Is there a particular sin that seems to keep drawing you in? Or one that seems like you continually battle in your pursuit of godliness? I think all of us have something with which we struggle. The Bible speaks about this type of sin. In Hebrews 12 we are encouraged to run with endurance the race that is set before us. In running this race, we are told to handle these types of sins.
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,
(Hebrews 12:1 ESV)
Notice the phrase, “sin which clings so closely.” That’s the one that seems to keep getting us. The imagery is from the first century in which runners had to free themselves of any clothing that might impede their ability to run. It was the clothing that might cling to their legs in a way that could cause them to stumble or trip. That is what these sins tend to do to us – cause us to stumble or trip. At the very least, they slow us up.
Notice how some other translations render this phrase:
- The sin that so easily entangles (NIV)
- No parasitic sins (The Message)
- The sin which doth so easily beset us (KJV)
- The sin that just won’t let go (CEV)
- The sin that so easily holds us back (NCV)
- The sin that easily ensnares us (HCSB)
We might think of this sin as clinging, entangling, parasitic, besetting, and ensnaring. It holds us back and won’t let go. So what do we do about this? Lay it aside or throw it off. Have you ever noticed that basketball players keep their muscles warm on the bench by wearing full covering warm up uniforms? When they prepare to enter the game, they “snatch” these off so that they can play in shorts and a jersey that free them up.
Treat your clinging sin this way. You aren’t on the sidelines anymore. Rip off this sin and toss it to the bench. Here are a couple of tips for helping with this.
First, know what your entangling sin(s) is. Then be on the look out for it. Tim Keller noted that he takes a mid-day break to examine himself for any besetting sins. If that sin shows up, repent of it. If it seems closer than it should, flee from it.
Finally, instead of having merely an inward focus, look upward. The next verse in the Bible starts, looking to Jesus. He is to be our focus as we run this race. He is the gracious one for sinners who stumble. He is the example of one who has run the race perfectly. He is the one who strengthens us for the race. Look to him.
So, what is your besetting sin? You don’t have to identify it publicly here, but perhaps it would be helpful if you share any success stories