But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 13:13 ESV)
No one ever wakes up and says, “I think I’ll destroy my life today.” No one ever stops and says, “you know what sounds fun? Wrecking my marriage. Abandoning my kids. Hurting everyone that I have ever loved.” Though no one ever sets out to destroy their lives or find themselves far from God, that is exactly what happens to so many. Why does this happen? The deceitfulness of sin.
Merriam-Webster defines deceitful as having a tendency or disposition to deceive or give false impressions, not honest, deceptive, misleading. What a picture of sin! Sin whispers in our ears that it can give us what we want or need. It deceives us into thinking that we can enjoy the pleasures of sin without paying the wages of sin, death (Romans 6:23). It misleads us to believe that our sin won’t hurt anyone, and it won’t cost us anything meaningful. Some of us are buying into all those lies about the secret sin in our own life.
My mind goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. After creation, we see a picture of perfection. Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with each other and enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God. They enjoyed the abundance of God’s blessings and the beauty of His presence. In comes the Tempter as our great-grandparents rebelled against God and sin entered into the world (see Genesis chapter 3).
At the risk of oversimplifying the fall, I want to try to summarize the progression of events. God created unimaginable beauty and perfection and placed mankind in the world to rule over the earth as His image bearers. Mankind had unbroken fellowship with the Creator because sin had not entered the world. God only gave Adam one prohibition or rule: don’t eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God promised that if Adam ate from the tree that he would experience death (see Genesis 2:16-17).
In comes Satan, the enemy of mankind. The crafty serpent first questions the Word of God then deceives Eve into believing a lie (that she wouldn’t die), while promising her a half-truth (your eyes will be opened, and you’ll become like God). Embedded in the deceitfulness of Satan’s lie was that God couldn’t be trusted and He was keeping something good from Adam and Eve. Most of you know how the story ends… Eve ate from the tree, she gave some to her husband Adam who ate too, and sin (and death) entered into creation.
If you are anything like me, you read the account of the fall with a deep sadness. How could Adam and Eve have been so foolish?! Unimaginable suffering and pain have entered into creation because of their rebellion. Can I share a secret with you? You and I are playing out this same cycle of rebellion over and over again. The deceitfulness of sin is powerfully seductive, and we often give in to temptations and desires that can wreck our lives because we buy the lie.
What is the lie? That we can’t trust God’s Word or His character and that He is keeping something good from us. I heard it said one time that sin would be far less appealing if we had to pay the wages immediately. But most of the time, that’s not how sin works. The wages are paid over the course of time and ultimately in our physical death. Sin slowly seduces us, drawing us into its powerful jaws until we find ourselves helpless and hiding from the only One who can save us. Guess what Adam and Eve did after they sinned? They hid (see Genesis 3:10).
I want you to stop today and be honest. Do you have sin that you have entertained in your life? Right now, you may be struggling with some temptation or trial. The Deceiver is whispering, “you can’t trust God. Don’t worry, this isn’t hurting anyone. No one will find out. You’ll enjoy it.” The lies are flowing into your mind and slowly you are becoming resistant to God’s truth and His correction in your life. You are methodically building a wall around the sin in your life, hoping that no one will see or call you out. It’s time for the walls to fall down.
The first part of our focal verse is where we will end today’s devotion. The writer of Hebrews challenges us to “exhort one another every day.” Exhort can be defined as strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something. In order to exhort one another, we must first be in community together. As your pastor, I challenge you to be active, engaged, and serving here at our church. This isn’t just a challenge from me, this is a Biblical truth (see Hebrews 10:25). We are to exhort one another… this means that I should encourage and urge you as you encourage and urge me.
What should we be encouraging one another to do? Listen. Believe. Trust. Obey. We should be exhorting one another to have faith and trust God. We should be encouraging one another to know God’s Word and trust His character and nature. We should be urging one another to give up the sin that tries to destroy us and to respond to the voice of God (see Hebrews 3:7-19). Our encouragement for one another should be with a sense of urgency, intentionality, and purpose (“as long as it is called ‘today’”). It’s time to stop believing the lie, turn from your sin, and trust in the One who has the power to truly set you free.
Father, please forgive me when I am deceived by the deceitfulness of sin. Lord, please give me the courage to be honest about the devastating impact of sin in my life. Jesus, help me not to be selfish and ignore how my sin affects those I love and how it affects our relationship. Holy Spirit, please open my eyes to any lies I have believed about You or about me. Please restore a sensitive heart within me. Please cleanse me from all unrighteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.