Take your Bible and turn to Hebrews
As you know, this is a great and monumental Scripture;
there is much here to be considered. However, I want to
focus only on one phrase, just one phrase of great import--and
that phrase is found in verse one. It says, "The
sin which so easily entangles us."
I want to see if we can't this evening talk about dealing
with entangling sin. It is the nature of man, even the
nature of a believer, to be easily entangled in sin. It
happens so easily, and frankly there are certain sins which more
easily entangle each of us than other ones.
Each of us, in our own lives, have certain propensities for
specific kinds of sins.
It can be because we have in the past life
cultivated habits of sin which now plague us even after our
It could be because in our spiritual weakness even
after becoming Christians we continued to develop habits of
certain types of sin; certain specific sins that now we find more
easily than others do entangle us.
It is true of every Christian that we have certain sins
that easily capture us, but it is also true in general that sin
easily entangles us.
And maybe it will help us to understand why that is true if
we consider three very simple points about sin.
Sin has great power over our flesh.
The reason it so easily entangles us is because of its
power, its strength, its force.
strong influence on our will, it exerts strong influence on our
emotions, it exerts strong influence on our affections.
5:17 says, "The
flesh sets its desire against the Spirit. They are in
opposition to one another so that you may not do the things you
The beach head that sin has with its power is our flesh,
and sin exerts tremendous power, tremendous strength against our
flesh. It is a very powerful force and it finds in our flesh
a very willing ally, a very receptive environment.
Sin easily entangles us because it is so close.
Everywhere we look, there is sin. On television, on the
Internet, at the grocery store, in books, and magazines…possibly
within our own house.
It’s not wonder that sin so easily entangles us…it’s
Sin does not remain separate but it mingles in all our
motives and all our actions.
Sin is powerful. Sin is near, in that it is in us.
And it isn't categorically separated. We can't draw a line
and say "Well, this is where my righteousness ends and this
is where my sinfulness begins."
It has a way of weaving itself into the fabric of all our
duties, and all our motives, and all our thoughts, and all our
It entangles itself with our purposes, and our plans; in
fact, even our best deed. Even our best deed is not unmixed
with sin. It is tangled up in our lives.
7, Paul cries out, "Oh,
wretched man that I am!" Why? Because no
matter how I try, I cannot disentangle myself from sin.
So sin is
powerful, and sin is near and sin does not separate itself but is
mingled into everything. It is interwoven with everything in
our lives. The best that we do is somehow corrupted in some
way--large or small by a taint of self-will, or self-pleasure, or
self-righteousness, or self-gain, or whatever.
And so we become
easily entangled, and as I said, there are certain sins that more
easily entangle us, each of us, than others do. But if we
are going to be the kind of Christians God would want us to be
this verse says, "Let us lay aside the sin which so easily entangles us." Put
it aside; put it away!!
Now the question comes, "How do we do that?" It is
not the first time we have been commanded to do that:
Corinthians 7:1 says, "Let us
cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh."
4:22 says, "Laying
aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance
with the lusts of deceit."
6:12 says, "Don't
let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its
Peter 2:1 says, "Lay
aside all evil." Verse
from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul."
So we are very
often told to set this aside. The question comes, "How
do we do that?" From a practical standpoint we know,
yes, it is the work of the Spirit and if we walk in the Spirit we
will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We give all the
credit for this to the divine Holy Spirit and yet there is a
responsibility that is ours as we yield to the Spirit. How
can I lay this aside?
Let us consider
some principles that will assist us in laying aside sin
DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE SERIOUSNESS OF OUR SIN.
- I think the major reason we don't deal with sin
strongly and firmly is because we underestimate its
seriousness--to God, to us, to those with whom we fellowship,
to the church, to the unbelievers.
- Our sin steals joy; our sin ruins fellowship with God;
our sin diminishes fruitfulness; our sin robs us of peace; our
sin renders our service useless; our sin mitigates against our
effectiveness in evangelism; our sin hinders our prayers; our
sin brings the discipline of God.
38:3 – “There
is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is
no health in my bones because of my sin”;
“I am full of anxiety because of my sin”
6:23 – “For
the wages of sin is death…”
- We need to understand the seriousness of our sin.
It violates first and foremost our relationship with the Lord.
5:4 – “For You
are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells
another principle that is necessarily understood if you are to lay
STRONGLY PURPOSE AND PROMISE GOD NOT TO SIN.
- Take a solemn vow and say, "God, I do not want to
sin. I don't want to break Your law, I don't want to
grieve Your Spirit, I don't want to dishonor the Name of Your
Son which I bear."
- The Psalmist did that in Psalm
119:106, "I have
sworn, and I will confirm it, that I will keep Thy righteous
Unless we have that kind of resolution in our life, we will
find it more easy to be entangled by sin. In fact, I believe
that it is that kind of heart purpose, it is that kind of bold
affirmation that is at the root of all holy living, and until we
make that kind of conscious commitment to the Lord, we are going
to battle the same things over and over and be defeated.
"I shall run the
way of Thy commandments, for Thou will enlarge my heart."
It is a very beautiful picture, "I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou will enlarge my heart."
What it means is, I am going to run in the way of obedience
because I have a heart to do that.
It starts in the heart. It is like a runner. A
great runner, a long-distance runner, an endurance runner, a
marathoner, very often has an enlarged heart muscle because of the
tremendous development of his running ability and the
strengthening of his heart to keep pumping all that is needed to
that body as it pushes itself beyond normal limits.
A great runner can run the way he runs because his heart is
enlarged, and the Psalmist is saying, "I will run in the way
of Your commandments because You have enlarged my heart. You
have given me a heart for obedience." That's the kind
of purpose that is absolutely essential.
There is a third
component in this kind of commitment to lay aside sin, and it is
BE SUSPICIOUS OF OUR OWN SPIRITUALITY.
- Paul said it this way, "Let the one who stands take heed lest he fall."
31:1, Job says, "I
made a covenant with my eyes; how then can I gaze on a virgin?" He said, I have got to be careful where I look
because I don't trust myself. I got to start with what I
see because I don't trust myself.
4:23 says, "Watch
over your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the
issues of life."
- There is a certain watchfulness; we have to be
watching for sin's subtle movements within our own
spirituality. The seducing motions of our own heart can
sometimes rise out of the moments of our most supposed
spirituality. Be suspicious of our own
spirituality--don't trust it. Understand that except for
the grace of God we would fall into any and every sin--and we
can be deceived so easily.
RESIST THE FIRST RISINGS OF THE FLESH AND ITS PLEASURES.
- Don't try to stop the process near the end; stop it
near the beginning.
- James notes for us a certain process in James
1:12-15: people are tempted when they are carried away
and enticed by their own lusts, "Then
when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin."
- We want to stop it at the point of conception--not try
to stop it at the point of birth.
We want to stop sin at conception, not after it has been
conceived and run through a certain period of pregnancy (if you
will) and now is about to give birth to the sin.
We don't try to stop it at that point. We resist and
oppose the first risings of the flesh and it's pleasures.
Sin comes to us promising pleasure. We remember at the very
outset: my goal is not to please myself, but to please the Lord.
MEDITATE ON THE WORD.
- There is a wonderful verse in Psalm
37:27-31; it is a bit more obscure than some, but it
really is very, very important. Listen to what vs.
31 says, "The
law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip."
- When a heart is controlled by the Word, the steps
don't slip. Another more familiar text dealing with this
can a young man keep his way pure?"
How can you lay aside sin? How can you win this
keeping it according to Thy word." By guarding it
- It is the constant input of the Word of God that
begins to fill up the mind and control the thinking, and that
alone becomes the strength and resource in us that can resist
the initial impulses of the flesh.
"How can a young
man keep his way pure?"
By keeping his heart completely committed and guarded by
the Word of God.
Then in verse
10, "With all
my heart I have sought Thee; do not let me wander from Thy
commandments. Thy word I have treasured (or hid, or kept) in
my heart that I may not sin against Thee." It is
the Scripture that must be meditated on.
- Meditate on the Word of God.
You are always studying the Word, studying the Word,
learning the Word, meditating on the Word as you get the Word--so
filling you up so that it, "Dwells
in you richly," (Colossians
You will find that it controls you. And as you start
into some kind of attitude of sin or some kind of act of sin, the
Word of God will act as a restraint.
When you feel the impulse of the truth you know, meditate
on that, not on the enticing of the flesh and its pleasures.
[So watch for
sin's subtleties and don't trust your own spirituality.
Resist and oppose the first risings of the flesh and its desires
to please itself, and meditate on the Word--the engrafted Word,
which is able to save your souls]
BE IMMEDIATELY REPENTANT OVER YOUR LAPSES.
- It says in Matthew
26:75, that Peter, having obviously been aware of his
sin at the crowing of the cock, "Went
out and wept bitterly." There is something very
admiral in that.
We ridicule, and rightly so, Peter for his defection, but
we must also honor and respect him for his immediate response--his
- Be immediately repentant over your lapses and go back
to the place of confession. Repentance isn't only
saying, "I'm sorry Lord, forgive me." It is
saying, "I'm sorry Lord, forgive me, and I don't want to
ever do that again." That's the stuff of real
repentance. If that third element isn't there then
you're not fooling God about the genuineness or lack of
- When you confess your sins and when you say, "I'm
sorry I did that, please forgive me--I don't ever want to do
it again," name it--name it specifically.
Let your own heart and even your own ears hear the naming
of that sin, so that you develop in your heart a high degree of
accountability with God for having named the very sin for which He
is holding you accountable not to commit again. That's how
you develop accountability.
- True repentance will name the sin; specifically name
the sin. Be immediately repentant over your lapses.
CONTINUALLY PRAY FOR DIVINE HELP.
6:18, after all the armor is put on and the battle
against Satan and demons, after all of the warfare has been
set and the battle is engaged against Satan and all of his
forces, he says, "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication."
Jesus said to His disciples, "Watch and pray for you know not when you are going to enter into the
hour of temptation."
to prayer," (Colossians
alert in it."
- Don't fight the enemy on your own. When you
engage the enemy--pray, plead with help.
- But even in a preliminary sense, I really think
anticipatory prayer is the most effective.
We need to start our day, "Lord, this is the way you
taught us to pray, 'Lead us not into. . . .'" What?
"'temptation and deliver us from evil.' Lord, please,
today lead me away from temptation--please, today Lord, deliver me
from evil." We need to set the course of our prayers
before the tempter arrives, before the flesh begins to rise and
ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER BELIEVERS THAT HOLD YOU
- "Bear you
one another's burdens," says Paul in Galatians
6, "and so
fulfill the law of Christ."
We are all in the same boat folks. We all struggle
the same way and we need each other.
"If a man is
caught in a "paraptoma" (a fall; a sin; a trespass), you
who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.
Each one look into yourself, lest you to be tempted. Bear
one another's burdens." We are all in this
It might be
you going down this time; it might be me going down next time, but
between the two of us, we are going to hold ourselves accountable
for holy living.
You want people around you who lift you up, not people
around you who pull you down. You want people around,
associated with you as friends and close coworkers, who will see
your failures just like you will see theirs, love you in the
process and lift you up and demand of you the highest standards.
How are we going
to come to the place where we lay aside the sin that so easily
entangles us, and especially those besetting sins which we tend to
fall into over and over again?
UNDERESTIMATE THE SERIOUSNESS OF OUR SIN.
PURPOSE AND PROMISE GOD NOT TO SIN
- BE SUSPICIOUS
OF OUR OWN SPIRITUALITY.
- RESIST THE
FIRST RISINGS OF THE FLESH AND ITS PLEASURES
- MEDITATE ON THE
- BE IMMEDIATELY
REPENTANT OVER YOUR LAPSES
PRAY FOR DIVINE HELP
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER BELIEVERS THAT HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE
I would say that
there is no better place to start this kind of life pattern than
right here tonight. Tonight we can start afresh in the new
course that's going to bring us back here next time with a lighter
load and a shorter list.
Maybe the sum of it all is found here in Hebrews
12:2, in those wonderful and magnificent words, verse 2,
"Fixing our eyes on
Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." He is
one who in His striving against sin never fell. "He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet He was without sin."
He never fell, He never succumbed; so, if you are going to look at
somebody as a model--look at Him. He was striving with sin
even to death and never fell. He's our model; He's our
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ