Robert Wurtz II
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:12–19 NKJV)
Our passage begins by arresting our attention with the word, “Beware.” It is translated from the Greek verb blepo and is in the present active imperative. This means that we must constantly be on guard against what the writer says next, (…) lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. That is to say, we are to constantly guard against our own heart turning against and away from God.
The writer prescribes a solution for this problem. We are to exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today.” The allurement of sin (with all of its trickery and fraudulence) when entertained, has a hardening effect upon our heart. As the heart hardens it becomes an evil heart of unbelief. In other words, it ceases to agree with what God says about the sins that a person wants to partake of. The heart becomes recalcitrant (uncooperative, defiant, rebellious, etc.). Again, we are to exhort one another daily. Exhort is the Greek word parakaleo and it means to come along side to help. We have the addition of, while it is called “Today.” In other words, while there is still hope. The longer a person entertains sin the eviler their heart becomes and the more difficult it is to reverse the hardness.
We are reminded that we must remain steadfast in our confidence to the end and are given the illustration of Israel in the wilderness as an example of what not to do. They started out in faith and obedience, but as time went on they rebelled against God in their hearts. Their attitude towards God got worse and worse. The more He revealed about Himself the less they wanted to cooperate. In time they realized that they didn’t want God. They preferred the gods of Egypt.
Understand that Egypt was a picture of this present evil world and Pharoah was a picture of the Devil (Satan). When the Israelites rebelled against God they were turning back to this present evil world and all that that entails. Rather than coming out of the world to be a unique people separated unto God, they wanted to be like everyone else and do what everyone else does. In fact, when Moses came down from the mountain with his face glowing with the glory of God they were afraid and didn’t want anything to do with it. Why? Jesus would answer this when He stated that light has come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. When God exposed them as sinful they rejected that revelation and preferred that God stay away rather than submitting to His requirements so that He could stay around (so to speak).
What was their problem? For who, having heard, rebelled? And I suggest that rebellion is one thing that God detests in our lives. When we refuse to submit to Him and His word we are in rebellion. When His word contradicts some sin that we wish was not a sin we have to make a choice. Are we going to let God be true or are we going to harden our hearts and rebel? If we are not careful we can develop an unacceptable attitude towards God that puts our souls in danger.
The solution (in part) is that we beware that we do not have an evil heart of unbelief. That is to say, pay attention to our own inward attitudes towards God and His word. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. If we find ourselves rebelling and resisting what He says in His word we need to check our attitude. God is not an earthly authority figure. He is the judge of all the earth and has the power to cast our souls into Hell if we live and die in rebellion. Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in (…). The world mocks and scoffs at the biblical warnings about Hell (and so do many professing Christians) but the reality remains. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.
Secondly, we need others to come alongside (and we need to come alongside others) to encourage the right attitudes towards God in this evil world. The world hates God and is utterly hostile to Him. Don’t fall in with this world like a good kid falls in with evil companions. We need good and godly friends who live right. We need one another. We need people who will tell us the hard cold truth. What good is it to have a glaring issue in our lives and everyone is afraid to say anything? That is not to say that we are forever helping people get the splinter out of their eye — but we do need to encourage people (and others encourage us) to keep our hearts right with God.