The author of Hebrews urged his readers to join him and “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” While our leg of the race is ahead of us, we know what sort of race it is by looking behind us. The “great cloud of witnesses” are done with their runs, runs that included conquering kingdoms, enforcing justice, escaping the sword’s edge, and putting armies to flight. Others had less visibly successful runs, being tortured, mocked, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, and other afflictions. Not only is the race ahead of us long, it is demanding and requires us to be ready for conflict.
Our readiness to run by faith with endurance requires repentance. Not only must we “lay aside every weight,” getting rid of bulk and burdens, we must also “lay aside…the sin which clings so closely.” Other translations refer to “sin which so easily entangles” (NAS) or “sin which so easily ensnares” (NKJV), sin that gets around us and trips us up.
The word euperistaton (εὐπερίστατον) itself includes the nuance of how easily the entangling happens. Sin has a way of circling in close, of making itself seem desirable so that we wouldn’t expect that sin to cripple our run. For example, the cape of super-competency we drape over our shoulders turns out to have cords of pride at the bottom that hamstring our legs.
The run of faith is a good one as we look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that is set before us, let us put off sin that keeps us from becoming like Him.