“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” – Hebrews 3:12-15
Christians need biblical warnings as we can often times play around and walk towards spiritual cliffs in our lives. Christians need regular reminders as we too often forget what God calls us to do, as well as what to stay away from. We all need consistent encouragement to watch, be on guard, and to be faithful in our worthy walking along with sharpening others in theirs. Praise God that He provides all of this with great clarity in His Word!
In Hebrews 3, the writer gives such clarity to his audience regarding their confession of faith. Notice that he addressed them as “brethren”, and recognized that some of them may have had an “evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” Therefore, he warns them accordingly. How does he do so? He says, “Beware!” Watch, be sober, and listen carefully. Remember the similar exhortation he just gave them in Chapter 2:1 – “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” So, to further help our guard, in verse 12 of Chapter 3, the writer rightly points to the concern of our confession being a matter of the heart. Reality is that all sin comes from a heart of unbelief and distrust of the promises of God. Therefore, we must keep self-examination and a biblical response to what is found in our hearts and minds a regular practice in our lives. We need to get and keep the lies of Satan out, and fill our minds with the truths God declares. They are the truths that never fail and never fade away!
Knowing what’s true about sin in the heart, see another wonderful help and corporate responsibility the writer gives us. While we are watchful, as a body we also have a daily responsibility to our brothers and sisters to exhort, encourage, stir up and persuade one another to remain faithful to our Lord. This is so important, Beloved! Don’t miss this. Don’t overlook this, or otherwise think it isn’t a big deal, in your daily life. Why? Because God uses us to sharpen and soften each other as a means to prevent hardening, and ultimately as a guard against apostasy. If you’re thinking, “Wow. Daily? That’s a lot. I don’t know if I can do that, Pastor.” Think about it this way – we’re on borrowed time and the world, our flesh, and the Devil don’t take a day off in their assault against us. We should be doing all the good we can to one another while we are together, while it is called “Today.”
We should also do so because we know all too well how deceitful sin is! Sin makes grand promises, but it can and will never deliver what it promises. Never forget this, especially when faced with temptation! Sin merely promotes illusions. The illusion that disobedience will be more pleasurable and fun can be strong. Yet, such sinful pleasure is fleeting (Hebrews 11:25-26). Sin would also like you to think that disobedience is more secure than the walk of faith (Exodus 17:3). This too is a lie!
Be encouraged, dear ones, that such perseverance in the faith, by the grace of God, demonstrates our union with Christ, as those who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him in the midst of opposition, not hardening our hearts as in the rebellion. The hard hearts of their forefathers in the rebellion (verse 9) kept them from entering God’s rest (verse 19). This is another strong motivation, by historic example, to aid the Christian’s diligent walk and confession. May God grant us grace to be faithful in our duties to Him and one another!