Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. – Hebrews 12:1-11
People are constantly inventing ways of doing evil. New ideas abound in regard to morality, godliness, right and wrong. New options in areas of medicine, travel, sexual expression, and business ethics abound. Many are obviously benign choices. Some, however, are life or death, godly or immoral choices.
When the choices are obviously between good and evil, evil will likely present itself as very appealing. When the devil tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t offer some half-rotten, maggot-infested, rotten fruit from the ground near the tree. It was pleasing to the eye, desirable for gaining wisdom and good for food (Genesis 3:6). Eve ate the fruit and gave it to Adam. He ate it without as much as a word of protest. It was all downhill from there.
We may also be bullied into doing wrong. Threats may come to us if we don’t give in. If we do resist temptation it can be challenging. Peer pressure. Lost opportunities. Ridicule. Threats. What will you do? Most often we are not faced with such dire enticements. More often we give in to lesser temptations. To use a baseball analogy, too often we “strike out on the first pitch.” We give in too easily. We don’t stand up to Satan and his wiles. That’s no way to win the game. It’s no way to remain faithful.
We’re given the example of Jesus as an encouragement to remain faithful. And though we do fail, that is no reason to give in to temptation without a fight. Few of us have resisted temptation to the point of shedding blood – though there are those who have lost it all (the Cameroonian Bible translator who was brutally murdered, and his wife’s arm cut off for example).
Jesus’ example is meant to encourage us to remain faithful, resist temptation, and look forward to the great eternal joy of redemption.