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Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
A besetting sin is a sin by which one is easily captured. It seems to have the ability to surround us at will. It is a sin to which we are vulnerable, and it tends to hang on.
Lay Them Down
Every Christian has an area of temptation, a besetting sin, a weakness, an appetite, or a leaning toward something that is wrong and it's an ongoing problem. The Lord's position is that we are to lay down our besetting sins. No excuses, no justification, and no rationalization; we are to take every action, make every change, and do what we need to do to lay them down!
The Scripture gives encouragement by telling us we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses meaning those believers who have gone before us, who also had besetting sins and laid them down. In a figure, they are cheering us on.
Run With Patience
We are also told to run with patience the race set before us. This race is not a dash, it is a marathon that begins on Earth and ends in Heaven. We cannot carry our sins and hope to finish. To finish this race we are told to lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us. If we refuse the grace of God, and continue to carry the very things we are told to lay aside, then we cannot finish this race.
Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus; we learn from Him how to endure when life is tough. Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Running a long race is difficult, but if we will fix our eyes on Jesus (have the same attitude as Jesus) then we will win. A question we all must answer - Is this race important enough to me that I am willing to run this race in such a way that I can finish?
Sin is Defeated
God expects His people to lay down their sins for the Cross removes the power of sin over us. Jesus, through His bodily death, defeated the power of sin, and He then gives His victory over sin to all who by faith come to Him. Since sin is fully defeated, He tells His people to stop allowing sin to rule over them. He gives His people no good reason to continue in their sins.
He gives clarity about the person who continues in their sins. He says that if we say we know Him but continue to live in sin then we lie because we do not know Him. The Scripture states that Jesus was manifested to take away our sins and in Him (Jesus) is no sin and that "Whosoever abides in Him does not sin and whosoever lives in sin has not seen Him", 1John 3:5-6.
God is Serious
God is very serious about delivering His people from their sins; the victory He gives was purchased by blood. He delivers from the penalty, and the power, of sin. Since we have been delivered from the power of sin, He then then tells us to not allow sin to rule over our physical body or our behavior. Our victory over sin is so complete that He says the person who lives in the habitual practice of sin is of the devil. He says the devil has been sinning from the beginning, and He (Jesus) came to destroy the works of the devil, i.e. destroy the practice of sin.
We Do Not Have to Live in Sin
Jesus, by His bodily death, destroyed the power of sin. No person can say that sin is too powerful for them for God Himself defeated the power of sin for them. If a person really cannot stop sinning, then, according to Scripture, that person does not know the Lord. They may be religious, they may be sincere, and they may be outwardly good, but a person who cannot quit sinning is not born of the Holy Spirit. The Scripture says that sin will not have dominion over the born-again Christian.
It is true that born-again Christians can get caught up in a sin and they may think they cannot stop committing a certain sin. But that is not true. If a born-again Christian cannot stop sinning it is because they enjoy that sin. They have come into agreement with it, and even though they know better they are not willing to take the steps necessary to stop serving that sin. We can do only what we choose to do.
Newness of Life
Every Christian, is joined to the resurrected Christ who enables them to stop sinning. It is the indwelling Spirit that enables one to master their body and control their behavior. This is why we are told to live in newness of life and everywhere in Scripture we are told to lay our sins down, to stop sinning, do not yield to sin, mortify your members, put off the old and put on the new, have no fellowship with darkness, mortify the deeds of the body, walk in the Spirit, flee fornication, flee youthful lusts, perfect holiness in the fear of God, if your eye offends you pluck it out, etc..
The Scripture is clear on the point that Christians are to control their physical and emotional appetites, for it says, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God", 1Cor. 6:9-10.
And again, Ephesians 5:1-7 1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
As the people of God we are to live by the power of God. We listen to the Holy Spirit and lay aside our besetting sins, and, in obedience to His Word, we perfect holiness in the fear of God, 2Cor. 7:1. This is the only safe and sane way to live.