Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
The term take care is an imperative (Βλέπετε) and it is often translated “See to it” (Matt 24:4) or “be careful” (Eph 5:15). This needs to be our priority. Verse 12 points to a fundamental warning in Hebrews: Don’t allow an unbelieving, or a better translation would be, unfaithful heart! The term unbelieving does not refer to doubts. All believers have doubts. If anything, doubts show that you are thinking about things, wrestling with them, and it is a good process to go through. By unbelieving, it has to do with our actions, and it is a reflection of not trusting God.
What causes an unbelieving heart? One that is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The term deceitfulness is used of the deceitfulness of wealth or riches (Matt 13:22; Mark 4:19), meaning we look to other things to give us life instead of the commands of God. We saw it with Pharaoh — he looked to his magicians and his gods; we saw it with Israel — they looked to the safety in the wilderness; and Paul warns us against it in Romans 1:18–32, where we look to ourselves or the created order for our guide. All of this amounts to abandoning God.
So, how do we fight it? What is the solution? Community. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today”. The term encourage could mean “a nudge on the shoulder” as encourage (Acts 20:1) but it could also mean pleading (Matt 18:29) or imploring (Mark 5:23). In other words, we were made to live in community with one another so that we can rely on one another and be accountable to each other.
To see the importance of accountability the American Society of Training and Development did a study on people who go to the gym. Perhaps some of us here have committed to go to the gym, or go on a diet, or engage in some type of exercise (usually around January 1st). And while our intentions were great, the consistency, or faithfulness, was not there. Want to know the solution? According to this study, having an accountability partner was imperative. If you inform somebody of your goals and commit to it with them, you are 65% more likely to achieve it. However, if you both commit to regular accountability meetings, that statistic jumps to 95%.
Imagine you planned to meet with someone to discuss Scripture once a week. That accountability will lead to the discipline, and by reading the word together, you exhort one another. The good news for all of us is that as long as it’s called Today, we can do it. Here, you see the application of the Scriptures. The warning was written thousands of years ago, but it is still applies to us today, right now, to demonstrate our faithfulness and commitment to the Lord, which is the fruit of the Spirit.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.
Once again, the author ends by highlighting the One whom we need to consider, the One on whom we keep our eyes focused. The verb we have become is perfect tense, meaning it is something done, and they are living in that present reality.
Do we have assurance in the Lord? Do we have belief that turns to action? Keep in mind that there are different types of belief. On the one hand, there is belief in terms of head-knowledge — I believe things, but it will have no impact on my life. For example, you could believe that the universe is billions of years old; it will not change much in your day-to-day life.
But then there is belief that requires a call to action. A famous illustration is Charles Blondin, a French stuntman who famously walked a tightrope across a portion of Niagra Falls. I am not sure if you have ever been there, but that is not a place you want to fall in. And he walked across a section of the Falls several times in the 1800s, with many watching! He even walked across once using a wheel barrel. Everyone marveled; everyone believed he could do it again! And when he asked the people “Can I do it again?” everybody said, “Yes”! They believed because they saw his work! They did not doubt he could do it. And he said “Great — now I need a volunteer — who wants to get in?” And as you could imagine, nobody wanted to.
Well, this morning, Consider the example of Yeshua, who lived out his convictions with pure faith, and may we be the hands and feet of the Messiah, building His kingdom on earth.
- Consider Yeshua: The author began by focusing on Yeshua — his faithfulness in accomplishing what He was called to do.
- Do not harden your heart: We need to be careful to guard our hearts against sin and to remain faithful to God, always ready to hear and obey his voice. So, the charge for us is not to have a hard heart, but the opposite of that: a surrendered heart, which trusts Him.
- Encourage one another: The author emphasizes the importance of community and mutual encouragement, urging believers to support one another in the faith. Meet with someone to read the word, to pray together, with the goal of pursuing godliness and encouraging one another to become more like the Messiah.