I’d like to ask all of you a question before we begin this subject.
Question #1 - What is the effect of sin on our hearts?
We really do not talk about this very much. Let’s look into the Word of God to see what He says about it.
I will use Scripture taken from the Amplified Bible (copyright - The Lockman Foundation) for our study.
Our Lesson Text will be from the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3.
Hebrews 3:12 [Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.
Hebrews 3:13 But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin
[by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamour of his sin may play on him].
Question #2 – Who this is being addressed to?
By using the term brethren, we know that this is directed to Believers.
Isn’t it strange that a Believer would be told to beware of an unbelieving heart that would lead you to turn away from the living God?
In verse 13 there is a warning to all. To admonish, urge and encourage one another every day.
Question #3 – What is that warning?
That none of you may become hardened into settled rebellion by the deceitfulness of sin. That sounds ominous to me. That sin could cause a believer to become hardened to the point that he becomes settled into rebellion against the living God.
We are told that sin is fraudulent. That there is a strategy and trickery which the delusive glamour of sin can play on us. It’s like sin is fighting dirty.. cheating. It’s like sin doesn’t care what happens to the one who chooses to take it up.
Question #4 – If so, how can any one resist sin?
Let’s look for answers:
Hebrews 3:14 For we have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end.
Question #5 – Do you notice something about this promise?
This promise from God is what we call a covenant promise. It has a condition upon it. If we… then HE!
Do you see it?
“If we hold our newborn confidence and original assured expectation firm and unshaken to the end.”
Question #6 – Can you sum up that last statement with one word?
Faith… it’s faith.
When we first believed, our faith was strong and unshaken. We were confident and fully trusting in God. In Christ Jesus. We wanted everyone to know that we had been redeemed.
At that moment in our lives, we were clean.. utterly clean. We had been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. We had yielded ourselves fully to the Lord.
We were without sin. For the first time in our remembrance, we felt the warmth of God’s love and His acceptance. Nothing separated us from God. Our faith was strong.
Question #7 – Is it still like that for you?
If it is.. lift praise and worship to the living God \o/ And then look around you, to those who can not say it’s like that now.
If it isn’t still like that… what has changed? If you want to share an answer, you are welcome to. If not.. that’s ok.
I believe there is one and only one answer to what has changed.
Sin happened. Sin has happened to every one of us, so it’s not that any one person is better than the other. Sin is common to all people.
The danger is… habitual sin. The sin that we keep giving in to without restraint.
Habitual sin, or the sin we “like” enough to give ourselves to, becomes an idol in our lives. We give in to it even though we know God hates sin.
Think about that for a moment. Have you considered this?
If someone came up to you and asked you if you would accept an idol into your life, what would you say? Most would say NO!
That is what is so deceitful about sin. It doesn’t come right up in your face and ask you to rebel against the living God.
It uses trickery, fraud and delusive glamour to entice you. It’s packaged in pretty, desirable and attractive wrapping. It “looks good”. It promises to “feel good”… or “taste good”. It promises success and popularity. It promises power over others, and respect from others. It promises that the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence. It promises that it will be better than God can provide for you.
Did you see that? Have you noticed that sin actually says that to you?
It leads you to believe that God isn’t going to meet your needs as He has promised to do, so you have to take matters into your own hands.
It sounds different to us now, doesn’t it? When it is expressed openly and plainly, it can’t deceive as it usually does. It sounds nasty… ugly.. wicked. The truth is, sin is all of that. Sin is also deadly.
Hebrews 3:15 Then while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them].
Hebrews 3:16 For who were they who heard and yet were rebellious and provoked [Him]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
Hebrews 3:17 And with whom was He irritated and provoked and grieved for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dismembered bodies were strewn and left in the desert?
Hebrews 3:18 And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [who had not listened to His word and who refused to be compliant or be persuaded]?
Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out].
We have learned that sin can deceive us and cause our hearts to become hardened.
One of the most dangerous things a Believer can say to himself/herself is… I can handle it… just this once.
When we sin, we bring division between ourselves and God. Only confession and repentance can restore the fellowship to a healthy balance.
When you are indulging in habitual sin, do you find it hard to go to God in a prayer of sincere confession and repentance?
Does it cross your mind that you have told God you wouldn’t do that sin anymore? Does that make you want to not go to God to confess it again? Do you feel.. “what’s the use I just keep doing this?”
That is sin’s effect on our hearts. Hardening our hearts toward God.
In verse 18 & 19, God’s people who had not listened to His word and who refused to be compliant or be persuaded, were not able to enter God’s rest because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God. Unbelief had shut them out.
Do you think that the Israelites started out not trusting God? These were the Israelites that God delivered out of Pharaoh’s bondage & who saw God part the Red Sea for them. These were the ones who saw all of Pharaoh’s army perish when the Red Sea crashed down on them. These were led by day by a Pillar of Cloud and by night by a Pillar of Fire.
Because they would not trust God for all things, of all these people, only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the Promised Land.
Today we are under God’s grace. Dare we presume upon the grace of God? Can we be sure that habitual sin will not harden our hearts until we turn away from the living God?
We started this lesson with a warning to Believers. There was also expressed a need to admonish, urge and encourage one another every day, that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
The warning is relevant today. Look around us in America. Look what has happened to society. Millions of precious babies have been murdered. Immoral behavior is striving to be recognized as legal in our society. Drugs and alcohol are abused regularly. Terrorism is becoming so common that we are starting to ignore it in America.
Even in Christian fellowship there is an absence of love as Jesus Christ loved.
Who will stand against evil if not the Believers in Christ Jesus?
Will we continue to be silent while our society crumbles?
Has sin begun to harden our hearts already?
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
Faith is placing our entire trust in God. Faith is relying on God to do for us all that we need. That includes trusting God to deliver us from the power of temptation to entice us to sin.
1Corinthians 10:13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.
If there is a habitual sin operating in your life that entices you to sin, put your trust in God to overcome it.
If you do not, there is grave danger indeed. Don’t take the risk. God can and will forgive you if you will turn away from sin and rely on Him in faith.
He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
1John 1:9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously]
cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
We will face other temptations. We might even fall prey to them on occasion. We are still living in these earthly bodies. But do not allow any sin to become “comfortable” to the point of not repenting of it and confessing it to our Father.
Allow the Holy Spirit of God to help us forsake sin in our lives. Draw on the power of God to do this. He will never forsake us if we put our total faith in Him.
Let us do what the Word says.. admonish, urge and encourage one another each day. We are people of faith.. let us walk by faith and not by sight.
Bible study by InAwe