the deceitfulness of sin (hebrews 3:12-13)

May 2nd, 2024

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

In today's devotional, I want us to dwell on a topic that is perhaps not normally discussed at length within church circles. I am not saying that "sin" itself is never mentioned to us but I am rather hinting at the fact that we often miss this particular implication. That is the deceptive power that sin can bring upon the believer.

Typically, our casualized and comfortable forms of Christianity rarely leads us into deep introspection about our sins. We are more likely to think of our sins as one broad category that never has any specifications to our lives. In other words, I am okay with calling myself a "sinner" as long as I do not have to list for others those particular sins I tend to struggle with. To do so would be to infringe upon my privacy and expose the skeletons hiding in my closet. We would rather put forth the blanket statement that we are "a work in progress" or "only human" then actually do the work that is prescribed for us. Herein lies the initial stages of sin's deception; it causes each of us to casually overlook the sins that are silently destroying our lives. Therefore, let us not be dismissive today about our weaknesses but rather, let us open our hearts to the divine microscope of God and let Him assess our lives.

Our passage begins in verse 12 with a command of vigilance. In some translations the phrasing is "take heed" or "watch out". This of course is not a light command but rather one that demands our full and sincere attention. We are to be on the lookout over ourselves to ensure none of us have a sinful, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. I want you to note very carefully here that sinfulness seems to be the starting corruption that leads to unbelief and results in abandoning God. Why should this matter to us? Because if we persist on in ignoring our sins, no matter how small we think they are, it may just lead us down the path of rejecting God altogether. This is why the Bible calls for us to be aware, awake, sober and watchful over every aspect of our lives.

What does this look like for us? Well, it often seems like we become comfortable in our salvation. Jesus has paid for our sins and therefore, I never need to worry about sin ever again. This is far from the case! It is in fact the very opposite. Our salvation is meant to be the prescription glasses granted to us so that we can look in the mirror and see ourselves for what we really are. We are to clearly see every blemish, every wrinkle, each flaw and all the imperfections that infiltrate our spiritual lives. Is there a subtle pride I have in always trying to appear better than my friends and co-workers? Do I have an impulsive inclination to gossip with those around me? Am I prone to looking lustfully at others and allowing my thoughts to descend into immorality? Or perhaps I have settled into the pattern of using my words for anger, bitterness and rage? We may think highly of ourselves and believe we have all these behaviours under control. But, I might suggest to you that it is more likely that sin is secretly deceiving you and quietly controlling you behind the scenes.

The book of James states that each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:14-15). In a sense, the Bible is saying that sin is an "inside job" and grows like a cancer without us even realizing it's detrimental effects. This is why the Bible confronts us about sin time and time again. It never says to ignore sin. It never tells us to shake it off and it never compels us to live with it until it goes away on its own. The only way to get rid of this cancerous sin within us is to take every step forward in killing it. Colossians 3:5 says to put to death whatever belongs to your earthly (human) nature. Romans 8:13 says that by the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body. Therefore, we have every Biblical reason to expose our sins before they destroy us. Even now we ought to reflect. Make a list of the sins that you know with certainty you need help killing. Taking this first step in exposing our sins will already weaken its influence over us.

I am sure many of us can recall various friends who have fallen away from the Lord and left the church. We must know that none of those people left for external reasons. They fell away because they chose to allow sins to abide in them and deceive them. The gift of God's church is that there are brothers and sisters willing to walk with us and pray with us. They are willing to keep us accountable even when we are losing the strength to do it for ourselves. As our passage today confirms, we exist to encourage each other to continue the work of killing our sins. Maybe there is someone close to you that needs your love, encouragement and accountability. Seek the Lord and get involved!

Lastly, I pray that you yourself do not let sin harden your heart so that you stay away from God's people. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften your heart each day. Ask Him for the grace necessary to flee from darkness and deception. Choose today to walk in the freedom and light of Jesus Christ.

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