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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 44 - Hebrews 3:13 - The Deceitfulness of Unbelief Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Deceitfulness Of Unbelief.


"But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."-Hebrews 3:13.



     We do not walk alone in our way to the kingdom. We go in company, each one helping the other in various ways. We are not isolated, so as neither to be helpful nor hurtful to others; we are so called and situated as to be necessarily either the one or other. We are not like plants or trees, each with an individual root, and growing without reference to others. We are branches of one vine; stones of one temple; members of one family, one body. This the Epistles all take for granted; this our text does. We are to help each other onward; watch each other's steps; lovingly reproving, or comforting, or animating, or rousing, or cheering; looking not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

     In reference to this condition of things in the Church of God, mark, in the words of our text, two points: (1.) The duty. (2.) The danger.

     I. The duty.-It is that of 'exhortation.' The word has four meanings, or shades of meaning,-exhort, beseech, comfort, plead for. The idea is that of calling one to your side to speak something to him or for him; and implies nearness and personal intercourse, as well as concern for the individual.  As father, or friend, or brother, or advocate, we thus exhort, or beseech, or comfort, or plead for.

     This duty is here presented to us in the following aspects: It is to be mutual; daily; urgent.

     (1.) Mutual.-It is not the exhortation of the pastor; it is that of the members one to the other. 'Exhort one another' is the precept. Keep your eye on the condition of all the brethren, and endeavor to be helpers of each other in spiritual things. In regard to knowledge, holiness, consistency, progress, faith, love, zeal, we are to exhort one another.

     (2.) Daily.-It is not to be occasional and inconstant. It must be neither too frequent nor too seldom. 'Daily' is the word. We set out each morning for a daily walk or race, so we must remember our daily duty of mutual exhortation. It must be part of our daily work, done conscientiously and with love.

     (3.) Urgent.-It must be done 'today,' while the proclamation is made 'today.' There must be no procrastination. The thing must be done without delay. For the time is short; the evil will wax greater; the duty is neglected. Exhort one another daily while today is proclaimed. It will be tomorrow soon, and tomorrow may be too late.

     Let love, then, abound; let it be in constant exercise; for it is only love that can animate such duties. It is love that dictates, and love that gives effect to the exhortation, love yearning and watching over a brother's welfare.

     II.  The Danger.-There are many dangers to which Christian men are liable; but the apostle singles out one to which they were specially exposed,-hardness of heart, impenitence, obduracy. It is to Christian men that he addresses the warning. This hardening implies such things as these-

     (1.) A losing our first love.-When iniquity abounds, the love of many

waxes cold. The affections get dull and blunted.

     (2.) Losing the edge of our conscience.-The conscience ceases to be sensitive and tender. It does not shrink from sin as it used to do.

     (3.) Callousness as to truth.-We get so familiarized with truth, that it ceases to affect us. It loses its power over us.

     (4.) Insensibility to sin.-Our own evils are not felt as they used to be; sin itself is not so hated and shunned as formerly.

     Thus our whole man gets hardened; our feelings become dull; and spiritual things no longer tell upon us. Great is our danger of becoming hardened; greater still our danger after we have become hardened. Oh, beware of sliding back and sliding down; beware of coldness and indifference. Keep your whole man ever on edge; let not hardness creep in.

     This process of hardening is accomplished through the deceitfulness of sin, or rather of 'this sin,' that is, the sin of unbelief spoken of in the previous verse. All sin hardens. The sight of it hardens; connivance at it hardens; indulgence in it hardens. But especially is this true of unbelief. There is nothing so hardening as unbelief; and one great reason for this is, that there is nothing so deceitful. It does not look a great sin; nay, sometimes not like sin at all, but like modesty and humility. It pretends to be jealous for God; to be conscious of personal unworthiness; to be unfit to venture on a hope of acceptance. Thus it deceives. It makes us think that no sin which is the sin of sins. It actually hides itself; palliates its own enormities; veils its hatefulness under the name of humility. In all these ways it contrives to destroy faith, to cherish itself, and so to harden the heart.

     Let us then specially beware of unbelief and its deceitfulness. Let us be on our guard against the hardening process, which it effects. Let us dread the evil heart of unbelief which leads us away from God. That which leads us away from God must harden; that which denies the love of God must harden; that which separates the word and promise of God must harden. Have faith in God, if you would preserve a soft and sensitive heart.