Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 at 11:20 PM

Rethinking Memory Verses: Hebrews 12:4

Hebrews 12:4
4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
In my familiarity with this verse, I had always seen it as waging war against internal sin. Of course that's not wrong. If a hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And the like. Beat your body, make it your slave.

But as I've been reading Hebrews, I don't think that's the meaning of the verse here at all. Instead, I see it as an encouragement in our struggle against a sin-filled world.

Where do I get that? Well, context.

Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, detailing the Hall of Faith. These people acted in faith and conquered nations, shut the mouths of lions, so on. They were persecuted, sawn in two, and so on. It's really awesome, in the fullest sense of the word.

Hebrews 12 (from which we get the verse) thus begins -
1Therefore, 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, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Note specifically verse 3, which lays the reason for verse 4.
"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."
What are we not to grow weary of? Of our "struggle against sin." But what sin here? The context tells us that it's not really our sin, but the sin that comes from sinners which led to hostility against Christ and eventually the shedding of his blood. It's because Christ had endured such sufferings without losing heart that we are able to do the same. We endure persecution, struggle, even considering such persecution discipline (next few verses), all for the sake of Christ.

God grant strength. I can't endure on my own. Teach me Your ways and grant me Your power. For Your glory I pray. Amen.

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