Watch Out for Unbelief
Well good morning once again. It’s good to be with you today. Go ahead and turn in your Bible to the book of Hebrews, chapter 3. We are going to be diving into verses 7-19 this morning. As you do that I want to call your attention to a couple of additional announcements. On June 26 we are going to have the opportunity to welcome my friend Josh Monda to worship service. He will be preaching that morning. I’m still planning to be with you that day but have asked Monda to come in so that I can focus on preparing to speak at youth camp in July. As far as camp, it is called Impact University and it is July 10-16. There are three of us from Hope going to serve. Dayna and Simon are going to serve as family leaders and I will be the camp speaker. Please be praying for us as we prepare and go to minister to teenagers.
Now we turn our attention to Hebrews. This letter to the Hebrew Christians most likely started out as a sermon. These first recipients of this message were facing opposition to their faith. The conflict heating up and they were under fire spiritually. The stakes were incredibly high. I imagine the author of Hebrews like Mel Gibson’s character in the movie, “The Patriot.” If you’ve not seen this film, at the end of it there’s a big battle and it looks like the American revolutionary army is going to be defeated by the red coats. They soldiers are beginning to retreat but Gibson grabs the flag from a retreating flag bearer and he runs toward the front as guys are retreating past him and he yells, “hold the line!” His buddy who is a leader sees it and is inspired and yells, “push forward, men!” And they advance. I hate to spoil the movie for you but it’s like twenty years old and it’s about a battle two hundred years ago so, you missed your chance. But this is how I see the writer of Hebrews. He’s the flag bearer who is waving the banner and urging us to press forward. But this author’s banner is Christ. He’s warning of danger, points out what is at stake, and urges us to press on, to persevere. This letter is like a wartime communication.
So when we come to verse 7 of chapter 3 and we see the second of the warnings in Hebrews, we need to take it seriously as a missive sent to those in the battle of their lives. Follow along as I read and let’s see what the Lord would say to us today in His Word.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ ” 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 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. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
This is the Word of the Lord. Let’s pray and ask God to help us understand and apply it to our lives.
Lord willing, today I want to cover four ways to watch out for unbelief in our lives and to combat it. Those ways are, listen to God’s voice, guard your heart, exhort one another, and hold onto Jesus. Let’s begin with listening to God’s voice.
I. Listen to God’s voice.
I. Listen to God’s voice.
Verse seven gives us another one of those transition words that point us back to what we just read and its relationship to what the author is about to say. Because Jesus is so much greater than Moses, don’t fall back into those old covenant ways that are not sufficient to save but rally around the banner of Christ. Rally around the only message that can truly save, around the one who sanctifies us, makes us holy… rally around Christ Jesus, who is the faithful Son of God.
There is a quote here from Psalm 95:7-11. The author uses these verses to exhort the readers and us to not act in faithless ways like the Israelites did. He’s transitioning from using the good examples of Jesus and Moses in the previous section to using the poor example of the Israelites and their revellion against God.
Today - a sense of urgency about this. We only have today. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off for a day that may never come. Do it today. Decide now. Trust Jesus now.
if you hear His voice - a very important phrase
If you hear His voice, it is only through an act of mercy and salvation. Albert Mohler writes, “ God speaks in order to save his people. The original author teaches his audience that God has graciously spoken so that they might be saved. Now they must obey God’s voice and faithfully follow it into eternity.”
But how does God speak? How do we hear His voice? What are we talking about here? The author of Hebrews spoke to this in Hebrews 1:1-2 at the very beginning of the book.
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
How God speaks. God speaks through His Word primarily. Phillips writes,
“The Holy Spirit has given God’s Word through the Scriptures and now speaks to us by applying that Word to our hearts.”
I’m astounded at the Christians that I know who want to know what God wants them to do but have no regard for spending time digging into His Word. Are you listening to hear Him in the way He speaks?
He speaks personally to us through the Word of God, the Bible. One prominent pastor and theologian said it this way, “God talks to me no other way, but don’t get this wrong, he talks to me very personally. I open my Bible in the morning to meet my friend, my Savior, my Creator, my Sustainer. I meet him and he talks to me. . . . I’m not denying providence, not denying circumstances, not denying people, I’m just saying that the only authoritative communion I have with God with any certainty comes through the words of this book.”
Verse 7 - The Holy Spirit speaks, meaning that He still speaks through HIs Word. It’s living and active.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hearing from God in the Bible is a supernatural experience.
Nancy Guthrie in an insightful article writes, “God has spoken and is, in fact, still speaking to us through the Scriptures. We don’t need any more special revelation. What we need is illumination, and this is exactly what Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit will give to us as his word abides in us. The Holy Spirit of God works through the Word of God to counsel and comfort and convict (John 16:7-15). Through the Scriptures we hear God teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Word of God transforms us by renewing our minds so that we think more like him and less like the world. Instead of needing God to dictate to us what to do, we become increasingly able to “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).”
When you pray and converse with God, and you think he is speaking to you, are you deep enough in the Word that you can discern what it is He is saying to you?
Not every idea you have is a God idea.
Some of you may not be able to hear Him because you don’t know what His voice sounds like. You’ve never met him. You are not a Christian.
Some of you may not want to hear his voice. Maybe you don’t care to hear from God in His Word. This should scare you. If you don’t want to hear from God ands have no desire for the things of Christ you are probably lost in your sin.
The author here moves from the positive examples of Moses and Jesus to the negative example of the Israelites.
The author exhorts his audience and us to not harden our hearts as in the rebellion
-by their disobedience, they fell in the wilderness. They failed to enter the promised land because they hardened their hearts.
The story of the rebellion takes place in the book of Exodus. God had used the plagues and had Moses lead the people out of Egypt. God had freed them from their slavery and they now had the audacity to distrust that He would provide for them. They complained and grumbled against Him and even went so far as to suggest that they would be better off back in Egypt. This is the height of ingratitude and unbelief. It’s hard to grasp it fully. But if we start to think about it, we take on a very similar attitude at times when we have something less intense than possible starvation in the wilderness to deal with. God had shown Himself to be both willing and able to supply their needs but they didn’t trust Him and worse, they complained against Him.
2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
And this was not the first time they complained.
they had seen his mighty works in Egypt... (plagues, passover, they were set free, the Red Sea)
How did they harden their hearts?
We know from reading Scripture that sometimes God hardens the hearts of men but sometimes men harden their hearts toward God.
- example of Pharoah
- Skleryno - Greek word used... to harden, stiffen, or become stubborn
How do we harden our hearts?
The deceitfulness of sin (v. 13) - Isaiah 44:20 - Romans 7:11 - Ephesians 4:22
- the grass is always greener
-did not remember the wonderful things done for them
Sin is a trickster. It wants to rule over you and destroy you. If you are a believer in Christ it's power has been defeated but yet it pulls and it tugs and tries to deceive you into thinking it is better than the joy of following Christ. Sin tries to get you to follow shallow desires and seek your own happiness in your own way.
It is a slow fade... Illustration of students and adults I have seen this happen to...
THIS IS WHAT IS BEING WARNED AGAINST.
They tested God and He was provoked with them. He was angry at their rebellion. They had been disobedient and defiant to the Lord and they kept it up in spite of His great kindness to them.
II. Guard your heart
II. Guard your heart
an evil, unbelieving heart leads you to fall away from the living God heart check up
- what is in your heart?
- Examine yourself.
We have to define evil and unbelieving heart in the way scripture would.
-what are your greatest desires?
-what do you spend the majority of your time thinking about and doing?
- what is utmost in your affections? Are there things in your heart and your life that you actively put before God? Have you let the deceptiveness of sin slip in?
When God is talking to Cain in Genesis 4 He says, Genesis 4: 6-7
6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
This idea of crouching at your door is like a predator, ready to pounce on it’s prey. It’s desire for you is something to be resisted and guarded against.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
- 2 Peter 1:10-11
10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When we go through our time of testing in the wilderness, how will we respond?
A.W. Pink wrote,
Testings reveal the state of our hearts—a crisis neither makes nor mars a man, but it does manifest him. While all is smooth sailing we appear to be getting along nicely. But are we? Are our minds stayed upon the Lord, or are we, instead, complacently resting in His temporal mercies? When the storm breaks, it is not so much that we fail under it, as that our habitual lack of leaning upon God, of daily walking in dependency upon Him, is made evident.
III. Exhort each other.
III. Exhort each other.
While it’s still today… while you can… make the most of every opportunity that you get...
The meaning of exhort
strongly encourage or urge someone to do something everyday - not limited to Sunday's here
IV. Hold onto Jesus. (v. 14)
IV. Hold onto Jesus. (v. 14)
- If we hold our original confidence till the end (perseverance), we can know that we have come to share in Christ.
author repeats again the warning in v. 15
- Psalm 95
Jesus promises His rest to His people. We must hold unswerving to him. Persevereance.
The beauty of the Gospel
- you didn’t do this… that’s the beauty of it...
God, man, sin, redemption
How does the Gospel speak directly into this. - It's why we can hear God's voice.
- It's how we guard our hearts.
- It's what we exhort each other in.
- It's how we hold onto Jesus. He’s the only one who can help us. He’s the only one who can save us and change us.
Self-help doesn't work. It's one of the largest segments in the publishing world. Every year there are a thousand self help books put out. Why? Jared C. Wilson, in his new book "The Imperfect Disciple" says,
"It's because they don't work. We keep looking for the answer within us, as if we'll find it in the same place as the problems. Self-help is like sticking your broken hand in a blender, thinking that'll fix it."
We don’t need to fix ourselves. We can’t. We don’t need to get better. We need Jesus to make us new. The gospel says that He does. So cling to Him. Cling to the crucified. Cling to the Holy One. Cling to the King for dear life.
Conclusion and call to respond