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The Danger of Unbelief

(Hebrews 3:12 - 4:2; 9-13)

Lesson 3 -- third quarter 2004
June 20, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Pay attention and beware!

Do you suppose Hebrews 3:12 was meant (at least in part) for you? "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." I'm certain it is meant for both of us, as well as for all of God's people. Unless we are careful, the prevailing spirit of unbelief will cause us to leave God. If we think this verse doesn't apply to us, we are in greater peril than we realize.

The Bible warns all readers: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Even the strong and stalwart should keep their personal anti-apostasy defenses in good condition! To help us in that, let's note just three factors that make us candidates for apostasy.

Cooling Love. What is love for God? Love for God is submission and obedience to Him. Thus, when we begin to make allowance for even occasional insubmission and disobedience, our love has begun cooling.

In Matthew 24:12, Jesus gave His listeners this peek into the future (which surely sounds like the times in which we live): "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). Abounding sin around us can have the effect of lowering our intolerance for sin to the place where our submission and obedience cool. And as sin becomes more blatant and "sinful," we Christians run the grave risk of becoming more comfortable with the "milder" sins...and our love will wax cold. Unless we live fully by His grace: "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).

Spiritual carelessness. In 1 Timothy 4:1 we are plainly told that seducing spirits will cause some to depart from the faith. In what areas are you careless and open to seduction? Some folks get deceived theologically and intellectually. However, I think those of us who stumble, do so more frequently in practical areas. (Such stumblings can then cause us to trip in doctrinal and theological areas.)

What do I mean by "practical areas"? I suspect you can generate your own example by answering this question for yourself: What is something I think my parents or church leaders are too nit-picky about? If you secretly disobey and dishonor them in that area, you are spiritually careless and a candidate for apostasy. Isn't it amazing how we can so "spiritually" complain about those in authority "majoring on minors" while at the same time we are guilty of doing those minors? If I think something is so minor that "they" shouldn't "harp" on it, then I shouldn't be "majoring" on that minor thing by indulging in it!

Unbelief. Remember, remember, remember: any sort of unbelief in God and His Word (often expressed in disobedience) will bring about a "departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). Shall we be so reckless and imprudent as to think that God is satisfied with a minimal level of faith (obedience and commitment)? Why must we look for and imagine "loopholes" in our covenant with God? Do we somehow think He is some gullible incompetent whom we can cheat out of a "good bargain"?! These attitudes and dispositions are a scourge which have blighted and devastated the church without regard to generations and gaps.

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