HEBREWS 3:12-15: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
OBSERVATION: Can a Christian backslide? Have you ever backslidden? I know that I have. I am not saying this to make an excuse for my lapse of faith, but I am just stating a fact of life. Everyone, if honest, has had sometime in their Christian walk where they have backslidden. The writer of Hebrews warns us of this in these verses. There are two things we need to watch out for. The first is an evil heart of unbelief. The second is what causes the unbelief, the deceitfulness of sin.
Sin in deceitful in that it promises a shortcut to a legitimate need in life. We seek inner peace and joy. Rather than finding this in the presence of the Lord we are tempted to turn to substances or activities that give us an “instant” high but cruelly leave us empty and ultimately destroy both our faith and our lives. This is why the writer of Hebrews calls it an evil heart of unbelief. Unbelief is evil because it leads us away from the fountain of all life, the Lord Jesus Christ, and into the trap of the enemy of our souls. This can happen to the Christian and the non-Christian alike. To the Christian it is not a matter of losing their salvation, it is about the enemy robbing them of their potential in Christ and keeping them from growing and experiencing the abundant life that Jesus wants to bring.
So what are we to do? There are two things we need to do. The first is personal, the second is directed toward our brothers and sisters, as we all are susceptible to being deceived. The first thing we need to do is keep our hearts tender toward the Lord and attentive to His voice. We do this by not neglecting our time with Him in the Word, in worship, and in prayer. We make the gathering together with the saints (attending church) a priority in our lives. We give ourselves to spiritual disciplines of daily devotions in God’s Word and obedience to His commands. By abiding in the Word we see the fallacy of the claims of sin and the reality of the truth of God. Our hearts stay tender toward Him and shielded from the lies of the enemy.
The second thing we do is we exhort each other toward this common goal. We all need encouragement. In a sports team the difference between winning and losing can be the exhortation and encouragement of a teammate. There have been many times in my life when a phone call, a card, an email, or a text of encouragement from a brother or sister has made all the difference in the world. I need to receive this, but more importantly I need to give this encouragement to others. This is another key reason I do not neglect the gathering together with the saints (attending church). Each time I walk through the church doors to worship the Lord I go as both a worshipper and a minister. Someone may be on the brink of giving up, believing the lie, or entering into unbelief. My encouragement, my prayer, my love in Christ can make all the difference in the world!
Lord, give me a tender heart toward You. Help me to hear Your voice each day and to encourage others in their walk with You. “…Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, Forever. Amen!” In Jesus Name!