This past weekend I watched the McGregor/Mayweather fight. I watched as round after round went by thinking about the endurance each athlete had to have to continue fighting. I thanked God for the endurance He has supplied me with to fight the good fight of FAITH. Because life is so much like the boxing ring and I am thankful that Jesus has won the war for me.
I had posted a great pic a few weeks ago of what I am going to write about in this blog post. You can look at it here: Coming soon…Why the race is about faith and not behavior….#Hebrews11 #Hebrews12 . Let’s get to it.
Hebrews is beautifully written to well…..Hebrews….but there is much for us in the church in present times to look at here. I went through the history of this book in Did You Really Just Say That?!?!. So please go back and read this post if you haven’t yet. Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter and there are a couple of things I want to make clear with this chapter. This faith chapter includes people like Rahab, King David, and Samuel. It also includes what the Jewish people suffered holding on to their faith (trust, belief) in Who God is. Please note King David was during the law but his faith made him righteous and Rahab’s faith made her righteous enough to be in the lineage of Jesus and she was a prostitute. At the “end” of this chapter it states:
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.(Hebrews 11:39-40 NASB)
Apart from us they would not be made perfect…..because something was provided by God that was better for us. This is describing what Jesus had done in their lifetime and ours. As the letter moves into Chapter 12 of Hebrews, we get into some pretty important wording that we all need to carefully look at.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin (noun) 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. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners (adjective-describes a noun) against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB)
- sin (noun)= hamartia 266 = (ha) not and (3313 meros) a part or share of; no share (“no part of”) loss (forfeiture) because not hitting the mark. Every action or decision done apart from faith.
I have written about sin before in the New Testament in the blog Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4). I have questioned: How could Jesus say, “Go and sin no more.” When He said to go and “sin” (verb) no more it was so much more than their behavior, as we might think of it. We need to remember that Jesus is the “mark” we do not want to miss in the New Covenant. Jesus came onto the scene here on earth proclaiming, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And He was truly desiring for people to look at things or see things as God sees them. Jesus also clearly noted that their faith healed them not their behavior. The definition of hamarte (noun) also describes every action/decision done apart from faith; this is a heart condition which then can convert into a mind decision. I make a decision or choice of faith in God in the very beginning (faith as small as a mustard seed). In this faith (trust/belief) I also believe that all my sins (transgressions=hatah, iniquity=avon, and sin=peshah) have fully been cleared by Jesus’ payment on the Cross. When we see the word sin in the New Testament we think behavior instead of looking deeper and actually understanding the Hebrew word Peshah. Peshah means to make a counter covenant and to clearly, of your own free will, choose to identify with the principles of evil. When you see it this way it is in direct opposition to God and all that His Son has done for you. This is fully making a decision or action apart from faith. This word contains the idea that this is their own free will choice, self empowered choice to forfeit or have no part of or share of…..God’s desire to have a relationship with them which Jesus provided a free and clear way through the Cross for the whole world. This is truly “missing the mark”, Jesus. This is what equates to wickedness or sin isn’t the Greek word hamartia.
- encumbrance (noun)= ogkos 3591 = weight, burden, encumbrance–this is the only occurrence of this word in the NT yet this notes both Matthew 23:4: “They tie up heavy burdens (unable to move, pressing down on a person with oppressive force) and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” And Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is [a]easy and My burden is light.” Again both of these scriptures Jesus is talking about the Pharisees and how the Religious mindset lays a heavy burden on people whereas His is light. Does anyone feel light? I do….thank you Jesus. Do you want to feel light? Keep reading…
- entangles (adjective) = euperístatos 2139 = from 2095/eú, “well”; 4012/perí, “all-around”; and 2476/hístēmi, “stand”) – properly, well-planted all-around, describing what is encompassing (encircling), i.e. surrounding, “wholly around”; (figuratively) a serious hindrance that “encircles” (hampers) someone who desperately needs to advance.
- endurance (noun) = hypomonḗ 5281 = (from 5259/hypó, “under” and 3306/ménō, “remain, endure”) – properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges in life.
Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in the contest against sin. Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: “My son, don’t despise the discipline of Adonai or become despondent when he corrects you. For Adonai disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son.” Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father? All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don’t, you’re a mamzer and not a son! Hebrews 12:4-6
I don’t know if this scripture has scared anyone else, but it has me. This verse always makes me envision an angry God up in heaven waiting to dole out some pretty hefty spankings when I don’t line up and follow all the rules. How about you?? Let’s look at the beauty of these words in the Greek to have an accurate picture of Who God is and what the unknown author was really saying.
- resist (verb)= antikathistémi 478 = to set down against, i.e. to replace, oppose; I resist, supersede, replace, oppose.
- contest (verb) = antagonizomai 464 = (1 occurrence in the NT found here) resist, strive against, contend, antagonize. The definition of antagonize according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows: 1) to incur or provoke the hostility of His criticism antagonized his friends. 2) to act in opposition to : counteract
The word counteract bears more looking at. Counteract means to act in opposition to. We have not acted in opposition to sin to the point of shedding blood against sin. Yet, Jesus has. Jesus has resisted, opposed and superseded sin to the point of shedding blood. The word sin here is a noun not a verb. It is describing a person, place or thing. When Jesus is explaining to go and sin no more it is a verb which is an action. We need to be watchful of the use of the words. When I have read scripture in the past I would see the word sin and automatically think verb which means action. Where here it is a noun. The use of the word in the sentence changes what it is defining. As I stated above the word hamartano is described as this in biblehub: Every decision (action) done apart from faith (4102 /pístis) is sin. Every action done apart from FAITH is sin. Yet this word is a noun, person, place or thing. This is how I felt the Lord was describing it to me. The sickness mumps is a noun, it is a thing. Yet that sickness develops actions like swelling of the neck and fever still things yet your actions come out of those things. Like sleep, sweating, drinking liquids. I hope this is making sense. So Jesus sat and opposed or counteracted sin the noun so that we would not have the actions of sin the verb. Here is how I see it in my mind:
FAITH (trust/belief God) VS SIN (counter covenant)
Jesus counteracted sin. Here is a good example: The doctor gave you medicine to counteract the effects of the sickness. So: Jesus made sin ineffective in the lives who by faith walk through the door He opened. That is the pill. We simply keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith. He restrained, neutralized the ill effects of sin (noun) because He is the direct opposite or in opposition to sin. Jesus counteracted sin for all of humanity as we have faith in Who He is and what He did for us. So, the question always comes down to this…why do I sin….are you talking transgression, iniquity or actual sin according to the Hebrew. See, Jesus says He paid for all of that on the Cross. There are iniquities that are weaknesses to fall under temptation….yet what did Jesus do…He said it is finished, So it is finished. The payment has been made for the whole world but those that have access to it simply trust God for what His Son did for the world. The enemy would like us to think that our salvation is dependent on our behavior when it is actually our faith that brings us into covenant with God, not our behavior. What do I do when I have transgressed? If you haven’t already please read: Horizontal and Vertical (Part 4); which will answer that question for you. The realization that my relationship with My Father in Heaven is not based on my behavior but completely by His behavior brought freedom and a light load. It is really that simple.
As I realized how Jesus counteracted sin, He then asked me, “Why do people want to be sin foucused instead of Me focused?”
I believe the answer to this question is: as humans, since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, have tried to attain our own righteousness, holiness and right behavior. The law though has only proven we can not attain this. Yet, still as Christians, we try to somehow attain holiness and righteousness by our own deeds still instead of realizing Jesus counteracted sin, He paid the price and for that I am eternally grateful. We do have a new nature He paid to give us and we do act in that more and more as we focus on Him not our behavior. Don’t put the Cart Before the Horse? So we instead of becoming sin focused (a choice outside of faith) let us remain Jesus focused by believing and trusting that He has begun a good work and will remain faithful to finish it. (Philippians 1:6) Because God promised to write the law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16) and be our God. This is us in the New Covenant. We believe, have faith, this is what God has done in us and realize God is finishing this work within us and believe He has created a new nature within us, that the old nature is dead with Christ and we have risen new with Christ.
In the Kingdom of Heaven trusting (faith) = righteousness, holiness, benefits of sonship/daughtership and so much more
Regard your endurance as discipline. This means your endurance (see definition above) is discipline. Discipline means to reach full maturity. Remember that your seed of faith is given by God and is as small as a mustard seed but when fully grown becomes a large tree. Strong, that can withstand a storm. One of the notes on biblehub states that God uses things that happen in our life to mature us. God’s discipleship is to mature us through life’s experiences. Life happens and we either mature or we stay stagnant. Choosing to mature grows our faith. And just to make sure you understand: if we choose not to mature at that time GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU!!! And there will be plenty of more “LIFE HAPPENS” to mature. We no longer live under the law; so please do not think that God is waiting to punish you as if you had to hold up your part of the bargain; because remember His Son, Jesus, has paid the full price for you.
“For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness.” (Heb) 12:10 CJB
We receive genuine benefit and share in His holiness as we hang on to our faith, let go of the law (heavy burden) and the sin (separate of faith). Faith is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Faith in the One who resisted to the shedding of blood, the One Who bled so we can partake in His righteousness and holiness. This “fight” is the fight to remain trusting and believing in Who God said He is as we walk through this timeline of our life. This is what every person listed in Hebrews 11 did and they endured horrible hardships. This is what every believer had done in the time this letter had been written. They endured terrible deaths. Yet they were not told to make sure they didn’t do x,y,z but were told to not claim a counter covenant and keep the covenant Jesus paid such a dear price for. As we look at the end of chapter 12 the author says: let us have grace through which we worship and are accepted by God. Grace…let us have grace this is how we worship and are acceptable to God. So that means accept Jesus’ free gift of grace, fully redeemed, fully loved, fully holy, fully accepted, fully clean, fully righteous because of what Jesus did…not because of what you did or didn’t do….Just believe, trust; which simply means FAITH. So know you should feel lighter as you have let go of the law and grabbed hold by faith…grace given by Jesus.