Chapter 12

Roy Osborne
November 2013


Chapter 11 gives a list of great people who lived by faith, but never received the ultimate promise of God. That promise was a land where the difficulties and sorrows, that they had all known, would not exist.  Unhappily that means that the world we live in is not going to get any better.  But the faith of these great ones made them know that God is the rewarder of those who seek Him, and were assured by that faith that a land of happiness and glory was awaiting them beyond all the trials of their life here.  Their faith is further attested to by the fact that God has preserved their story, and His approval of it, in the revelation He has given us…the Bible.  This is the only definitive knowledge we have of God and His purposes, and He has preserved it for us across the centuries of time.  As we rely on the Book, we can rely on the story it tells, and know that God wants us to know it.

At the beginning of chapter 12, the writer says, “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”, we should follow our faith.   As we have said before, we are not ignorant fanatics who follow blindly our religious beliefs.  The history of the ages testifies again and again that earth’s origin was an intelligent designer.  But here, the author points out that the catalog of heroes, which he has listed in the last chapter, stands as living proof that our God not only lives, but that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  The lives and actions of these great heroes of the faith have been checked out by historians, and where evidence exists, have never been found to have failed to live up to the actions here recorded for them, or the facts of their history.  This cloud of witnesses we have, to undergird our faith, and to make us know that it is not in vain.

Based on this, the writer urges us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”.  This is a very provocative statement and demands some serious investigation.  What does he mean by the sin that, as the King James version says, “so easily besets us”?  I think there are two ways we might understand this enigmatic statement.  First, we are all sinners, and we are assured of this by more than one writer of the New Testament.  This very fact is so discouraging to some that they just give up the fight and decide there is no use trying.  Even Paul said, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  It is just too hard to be a Christian in this tempting world where we live.  That is sin that can so “easily entangle us” that some see no way out.

The answer that Paul found is true faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, our High Priest, whose blood “cleanses us of all unrighteousness” (I John 1:7).  This is a promise to all who “walk in the light”.  To walk in the light is to take Him as your constant companion and maintain a personal relationship with Him, for John says, “as He is in the light”.  In other words, He knows the way, and those who stay close to Him have a trusted leader who not only leads them aright but forgives them when they fail.  Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me”.

The second way of looking at the “sin that so easily entangles us” is similar to this.  The sin that entangles so many is simply a loss of faith.  In a world that thinks only in terms of what is visible and logical to the mind, limited by the box of space and time in which we live, it is easy to not believe in the eternal, the invisible, the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.  We are just too busy with other things.  How many times have I heard people say I would like to come to class but I just don’t have time.  We often get too busy for the Lord.

In a world that runs by the clock, it is very difficult for us to make a priority of the things that are not measured by the demands of our everyday world.  Like our hobbies, God will have to wait until we have time, or when we have allocated some time to Him in our daily grind.  Instead of making Jesus our constant companion, and being disciplined in all of our behavior by a consciousness of His presence, we wait for a time-out when we can spend a bit of time with Him in prayer or Bible study.  He is just one of many things on our schedule in our busy days.

In our ever-present world, the besetting sin for most is not having enough time for the development of our spiritual selves because we have to spend so much time on our physical existence.  This can only be changed when we have faith in Him as our constant companion… have a personal relationship with Him that affects everything we do.  Talk to Him often, as if He was present at your side, because if you have true faith in Him, He is!