Running the Race, Part 2

By Gil Rugh

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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Last week we looked at the first part of Hebrews 12:1 and finished with a quick discussion on the “sin which so easily entangles us.” I want to further consider this idea of the “sin which so easily entangles us.” Some take this to be not any particular sin, but whatever sin might tempt us at the moment. Some take it as a besetting sin – all of us, even as believers, have areas of our lives where certain things are more attractive and appealing to us than other sins. I can never understand why one person will commit that sin, but for my sin there is understanding.

I don’t think this passage is talking about either of these types of sin. I think the sin which so easily entangles us, and this is foundational for us as believers, is the sin of unbelief. Isn’t that what we are talking about in this passage and broadly in Hebrews? Trusting God. Even as believers, situations come into our lives that set us back. How often we face a situation and we say, “I don’t know what the Lord is doing here, and I don’t see what good can come of this, I don’t think I can make it through this.” What are we saying? “I don’t think I can trust God to carry me through this. I know His grace has been sufficient, but I don’t know whether His grace will be sufficient in this situation.”

There are multiple references in Hebrews regarding the danger of a lack of faith. We see a couple examples in Hebrew 4 and Hebrews 6:

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard (Hebrews 4:2).

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12).

In Hebrews 10 we see an exhortation to faithful living:

But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul (Hebrews 10:38-39).

When trials come into my life, and it seems like my life is beginning to unravel, can I trust God? I don’t know what you are going through and you don’t know what I am going through, but we have to believe that God knows. He is not up in heaven trying to come up with Plan B for us because of the trials that have come into our lives. For those of us who are believers, we need to remind ourselves that God is our loving Father, He cares for us, and He is sovereignly working to accomplish His purposes in the world and in each of our lives.