Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doeth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1
I think many Christians are struggling because they do not know how to identify “the sin which doeth so easily beset us…”
A significant means of identifying that sin, I believe, would be to know our Motivational Spiritual Gift. The natural-to-human-being characteristics of each person’s spiritual gift help define the human nature of each individual. Defining the human nature can spotlight the category of sin. Let me see if I can clarify this.
For the gift of being a Prophet there is the pride of self-confidence, with its accompanying insensitivity to others. For the gift of being an Exhorter there is the desire not to be bound by rules, with its accompanying carelessness. For the gift of being a Teacher there is the quest for intelligence, with its accompanying sense of superiority. For the gift of being a Server there is the placing of value in the ability to accomplish tasks, with its accompanying judgment of others’ inabilities. For the gift of being an Organizer there is the prioritized consideration of the future than of people, with its accompanying regimented rudeness. For the gift of being a Mercy there is the worry about the motives of everyone and everything, with its accompanying selfish suspiciousness. For the gift of being a Giver there is the desire to further causes, with its accompanying distancing from people and being unapproachable.
So, rather than looking for a specific sin, such as drinking or stealing or lying, I’m looking for the sinful motivation behind the manifested sin. For example, am I lying because I’m insensitive (as a Prophet) to the negative effects my behavior will produce? Am I lying (as an Exhorter) because I care less about you than I do about myself, and about how the lie will put me in a favorable
place? Am I lying (as a Teacher) because I think it’s okay, since I know better than you the value of you believing what I’m saying? Am I lying (as a Server) because I believe it’s necessary in order to avoid delays in that which I want to accomplish? Am I lying (as an Organizer) because it will cause people to accept my conclusions, and join me in accomplishing the goals I’ve determined need to be achieved? Am I lying (as a Mercy) because you don’t like me, anyway, so I don’t need to care about being truthful with you? Or, am I lying (as a Giver) because I’ve decided a given cause needs to be championed?
Now, with consideration to my Motivational Spiritual Gift, I can look at the reasoning and the motive behind my lies which gives me something I can analyze and understand in order to resist it. And, knowing that I’m looking at a characteristic flaw, I can guard against it.
All of this validates the critical need to challenge ourselves with a higher standard. So, let’s try to do that with a word study of Hebrews 12:1.
COMPASSED (Greek: perikeimai, per-ik-i-mahee) lie all around, enclose, encircle, compass
CLOUD (Greek: nephos, nef-os) a cloud
WITNESS (Greek: martus, mar-toos) judicial witness, martyr
LAY ASIDE (Greek: apotitehm, ap-ot-eeth-ay-me) to put away, cast off, lay apart
WEIGHT (Greek: mia, mee-ah) one, first, agree, other, thing
SIN (Greek: hamartia, ham-ar-tee-ah) offense, sin
EASILY (not in the original language)
BESET (Greek: euperistatos, yoo-per-is-tat-os) competitor, thwart (a racer) in every direction
RUN (Greek: trecho, trekh-o) to run or walk hastily
PATIENCE (Greek: hupomone, hoop-om-on-ay) cheerful or hopeful endurance, constancy, patience, continuance
RACE (Greek: agon, ag-one) a place of assembly, contest, conflict, contention, fight, race
A paraphrase would look like this.
Because we are encircled as though by a cloud of witnesses who can judicially evaluate us because they are martyrs (Christians who have suffered much and long, dying rather than disobeying and compromising God’s principles), we need to be as determined that we, too, will discipline ourselves and put away or cast off each thing that is offensive and is sin to God. That sin or offense thwarts us, as our sin nature competes with the Spirit of God within us. We need to put forth the effort, discipline ourselves and run away from those natural-to-human-being sins if we are to experience the cheer that comes from constancy, and ultimately fellowship with those who also put their sin nature to death.
Can we see, first of all, that we will be unable to identify the attitudes behind those things that are offensive and would be classified by God as sin if we are not reading His Word?