See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
We share in Christ if that faith which began continues to produce in us that which faith alone can produce, the fruit of the Spirit. This is an important warning of this book; a warning against the danger of hardening — of hearing the words and believing them, understanding what they mean, but of taking no action upon them. The peril of holding truth in the head, but never letting it get into the heart. But truth known never does anything; it is truth done which sets us free. Truth known simply puffs us up in pride of knowledge. We can quote the Scriptures by the yard, can memorize it, can know the message of every book and know the whole book from cover to cover, but truth known will never do anything for us. It is truth done, truth acted upon, that moves and delivers and changes.
The terrible danger which the writer is pointing out is that truth that is known but not acted on has an awful effect of hardening the heart so that it is no longer able to act — and we lose the ability to believe. This is what the Lord Jesus meant when he said to his disciples, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead,” (Luke 16:31).
A man said to me, “If we only had the ability to do miracles like the early church did, then we could really make this Christian cause go. If we could perform these things again, and had faith enough to do miracles, we could make people believe.” But I had to tell him that after thirty years of observing this scene, and studying the Scriptures, I am absolutely convinced that if God granted us this power, as he is perfectly able to do, so that miracles were being demonstrated on every hand, there would not be one further Christian added to the cause of Christ than there is right now! At the close of Jesus’ own ministry, after that remarkable demonstration of the power of God in the midst of people, how many stood with him at the foot of the cross? A tiny band of women and one man, and they had been won, not by his miracles, but by his words.
This is why God says up in verse 11, “I swore in my wrath, “They shall never enter my rest.”” That is not petulance. That does not mean God is upset because he has offered something and they will not take it. That is simply a revelation of the nature of the case. When truth is known and not acted upon, it always, on every level of life, in any area of human knowledge, has this peculiar quality: It hardens, so the heart is not able to believe what it refuses to act on.
Father, may I heed this important warning and act upon that truth which you have shown me.
Are we trivializing the eternal loss to our souls of simply knowing, while deliberately failing to live, biblical Truth? What is the short term as well as long term loss?