The Evil and Unbelieving Heart

David Norczyk
5 min readJun 2, 2024

--

Sin is a deceiver. It promises, and even gives pleasure for a moment, but the negative consequences of sin eventually ensue. The heart is hardened by unrepentant sin. One’s view to God is dimmed. Simply put, sin is serious.

In his second warning to his Jewish Christian audience, the writer of Hebrews illustrated unbelief and disobedience using the wilderness generation from Israel’s history (Heb 3:7–19). This was the generation who witnessed Yahweh’s deliverance of them from slavery in Egypt. They were led by Moses, who was a faithful servant in the house of God.

In his first warning (Heb 2:1–4), the writer advised his readers/listeners against neglecting the Word of God and the revelation of so great a salvation. In this second warning against sin’s impact on the heart, the threat of falling away is pictured in Israel’s disobedience to Yahweh amidst His signs, wonders, miracles, and displays of spiritual gifts — sometimes employed through His faithful ones like Moses, Joshua, and Caleb.

The point is that God’s Word produces faith and obedience in those who receive it and who act on it. Many sit under the preaching of the Word who do not profit from it (Heb 4:2). The missing element in this economy is faith in what is being communicated from the preacher to his hearers, in the Spirit.

It is imperative for us to remember that faith in Christ, the Word of God, is a gift of God’s grace granted to those who belong to Christ (Jn 10:26; Gal 3:22; Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29; 2 Pet 1:1). “The faith” is a body of doctrine, but there is also the faith that apprehends that body of divinity. This latter idea is an act of believing. One faith is a noun; the other is a verb in the Bible. Both come from God in an act of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence (Jn 14:17) and resulting from His work of regenerating the sinner who has become a saint (1 Pet 1:3).

The Holy Spirit causes God’s elect, redeemed to be born again (Jn 3:1–8); and then the Spirit of truth becomes the believer’s Teacher (Jn 14:26). He guides the beloved children of God into all truth (Jn 16:13). The Word of God is the revelation of the truth of God, communicated to us and received by us via His grace. In other words, we not only hear with opened ears; believe with an opened heart; but we are illumined to know and understand God to the degree He chooses to reveal Himself.

All men everywhere are called to repent to God through Christ (Acts 17:30). This command to come to Christ in subjection is met by unbelief and disobedience by the natural man (1 Cor 2:14). The Israelites had a good beginning. They followed Moses; and they were delivered out of Egypt. The wilderness, however, was another day of trial for them.

Moses was faithful to Yahweh; but the people he led were unfaithful. They put God to the test; and they failed when He tested them. They were witnesses to all of His good works done in their midst and for their benefit. God was angry with those who sinned (Heb 3:17). Elsewhere, the Bible teaches us that God hates those who do iniquity (Ps 5:5; 11:5) for He is angry with the wicked all day, every day (Ps 7:11).

There are consequences to putting God to the test with an evil, unbelieving heart. The wilderness generation did not enter the promised land. They were commanded by Yahweh to take the land. They did not believe God would deal with His enemies at Kadesh, as He later showed He would at Jericho. Inaction was disobedience operating from unbelief.

The Jewish Christian audience had a history lesson to consider in their own case of entering Christ. They were partakers of Christ, who were threatened by the temptation to fall away from Christ in unbelief (Heb 3:12, 19). It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6). God was angry with that generation because sin had hardened their hearts; and they did not know the ways of God despite His wisdom and power being put on display for them.

We, too, are warned by this passage in Hebrews 3:7–19. The timeless truth of God’s Word tells us that a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God. Christ Jesus is that rest. Men are instructed to draw near to God. Christ invites the weary and heavy laden to come to Him (Mt 11:28). The problem is the flesh and its lust for this world. That generation was ready to forsake Yahweh and head back to slavery in Egypt.

Just as the writer of Hebrews writes an exhortation sermon/letter, so he encourages his readers to encourage one another. The word of encouragement is the Word of God spoken and written between believers. We have an example of how to do this in the whole of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Many would insist that they serve the living God. They claim to be Christians. Some of them are pastors or missionaries. On the day of judgment, our Lord Jesus will insist that He never knew them (Mt 7:13). One must examine himself or herself to make sure of their calling and election. They must judge themselves to be in the faith or not.

The faithful preacher of a faithful congregation must never shy away from these types of warning passages (Ezek 3, 33). The wrath of God is active in the world and people are cut off by it (Rom 1:18). God sees it all; and He knows it all. His judgments are just; and all people must give an account before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10).

We must preach and teach the Word of God, day after day, to ourselves and others. The Word alone is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12). By it we learn God; and by it we learn about the plight of humanity because of sin. We must believe it and act on it as the Spirit leads.

There is a blessed assurance for the heirs of salvation who hold fast their confession of Christ Jesus. God will test us all through many and diverse trials. Keep the faith, my dear reader. He is worthy of your trust like no one and nothing else.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

June 2, 2024

Hebrews 3:7–19

--

--

David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher