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“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4)
We may not admit it out loud, but I think most of us carry around with us a kind of rating scale for sin. We all know the big ones: rape, murder, adultery, etc. But our list of “little” ones are very different: lying to parents, impure thoughts, envy, gossip, arrogance. Meh. Everybody does them. Not a big deal. We’re all forgiven, right?
It’s tough to carry that attitude toward sin (even little ones) too far into Hebrews 12. Today’s verse should grab us by the shirt and shake us up a little. It’s possible the writer is referring to a resistance against “sinful men” or persecution, but it starts a passage about how seriously God takes sin in the lives of Christians.
One thing it tells me is that I should be struggling against my sin. I don’t know how often we do that. The point isn’t that we should be perfectly sinless already. The point is that we should be in the fight. We should expect it to be a fight. We should expect the “want” to sin to fight back every time we stand up and say, “No, I’m going the other way.”
Then this crazy idea: Whether facing persecution or facing down my own sinful desires, the fight is against sin and it can get bloody. Pain and blood always raise the stakes of a fight. Are we just in the fight against our own sin until it gets inconvenient – or even when it gets deeply painful?
Think: What’s the furthest you’ve ever gone in standing up against your own desire to sin?
Pray: Ask God to help you come up with braver and bolder strategies for saying no to sin.
Do: Pick a sin or two you struggle with, and write down a new battle plan for winning your next encounter with that sin.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40)
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)