What It Means To Lay Aside Every Weight And Sin

We know what it means to lay aside sin, but what does it mean to lay aside “every weight” that so easily slows down our race to the finish?

Sin

Sin is defined as transgressing the law of God (1 John 3:4). It is missing the mark…the mark of perfection that God requires to enter the kingdom of God (Rev 21:27). Thankfully we can receive the righteousness that is required by God from God Himself through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). This means a person who has been brought to repentance and faith in Christ will be a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), and they will no longer be enslaved to sin. This doesn’t mean that they are sinless, but over time, they will find that they sin less! Paul told the Galatians, “you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal 4:7), reminding them (and us) that “when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more” (Gal 4:8-9)? Jesus said that “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34b), however, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). We will be set free from the domination of sin in our lives, but not from the absence of it. We have a new nature, but the old nature still tries to have his way. Paul still battled the flesh, writing, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 8:19), so sanctification is a lifelong process. We have been freed from sin’s penalty (Rom 6:23), but even though we still sin, “sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14).

Obvious Sins

The author of Hebrews told the Jewish believer’s about the heroes and heroines of the faith (Heb 11) in order to encourage them and help them endure their walk with Christ. When chapter 12 begins, the author says, “Therefore,” so what’s the “Therefore,” there for? It looks backward at what was just written, and essentially says, “Because of this,” so in that light, he writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-). We are to lay aside every sin in our life, but again, never being able to be sinless. For some people, it takes longer to overcome certain sins, but for others, they can overcome them quickly. Each of us are so different from one another and so we have unique struggles than greatly differ from what our brothers or sisters might struggle with, but even the “saintiest” of saints are still overcoming sin on a daily basis. Only when we enter the kingdom will we be saved to sin no more. What a joy that will be! Until then, we strive to live by the Spirit and not in the flesh, which in times past, meant sins like “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these,” but then Paul writes, “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21). By practicing these things as a lifestyle, they show that they are not those who will enter the kingdom (1 John 3).

Every Weight

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee (Through the Bible) once said that there are sins and there are weights, but they are not the same thing. He explained that drinking may not be a sin to someone, provided there is no drunkenness, but that can prove to be a weight in a person’s life. He didn’t see it as sin, but as a weight that can slow them down in “the race that is set before” them. Things like sports, shopping, eating, video games, and Facebook time can all slow us down in the race set before us. They take our eyes off of Christ. They can come dangerously close to skirting with idolatry if we’re not careful. I heard one old pastor say, “If it doesn’t glorify God and if it doesn’t promote the kingdom,” then it could be a weight…not a sin, but a weight. If you’re not shamed to do it in front of others (even Christ or children), then it could be a weight and not a sin. Those explanations from Dr. McGee and that old pastor are about the best I have heard for Hebrews 12:1-2. This “weight” can drag a person down in their walk with Christ, and if they’re not careful, it can lead to a powerful addiction that can lead to sin.

Conclusion

If there is a non-essential area but it seems to be an essential to someone else, we must use caution and not cause others to stumble on account of the freedom we have in Christ. What might seem fine for us might be hard for others to accept, particularly new believers. For me to sit down at a Bar-B-Que and have one cold beer would not be sin, but it could be a weight. Drinking puts people at risk for alcoholism, DUI’s, and destroyed relationships, so the weight is just not worth it. I choose not to drink because it’s a weight I don’t need. I don’t want to take that risk. I don’t want anything to hinder my running “the race that is set before” me. How about you? What weight do you need to lay aside?

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    Thank you for this article about vital subjects. You may be interested to know how others have identified “every weight”. The following definitions are from commentaries which are accessible at BibleStudyTools.com:

    Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament: “Here every encumbrance that handicaps like doubt, pride, sloth, anything.”

    John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament: “Let us throw off whatever weighs us down, or damps the vigour of our Soul.”

    Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole BIble (Complete): “Every weight, that is, all inordinate affection and concern for the body, and the present life and world. Inordinate care for the present life, or fondness for it, is a dead weight upon the soul, that pulls it down when it should ascend upwards, and pulls it back when it should press forward; it makes duty and difficulties harder and heavier than they would be.”

    John Gill believed that weights can be things which are inherently sinful and things which are not inherently sinful. Whether something which is not inherently sinful is a weight depends upon our attitude towards it. Money, for example, is not inherently a weight, but the lust for money can make it one.

    I do not think that the Lord was speaking about weights in the following passage, but I do think that it contains a principle which can help one identify weights in one’s life:

    He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
    –Luke 11:23 (parallel to Matthew 12:30)

    • Jack Wellman

      Great comment sir from Mr. Gill in saying, “weights can be things which are inherently sinful and things which are not inherently sinful. Whether something which is not inherently sinful is a weight depends upon our attitude towards it.” Well put indeed.

  • ron zaccagnini

    I believe that the key to knowing what the author means by using that word is:. What is his context? What are/ is the issue that he is dealing with in the whole letter? The meaning of the word is not at all specific enough to draw a solid conclusion. It depends upon the content and context. Reality is, the book was written to a group of Jews, probably in a synagogue or Jewish community, who had heard the truth of Christ. Some believed, some were not sure, and some were still in Judaism. So in that context, what is the “weight” that was causing them to stumble? It was the law, and pressure coming from their contemporaries, to go back to law. Co text is King. A text without a context is a pretext.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Mr. Zaccagnini.

  • Jean Camille

    Wow! How many times have I read this and simply bundled together the weights and the sins? Great distinction.

    Of the weights in Hebrews 12, hostility of sinners is not big for me. I have learned to see these people as ones God brings to me for intercession and prayer.

    A sneakier one is when we defile each other with backbiting and bitterness. Apart from those people deliberately trying to break up churches, sometimes we have misguided expectations of each other that make us less forgiving of shortcomings. With Paul, we need to “make straight paths” for the lame ones, help clear obstacles and difficulties from each other’s way.

    Probably the sneakiest and most deceitful weight is our tendency to take God lightly as Esau did. It is too easy to waste our time on short-sighted interests that are going to be shaken out anyway. This links with false expectations. I have met people destroyed by false expectations, an almost fantasy land image of what Christian life should be. When things go wrong, they reel, get offended and leave. If we allow any resentment at how we are being treated, that will hold us back.

    The chapter gives us tasks that will help us shuck off the weights: Endure the cross, despise any shame of being Christian; resist relentlessly and strive against sin; embrace the trials that make us better people as we deal with them; never say ‘No’ to God but always look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
    Amazing stuff. Thank you, Jack.