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
A question came up recently using the above verse to put forth a very familiar premise. It claimed:
The keyword here is US. You see, sin in your life will not only hinder your fellowship with God, it will dull your spirit and cause you to be less responsive to the Holy Spirit's leading. Sin left unchecked will cause you to live only in the natural realm, and you'll miss God's plan for your life.
Now, there is something very important to notice about Hebrews 12 - it comes AFTER 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 AND 11. Now, you may consider this a minor technicality, but are you aware of the sin discussion that was going on especially in chapters 8-11? The whole letter to the Hebrews is a contrast between the Law and Christ, the Old and the New. The Law is described as being glorious, but Christ as being INFINITELY better (that's a lot more than really better). Chapters 8-11 are dealing with why the old covenant NEEDED to be replaced with a new covenant from the standpoint of the effectiveness of the sacrifices. The law had no effect in removing sin,
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins Hebrews 10:4
Somehow we think we understand this simply because we don't sacrifice animals on altars anymore, but then WHY do we still have ALTARS in our churches if they're not needed anymore? Did you realize that the altar of the new covenant was the CROSS? What is it that was sacrificed on THIS altar? The perfect sacrifice of the perfect lamb.
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL. And every priest stands DAILY ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can NEVER take away sins; but He, having offered ONE sacrifice for sins FOR ALL TIME, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward 'until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.' For by ONE offering He has perfected for ALL TIME those who are sanctified Hebrews 10:10-14
We may say, Yes, yes, I KNOW all this, but it is obvious that we don't. Because if we did, then we would know what was meant by "the sin that so easily entangles us". Why is this so difficult to understand? Because sin SO EASILY ENTANGLES US, that's why! Listen, if Christ has removed sin from us, and us from our sin, then there really is NO REMEMBRANCE OF SIN. And this is the whole point of the writer having TWICE quoted the passage from Jeremiah 32 about the coming of the new covenant:
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: 'I will put My laws UPON THEIR HEART, and UPON THEIR MIND will I write them,' He then says, 'And their SINS and their LAWLESS DEEDS I will remember NO MORE.' Hebrews 10:16-17
That was the quoting of Jeremiah 32:33-34. The writer then adds,
Now where there is FORGIVENESS these things, there is NO LONGER ANY OFFERING FOR SIN. Hebrews 10:19
The connection? Simple. Even though the reality of the once and for all forgiveness sins is 100% taken care in Christ, WE, just like they, keep falling for the lie that somehow it is STILL left up to US to deal with those same sins that Jesus has already removed through HIS sacrifice!! In other words, we're still trying to make sacrifices and offerings for our sins - which is why our churches keep building altars. What I'm saying is that we are being lied to by law-mongers to ignore this complete removal of sins, and in doing so, we become entangled by sin even though it has been taken away. And in our desperation we makes empty vows and promises, and we do the unthinkable of rejecting the sacrifice of Christ by begging God over and over to do what He has already done! Hebrews 11 presents the great cloud witnesses. Of what did they witness? FAITH. Don't miss the impact, for even though these witnesses lived before the coming of the perfect sacrifice, most of them lived under the law. The point?
The law is not of faith. Galatians 3:12
And they all knew that. So, exactly what did faith in these witnesses witness? That there truly was a miraculous life OUTSIDE the realm of law and sin!!
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
We get so easily entangled with sin because we keep running to the thing that stimulates sin: LAW! You see, there is a problem in taking on the responsibility of dealing with our sins, and that is that we SUCCEED ... and end up DEALING WITH OUR SINS!! Why do we keep dealing with that which Christ has already dealt?