Last week we looked at half a dozen verses from the book of Hebrews, where the Lord reveals his love for us through stern threats. How is that love? A warning isn’t judgment. If all God intended to do was to judge and condemn us, he wouldn’t first warn us; he would only judge and condemn!
I want to revisit the book of Hebrews today as we continue our New Year’s series focusing on the beautiful doctrine of Scripture.
“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 3:13, ESV)
I don’t know about you, but I have no problem seeing the sin of friends and members of my family. However, I am often surprised and offended when mine is revealed! We must give up the erroneous thought that no one knows us better than we know ourselves.
None of us have the gift of complete self-awareness. So while sin still lives inside of us, there will be inaccuracies in the way we see ourselves because there will still be pockets of spiritual blindness in us.
We all desperately need something that can cut through our blindness and confront us with who we are and the thoughts and desires of our selfish, wandering hearts. The word of God has been given to us to do this very thing.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25)
We should give thanks every day that the word of God functions in the life of God’s people as a mirror. When we look with ready minds and open hearts into the mirror of the word of God, we see ourselves as we actually are.
But as long as sin still exists inside us, we will deflect Scripture’s confrontation, calling to mind people who we think fit these confronting truths more than we do, and walk away unchanged.
So more than just needing the confronting power of the word of God, we also need the convicting power of the word of God (the Holy Spirit convicts, but his primary tool is Scripture).
Our ongoing deliverance from sin and growth in Christian maturity depends on the Holy Spirit giving sight to our eyes and working grief in our hearts. First Thessalonians 1:5 captures this for us: “Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
There is not a day in any of our lives that we don’t need the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring God’s word to us in convicting, grief-producing, and confession-resulting power. We require the convicting combination of the word and Spirit in handling our money, stewarding our time, caring for our bodies, using our minds, living in our relationships, and doing our daily work.
The Holy Spirit will continue to convict us of sin until sin is no more, and the tool he uses is the Bible. Be thankful that your Bible is the world’s most powerful, penetrating, and accurate mirror. The constant confrontation of this mirror is one of God’s most loving and gracious gifts to you.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Paul David Tripp
1. How has sin deceived you in the past? Think of a time when your heart was gradually hardened to the confrontation found in the word of God and conviction of the Holy Spirit. What lies of the devil did you begin to believe, and what was the result in your life?
2. If a brother or sister (or spouse or child) confronts you about a sin in your life, what is your immediate response? Think of a specific, recent example. Did you try to shift the blame away from yourself or remind them that they, too, are sinners?
3. What is the word of God and the Holy Spirit currently convicting you of? Be specific and name your sin(s) and/or temptation(s). What might God, in love, be trying to rescue you from with this confrontation and conviction. What has your response been?
4. Is there a brother or sister in your life that you need to exhort? How is confronting their sin perhaps the most loving thing you can do for them? Is fear of man holding you back in any way? How can you exhort with a spirit of gentleness (see Galatians 6:1)?