Hebrews 12:4
For consider him that endured such contradiction, etc. Our subject naturally divides itself into two branches,

I. THE EVIL TO BE GUARDED AGAINST. "Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." The Christian is in danger of weariness in the course which he is called to run. This weariness springs from faintness of soul. When the heart loses its faith and hope and enthusiasm, the step soon loses its elasticity and vigor and speed. And this may arise:

1. From the difficulties of the course. The path of the Christian is not always through green pastures or beside still waters. It is often bleak and rugged, and mountainous. It is marked by trials of various kinds, which sorely strain his faith and patience and fortitude. And there are enemies who would delay his progress sometimes by subtle solicitations to ease and enjoyment, and at other times by opposing his efforts or obstructing his way. "And the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way."

2. From the slowness of the apparent progress. There are times when the Christian runner seems to make little or no advancement in the race. Notwithstanding reading and meditation, aspiration and resolution, prayer and effort, we are still so hampered by imperfections and sins, so deficient in holiness and usefulness, and so little like our Lord, that at times all that we desire and do seems to be vain, and our souls wax faint within us.

3. From a false or exaggerated estimate of the value of feeling in the Christian life. There are those who are prone to test their spiritual condition and progress by the state of their feelings. If their emotions are tender and confiding and cheerful, they conclude that they are in the true course and moving onward to the goal; but if their hearts seem unfeeling, or cold, or cheerless, they doubt whether they are in the course at all, or ever started aright in the race, and so they faint in their souls and flag in their footsteps. Feelings fluctuate; they ebb and flow; they rise and fall. But we run this race, not by feeling, but by faith. We are saved, not by our emotions, however delightful they may be, but by our confidence in our Lord and Savior.

4. From neglect of the means by which hope and courage are maintained. If prayer be neglected; if meditation upon the spiritual and eternal, upon the soul and truth and God, cease; if the testimony of the "great cloud of witnesses" be unregarded; if "the Leader and Perfecter of the faith" be not contemplated, - the soul will faint and the limbs become weary, and the attainment of the prize will be jeopardized, How, then, is the evil to be guarded against?

II. THE SAFEGUARD AGAINST THIS EVIL. "Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself," etc. The meaning of the word rendered "consider" is not easily expressed in English. Analogize, compare, think on him and on his sufferings by way of comparison with ours. The "contradiction of sinners" should not be confined to words, but indicates the opposition of the wicked against him. A comparison of what he thus suffered and the trials we have to bear will preserve the soul from faintness, and the steps from faltering.

1. He suffered more than his followers are called to suffer. He was assailed by slander, by contradictions, by ensnaring questions. He was betrayed by one disciple, denied by another, and forsaken by all in the time of his trial. He was blasphemed, scourged, derided, and crucified. Think, moreover, how intensely susceptible to suffering he must have been, since he was untainted in his body and perfectly holy in his soul.

2. Yet his sufferings did not cause him to falter in his course, or to turn aside from it. Resolutely he went forward on his path of suffering and sacrifice; knowing the shame and anguish that awaited him, yet still he steadfastly pursued his appointed way -

"Until the perfect work was done,
And drunk the bitter cup of gall."

3. In this he is an Example to us. "If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example," etc. (1 Peter 2:20-23). Consideration of him and of his sufferings makes our severest sufferings seem small, and saves us from weariness and discouragement in the Christian course.

"Lord, should my path through suffering lie,
Forbid it I should e'er repine;
Still let me turn to Calvary,
Nor heed my griefs, remembering thine."

(Conder.) = -W. J.

Not yet resisted unto blood.
I. THE LAW OF CHRIST'S SERVICE. Resistance unto blood.

1. This law is not an arbitrary enactment. It is because the strife is against sin, and sin is an evil so terrible and tremendous that we are to resist unto blood.

2. Christianity is distinguished by its estimate of sin: the character it gives to sin. The darkest death man can die is preferable to sin's power and penalty.

II. THE MOTIVE TO OBEDIENCE. Christ's own example. The argument is, Others before you, and, specifically, Christ Himself, have obeyed this law, fulfilled it in their blood, "Ye have not yet."

1. The law of Christ's service is a law obeyed in lower spheres of action. Love of freedom, love of country, love of friends, have proved stronger often than love of life. The Roman soldier swore to keep his eagles to the last drop of his blood, and history shows how nobly the oath was kept. Almost every year our hearts are thrilled by the story of men of our own name who have held honour and duty more sacred and precious than life and home.

2. The law of Christ's service has been obeyed by the good and noble of all ages.

3. Chief of all, the law of Christ's service is a law obeyed by Christ Himself.

(W. Perkins.)

I. SIN IS IN THE WORLD AS THE GREAT ANTAGONIST OF MANKIND. It is opposed to intelligence, to freedom, to progress, to peace — personal, domestic, social, national, and universal. It is the inspiration of all our foes, the virus in all our sufferings, the fountain of all our sorrows, the burden of all our oppressions.


1. Because the overcoming of this is the overcoming of all enemies.

2. Because it is only by the most strenuous human effort that it can be overcome.

3. Because our great moral Commander thus strove against sin. How much more should we!

(1)He had done nothing to contribute to the sin of the world: we have.

(2)He could not have been injured by the sin of the world.


The Tabernacle was covered over with red, to note that we must defend the truth even to the effusion of blood. If we cannot endure martyrdom (if called thereunto) and sweat a bloody sweat for Christ's sake, we cannot be comfortably assured that we are of His body. John Leafe, a young man, burnt with Mr. Bradford, hearing his own confession, taken before the bishop, read to him, instead of a pen took a pin, and so pricking his hand, sprinkled the blood upon the said bill of his confession, willing the messenger to show the bishop that he had sealed the same bill with his blood already.

(John Trapp.)

God wants standard-bearers who are willing to make a shroud of their colours.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

The figure is changed; the Christian is a wrestler, a pugilist, struggling, fighting against sin; and the Jewish believers are told that up till now no "blood" has been drawn; that is, the fierce severity of the conflict had yet to come. They had no right, therefore, to give way, and no excuse for exhaustion.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

Striving against sin.
I. THE ENEMY AGAINST WHICH BELIEVERS STRIVE — Sin. The name of it is short and easily pronounced, but who shall fully declare its dreadful nature?

1. It is an old enemy. Hence in Scripture it is styled the Old Man. It is old, for it existed in us as soon as we began to exist. But it is much older than we are. It appeared in the world almost as soon as it was created — nearly six thousand years ago. Nay, sin is older even than this, for it appeared even in heaven, and ruined myriads of celestial intelligences. It is no new upstart power, then, that believers have to strive against, but a veteran foe long inured to the warfare, and possessing the accumulated experience of innumerable ages.

2. Sin is an enemy that is always near. When driven, as it is in the case of every believer, from the throne of the heart, it is not entirely dislodged from the soul. It still lives and lurks in the nature of believers.

3. Sin is a crafty and deceitful enemy. Its wiles and cunning devices to seduce men, and lead them to the commission of crimes, are innumerable.

4. Sin is an active enemy. It is unwearied in its exertions to extend its influence. It pollutes all we do, and mingles with all we are. As the heart never ceases from beating, nor the blood from circulating, so sin never ceases from operating. We may sleep, but it never sleeps.

5. Sin is a powerful enemy. We read of "the body of sin," which implies its strength and vigour. Its "motions do work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." It often bursts through the strongest resolutions set up to restrain it, as a swollen river beats down its banks and sweeps away everything before it. You may see its strength by looking at the conduct of some of those in whom it reigns. Into what awful lengths in wickedness does it carry them!


1. It is universal. It is directed against all sin. It is against secret sins as well as against open — against sins of the temper as well as against those of the tongue — against sins of the heart as well as against those of the life — and chiefly against sins of the heart, because from them proceed those of the life.

2. It is often a painful conflict. In piercing sin, the believer often feels a sword pierce his own heart. Sin can never be slain in him without his experiencing to some extent its dying agonies.

3. It is a constant and persevering conflict. There is no discharge in this war. It is a war of extermination.

4. This conflict is carried on in the Saviour's strength. In their own strength believers could never carry the strife on.

5. This conflict is maintained by prayer. "When I cry unto Thee," said the Psalmist, "then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know, for God is with me." "In the day that I cried unto Thee, Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul."

6. This conflict is to be carried on with constant watchfulness, Prayer without watchfulness is almost a mockery of God, since in it blessings are solicited, for the attainment of which no care is exercised.


1. Let them seriously think how hateful and abominable sin is to God. Abominable and offensive as outward sins are to Him, indwelling corruption must be even still more so, for it is the source whence all these proceed.

2. They should check the first motions and workings of sin in their souls. They should give no quarter to criminal thoughts, or evil desires, or unholy inclinations, but endeavour, through the strength of grace, to banish and crush them. By such constant endeavours to strike at the root, indwelling sin will be weakened and its power and strength reduced and kept under.

3. They should carefully avoid temptations to sin.

4. They should do all in their power to preserve and promote sanctified frames of mind when these are experienced.

5. They should be often engaged in prayer.(1) This prayer must be believing prayer. "All things," says our Lord, "which ye shall ask in prayer, believe that ye shall receive them, and ye shall have them."(2) Further, it must be prayer offered in the name of Christ. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name," says Christ Jesus, "I will do it."(3) Again, it must be humble prayer. We must feel a deep sense of our own weakness and proneness to sin if left to ourselves, and the absolute necessity of grace and strength to hold us up and keep us from falling.(4) In a word, it must be fervent and importunate prayer.

6. They must, if they would be successful in striving against sin, strive against Satan. Sin is just the Old Serpent's poison.


1. This is a strife or warfare which every Christian must maintain. The most shining saint has sin in him. He is only "fair as the moon," and will never find his principles of holiness brightened with a sunlight lustre, until he enters the kingdom of his heavenly Father.

2. In this strife and warfare the Saviour's honour is much concerned. Sin disgraces a religious profession.

3. You should strive against sin, for it offends God, and is the object of His infinite abhorrence. It cannot be otherwise, for it is enmity against Him, against His attributes, and against His government. It abuses His goodness, abhors His holiness, despises His love, vilifies His wisdom, denies His justice, defies His power, violates His law, and, if it could, would pluck Him from His throne, and deprive Him of His Being.

4. We should strive against sin, for it is seeking our own ruin. It is a foe, and not a friend. The man who cherishes sin cherishes a viper in his bosom, which will, unless timeously cast from him, turn and sting him to death.

5. Consider the reward they shall receive who truly, and believingly, and preservingly strive against sin. There is a reward for the righteous even now. Their striving against sin tends to their true comfort and enjoyment while here.


1. Examine yourselves by what you have heard that you may ascertain what is your true state and character. These will turn upon your bearing in relation to sin.

2. While you strive against sin yourselves you should also strive against it in others.

3. Beware of that strife which is sinful. There is such a thing as not only sinful striving, but a sinful striving against sin. O how much of the contention about religious matters, both in doctrine and practice, may be thus characterised! Let, then, all such striving be avoided. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

4. Strive with God. There is a striving with God which is unlawful and destructive, but there is a striving with Him which is allowable and necessary. It is by prayer and supplication.

5. Strive to enter in at the strait gate; the gate, that is, of conversion, faith, "rod repentance. Without engaging in the strife there can be no admission into heaven.

(G. Brown.)

I. How we are to strive against sin.

1. By constantly opposing the power of sin in our own hearts.

2. By a steadfast and constant profession of the Christian faith.

3. By a humble and holy dependence on the atonement of Jesus Christ, and a growing acquaintance with Scripture.

4. By directly and openly condemning it, whenever and by whomsoever it is committed.

II. WHY we should thus strive against sin.

1. Because of its destructive and fatal designs upon our best interests.

2. Because it is the greatest evil that can curse society.

3. Because it will cause us satisfaction in the review when we approach the world of spirits. There is no alternative between striving against and striving for it. Those who are at peace with sin now will find death at war with them.

(D. Jones.)

1. By prayer. Let us pray against anger, pride, uncleanness, coveteousness, continually.

2. By Scripture.

3. By the subtracting of the nourishment of that sin. Let us strive against lust and uncleanness by a sober and temperate life.

4. By embracing the contrary virtue. Instead of pride let us embrace humility; instead of covetousness, liberality; of uncleanness, chastity, &c.

(W. Jones,. D. D.)

The Red Indian will stand to have his flesh cut away by the knives of his enemies, and will not utter a sigh or groan — will not sue for mercy. Such is the fortitude of that iron will. If the pride of his heart enables him to bear such tortures without murmuring, surely the power of Christian motive is sufficient to cause us to pluck out the right eye, and cut off the right-hand sin, and cast them away from us, that we may present ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. In Christ crucified we see the abhorrence with which God regards sin. And when He brings us into communion with Himself in the Cross we shun it, or resist it, as our most deadly foe.

Where are the heroes " who resist unto blood striving against sin"? Should we weep or laugh at the foolishness of mankind, childishly spending their indignation and force against petty evils, and maintaining a friendly peace with the fell and mighty principle of destruction. It is just as if men of professed courage, employed to go and find and destroy a tiger or a crocodile that has spread alarm or havoc, on being asked at their return, "Have you done the deed?" should reply, "We have not indeed destroyed the tiger or crocodile, but yet we have acted heroically; we have achieved something great — we have killed a wasp." Or, like men engaged to exterminate a den of murderers, who being asked at their return, "Have you accomplished the vengeance?" should say, "We have not destroyed any of the murderers; we did not deem it worth while to attempt it; but we have lamed one of their dogs."

(J. Foster.)

Whoever wishes to obtain the victory must not be discouraged by violent opposition. It is reported of Alexander, that when surrounded by his enemies, and sorely wounded, he still maintained his fortitude, and fought upon his knees. Sparticus did the same, covering himself with his buckler in one hand, and using his sword with the other. So the Christian, however wounded, must still persevere, fighting to the end the good tight of faith, that he may lay hold on eternal life.

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