We all know about besetments. We think we have them under control, but turn around, and they are right there again. Like stick-tights on our clothes, they don’t want to let go.
The thought about besetting sins comes to us directly from Hebrews 12:1. Let us repeat it together:
Hebrews 12:1 (KJV) 1Wherefore 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,
There are several key words here, but the one we are looking at most is “the sin which doth so easily beset us.” So easily… so easily.
Other translations are also good:
(NEB) …we must throw off every encumbrance, every sin to which we cling,
(NJB) … we must throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely,
(NLT) …let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
(NIV) …let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
It clings so closely. It trips us up. It entangles… so easily. Without even a thought.
Relax, and the besetting sin is right there to take over.
I would like to suggest another type of sin we need to avoid, closely related to the besetting sin. It is the UPsetting sin.
You’ve seen the parcel delivered at your door that was marked with large, bold letters: “FRAGILE – Handle with Care.” Why was it marked this way? Because the contents might easily be damaged with rough handling. So easily. And if you saw how it was handled, you may have wondered if the contents wasn’t already damaged.
A clear label is no guarantee of good handling.
If the product is very fragile, often the manufacturer or distributor has the product packaged in specially designed materials to protect it. Certain products by their very nature “need” more care.
Now let me ask: Do you ever think you are a “special” product that needs careful handling? Do you think you might benefit sometimes by wearing a label that said, “Handle with care”? —because you are “so easily” offended, or crossed, or upset?
Of course that isn’t something we want to admit, because the inference is negative. That suggests that one must be “careful” around me, because if they aren’t, I’ll be peeved, or blue, or out of sorts for days. Not a good character quality!
“Handle with care” is a handicap to Christian living. It is accommodating what the Bible calls “the old man,” or “the flesh,” or the “carnal mind.” Paul said:
Romans 13:14 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
“Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” A label that says “Handle with care” is providing for our fleshly, lower nature, to fulfill its desires. J. B. Philips words it, “give no chance for the flesh to have its fling.” The Moffatt Bible says, “Never think how to gratify the cravings of the flesh.” Plain enough.
Paul also calls it the “old man” that has to be “put off,” like old dirty clothes.
Ephesians 4:22 22that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
“Put off” your former conduct, he says, “the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.”
Who hasn’t felt it… that twinge of self-pity, that desire to have others give more consideration to MY feelings, or MY image, or MY time? It is a desire we have to continually remove, “put off.”
Human nature being what it is, some things BEset us and other things UPset us—until we learn to hold tight on those inside reins and prevent the upset.
There is a story of little Mary who heard the preacher tell about “besetting” sins and was quite impressed . However, being somewhat confused, she thought he referred to these vices as “UPsetting” sins.
A few days later she was visiting her aunt, whose husband was very wayward. “Aunt Lucy,” said Mary, “I’ve been praying for Uncle Joe. I’ve asked Jesus to help him get over his ‘upsetting’ sins.”
“You mean ‘BEsetting sins,’ don’t you, Dear?” her aunt replied.
“No,” said her young niece, “I mean ‘UPsetting.’ They’re upsetting him, and you, and everyone else!”
We understand, we’ve seen it happen, whether we were the UPsetter or the one UPset!
All of us when we start on the road to life find we are prone to certain sins, BEsetting and Upsetting. They are part of our very being, and we may be tempted by them as long as we live. With many of us it is anger, or its milder form, impatience. Or revenge or a spirit to retaliate. We want OUR way, and can easily justify it. Most of us find we have to deal with pride, deceit, selfishness, envy, an overly sensitive nature, and any number of other inside disturbers. Whatever we find we must struggle against, these besetments are born in us, and many go with us our whole life through.
Whatever they are, they belongs to our old nature and we must lay them aside if we want a place in that eternal Kingdom that is coming. Again and again we must subdue them, even crucify them until we can say with the apostle Paul,
Galatians 2:20 (KJV) 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…”
Romans 6:6 (KJV) 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
This is the only way out of the sin which does so easily BEsets or UPsets us. Confession alone won’t take it away . We must actually STOP doing the wrong, and replace it with good. Paul has the formula again:
Ephesians 4:28 28Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
This means stop allowing ourselves the liberty to think or feel the wrong, and compel ourselves to do what is unnatural and uneasy.
Right now is the time to tackle our “upsetting” sins, along with the sins that “so easily beset us,” and RUN with patience the race that is set before us. Yes, RUN! Run for the Eternal PRIZE. Run to WIN. It is now or never.