“Fight Unbelief” – Hebrews 3:7-19

August 19th, 2018

Hebrews 3:7-19

“Fight Unbelief”

Aux. Text: Eph 6:10-18

Call to Worship: Psa 140

 

Service Orientation: The world, our flesh and the devil are all fighting to lead us astray from trusting and following Jesus.  We need to fight back.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. — Hebrews 3:13

 

Background Information:

  • From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is full of warning signs from God, meant to deter men from sin and thereby keep them from His wrath. The OT tells us that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11), and the NT tells us that He does not wish for anyone to perish but wants everyone to repent (2 Pt 3:9).  God did not create man to be doomed to hell, and throughout His Word He continually warns him of the dangers and penalty of sin.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 86)
  • The emphasis of Heb 3:7-11 is God’s disdain for hardened hearts. The message is clear:  If God disciplined His people in the OT for their lack of faith, then surely His NT people were subject to discipline as well.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 56)
  • In the author’s exhortation to consider Jesus, one finds the reminder that true, unflagging Christ-followers focus their purpose and perspective on the apostle and high priest whom we confess–Jesus himself. If Jesus is our ultimate example of faithfulness, we must have a clear picture of him.  The author of Hebrews intends to help us in this matter by offering a lucid exposition of Scripture and Christian teaching concerning the person of Christ.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 144)
  • (v. 7) The author reflects on the message of Psalm 95, a highly appropriate passage to expound in this context. The psalm was regularly used each sabbath day in first-century synagogue worship and it would therefore provide a most fitting introduction to the idea of the eternal sabbath, the promised rest which God had provided for his faithful people.  This psalm unites “worship” and “loyalty” as two inseparable ideas.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 84)
  • (v. 7) The writer of Hebrews is saying that the Holy Spirit was the author of Psalm 95, from which Heb 3:7b-11 is quoted. Inspiration is the Holy Spirit’s speaking through the minds of God’s human instruments.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 87)
  • (v. 7) One of the stylistic devices that the author uses to introduce a quotation of the OT is the formula God says or the Holy Spirit says. The writer refers to the OT writer as only a mouthpiece of God (see, for example, Heb 4:7).  That is, God is the primary author of Scripture, and man is the secondary author through whom God speaks.  Scripture, for the author of Hebrews, is God’s Word, and that Word is divine.  He indeed has a high view of Scripture.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 90)
  • (vss. 7, 13, 15) The author is fond of the word “today,” using it eight times (Luke and Acts are the only NT books that use it more). Here its prominent position gives it emphasis.  Immediate action is imperative.  The voice of God is sounding now.  It must not be neglected.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 34)
  • (v. 7) To “Hear’ God’s voice signifies to attend reverently to what He says, to diligently ponder, to readily receive, and to heed or obey it. It is the hardening of our hearts which prevents us, really, hearing His voice, as the next clause intimates.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 167)
  • (v. 8) So we are not left in the dark regarding the hard-heartedness that the Psalmist warns against. In fact, the Scriptural description of it is mercifully clear because it even presents us with telltale behavioral signs of hard-heartedness.  Hardness of heart originates in unbelief, which produces contempt for God, which in turn shows itself in distinct behavioral patterns–namely, negativism, grumbling, quarreling and disobedience.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 101)

(v. 8) It is not only true that the difficulties and trials of the way test us, but these testings reveal the state of our hearts–a crisis neither makes nor mars a man, but it does manifest him.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 169)

(v. 8) In the Hebrew, two interesting terms are used in verse 8 of this psalm.  The first, Maribah, a name given to the place of the disobedience, also means “rebellion” or “strife.”  The equivalent Greek word, parapikrasmos, denotes a faithlessness of heart or refusal to obey.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 94)

  • (v. 9) The Israelites did not rebel against God once: after the return of the spies, they put God to the test ten times (Nm 14:22) and refused to listen to his voice.  Their hearts were filled with unbelief, and their eyes were blind to the miracles God performed.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 92)
  • (v. 12) The judgment of the wilderness days befell the Israelite who rejected Moses. But just as Christ is greater in glory than Moses (v. 3), so the loss incurred in rejecting Christ is greater even than that incurred in rejecting Moses.  The rebels in Moses’ day missed the promised blessing of entry into an earthly Canaan, but latter-day rebellion would forfeit the greater blessings of the new age.  It was “an evil heart of unbelief” that prevented the generation which witnessed the Exodus from enjoying the “rest” they had hoped to attain in Canaan; our author urges his readers to take heed lest such a heart be found in any of them.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 99-100)

(vss. 12-13) The author of Hebrews is fully aware of sin’s deceptive power directed toward individuals.  For this reason he stresses the need to pay attention to every person in the church; repeatedly he says “none of you”–that is, not a single one of you (Heb 3:12-13; 4:1).  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 95)

  • (v. 14) On the surface, this statement makes it sound like staying strong and remaining firm in our faith until the end of our lives is the part we play in maintaining our relationship with Christ: “If I don’t remain firm, Jesus will boot me out!”  However, it’s more likely that this statement functions the same way as the sobering assertion of 3:6 (“if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end”).  The idea there, as well as here, is that the outcome of our lives demonstrates the validity of our claim:  Continuance in faith is the ultimate proof of the reality of faith.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 57)
  • (v. 17) In Scripture, forty is the number of probation. The season of Israel’s testing was almost over; in A.D. 70 their final dispersion would occur.  And God changeth not.  He who had been provoked of old by Israel’s hardness of heart, would destroy again those who persisted in their unbelief.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 187)
  • (v. 17) Unbelief never has enough proof. Asking for more proof is simply a pretext, an excuse, a delaying tactic.  The people of Israel kept testing God, and the day of trial lasted forty years.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 89)
  • (v. 18) The land of Israel would be given to those who had not spurned God. In his anger God swore that all the others would not see the land but would die in the desert.  God was saying that he would cease being God–as it were–before he would let those rebellious Israelites enter the land of Canaan.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 93)
  • (v. 18) For the believer, hardness toward the things of the obedient Christian life shuts the gates to the joyous “rest” of intimate fellowship with their Savior. And just as the salvation from sin that comes through Christ is superior to the rescue from Egypt that came through Moses, so also Christ’s offer of spiritual and eternal rest is far superior to the temporal rest offered to the Israelites in the Promised Land.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 58)  
  • (v. 18) True rest is the enjoyment by the creature of perfect harmony with his Creator, and it can therefore only be rest in God. As such, it is totally incompatible with unbelief and disobedience toward God.  Hence the inability of the rebellious Israelites to enter into God’s rest.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 155)
  • (v. 19) God had been providing for them all along; they had abundant evidence of His power and care. But they would not put their full trust in God, so they kept saying, in effect, “God, just do this one more thing for us so we’ll know you’re real.”  But when He protected them again or provided for them again, they still did not believe.  “Don’t be like these people,” pleads the writer of Hebrews.  “Don’t make excuses for not believing; don’t harden your hearts to God like they did–or you will lose your opportunity like they did.”  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 90)

(v. 19) The reason Israel murmured at Meribah was because there was no water; they were occupied with their circumstances, they were walking by sight.  The crisis they then faced only served to make manifest the state of their hearts, namely, an “evil heart of unbelief.”  Had their trust been in Jehovah, they would at once have turned to Him, spread their need before Him, and counted on Him to supply it.  But their hearts were hardened.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 169)

  • In the temple ritual and in the synagogue worship services, the use of Psalm 95 was well established. Both Psalms 95 and 96 were known as the psalms of invitation to worship.  We may assume that these psalms were a significant part of the early Christian liturgies as well.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 90)
  • There is no naively optimistic view of human nature in these verses. The situation is serious.  Some of these believers might be kept from the eternal and promised homeland, their lasting city, because, like the stubborn, unbelieving Hebrews of earlier centuries, they rebel against the God who loves them.  They must take care lest in the oppressive days of persecution, they also fall away from the living God.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 85)

 

The question to be answered is . . . What is the writer of Hebrews attempting to do at this point in his letter?

 

Answer:  He is trying to get his Jewish audience to see that they are facing a tri-faceted attack against their belief  in Jesus:  The world, their own flesh and the Devil.  They are being encouraged to fight against unbelief.

 

There are two classes on which such exhortations have no effect:  the irreligious who are dead in trespasses and sins, and have no interest in such matters; and the self-righteous religionist, who, though equally dead spiritually, yet has an intellectual interest.  Many a professing Christian, who is infected by the Laodicean spirit of the day, will shrug his shoulders, saying, Such warnings do not concern me, there is no danger of a real child of God apostatizing.  Such people fail to get the good of these Divine warnings, their conscience never being reached.  But where there is a heart which is right in the place of dependency through taking heed to the solemn admonitions of the Spirit.  It is these very warnings against departure from God which curb the regenerate.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 182)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Fight

 

There are 3 kinds of believers in church:  Believers, Unbelievers, and Make-believers.

 

What can believers learn from Hebrews 3:7-19?:            

I-  Never stop fighting against the enemies of your soul:  (Heb 3:7-13; see also: 2 Cor 10:3-6; Eph 6:10-18)

 

We ought to give more abundant heed–lest there be in any of us, even for a moment, an evil heart of unbelief.  Let us cast out everything that can cause or can strengthen it, whether it be worldliness or formality, too little knowledge, or too much head-knowledge of God’s word, too little looking to the state of our heart or too much occupation with self; let us take heed lest there be at any time in us an evil heart of unbelief.  Let a tender heart, hearkening to His voice, listening to and trusting His word, ever be the sacrifice we bring Him.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 129)

 

It is not difficult to say what it is that hardens the hearts.  The seed sown by the wayside could not enter the soil, because it had been trodden down by the passers-by.  When the world, with its business and its interests, has at all times a free passage, the heart loses its tenderness.  When we trust too much to the intellect in religion, and very great care is not taken to take each word as from God into the heart, into its life and love, the heart gets closed to the living voice of God. The mind is satisfied with beautiful thoughts and pleasant feelings; but the heart does not hear God.  When we are secretly content with our religion, our sound doctrine and Christian life, unconsciously but surely the heart gets hardened.  When our life does not seek to keep pace with our knowledge, and we have more pleasure in hearing and knowing than obeying and doing, we utterly lose the meekness to which the promise is given, and, amidst all the pleasing forms of godliness, the heart is too hard to discern the voice of the Spirit.  More than all, when unbelief, that walks by sight, and looks at itself and all around in the light of this world, is allowed to have its way, and the soul does not seek in childlike faith to live in the invisible, as revealed in the word, the heart gets so hardened that God’s word never enters.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 116-7)

 

 

  1. The World (Mt 13:1-26; Mk 4:1-25; Jn 15:19; 16:33; 17:5-25; ; Jam 1:27; 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17; 3:1)

 

Prosperity hardens the heart.  (William Wilberforce as quoted  by Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 90)

 

The kingdom of God always appears upside down to the human perspective.  We think it’s strange to die in order to live, or to give in order to receive, or to serve in order to lead.  Solomon captures the perpetual enigma of our looking-glass values just as Jesus describes them in the Sermon on the Mount.  He insists we should embrace sorrow over laughter, rebukes over praise, the long way instead of the short, and today instead of yesterday.

The truth is that it’s not the kingdom of God that is upside down–it’s the world.  It’s not the Word of God that turns life inside out–it’s the world that has reversed all the equations that God designed for our lives.   (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 189)

 

The characteristics of Christian discipleship are, from the world’s perspective, the marks of losers. (Alister Begg “A Christian Manifesto – Part 2″ )

 

Love to God will expel love to the world; love to the world will deaden the soul’s love to God.  “No man can serve two masters”: it is impossible to love God and the world, to serve him and mammon.  Here is a most fertile cause of declension in Divine love; guard against it as you would fortify yourself against your greatest foe.  It is a vortex that has engulfed millions of souls; multitudes of professing Christians have been drawn into its eddy, and have gone down into its gulf.  (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 56)

 

The world idolizes strength.  Jesus said God demonstrates his strength through people’s weakness.  The world values large numbers.  Jesus chose a small group to be his disciples and often ignored the crowds to focus on individuals.  The world seeks happiness.  Jesus said blessed are they that mourn.  The world is attracted to large, spectacular performances.  Jesus said his kingdom would be like a mustard seed.  The world does good deeds in order to win people’s praise.  Jesus said, do your good deeds in secret, because the Father will see them and give a reward.  The world uses slick marketing campaigns to attract people.  Jesus said no one can come to him unless the Father draws them.  Over and over again Jesus rejected human reasoning in favor of God’s wisdom.  What is the difference between human reasoning and God’s wisdom?  Eph 3:20 says: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV).  (Henry & Richard Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership, 66-7)

 

The Church of our day is sadly lacking in that separation from the world.  The intense attachment and obedience to Christ, the fellowship with His suffering and conformity to His death, and the devotion to Christ on the throne seem almost forgotten.  Where is our confident expectation of the never-ceasing flow of living water from the throne of grace which gives the assurance that the fullness of the Spirit will not be withheld?  No wonder the mighty power of God is seldom known and felt in our churches!  (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 73)

 

One barrier to full intimacy with the Savior is hurriedness.  Intimacy may not be rushed.  To meet with the Son of God takes time.  We cannot dash into his presence and choke down spiritual inwardness before we hurry to our one o’clock appointment.  Inwardness is time-consuming, open only to minds willing to sample spirituality in small bites, savoring each one.

Intimacy with Christ comes from entering his presence with inner peace rather than bursting into his presence from the hassles of life.  A relaxed contemplation of the indwelling Christ allows for an inner communion impossible to achieve while oppressed by busyness and care.

Holy living is not abrupt living.  No one who hurries into the presence of God is content to remain for long.  Those who hurry in, hurry out.  (Calvin Miller, “No Hurry,” in Couples’ NIV Devotional Bible, 935)

 

  1. Our flesh (our fallen, sinful nature) (Ex 8:19; 2 Kgs 17:14; Isa 65:12; Jer 7:24-27; 11:8; 17:9, 23; Rom 7:5, 18; 8:1-13; 1 Cor 5:5; 15:50; 2 Cor 11:3; Gal 5:16-21, 24; Eph 2:15; Col 2:11-13; 1 Tm 4:2; 2 Pt 2:10)

 

When a person’s “today” is over, it is then too late.  His heart gets harder every time he says no to Jesus Christ or to any part of His truth or will.  When the heart is soft, when the conscience is sensitive, when the intellect is convinced about Christ–that is the time to decide, when one is still pliable and responsive.  Otherwise he will eventually become spiritually hard, stubborn, and insensitive.  The gospel will no longer have any appeal.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 88)

 

With the heart man believeth, whether in God or the world.  As our heart is, so is our faith, and so our life.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 129)

 

That is the thing that provokes God–unbelief.  Not so much the unbelief of the head as the unbelief of the heart, when the heart will not yield to the plan of salvation, when men want to be saved by their own works, or else are indifferent altogether about whether they are saved.  It is heart-unbelief that damns men.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 68)

 

What causes hardening of the heart?  The deceitfulness of sin (3:13) seduces us away from taking pleasure in the goodness of God to finding pleasures outside of God’s will.  Lack of gratitude for God’s grace makes us callous and indifferent.  Doubt and fear can make us lax and unresponsive to God’s leadership.  Any time we close our minds to the word of God and shut out the influence of his Holy Spirit, we are in danger of hardening our hearts.  Look for signs of hardening, and turn back to God.  Ask him to keep you “soft” and receptive.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,40)

 

They had seen without knowing, that is, without perceiving what was obvious before their eyes.  This was not a matter of incapacity but of unwillingness.  They did not want to know, and so they refused to acknowledge, the plain truth about God:  in their ungodliness they suppressed the truth (Rom 1:18).  They squandered their day of opportunity, the “today” of God’s grace (see vv. 13ff. below).  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 143)

 

This phrase “the deceitfulness of sin” [he continues] ought to be understood in a much wider sense, so that the term includes even one’s own righteousness and wisdom.  For more than anything else one’s own righteousness and wisdom deceive one and work against faith in Christ, since we love the flesh and the sensations of the flesh and also riches and possessions, but we love nothing more ardently than our own feelings, judgment, purpose, and will, especially when they seem to be good.  For the same reason Christ said, when he healed the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda, that it was impossible for such people to be able to believe:  “How can you believe who receive glory from one another?” (Jn 5:44).  Why are they not able to believe?  Because the “deceitfulness of sin”, that is, the love of their own righteousness, blinds them and hardens their heart.  Yet at the same time they think it a good thing to glory in their own righteousness and be pleased with it, though that indeed is the very worst of all vices, the extreme antithesis of faith.  Faith rejoices and glories in the righteousness of God alone, that is, in Christ himself.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 149)

 

Notice very carefully that sin has a hardening power over the heart.  How does that come about?  Partly through our familiarity with sin.  We may look at hateful sin till we love it.  Familiarity with sin makes the conscience dull and at length deadens sensibility.

Security in wrongdoing leads also to this kind of hardening.  A man has been dishonest; he is found out, and he suffers for it.  I could almost thank God, for now he may cease from his evil course.  But one of the greatest curses that can happen to a man is for him to do wrong with impunity.  He will do it again, and again, and again, and he will proceed from bad to worse.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 70)

 

You want to know what makes a person thankful?  They think about their blessings.  You want to know what makes a person hard-hearted and stiff-necked?  They think about themselves.  —Anonymous

 

To “harden” contains the picture of something dried and stiff, like the branch of a tree that will not bend or yield.  Applied to the heart, which the Jew viewed as the seat of his entire being, it meant spiritual catastrophe.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 28)

 

Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat.  Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent of the darkness that is within us.  If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God.  Our first course of action must be, “Submit…to God.”  Then, as we “resist the devil…he will flee” (Jam 4:7).  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 16)

 

To screen the conscience from regret is one of the efforts of deceitful sin.  The man says to himself, “I did wrong; but what can you expect of poor flesh and blood?”  Sin will also add, “And, after all, though you were wrong, yet you were not so bad as you might have been.  Considering the temptation, you may wonder at your own moderation in transgression.  On the whole, you have behaved better than others would have done.”  Self-righteousness is poor stuff when it can be fashioned even out of our faults.  Such is the deceivableness of sin that it makes itself out to be praiseworthy.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 72)

 

There is nothing so hardening as delay.  When God speaks to us, He asks for a tender heart, open to the whispers of His voice of love.  The believer who answers the To-day of the Holy Ghost with the To-morrow of some more convenient season, knows not how he is hardening his heart; the delay, instead of making the surrender and obedience and faith easy, makes it more difficult.  It closes the heart for to-day against the Comforter, and puts off all hope and power of growth.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 125)

 

Nothing is more illogical or unreasonable than unbelief.  It refuses to accept the most overwhelming evidence–simply because unbelief does not want to believe.  As Jesus made clear in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, no evidence is sufficient for the person who does not want to believe.  “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead” (Lk 16:31).  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 90)

 

It is necessary to lay bare your heart before the living God.  Although sin may call itself by another name, you call it by its right name.  Pray that sin may appear sin; it cannot appear in a worse light.  Thus you will not so readily be caught in its traps and lures.  When you have sinned, then confess the great evil of your wickedness.  This humble penitence will be not only your way to pardon, but to future purity.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 79)

 

The Lord Himself testified they had done this on no less than 10 occasions (Nm 14:22).  As far as God was concerned, the whole 40 years in the wilderness was a time of testing revealing what the hearts of the Israelites were like (Dt 8:2).  But they flunked the test.  In spite of all the miracles God did before their eyes, they refused to believe He would do what He said.  This is why He became angry with them.  The more He did for them, the more they rebelled against Him.  Thus He became angry with that generation, keeping them in the wilderness until all the men of war (except Joshua and Caleb) died.  Only then would He allow the next generation to enter the land–which He referred to as His “rest” (Dt 12:9).  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 70)

 

Many think and speak of unbelief as a frailty; they wish to believe, but do not feel able; their faith, they say, is too weak.  And of course they have no sense of guilt or shame connected with it: not being able to do a thing is counted a sufficient excuse for not doing it.  God thinks differently.  The Holy Ghost speaks of the evil heart of unbelief.  The heart is the organ God created in man for holding fellowship with Himself.  Faith is its first natural function; by faith and love it lives in God.  It is the ear that hears the voice of God, the eye that can ever see Him and the unseen world; the capacity for knowing and receiving all that it grows into fellowship with the Person who speaks; its fruit is the reception of all God has to bestow.  Sin turned the heart from the unseen to the seen, from God to self, and faith in God lost the place it was meant to have, and became a faith in the visible world and its good.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 128)

 

The hardening of a tender conscience is a gradual process, something like the covering of a pond with ice on a frosty night.  At first you can scarcely see that freezing is going on at all.  There are certain signs that a thoroughly practiced eye may be able to detect as portents of ice, but most of us would see nothing.  By and bye, there is ice, but it would scarcely support a pin.  If you should place a needle on it ever so gently, it would fall through.  In due time you perceive a thin coating that might sustain a pebble.  Soon a child trips merrily over it, and if old winter holds his court long enough, it may be that a loaded wagon may be driven over the frozen lake, or a whole army may march without fear across the stream.  There may be no rapid hardening at any one moment, and yet the freezing is complete enough in the end.

Apostates and great backsliders do not reach their worst at one bound.  The descent to hell is sometimes a precipice, but far more often a smooth and gentle slope.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 74)

 

A tender heart is a pliable and responsive one; a hard heart is obdurate and rebellious.  Here hardening of the heart is attributed to the creature: it is due to impenitency (Rom 2:5), unbelief (Heb 3:12), disobedience (Ps 95:8).  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 168)

 

“I chose not to believe in God because it was for me a means for political and sexual liberation.  —Aldous Huxley

 

  1. The Devil (Satan) (Jn 8:44; Acts 5:3; 13:10; 26:18; 2 Cor 2:11; 4:4; Eph 6:10-18; 2 Thess 2:3-9; 2 Tm 2:26; 1 Pt 5:8; 1 Jn 3:7-10; Rv 12:9)

 

The devil can traffic in any area of darkness, even the darkness that still exists in a Christian’s heart.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 15)

 

We must realize that it is not Satan who defeats us; it is our openness to him.  To perfectly subdue the devil we must walk in the “shelter of the Most High” (Ps 91:1).   Satan is tolerated for one purpose:  the warfare between the devil and God’s saints thrust us into Christlikeness, where the nature of Christ become our only place of rest and security.   God allows warfare to facilitate His eternal plan, which is to make man in His image.   (Francis Frangipane; as quoted in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word, 323)

 

The devil is the great deceiver, and the aim of all his deception, as with temptation, is that we desire anything–even good, safe, wholesome things–above God.  He offers a thousand substitutes and threatens us with a thousand miseries in this world.  When we pray for deliverance from him, we mean:  Never let us be attracted by the substitutes, and never let us infer from our miseries that God is not our all-satisfying Friend.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 147-8)

 

The only actions Satan really cares about are future actions.  The sins of the past are gone.   He cannot change them.  He can only deepen them, by influencing our future responses to them, or add to them, with more future sins.  All the sins that can be committed are future sins.  If Satan is going to bring us into sinful states of mind and into sinful actions, he will have to use promises.  This is what he did with Adam and Eve.  This is what he does with us.  He holds out alternative promises to the promises of God.  He subverts faith in future grace with promises of God-neglecting pleasure. (John Piper; Future Grace, 327)

 

We are not tempted to provoke our Maker, or willfully cast off the authority of righteousness.  We are not invited to do these things for their own sake.  No, no; we are moved to do evil under the idea that some good will come of it.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 71)

 

Fine words are often used to cover foul deeds, yet names do not alter things.  Call garlic perfume, and it remains a rank odor.  Style the fiend an angel of light, and he is nonetheless a devil.  Sin, call it by what names you may, is still evil, only evil, and that continually.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 71)

 

Sin has often whispered in the vain minds of men, “This action might be very wrong for other people, but it will not be evil in you.”  Sin will also flatter a man with the notion that he can go just so far, and no farther, and retreat with ease.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 71)

 

One of the most subtle and dangerous snares into which Satan leads us is seeking the Holy Spirit, this most solemn of all gifts, for our own ends.  (R. A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, 50)

 

What deceitfulness in Satan to call himself a lie instead of a liar as Jesus Christ terms him!  If he is a lie, then he is not he, but merely a false thought and therefore non-existent.  But if he is a liar, as the Lord Jesus Christ said, then he exists and although he is not corporeal he is most certainly a mind, the source of deceit.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Freedom, 27)

 

It has been said that Satan builds a man up so that he can tear him down.  The Lord tears a man down so that He can build him up!  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 119)

 

TACTICS AND WEAPONS FOR RESISTING THE DEVIL

We are commanded to “resist” the devil, to take a stand against him, now!  Those intent on submitting to God ask, “how?”

 

TACTICS: God has not left us without battle plans.  Here are some of his instructions:

 

Refuse to accept Satan’s suggestion that we can be                                                  Rom 8:38-39

separated from Christ.

 

Ignore the temptation to doubt God’s grace.                                          1 Jn 3:19-24

 

Reject the lie that we are beyond forgiveness.                                       1 Jn 1:9

 

Pray before, during, and after attacks by the devil.                                                   Phil 4:4-7; 1 Thes 5:16-24; Jas 1:2-8

 

Allow Christ to replace our way of thinking with his                                               Phil 2:5-8; 4:8-

way of thinking.                                                  9; Rom 12:1-2

 

WEAPONS: While the devil employs weapons of terror and illusion, God equips us with weapons of real power.  They are only ineffective when we leave them unused.  Among them are:

 

The belt of truth–wherever the truth is spoken and                                                   Eph 6:14; Jn

lived, the devil is unwelcome                                                                                        8:32; 14:6; 17:17

 

The breastplate of righteousness–living rightly is                                                    Eph 6:14; Heb

the result of advanced training in the faith.  When we                                             5:12-14; 1 Pt 2:12

are living under God’s guidance we are on guard

against the devil’s attacks.

 

The footwear of the gospel of peace–communicating                                             Eph 6:15; Mt

the gospel is taking back territory controlled by the                                                 24:14; Rom

devil.                                                                                                                                  1:16

 

The shield of faith–our faith in Christ makes him                                                     Eph 6:16; Heb

our shield and protector.                                                                                                 11:1; 1 Pt 1:3-5

 

The helmet of salvation–the salvation that God offers                                             Eph 6:17; 1

is our eternal protection.                                                                                               Thes 5:8-9; Rom 1:16

 

The sword of the Spirit, God’s Word–the Bible is a                                                 Eph 6:17; 2 Tm

weapon when its truth is put to use, exposing the devil’s                     3:16; Heb 4:12

work and helping those who are losing the battle.

 

Prayer–in prayer we rely on God’s help.                                                Eph 6:18-20; Heb

4:16; Jas 5:13-16

(Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 102-3)

 

 

  1. Look to the Body of Christ to help you fight. (Heb 3:13; see also: 1 Thess 5:11; “One another”)

 

The Church is one body; the sickness of one member is a danger to the whole body.  Each one must live to care for those around him.  Each member is entrusted by Christ to the love and care of his brethren, and is dependent on their help.  Believers who are joined together in one house, in a neighborhood, in a church, are responsible for one another; they must take heed that there be not in anyone the unbelief that falls away from God.  They are called to help and encourage each other so that all may at all times continue steadfast in the faith.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 131)

 

Just as the Word of God comes to us fresh each day, so does the opportunity to harden our hearts against it.  Though the turn away from God toward hardness of heart begins at the individual level (“any one of you,” 3:12), the cure for this calcification is found in the corporate body, the church:  “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today” (3:13).  This is what it means to become “partakers of Christ” (3:14).  Though we trust Him as individual sinners, the moment we believe, we are baptized into His body and become members of one another (1 Cor 12:13-14).  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 57)

 

The metaphor of the church as a body is employed by the NT to represent both our union with Christ and mutual dependence:  “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Cor 12:21).  We need each other:  “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:5).  We need each others’ gifts (Eph 4:11-16; 1 Cor 12-14; Rom 12).  We need each other’s graces (as in the many “one anothers” found throughout the NT:  love one another, be kind to one another, bear one another’s burdens, etc.).  We need each other’s fellowship.  So we are warned, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together.”  The writer to the Hebrews sees the public assembly as the primary place in which the mutual stimulation to “love and good deeds” takes place:  “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 330-1)

 

We must “encourage one another day after day. . . so that none of [us] will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  When was the last time you did that for someone. . . or allowed someone to do that for you?  This is more than simply making an encouraging phone call or sending a friendly email.  It involves spending time with one another, life-on-life–the kind of fellowship one finds in a close-knit church community.  You get to know the struggles and temptations of others while they get to know yours.  Only then can you begin to exhort and encourage one another in this way.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 59)

 

It is often a long and laborious process by which conscience is completely seared.  This dreadful work usually begins thus:  the man’s first carefulness and tenderness departs.  The next distressing sign of growing hardness is increasing neglect or laxity of private devotion, without any corresponding shock of the spiritual sensibilities on account of it.  Another symptom is the fact that hidings of the Savior’s face do not cause that acute and poignant sorrow that they produced in former times.  Still further, when the soul is hardened to this extent, it is probable that sin will no longer cause such grief as it once did.  The next step in this ladder, down, down, down to destruction, is that sin thus causing less grief, is indulged in more freely.  After this there is still a greater hardening of heart:  the man comes to dislike rebukes.  He has sinned so long, and yet he has been held in such respect in the Christian church, that if you give half a hint about his sin, he looks at you with a sharp look as if you were insulting him.  If this hardening work goes on, the day at last comes to such a man that the Word of God loses all effect upon him.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 78-9)

 

III.   Real believers will take all measures to hold on to the end. (Heb 3:14; see also: Rom 8:30-39; Eph 4:14; 6:13, 18; Phil 1:6; Col 1:22-23; 2 Thess 2:15-17; 2 Tm 1:12-13; 4:18; Heb 2:1; 3:5-6; 4:14; 10:23; 12:1-15; 1 Pt 1:4-7; 2 Pt 1:10-11; 1 Jn 2:18-19; Rv 2:7, 10-11, 17, 25-28; 3:5, 11-12, 21; 21:7)

 

Our perseverance will be the seal of our being partakers of Christ.  The faith by which, at conversion, we know at once that we have Christ, grows clearer and brighter, and more mightily effectual in opening up the treasures of Christ, as we hold it fast firm unto the end.  Persevering faith is the witness that we have Christ, because through it Christ exercises His keeping and perfecting power.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 137)

 

These remarks certainly encouraged the readers to hold firm and to keep their hope in Christ and not in Jewish tradition or ritual.  Perseverance becomes the reality test for faith.  Those who profess Christ ought to demonstrate true faith.  God had required faithfulness from the great leader Moses and even from the Son himself.  All of God’s people, his household, the brothers and sisters of Christ, must remain faithful.  Only those who “hold firm” to their faith are part of God’s house (see 3:14).  Christ lives in believers; he will help us remain courageous and hopeful to the end.  We are not saved by being steadfast and firm in our faith, but our courage and hope do reveal that our faith is real.  Without this enduring faithfulness, we could easily be blown away by the winds of temptation, false teaching, or persecution.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 37)

 

Perseverance does not gain salvation but demonstrates the reality that true salvation indeed has been inaugurated.  If the end comes and a person is not in relationship with Christ, it means that the person had never truly become Christ’s companion.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 136)

 

There is nothing, I am persuaded, in regard to which professors of Christianity fall into more dangerous practical mistakes than this.  They suspect everything sooner than the soundness and firmness of their belief.  There are many who are supposing themselves believers who have no true faith at all,–and so it would be proved were the hour of trial, which is perhaps nearer than they are aware, to arrive; and almost all who have faith suppose they have it in greater measure than they really have it.  There is no prayer that a Christian needs more frequently to present than, “Lord, increase my faith”; “deliver me from an evil heart of unbelief.”  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 180)

 

I cannot with too much earnestness urge every Christian reader to learn well the two stages of the Christian.  There are the carnal, and there are the spiritual; there are those who remain babes, and those who are full-grown men.  There are those who come up out of Egypt, but then remain in the wilderness of a worldly life; there are those who follow the Lord fully, and enter the life of rest and victory.  Let each of us find out where we stand, and taking earnest heed to God’s warnings, with our whole heart press on to go all the length in following Jesus, in seeking to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 141)

 

Inherent in the author’s exhortations–“fix your thoughts on Jesus” (3:1), “do not harden your hearts” (3:8), “see to it. . . that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart” (3:12), and “encourage one another daily” (3:13)–lies an understanding that faithfulness is volitional rather than merely emotional or even intellectual.  Thus we cultivate faithfulness by listening to God’s voice and choosing life patterns of obedience.  Correspondingly we must reject sin, which hardens the heart toward God.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 145)

 

When we are walking with God, we only need to know that an action is forbidden, and we avoid it.  We shun the evil thing when it is plainly evil.  But sin puts on another dress, and comes to us speaking a language that is not its own.  So even those who would avoid sin as sin may, by degrees, be tempted to evil, and deluded into wrong.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 71)

 

Worship Point:  Look to Jesus and Worship the God Who has provided us with everything we need to win the fight against the world, our flesh and the Devil.  (Zech 4:6; Rom 8:31-39; 2 Cor 10:4-6; Eph 6:10-18; )

 

The race of faith is to be all out all the time; the course on which it is run is hazardous and obstacle filled; and it never lets up!  How can we do it?  How can we hold out?  “Fix your thoughts on Jesus,” the author urges, “the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”  Let that superior Jesus and his Word be the sure basis of our confidence.  God rest our faith not on what we are, but on what Jesus is:  not on what we do, but on what Jesus has done.  Then our journey in life’s wilderness, unlike Israel’s, will have both a good beginning and a good end.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 32)

 

This passage is an illustrative, historical reminder of the obstinate Israelites who died in the desert and were denied entrance to the land God had promised them.  The readers are exhorted to hold on to their courage and hope as members of the household of God.  They cannot turn their backs on Christ in unbelief, for turning away from Christ is falling away from God.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 93)

 

Gospel Application: Our hearts are always going to be inclined to go astray unless we have invited Jesus into our hearts.  Then our hearts and minds are in the process of being transformed.  (Isa 53; Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:22-27; 2 Cor 5:17)

 

Calvin refers to this “evil heart of unbelief” as a heart diseased with sin, corruption, and wickedness that leads to unbelief.  Only Christ can heal such disease, giving a new heart of faith in the new creation.  Without such healing we suffer a terminal disease, here symbolized in the death of the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness.  (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 95)

 

A common way of provoking God and hardening the heart is that indicated by the context.  “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness.”  That is to say, by unbelief, by saying, “God cannot save me.  He is not able to forgive me; the blood of Christ cannot cleanse me; I am too much of a sinner for God’s mercy to deal with.”  That is a copy of what the Israelites said:  “God cannot take us into Canaan; He cannot conquer the sons of Anak.”  Although you may look upon unbelief, as a slight sin, it is the sin of sins.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 63-4)

 

Most people do not need more proof that God is real or that Jesus is His Son and the Savior.  They need to hate and repent of their sin and to commit themselves to Him.  A God who is continually tested will never be accepted.  The one who tests God today does so for the same reason as did the Israelites in Moses’ day–to put Him off, because they love their sin, their own way, their own plans too much to give them up for God’s.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 90)

 

When a person becomes spiritually hardened, he rarely is aware of it.  He can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ time and time again and not respond.  My father often used the well-known expression, “The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.”  If your heart is not melted in faith, it will be hardened in unbelief.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 93)

 

Only those believers who unwaveringly continue to profess their faith in Jesus are saved.  Only faith keeps the believers in a living relationship with Jesus Christ.  As the writer says in Heb 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  Faith is the basic substance of our sharing in Christ.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 96)

 

We are saved by faith; we are lost through unbelief.  The heart is purified by faith; the heart is hardened by unbelief.  Faith brings us nigh to God; unbelief is departure from God” (Saphir).  There is no sin so great but it may be pardoned, if the sinner believe; but “he that believeth not shall be damned.”  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 186-7)

 

The great practical aim of the Epistle is to call us to faith.  It is with this view that it will show us what a sure ground we have for it in the word and oath of God, in the person and power of our heavenly High Priest.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 127)

 

If doctrine becomes our emphasis, we are being led astray.  We are not changed by doctrine; we are changed by seeing Jesus (2 Cor 3:18).  Anointed teachings are essential for the nourishment of the Christ that is being formed within us, but whenever a truth becomes our focus, it will distract us.  For this reason Satan often comes as an angel of light, or “messenger of truth.”  Truth can deceive us.  Only in the Truth, Jesus, is there life.  He did not come just to teach us truth; He came to be Truth.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 81)

 

Your hearts are every day either softening or hardening.  The sun that shines with vehement heat melts the wax, but it, at the same time, hardens the clay.  The effect of the gospel is always present in some degree:  it is a savor of life unto life, or else a savor of death unto death, to all who hear it.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 78)

 

The last line of the verse implies that if people really knew the ways of God, they would walk in them.  But these people did not know.  Their ignorance was culpable, not innocent.  They were not blamed simply for not knowing but for not knowing things they ought to have known and acted on.  They did not take the trouble to learn.  To neglect opportunity is serious.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 35)

 

Spiritual Challenge: We all need accountability TODAY to stay true.  Get with a life group, accountability partner or (at the very least) make sure you are at worship regularly to prevent you from going astray.  (Acts 2:42; Rom 15:14; 1 Cor 1:10; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 5:11; Heb 3:13; 10:25; NT: “one another” )

 

GOD WANTS US TO FIGHT FOR THESE PROMISES–TO FIGHT THE DEMONS OF HOPELESSNESS, DOUBT, DISCOURAGEMENT AND DESPAIR AND CAST THEM AWAY FROM US AND STAND FIRMLY ON GOD’S WORD!!!  HE WANTS TO FIGHT THE ENEMY SO HE CAN GLORIFY HIMSELF THROUGH OUR FAITH!  (Sharon Titus, “Spiritual Warfare 101” study)

 

My brother, only the heart is hard that does not know it is hard.  Only he is hardened who does not know he is hardened.  When we are concerned for our coldness, it is because of the yearning God has put there.  God has not rejected us.  —Bernard of Clairvaux  (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?, 90)

 

The moment we hear God speak, we should respond.  To delay is to allow hardness to set in like rigor mortis until our faith and obedience are as lifeless as a corpse ready for burial.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 56)

 

Isolation is the enemy of godliness.  Individual Christians who stew over their problems alone are easy prey for the devil.  If he can get them when they are going over their problems in their minds, all by themselves (or constantly telling them to another person), he can pick them off every time.  It’s an unhealthy atmosphere.  But let Christians get together often to share blessings and discuss what they have in the Lord, and they’ll be strengthened every time.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 75)

 

Hard hearts can be the result of disobedience, rebellion, lack of trust, neglect of worship, refusal to submit, and ungratefulness for what God has done for us.  Rather than rebelling, we must endure.  We must seek maturity, not taking Christ, his work, or his kindness for granted.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,39)

 

During the assault–we must persevere in “thought capturing.”  God will not let it go on for any longer than HE HAS DESIGNED.  HE IS IN CONTROL HERE AND NOT THE ENEMY.  While we STAND we continue to take EVERY THOUGHT captive.  The enemy will continue to hurl everything at us to break through our wall of resistance.  If one should get by us–and we begin to feel a downward pull in our spirit, we at once find the thought, grab it the minute we recognize it and say “NO!”  “I WON’T HAVE THIS.”  And we replace it–refuse to think on it, with PRAISE AND A PROMISE.  (Sharon Titus, “Spiritual Warfare 101”  study)

 

Someone said “Claiming God’s promises is the heart of our prayer life.  We simply take back to God His Word (promise)–what He said He would do.”  In other words, we don’t have to try to twist His arm and persuade Him to do something He’s not inclined to do.  We don’t have to feel like God probably doesn’t want to do “this or that” for me, but I will ask Him anyway.  GOD SAYS HIS PROMISES ARE YEA AND AMEN!  It brings great joy to His heart when His children come to Him and say “Please fulfill this promise in my life” and then persist and persevere in claiming it UNTIL it is fulfilled.  How many times have we wasted a promise and not seen it fulfilled because our faith wavers or we become apathetic in our prayer life.  (Sharon Titus, “Spiritual Warfare 101” study)

 

The careless heart is an easy prey to Satan in the hour of temptation; his principal batteries are raised against the heart; if he wins that, he wins all, for it commands the whole man:  and alas! how easy a conquest is a neglected heart!  It is not more difficult to surprise such a heart, than for an enemy to enter that city whose gates are opened and unguarded.  It is the watchful heart that discovers and suppresses the temptation before it comes to its strength.  (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 33)

 

Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat.  Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent of the darkness that is within us.  If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God.  Our first course of action must be, “Submit…to God.”  Then, as we “resist the devil…he will flee” (James 4:7).  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 16)

 

The people were so convinced that God couldn’t deliver them that they simply lost their faith in him.  People with hardened hearts are so stubbornly set in their ways that they cannot turn to God.  This does not happen suddenly or all at once; it is the result of a series of choices to disregard God’s will.  Let people know that those who resist God long enough, God will toss aside like hardened bread, useless and worthless.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,38)

 

Today is the only time we have.  Happily for us, the Holy Ghost says, “Today, if you hear his voice.”  Never do I find Him saying “tomorrow.”  His servants have often been repulsed by men like Felix who have said, “Go your way for this time.  When I have a more convenient season I will send for you.”  And never did any apostle say, “Repent tomorrow, or wait for some convenient season to believe.”  The constant testimony of the Holy Ghost, with regard to the one single part of time, which I have shown indeed to be all time, is, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 62)

 

Every command of Christ bears the date today.  If a thing is right, it should be done at once; if it is wrong, stop it immediately.  Whatever you are bound to do, you are bound to do now.  There may be some duties of a later date, but for the present that which is the duty, is the duty now.  There is an immediateness about the calls of Christ.  What He bids you do, you must not delay to do.  The Holy Ghost says “Today.”  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 66)

 

So What?:  Your eternal destiny is dependent upon how seriously you take this warning from the writer of Hebrews.  Do not harden your heart through sin and unbelief.   Without the life of Jesus in other believers helping you, you will not make it and enter HIS rest.  (Heb 3:13; 10:25)

 

Unbelief is ever the cause of disobedience; they could not enter in because of unbelief and disobedience.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 140)

 

Because Christ is greater than Moses, the loss incurred in rejecting Christ is greater than the loss in rejecting Moses.  The rebels in Moses’ day missed the promised blessing of entry into earthly Canaan, but rebellion against Christ forfeits the even greater blessings of eternal life.  To turn away from “the living God” is a huge mistake, for as Hebrews later warns, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 103)

 

What was God’s response to the Israelites’ failure?  He drew a line in the sand.  He wouldn’t tolerate their incessant murmuring, rebellion, and complaining anymore.  They had cried out, “Would that we had died in this wilderness” (Nm 14:2).  Now God responded with an answer to their prayer:  “Just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness” (Nm 14:28-29).  Clearly, God takes hardened hearts seriously!  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 56)

 

Blind to the fact that it was they, not God, who were being tested, they set themselves up as judges over God and refused to put their trust in him unless he performed what they demanded–and this in spite of the fact that throughout the forty years in the wilderness they saw his works.  To put God to the test in this way is thus plainly an evidence of unbelief and ingratitude.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 142-3)

 

If ever there was a matter that needed all your thought, all your prudence, and all your care, it is the matter of your soul’s salvation.  If you do trifle with anything, let it be with your wealth, or with your health, but certainly not with your eternal interests.  I recommend all men to take heed to everything that has to do with this life, as well as with that which is to come, for in the little the great may lie concealed, and the neglect of our estate may end in mischief to our immortal spirit.  Certainly, the neglect of the body might lead to great injury to the soul, but if ever neglect deserves condemnation, it is when it concerns our higher nature.  If we do not carefully see to it, that which is our greatest glory may become our most tremendous curse.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 77-8)

 

It was not the sons of Anak that kept them out.  It was not the waste howling wilderness.  It was nothing but their own unbelief.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 77)

 

We must read the word of God privately and personally, meditating on its life-changing message.  Each new day demands a fresh appointment with God, made real through systematic Bible reading and prayer.  It must not be hurried; we need this daily meeting with God so that we do not neglect “the hearing of the word” in our own hearts and minds.  In our own day, some Christians, fearful of inhibiting legalism or mere conventionalism, have spoken or written disparagingly of the daily time with God.  In a society where discipline is discouraged and authority despised, it does not require great perception to see how some unhelpful and destructive modern thought-forms have influenced contemporary Christian thinking.  The Christian who does not make a special point of setting aside in each day a particular time for the cultivation of his spiritual life is not likely to make significant progress in spiritual maturity.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 86)

 

There’s a difference between proving a proposition and accepting a proposition.  We might be able to prove Christianity is true beyond reasonable doubt, but only you can choose to accept it.  Please consider this question to see if you are open to acceptance:  If someone could provide reasonable answers to the most significant questions and objections you have about Christianity–reasonable to the point that Christianity seems true beyond a reasonable doubt–would you then become a Christian?  Think about that for a moment.  If your honest answer is no, then your resistance to Christianity is emotional or volitional, not merely intellectual.  No amount of evidence will convince you because evidence is not what’s in your way–you are.  In the end, only you know if you are truly open to the evidence for Christianity.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 31)

 

It is only one who knows Hebrew who can expound a Hebrew writing; it is only the Spirit of God who knows the mind of God and can reveal it to us.  Take, for instance, what is said of entering into the rest of God, anyone who will take trouble, and study it carefully, will be able to form some conception of what it means.  But truly to know the rest of God, to enter into it, to enjoy it in living power,–none but the Holy Spirit can teach us this.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 121)

 

The author of Hebrews associates belief in God so closely with obedience to him that the two are practically indistinguishable.  This association grows out of the author’s use of the desert wanderers as an example.  They were disobedient to the voice of God in the desert because they did not trust him to win them entrance to the land of promise.  In one sense, we can say that all sin originates from thinking that God has less than our best interests at heart (e.g., Gn 3:1-7).  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 146)

 

Sin does not uncover all its hideousness, nor reveal its horrible consequences; but it comes to us in a very subtle way, offering us advantage.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 71)

 

A man who never hears the gospel at all may provoke God, but the man that sins after he has heard it again and again and again, and has the sound of it ringing in his ears, provokes God with a sevenfold degree of provocation.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 75)

 

It is not the weather, the economy, our boss, our neighbor, our wife, our husband, our children, our car, our home, our looks or our intelligence (or lack of it) that keeps us out of the Promised Land:  a place of peace, security and rest.  No!  What keeps us out of the Promised Land is our lack of faith in the promises of God. — Pastor Keith

 JESUS:

FIGHTS FOR US

 

 

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