By Larry R. DeVore
In Hebrews 3:13 we find these words: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today: lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” The word “deceitfulness” comes from the Greek word apate which is defined in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, as “to cheat, deceive, beguile, that which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement, or influence” (p. 279).
The statement that “you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all the people all of the time,” is supposedly attributed to Abraham Lincoln.
We need to add to that, you can never fool God at anytime! But people are often quite clever at fooling others, even members of the body of Christ. We must realize, that even though we would be successful in continuing in sin and keeping it hidden from the church, we cannot conceal anything from God. “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). Even if we could hide our sins for fifty years or more, one day we will have to answer to God. The things we have kept secret will be revealed (Rom. 2:16). The God of heaven will call every one of us to account (Rom. 14:12).
There is an aspect of the deceitfulness of sin we need to think about, and that is, that we are our own worst enemies. We deceive ourselves in sin. The first time we engage in a sin, it may deeply trouble us; it may worry and scare us. But let a person repeat that sin and continue in it time and time again and he will become hardened to it. Notice in our text, “Lest any of you be hardened.” In the same manner a man will become tired and sore the first time he uses a pick and shovel all day and perhaps get sore and blistered hands, but later on he becomes tough and hardened to that work, so it may be with the human heart.
The first time we go out drinking our conscience may trouble us, for we know it is wrong. The first time we do drugs and the first time we gamble, these will worry us. The first time a man or woman commits fornication or adultery will deeply trouble them; but let it continue, and they will fool themselves into thinking their “affair” is something “sweet and precious.” It is not; it is sin! The homosexual and the Lesbian have fooled themselves into thinking that God has made them the way they are. He has not! They have turned away from God’s laws. God has limited sex. He has limited it first of all, to the opposite sex (Rom. 1:26-28). God does not approve of homosexuality and lesbianism. He has condemned it in no uncertain terms. Then God has further limited sex to within the framework of marriage. “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication (immorality), let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).
If a person continues in sin, any sin, he will become hardened by the very nature of sin, by its deceitfulness. Sin is pleasurable (Heb. 11:25b); continue in it and it will become normal and acceptable, and we will cease viewing it as sin, and think little or nothing at all of the evil of continuing to pursue sinful activities. We will deceive ourselves.
What is the remedy? The gospel of Christ, God’s power to save those who obey (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 5:8-9). What is needed? Repentance! Old fashioned godly repentance! A repentance preceded by godly sorrow for sin (2 Cor. 7: 10). Paul says this “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. ” That is the only kind of repentance that is any good, that which will work to salvation.
The key to all this is, how much does a person want to go to heaven. If we really desire to do what is right (I John 3:7), then we will repent and extricate ourselves from whatever sin(s) are in our lives, and live according to the Word of God. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17). There is no sin too grievous, too corrupt, too immoral, that our God cannot forgive if we repent and ask him to forgive us (1 John 1:8-10).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 11, p. 324
June 2, 1988