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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hebrews 12:1

"The Sin Which So Easily Entangles"

Message summary: Whatever measure it takes, let us deal forcefully with the sins which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us.

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"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" (Hebrews 12:1).

Do you have an issue in your life that easily entangles you? I think we all probably do! These are the issues specific to each of us. There may be issues that are really not a battle for me that are to you and vice versa.

Over lunch recently a friend told us of her rather creative and a most unusual way of dealing with a persistent temptation in her life. She wants to remain anonymous although I told her we could post her photo, to which we all had a good laugh! We'll keep her anonymous but give her the fictional name "Sue".

Russell Stover candy boxSue shared how she really likes candy, but is very mindful of the difficulty she has with eating just one piece. Can any of you identify with that?  She had been given a box of Russell Stover chocolates and soberly realized she lacked the self control to eat them in moderation and even more so since her husband, who also enjoys chocolates, was out of town. After giving it serious thought Sue devised a way to manage her temptation. She admits in retrospect that she could have re-gifted the chocolates but didn't choose that route.

The presence of those chocolate confections combined with chewy almonds, pralines in caramel, white truffle and other varieties of chocolate concoctions tormented her with temptation so she picked up the box of chocolates and very deliberately threw them in the trash.

Some of you will identify with that strategy, but there's more to this story. Being honest with herself, as Sue acknowledged her weakness, she knew in her heart that the candy being dropped into the trash would still remain a temptation. After all she could just reach in the trash and pull them out.

So she came up with a different sort of solution that would solve the problem once and for all! To eliminate any chance of being tempted to recover the chocolates she walked through her yard, scooped up dog doo doo, and then mixed it in with the trash making sure the chocolates calling her name were no longer desirable! Sue told us that this was very effective! We readily agreed with her assessment.

Now on a scale of sins I suppose overindulging in candy is not as harmful as some vices but her experience is a good lesson for big sins and little sins. We need to get rid of the temptation!

Through the years of writing these messages I have often referred to Hebrews 12:1, our daily text. I first valued this verse in high school when I was a runner and it really connected with me. In fact this was the text for the first sermon I ever preached at a state lung hospital in Mt Vernon Missouri when I was a freshman in Bible College.

I have often commented on the first phrase,
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us" or the last phrase "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us".

But today let us consider the middle part especially the phrase, "the sin that so easily entangles".

It's a challenge for translators since the underlying Greek translated "easily entangles", is the Greek word
"euperistatos" used only in this passage in the entire New Testament . One Greek dictionary describes it as "(a competitor) thwarting (a racer) in every direction". Other versions use words like "the sin which clings so closely" (ESV), "the sin which doth so easily beset us" (KJV) and "the sin that so easily trips us up" (TLB).

There seems to be two primarily different views as to what the writer of Hebrews is referring to in this passage.

One view sees it as a sin common to all believers such as doubt or unbelief, although he doesn't specify this.

The other view is that this is a specific sin that each individual believer deals with that easily entangles or causes gridlock in his or her spiritual growth. For some it might be lust, others anger, lying, etc. I happen to hold this view. There are temptations that I deal with that you don't and vice versa.
I happen to believe the non-specificity is significant because "the sin that so easily entangles" varies in each life.

We are told to "lay aside" this sin. This means to cease doing what one is doing, to throw it off, be done with it or put it away. So let's come up with an effective plan to deal with those attitudes and/or behaviors
that can so easily entangle us in a way that dishonors God and robs us of inner peace. Being accountable to another mature believer is often an effective way to help you overcome with a temptation(s). Whatever measure it takes, let us deal forcefully with the sins which so easily entangle us and run with endurance the race that is set before us.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus' death on our behalf making it possible for us to be forgiven and walk in newness of life. Our sin nature no longer dominates, but our spiritual nature becomes the driving force behind our thoughts, our actions, and our conversation. Because we love righteousness and loathe sinfulness we never want to live the reverse order again. Help us to watch for those attitudes and actions that make us trip and fall. Help us to stand against the enemy and not lapse into doing things the "old familiar" way, when they dishonor You or bring reproach to Your name. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

For those who want to dig deeper into today's passage here is a helpful resource I often use when preparing these messages.

"Come Unto Me/Be Still My Soul/In Christ Alone"  Video  Calvary Church worship team

Finally today:

Pickup camper
In the course of our work we talk to many people and hear many stories such as the one we shared today. Yesterday we came up behind this pickup truck camper and we both laughed as we recalled a story another friend told us. As a young boy he went with his parents and grandma on a long family vacation out west in a pickup with a camper on the back. His Mom and Dad sat in the front seat and he stayed with his grandma in the back of the camper as he sat on a bean bag and she sat in a rocking chair for the entire trip! They also had a small bed to lie down on. He told us the there was a window that opened to the front so they could talk. How many of you remember those days when we did more with less money, but we made it work!

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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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