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Flee From Clinging Sin

December 4, 2014 | by: Eric Pelletier | 0 Comments

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Reflections |

Brothers & Sisters,

One of my sons and I were recently reading a book together that made a powerful and honestly terrifying point about the danger of clinging to sin in even a small way. It is a true story from nature that forebodingly shadows how the path of all sin is the road to sure destruction. I repeat it here for the benefit of your soul.

“Picture this: A fly lights on a leaf to taste the sweetness that grows there. Instantly three crimson-tipped, fingerlike hairs bend over and touch the fly’s wings, holding it firm in a sticky grasp. The fly struggles mightily to get free, but the more it struggles, the more hopelessly it is coated with adhesive. Soon the fly relaxes, but to its mind “things could be worse”, because it extends its tongue and feasts on the sweetness while it is held even more firmly by still more sticky tentacles – just like what happens when we swill our besetting sins. When the captive fly is entirely at the plant’s mercy, the edges of the leaf fold inward, forming a closed fist. Two hours later the fly is an empty, sucked carcass, and the hungry fist unfold its delectable mouth for another easy entanglement.” (Hughes, R. Kent and Hughes, W. Carey Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Young Man, page 119.)

Hebrews 12:1 reads “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.” Here the writer to the Hebrews instructs the athlete to discard all the weight that will slow him down. Specifically, he warns the athlete to get rid of his sin which is an impediment to him because its clinging will obstruct and ensnare him, keeping him from gaining the endurance he needs to finish the race. Note that the writer does not indicate that he should just lay aside most of the sin but it seems all that is clinging to him.

Using another insect analogy from nature, consider the spider web. If you have ever run or walked through a spider web, you don’t try to just get some of the web off of you but all of it. Even the sense of a small bit of it still clinging to you makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. This is how God calls us to be about our sin. We are to set aside every weight of it and flee it with God’s help. Older translations of this passage often refer to these sins as besetting sins, i.e. those sins that you or I might especially struggle with fighting and resisting. These are the sins that are especially dangerous for us because they can cling so tightly to us that we need to especially fight to be rid of them. And yes, I used “especially” three times in a row on purpose, as this is the point. Clinging sins are those that we need to pay particular attention to fighting relying on God’s Word, his grace, the gift of his church and the work of his Holy Spirit to resist them, not merely to endure (or even to enjoy) them.

Are you like the fly that thinks that he can endure just a small taste of the sticky sweetness of our sin and not be harmed? Do you think that you can do other things (attend church, teach small group, read your Bible, pray regularly) that will more than compensate for any besetting sin to which you still cling?

The call to turn from our sin and repent and believe in Christ is a total commitment. Our old selves are no longer what we wear; we now by God’s grace wear Christ’s righteousness, which leads to a hopeful eternity in heaven. We must flee from our clinging sin, which only leads to destruction. Failure to flee may mean our heart is still trying to wear the old clothes and if true that should indeed be very terrifying.

Throwing off the sins that entangle us “so that we may run” the race as the writer to the Hebrews calls us to do cannot be done alone. For we don’t want death, we want life. We need not only to let go of sin but also to take hold of God. As the twelfth chapter of Hebrews declares all who run the race in faith are receiving a "kingdom that cannot be shaken" (12.28). Cling to the Savior for life and not to our besetting sins. Are we really prepared to give up eternal sweetness for temporary sweetness by clinging to our sin? If we are to give something up let's give up our sin, not the Savior.

In Christ,
Eric Pelletier
Elder, Arlington Baptist Church

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