The Heart of Unbelief

Heb 3:10  Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’

Heb 3:11  As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'”

Heb 3:12  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Heb 3:13  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Heb 3:14  For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

Heb 3:15  As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Heb 3:16  For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?

Heb 3:17  And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?

Heb 3:18  And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?

Heb 3:19  So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

—Here again we have the paradox of Salvation: God’s choice, mankind’s responsibility. Grace vs. works (obedience). The best way to make sense of it is to say that if God has chosen you for Salvation and you’ve been drawn into humility to the Cross where you accepted Christ’s payment for your sin and His resurrection for new life, you also surrender fully to His Kingship over you. Subjects to a King do as they are told.

If, on the other hand, you go to the cross and believe, but do not accept the payment as wholly Christ’s—but assume some part of the cost yourself—or reject His Kingship over your life—deciding to pick what to obey and not obey based on worldly thought—then you have not been chosen and have not received God’s Grace and will not enter His Rest—i.e. the new life.

The people addressed are Hebrews, Jews. They had a grand, national culture of worship—we might think of it today as a grand church building with lot of great programs. There was a culture, not just religion, that defined them. We have the same thing. There’s a “Christian culture” that middle America has. It includes things like buying all the Left Behind books, or jumping on the latest topic or trend, like the Word Faith movement, or the Prayer of Jabez, or the Purpose Driven Life. There are grains of truth mixed in with these Christian pop culture events. But they create a symbolism over substance condition that causes people to believe that they are not pleasing to God unless they are card-carrying members of an organized “church” or in “good standing” with some group of self-appointed elders (also known in Scripture as Pharisees).

All the Christians who embark on going to church on Sundays, participating in food drives, mission trips and book studies would be analogous to the Hebrews who followed Moses (a type of Christ) out of Egypt (the pagan life). And they were found to have a “heart of disbelief” or “disobedience” because of the “deceitfulness of sin.”

Take care BROTHERS! – The writer is talking to fellow-believers! They might be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

What is sin? Not obeying Christ.

How was it shown by the Hebrews of Moses’ day? By refusing to trust God to deliver the Promised Land to them.

They had seen God’s wonders, tasted the sweet deliverance from the pagan life of Egypt. They’d been fed on the manna in the wilderness and drank of the water from the rock … They’d followed the Spirit’s leading through the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire … Yet they shrank from believing that God would overthrow the fortified armies that occupied the Promised Land.

What is the Promised Land to Christians in the Spiritual sense? The soul. Our entire being is the promised land. It is occupied and fortified by the hoards of the flesh. We left the trappings of paganism behind when we passed through the Red Sea, but we face a new fortified land that seems impossible. On the one hand, we left the land and were delivered as we headed the opposite direction. But now, we must head into the fray with nothing but some farming tools for weapons. We see the wicked fortresses of our flesh and we question whether God will truly destroy them and fully occupy the Promised Land of our heart. Ultimately, we’re tempted to believe that God can’t do this. He has only the power to help us escape, but not to drive out the sin that has nestled in our lives. The rival, the bitterness, the fits of rage, the selfish ambition, the lust, the envy, the strife … those Canaanites are too powerful … they are giants in the land. We were better off living in blissful ignorance in Egypt than to be faced with the work that needs to be done to purify our lives! We wish we had never embarked on this journey of faith.

This fatal unbelief proves those that shrink in that way never shared in the nature of Christ. They didn’t make Christ their Lord, but merely hoped to have Him as Savior. They, like Demas, love the world too much. They would rather defer to the metal-pated warriors of the flesh than to believe that God will crush them. In truth, they find they enjoyed being around the lavish society of Egypt, even if it was as a slave. They enjoy the idea of being like those who are successful in this life and indulging in the pleasures of sin.

Disobedient = Unbelieving.

Take care, Brothers, Sisters … exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today.”

If someone exhorts you to humility, to meekness, to poverty, to gentleness, to kindness, to faithfulness, to self-control, to love … If they warn you of a root of bitterness or fits of anger or an unforgiving spirit, or envy and strife, showing specific examples of where that is coming out … you should repent and pray that God will overthrow those walled cities and drive out every remnant of them.

If the response is “I don’t have that problem and I don’t need to listen to you!” then be on guard: there may be the deceitfulness of sin at the heart there. And we don’t want to cross out of Egypt, be baptized through the Red Sea, eat the manna, drink the water and then be told “You will not enter my rest!”

Mat 7:22  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

Mat 7:23  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’


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