Jesus was tempted and tested in all points, just as we are. Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) tells us “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus suffered what we suffer and showed us how to overcome.
The enemy repeatedly used the mighty weapon of shame against Jesus. It was his final assault against Jesus to get Him to quit and not fulfill His destiny.
One of the most profound portions of Scripture is found in Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
The writer of Hebrews tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Heb. 12:1b). The Word of God always explains itself. As a result, I am always asking God questions. When I looked at this verse, I noticed two issues. The first was these weights and the second was the sin, both of which so easily ensnares us.
The verse is instructing us to run with endurance. The sense of the word “endurance” is to have the power, especially the inward fortitude, necessary to withstand hardships or stress. The implication here about these weights and sin is that they so easily encircle us on all sides; and attack, assail and hinder us from having the inward fortitude and power to withstand the hardships and stresses we face in living a life of faith.
It is easy for most of us to acknowledge by experience that unconfessed, unrepented-of sin can easily surround us and rob us of our inward strength. When sin is active in our lives, we quickly become spiritually weary and often quit pressing into Christ with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.
The fact is, sin will suck the life out of you. There are some extreme teachings on grace surging through the body of Christ that basically say, once you’re saved, sin is no longer an issue. They say stop trying to manage sin; stop worrying about it; you’re forgiven, so it doesn’t really matter how you live.
If you try to live that way, after a while you will find out that sin will so easily ensnare you. It will encircle and entrap you, and the enemy will use that sin stronghold in your life to further assail and suck the life out of you. Sin kills.
Unrepented-of sin will ensnare you. But thanks be to God, we have an advocate with the Father.
The Weight of Sin
We can easily understand how sin ensnares us, but what are these weights? I believe the writer of Hebrews points us directly at the answer: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2a, emphasis added).
Nothing is accidentally placed in Scripture. The one thing that is in the middle of the battle at the cross is shame. Shame was the great, final weapon Satan used against Jesus to try to rob Him of the power to endure the suffering of the cross.
After Jesus was brought before Pilate the first time, He was sent to King Herod, “Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other” (Luke 23:9–12). They treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him, and the enemy’s voice continued to get louder and louder. You will find in seasons when the enemy is attacking you through shame, even people who previously didn’t like each other will join forces to assail you. Pilate and Herod became friends as they united in persecuting Jesus under this demonic spirit of shame.
They brought Jesus back before Pilate, and when Pilate said he found no guilt in Jesus and wanted to release Him, the crowd, stirred up by leaders operating under a religious spirit, demanded that Jesus be crucified. Just a few days earlier the people were singing His praises, prophetically declaring Him to be a king. Now they were demanding He be killed in the cruelest, most hideous manner: crucifixion. Jesus was going to die like a murderer, thief or traitor. The enemy’s voice was still speaking, “Shame on You, Jesus. Shame on You!”
The shame, torture and suffering continued, “So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified. Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head [Shame on You, Jesus; shame on You!], and began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ [Shame on You, Jesus!] Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him [Shame on You, Jesus!]; and bowing the knee, they worshipped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him” (Mark 15:15–20).
Only the most hideous criminals were taken outside the city to be killed. Imagine yourself in Jesus’ place. Imagine the shame and humiliation He felt after having given so much and loved people so much. The multitudes had followed Him and worshipped Him, and then just a few days later He was being led out of the city as the worst of criminals and paraded before the people who knew only the vilest offenders deserved this form of public humiliation and death. “Shame on You, Jesus; shame on You!” the tormenting spirits yelled.
Jesus was taken to Calvary, stripped naked and nailed to the cross, all while the crowd was cheering and the guards were mocking Him, “saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.’ The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, ‘If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.’ … Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us'” (Luke 23:35–37, 39). The voices were screaming: “If You are the Christ, if You are the Christ, if You are the Christ … You’re not who You claim to be. Shame on You. You’re a blasphemer of God. Shame on You. Prove Yourself. Shame on You.”
The Shame of Sin
With all the shame He was enduring through false accusations, public humiliation and being made a spectacle, stripped, tortured, brutalized and rejected by the very people He came to save, Jesus was about to face His greatest battle with shame yet. Jesus was about to experience the shame of sin. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21a). All the sin of every person to ever live flooded inside Christ as Scripture says, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
The sin of every liar, cheater, adulterer, murderer, rapist, pedophile, sexual pervert, blasphemer, Satan worshipper, lover of evil and hater of God was flooding the perfect, sinless Son of God. Now Jesus was experiencing the vileness of the sins of all humanity. He was experiencing the shame of actual sin, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels” (Isa. 53:3–12, NLT).
Jesus bore our sin and shame. Again, He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15b–16, NKJV). Jesus was not only tempted to sin; He was tempted to yield to the lie of shame. He was able to endure the suffering of the cross because He learned to despise the shame.
Steve Foss has traveled worldwide for over 30 years training pastors and leaders. He has pastored three churches and discipled over 500,000 through his Zadok discipleship course.