 – Friday Afternoon
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin…” ~Hebrews 12:4
You know, it is an interesting thing this life we live as followers of Jesus in our modern times; perhaps it really isn’t that different than in ages past because humans are humans, but doesn’t it seem that our natural bent is a desire to do “great things” for God? We want to make an impact on our culture, on our nation, or on our world; we desire to use some large platform to point people to God, or we want a calling that is grandiose or at least that affects many people. Or perhaps we are content in whatever small corner the LORD has given us to shine for Him in and we are not longing for a great stage or large audience. Yet, even there, I wonder if we don’t often forget about what is perhaps the most important part of following Him.
Many have taken the grandstand to testify for God or to share a truly amazing story of how He delivered them; many have become wrapped up in the busyness of a life lived in service to Him and His people; and, many are living dejected, downhearted, and defeated lives that often do not reflect His power and authority. What am I driving at?
Take a moment to refresh your mind on the context of this passage and on the verse itself. First we saw the great cloud of witnesses, then we were commanded to throw off encumbrances and sin and to run the race of faith with endurance as we looked at Jesus, our great example. Last time, we dug into considering Him, our Lord and Savior, in order that we might not become weary and discouraged in our souls. In this passage, I believe we begin to see the major reason why we were given these examples and commands: Our struggle against sin is THE preeminent battle that we are called to engage in as followers of Jesus.
Sin separates us from God; it destroys the fellowship and oneness – with God and with other believers – that we were created (in Christ Jesus) to enjoy. Sin entangles us and entraps us; it steals the clear conscience that we are to have before the Lord and it robs us of the joy and peace that we so long to have. Sin makes ugly what God intends to be beautiful – marriages, families, churches, even communities and nations; it twists and distorts what God has given as good. Sin blinds us to reality; it destroys the purity we have been washed (in Jesus’ blood) to exemplify and it tarnishes the mindset of Christ that we are to live by. The list could go on, but the truth is clear: Sin must be eradicated and dealt with in our lives if we are going to be the holy and blameless children of God whom Christ has redeemed.
Back to our verse… Our perfect Example so submitted Himself to His Father in prayer and agony that His sweat became like great drops of blood; then, He perfectly executed His Father’s plan and laid His own life down so that our sin could be atoned for and wiped away. His righteousness now clothes those who come to Him and His Spirit indwells and empowers us to live as reflectors of and vessels for His glory. Since all of that is true for the believer, oughtn’t we to take seriously the struggle against sin? Our verse today pounds those of us who are lazy about sin and the temptations that we face; why aren’t we resisting sin to the point of pain and bloodshed? It really is THAT important!
We have been equipped to win the war against sin in our own lives. We have EVERYTHING that we need at our disposal to live victoriously (2 Peter 1:1-4). So let us stop making excuses, growing weary, getting discouraged, etc., and let us fight off sin with the power, perseverance, and perspective that is fitting for one who belongs to Christ.