What are “Besetting Sins”?
Hebrews 12:1 – “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,”
What is a “besetting sin”? A quick study of the words translated “sin”, “easily beset” helps to give us the Biblical meaning of the phrase:
1. “sin” – comes from a Greek word meaning “to miss the mark” in other words it is to fail to reach a goal that has been set for us. It describes an archer who aims at the bullseye but misses it. As Christians, we are called to represent Christ in every area of our lives, we can do this by living lives that imitate Christ, motivated by a desire to bring honor and glory to Christ. This is the life goal of every Christian.
For example: Christ’s lived a perfectly genuine life on earth. His words could be counted on 100 % of the time, He never acted out of deceitful motives, nor did He mislead others in anyway. Therefore, to present Christ to the world we are to live honest, transparent, non-hypocritical lives.
If we live deceitful lives we are not following the example of Christ; we have missed the goal for which we are aiming; and, therefore, we have sinned. Anytime our life does not perfectly represent the absolutely holy life of Christ we are missing the “target” (our life goal) and, therefore, committing sin.
2. “easily beset” – comes from a Greek word that means “to be well-surrounded”, “to be totally encased”, or “to be entangled”. Also implied by this word is the idea of the ease and quickness that the encasing takes place.
Perhaps an invading army surprises an enemy city. Because of the surprise nature of the invasion, they face little or no opposition. As a result, they quickly, efficiently, and entirely surround and lay siege to the city. Inside the city the panicked citizens of the city look to their right; to their left; straight ahead; and straight behind; they look to the north, south, east and west; but all they can see is the enemy army… they quickly realize, they have been overcome and have no human way of escape.
This is just like an easily besetting sin. We think it is out of our lives but they will sneak up on us, work quickly to return and saturate our lives. Easily besetting sins totally encase the Christian giving no room for human escape to be had. It is as if they have become a permanent part of our life, and no matter what method we try to rid it from our lives, it returns and grows worse with time.
Some of the greatest Christians who ever lived have suffered from the besetting sins of life. Paul, himself, perhaps the greatest Christian who ever lived, admitted to facing besetting sins in his life. In Romans 7:15, he made the statement…
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
When Paul recognized a sin in his life, opposed it, and yet failed to overcome it… that was his besetting sin. If you read through the entire chapter of Romans 7, Paul paints a very vivid portrait of besetting sin and how it can affect us.
As Christians with besetting sin in our lives… what are we to do? The Bible helps us to understand some basic principles that will help us to oppose these habitual controlling sins in our lives…
We will look at these 9 principles in part #2 of our study.
Questions, Comments, or Suggestions? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org