Harden Not Your Hearts

Posted by on Jul 15, 2007

By Mike Withem, Pastor

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

July 15, 2007

Sunday Morning

“Harden Not Your Hearts”

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 3:7-19

Scripture Text: Hebrews 3:7-19

Introduction:

 

A.   When we began our study of Hebrews, I told you that there were at least seven “warning passages” in this book.

1. We saw the first of these warning passages a few weeks ago when we looked at Heb. 2:1-3.

2. Let’s look at those verses again, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip….For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;…How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;”

3. The first warning was a warning given to us, as believers, a warning not to neglect our salvation.

4. How do we neglect our salvation?

5. We neglect our salvation by failing to fulfill the purpose for which God saved us.

6. The Bible says in Eph. 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:…Not of works, lest any man should boast….For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

7. When we fail to do good works, we fail to fulfill the purpose for which God save us, and thus we neglect our salvation.

8. And so, the first warning passage in Hebrews is found in Heb. 2:1-3.

 

B.   This morning, we come to the second warning passage in Hebrews, and it is found in Heb. 3:7-19 (the verses that Bro. Earl read just a moment ago).

1. This also, is a warning given to us, as believers.

2. Let me remind you, once again, that the book of Hebrews was written to believers, not unbelievers.

3. To be more specific, it was written to Jewish believers, Jews who had placed their faith in Christ as their Messiah.

 

C.   To begin with, this morning, I want us to notice…

 

I.       The Sin About Which We Are Being Warned.

 

A.   Actually, it is not one sin, but two sins.

1. First of all, we are being warned about the sin of unbelief.

2. Notice again Vrs. 12 of our text, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.”

3. Notice also Vrs. 18-19, “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?…So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

4. Three times in our text the writer of Hebrews makes mention of the sin of unbelief.

 

B.   What is the sin of unbelief?

1. It is the sin of not believing the promises that God has made to us as His children.

2. Not only does the writer of Hebrews warn us about the sin of unbelief, but he also gives us an Old Testament illustration of this sin.

3. Do you remember what happened when Moses and the children of Israel arrived at the southern boundary of the promised land?

4. The Bible tells us that Moses sent twelves spies into the land to spy out the land.

5. While two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, were ready and anxious to enter the land, the other ten hesitated.

6. They said, “Yes, the land is a good land, a land that flows with milk and honey, but there are giants in the land! Compared to these giants, we are like grasshoppers!” (Num. 13:32-33; Deu. 29:27-28)

7. Then, according to Deu. 1:29-31, Moses said to them, “You don’t have to be afraid. Yes, there are giants in the land, but God has promised to go before us and to fight for us, just like He did in Egypt.”

8. Moses reminded them of God’s promises to them.

9. How did they respond, when they heard the promises of God once again?’

10.   Turn to Deu. 1:32 and let’s read how they responded, “Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God.”

11.   Even though God had proven His power to them by delivering them from bondage in Egypt, they did not believe God’s promise to give them victory over the inhabitants of Canaan.

12.   You know, Israel doesn’t have a monopoly when it comes to the sin of unbelief.

13.   We, as believers today, commit the same sin, when we refuse (or at least hesitate) to believe the promises that God has made to us.

14.   And so, the first sin about which we are being warned here is the sin of unbelief.

 

C.   However, this sin leads to a second sin, the sin of disobedience.

1. Because Israel did not believe God’s promise to give them victory over the inhabitants of Canaan, they refused to enter the land, even though God had commanded them to do so. (Deu. 1:8)

2. In other words, they disobeyed God!

3. Their unbelief resulted in wilful disobedience.

4. Again, Israel doesn’t have a monopoly when it comes to disobeying God as a result of our unbelief.

5. Let me give you an example.

6. Some of you here this morning are not tithers.

7. You are saved, yet you are disobedient to God when it comes to tithing.

8. You know what the Bible says, you know what God expects, you know that you are being disobedient, yet you refuse to tithe.

9. But that’s not all.

10.   Some of you who are being disobedient when it comes to tithing, are doing so because of unbelief.

11.   In other words, the reason you don’t tithe is because you don’t believe God’s promises.

12.   (Illus.- Let me illustrate. Over the years, I have had many conversations with believers who were struggling with the idea of tithing. I don’t know how many times I have heard believers say something similar to this, “I would tithe, but I just can’t afford to tithe. If I tithe, I won’t have enough money to pay my bills and feed my family.”)

13.   Whenever believers tell me that they can’t afford to tithe, I read them Mal. 3:10-11, which says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it….And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes.”

14.   This is a precious promise indeed, however, many believers (Christians) do not believe this promise, and because they don’t, they refuse to tithe.

15.   Whether they realize it or not, they are committing the very same sin that Israel committed when they refused to enter the promised land.

 

D.   Let me give you another example of this.

1. Some of you here this morning have never once tried to win a lost soul to Christ.

2. You are saved, yet you are disobedient to God when it comes to being a witness for Christ.

3. You know what the Bible says, you know what God expects, you know that you are being disobedient, yet you refuse to share your faith with others.

4. But that’s not all.

5. Some of you who are being disobedient when it comes to sharing your faith with others are doing so because of unbelief.

6. In other words, the reason you don’t try to win souls is because you don’t believe the promises of God.

7. (Illus.- Let me illustrate. As I have tried to encourage believers to try to win souls, I don’t know how many times I have heard something similar to this, “Pastor, I would share my faith with others, but the thought of doing do absolutely terrifies me.”)

8. Whenever I hear believers talk about their fear of witnessing, I read them Mat. 28:19-20, where Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:…Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway.”

9. This is a precious promise, indeed, however, many believers (Christians) don’t believe this promise, and because they don’t, they refuse to share their faith with others.

10.   Whether they realize it or not, they are committing the very same sin that Israel committed when they refused to enter the promised land.

 

E.   And so, the sin about which we are being warned is not one sin but two, the sin of unbelief that leads to the sin of disobedience.

 

F.    The second thing that I want us to notice is…

 

 

II.      The Seriousness Of These Sins.

 

A.   Why are the sins of unbelief and disobedience so serious?

1. First and foremost, they are serious because they cause us to miss out on God’s very best for our lives.

2. Again, the writer of Hebrews using Israel to illustrate the seriousness of these sins.

3. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, that was not all that He had for them.

4. For sure, being out of Egypt was a great blessing in itself, however, God wanted to do far more for Israel than just deliver them from Egypt.

5. He also wanted to bring them into the land of Canaan.

6. What kind of a land was the land of Canaan?

7. It was a good land.

8. It was a bountiful land.

9. It was a land that flowed with milk and honey.

10.   It was a land where Israel could enjoy God’s very best!

11.   However, because they doubted God’s promises (unbelief) and refused to enter the land (disobedience), they missed out on God’s very best for their lives.

12.   Look again at Vrs. 7-11 of our text, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,…Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:…When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years….Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways….So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)”

13.   But someone says, “Wait a minute, pastor. Israel did eventually enter the promised land.”

14.   That’s true, they did, but it was forty years later, and did you realize that with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, every Israelite over the age of twenty died in the wilderness and never entered Canaan.

15.   Look again at Vrs. 16-19 of our text, “For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses….But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?…And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?…So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

16.   And so, because of the sins of unbelief and disobedience, many Israelites missed out on God’s very best for their lives.

 

B.   There is a lesson for us to learn here as well.

1. When God delivered us from the bondage of sin and Satan and saved our souls, that was not all that He had for us.

2. For sure, being saved is a great blessing in and of itself, however, God wants to do far more for us than just save us from hell.

3. He wants to bring us into our spiritual land of Canaan, where we can experience and enjoy the very best that God has to offer His children.

4. Now let me stop here and say that I am NOT talking about heaven.

5. I’m talking about experiencing God’s best in this life.

6. I’m talking about experiencing God’s best before we die.

7. I’m talking about experiencing God’s best this side of the grave!

8. Do you remember what Jesus said in John 10:9-10? He said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture….The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

9. Not only does God desire that we “have life” (be saved), but He desires that we “have life more abundantly” (enjoy God’s best).

10.   However, if we are to enjoy God’s best, then we must believe His promises and act upon them.

 

C.   Do you know what’s sad?

1. The fact that most believers, because they doubt God’s promises and refuse to act upon them, will never know God’s very best.

2. They will never enter into that spiritual “rest.”

3. They will never enter into their spiritual Canaan.

4. They will live their entire Christian lives and never get out of the wilderness.

5. Oh, they are saved, for sure, and because they are saved, they are out of Egypt, however, they will never enter into their promised land.

6. This is so sad!

7. (Illus.- Every now and then a brother or sister will say to me, “Pastor, I know that I’m saved, but for some reason I am not as happy as I think I ought to be. There’s something missing in my life, but I don’t have a clue what it might be.” Most of the time, when believers feel this way, it is because they are still living in the wilderness. Because they hesitate to believe God’s promises and act upon them, they have not moved on to the next level of the Christian life. It’s not because God is withholding good things from them, but it because they refuse to step forward and claim what God has waiting for them.)

 

D.   There is another reason why the sins of unbelief and disobedience are so serious, and that is because they can result in the hardening of the believer’s heart.

1. Have you ever heard the expression “hardened sinners”?

2. Well, there are also “hardened saints.”

3. Did you notice that twice in our text (Vrs. 8 & 15), the writer of Hebrews admonishes us to “harden not” our “hearts”?

4. Again, this is an admonition to believers, not unbelievers.

5. (Illus.- Let me illustrate. I said earlier that some of you make little or no effort to share your faith with others. Now there was a time when that really bothered you. God convicted you of your sin and you were miserable. But as time went on, the conviction seemed to subside, you began to made excuses, and today the very thing that once caused you such conviction and guilt, you now condone without hardly a twinge of conscience. How do you explain that? The explanation is, “You have hardened your heart.”)

6. And so, the sins of unbelief and disobedience eventually lead to a hardening of our hearts.

 

E.   And so, we see the seriousness of these sins.

 

F.    Now, finally, this morning, I want us to notice…

 

III.    The Solution To These Sins.

 

A.   The solution to these sins is really very simple.

1. First of all, take God at His Word.

2. Look again at Vrs. 7 of our text, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,”

3. We need to hear the “voice” of God, and not only hear it, but believe it with all of our hearts.

4. If God says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” then believe what He says. (Mal. 3:10)

5. Secondly, act upon what you believe.

6. Start tithing.

7. Start giving ten percent of your income to God.

8. Start honoring God with the firstfruits of your increase.

 

B.   But someone says, “Wait a minute. It doesn’t make sense that if I give God ten percent of my income, that I will end up with more than I had to begin with!”

1. You’re right, it doesn’t make sense.

2. But this is where faith comes into the picture.

3. Faith can be defined as believing something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, simply because God said it!

 

C.   Several things will happen if we begin taking God at His Word and then acting upon it.

1. First of all, our hearts will not be hardened.

2. Secondly, we will see God do things in our lives that will absolutely amaze us.

3. Finally, we will enter into this spiritual rest (Canaan) and begin enjoying God’s very best for our lives!

Conclusion:

 

A.   Before I close, this morning, there is a passage in Deu. 6:22-23 that I want us to read together, it says, “And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:…And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.”

1. Notice those words found in Vrs. 23, “…he brought us out…that he might bring us in.”

2. That was not only true of Israel, but it is true of us, as well.

3. God brought us out (of spiritual bondage), so that He might bring us in (our spiritual Canaan).

4. How sad that many, if not most, believers live their entire Christian lives in the wilderness, and never enter this wonderful land where they can experience God’s very best for them.

 

B.   How about you, friend, where do you reside this morning?