“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 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 3:12-13
If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to take care of a paintbrush. My dad, who was an art major in college, was very careful to teach us the proper procedures for cleaning out a paintbrush after a painting session. Why? Because if you don’t take proper care of your paintbrushes, they become hard and unusable, and must be thrown away.
Our hearts are like paintbrushes. Without diligent care, they can become hard to spiritual things and the flame of our love for God can dwindle to just a flicker.
But how does this happen? Is it an overnight thing, kind of like the twenty-four hour flu? Do we go to bed with a passion for God burning in our hearts and then wake up the next morning as apostates? No, scripture tells us that hardness of heart is the result of being deceived by sin.
Sin is deceptive, isn’t it? It doesn’t come right out and say, “Hey, I’m sin, and I’m here to hurt you.” No sin looks attractive and enticing. It lies to us, telling us that it won’t matter if we give in just this once. It tells us that one lustful glance never hurt anybody, that one little lie isn’t a big deal, that just a little discontentment is normal. Sin promises happiness, satisfaction, and long-lasting pleasure. But it lies. Never once has it made good on its promises. It deceives us.
Believing the lies of sin leads to a gradual hardening of the heart. The heart doesn’t become hardened all at once as a result of some massive sin. No, it’s a gradual, subtle, and yet deadly process. Often it begins in the mind when sinful, ungodly thoughts are left unchecked. Thoughts then turn to small sinful actions, such as a short lustful look or a quick outburst of anger. If these sins are not cut off quickly they will grow. And all the while the heart grows progressively harder. Sin is subtle, and its effect is gradual.
Friends, we must fight against this hardening process! As I mediated on this passage I was made aware of an area where I had failed to fight against sin. I don’t want my heart to grow hard, and by God’s all-powerful grace, I will fight my sin. I would appeal to you to do the same.