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Hebrews 12:4

"In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." Hebrews 12:4 (bold emphasis added)

Thoughts on this?

First response:  The elimination of sin's power does not require the shedding of my blood, rather it was accomplished at Calvary through the shedding of Christ's blood.  When He died on the cross, the power of sin to destoy forever was, itself, destroyed.  Sin can still wreck an individual life, but sin has no power over us for eternity anymore.  So, I shouldn't be resisting to the point of shedding my blood, and I can see this verse as reminding me to be thankful for that.  It's the glory of God's grace that, in resisting sin, I need not shed my blood but rather acknowledge the power of His blood.  However....

Second response: Jesus commanded his followers that if their right eye causes sin, pluck it out.  While we have softened that to believe He was speaking metaphorically, I see Hebrews speaking to our weakness in resisting sin in our own lives.  It's easy to just give up and give in to the sinful nature we still carry, rather than strive to allow the image of God in us to be what drives our actions.  We have a hard time resisting to the point of inconvenience, much less to the shedding of blood.  Really, most Christians, especially Christians like me, at ease in America, aren't falling into what we'd call 'big sins' but rather into 'little sins' like gossip or gluttony, bitterness or self-centeredness.  And we cover them up, excuse them, and in fact spend almost as much time and effort, if not more, excusing our sin than it would take to eliminate.

We are so quick to write it off as our weaknesses or frailty, and in fact, we haven't resisted to the point of shedding on our blood.  We haven't done anything truly difficult in our obedience.  Now, I'm not advocating bloodletting or any other self-abusive behavior to fight sin.  I do not believe that God would have us become self-flagellants, but rather that we are without excuse for the personal disciplines it takes to reduce the sin in our lives.  If you need to get up 30 minutes earlier or eat one less donut or just simply walk away from a gossip, then do it!  It's not like your shedding blood.

Third response:  There is sin in this world, and it stands in opposition to God's people and the work God has called us to do.  Sin is what leads to the persecution of the church, and to the world's attacks on Christians and Christianity. Many of us resist to the point of, well, not much.  In America, we might resist to the point of embarrassment or inconvenience, and a few situations have seen us resist to the point of job loss, but in most of American culture, there's no resisting the world's sinfulness to the point of the shedding of blood.  In many places, resisting the world does result in Christians shedding their blood.  The point here is that I think the audience of Hebrews was beginning to waffle a bit in their faith and commitment because it was troubling them, but they hadn't faced real problems yet.  We're the same way right now.  At some point, the world will demand our blood because of their sin.  Not because our blood will pay for their sin (see point 1.  Jesus' blood paid for it!) but because, like Cain, they are agitated with our worship of God, and convicted of their sinfulness.  What will we do then?  Will we waffle?

Let us prepare our hearts to resist sin, to the point of shedding our blood.  Whether that's by disciplining our own lives or acknowleding that, as we are crucified with Christ, we are already dead for this world.

Doug

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