Journal – November 14, 2021
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’11 So I swore in My wrath ‘they shall not enter My rest.’ 12 Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
BE FAITHFUL (PART 2)
HEBREWS 3; 10-12
Vs. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways. When God says He was angry with that generation, He means that He was hardened, vexed, displeased beyond what forbearance could put up with. This includes the judgment of God concerning the greatness of their sin with all the aggravations, and His determinate purpose to punish them. Men live, speak, and act as if they thought God was not much concerned about what they do, especially in their sins. That if He does notice them now and then He just looks the other way, there is no reason that He should be grieved in His heart—that is to have such a deep sense of man’s sinful provocations—that they do not think or believe they will be called to give an answer for their actions. Man thinks regarding thoughts about sin, that God is all together like them. But there is a great difference, for God has a concernment of honor in what His creation does, He made us for His glory and honor, and whatever is contrary to this purpose goes directly to His dishonor. And this, God cannot and will not deny Himself. He is also concerned about being a God of justice; therefore, His holiness and His justice is His nature, and He needs no other reason to punish sin but Himself.
Now God tells us why He was angry, they have not known My ways, they served the sin in their hearts simply because they enjoyed the ways of sin; therefore, if they knew the ways of God, they were Israelites, but they disliked God’s way, and rushed into all manner of provocations and mismanagement. Let us here observe:
- In all the sins of men, God chiefly regards the principle, that is, the heart or what is in it.
- The error of the heart in preferring the ways of sin before obedience, with its promises and rewards, is the. root of all great provoking sin and rebellion against God.
- A constant persistency in a course of sin is the utmost, highest, and last aggravation of sin, for it includes a neglect and contempt of all times and seasons of amendment. God gives to men, especially those who live under the dispensation of His word, many peculiar times, or seasons for their recovery. They have their day, their special day, wherein they ought in a special manner to look after the things of their peace, and it may be that this day is often revived, often returned upon them, but it is so often despised and neglected by them. It also includes a rejection of the means repentance which God is pleased to graciously give unto them. During the season of His patience towards sinners, God is pleased to grant unto them sundry means and advantages for their amendment and that in a great variety, but they are rejected and rendered fruitless in an unchanged course of sinning. It also includes a contempt of the whole work of conscience from first to last, many assistances do conscience receive in its work—convictions from the word, warnings by judgments, mercies, dangers, deliverances, but all its actions are baffled. And what more can be done against God? What can add to the guilt of such sin and sinners? And this may serve to justify God in His severity against those who do always err in their hearts, that continue in a course of sinning.
- None despise nor desert the ways of God but those who know them not. They had seen the works of God in the wilderness, they had heard Himself proclaim His own law, yet they were unbelieving and obdurate, they knew not the ways of God.
Vs. 11So I swore in My wrath ‘they shall not enter My rest.’ This is the issue of sin that was declared before this sentence of God against this people was made, it was after all their temptations and provocations, and is irrevocable. He confirmed it by His oath. From this we may see just how serious their sin was, by the great offense that God took of it. He swore in His wrath in great indignation. The sentence was, that generation would not enter the land of Canaan, no, not so much as put one foot within its borders. In the wording of this sentence there is a great aggravation of the punishment inflicted. Notice, God does not swear that they shall not enter the land of Canaan, the promised land, but they shall not enter My rest. He spoke the place where I will dwell, where I will fix My worship and make myself known, but you shall not enter there.
We may observe:
- When God expresses great indignation in Himself against sin, it is to teach men the greatness of sin in themselves.
- God gave the same stability unto His threatening as to His promises. Man is apt to think the promises are firm and stable, but as for the threats, they suppose some way or other they may be evaded.
- When men have provoked God by their impenitent acts, and He decrees their punishment irrevocably they will find severity in the execution.
- It is the presence of God alone that renders any place or condition good or desirable. They shall not enter my rest, this ‘my rest’ makes heaven to be heaven, and the Church to be the Church; everything answers to the manner and presence of God. Without this, Moses expressly preferred the wilderness before Canaan.
Vs. 12 Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. The Apostle renews his affection that was shown in verse 1, Beware Brethren, by this form of addressing them he would remove all jealousy and let them know that the best of saints has need to be cautioned against the worst of evils. To Beware is to be watchful, attentive, circumspect with respect to danger and opposition. To beware is to duly consider our danger, with due consideration of the especial nature of these snares and dangers to which we are exposed, it is to take heed as we avoid them, and that is in all their occasions, causes, advantages in their whole work and effects. It is to consider opposing them and this consists in being always ready and standing guard, calling in help or assistance, and improving the supply of faith granted you with diligence.
Lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, The Apostle speaks unto them collectively, to take care that there be none such found among them them—none with such a heart as he cautions them against. And this consequently falls on everyone for when all are addressed each one is concerned. Observe:
- That godly jealousy concerning and being watchful over the whole assembly so that no beginnings of backsliding from Christ and the gospel be found among, them is the duty of each individual believer in the church.
- It is the duty of each individual believer to be intent on all occasions, lest at any time, or by any means there should be found in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.
In departing from the living God. The Apostle in earnestly cautioning against these evils, points out the principle of them—an evil heart of unbelief, and then the work or effect of that principle—departing from the living God. Not an unbelieving heart but an evil heart of unbelief, that is a heart under the power of unbelief and principled by its actions. Unbelief is spoken of as negative and private, that is positive. The former is when men believe not, never having had the means of believing granted unto them. In this situation all those people that have never heard the gospel are unbelievers. They believe not but cannot be said to have an evil heart of unbelief.
It is positive when men believe not, although they have the means of believing available. Herein is the highest acting of the depraved nature of man. On many accounts it is the highest provocation of God that a creature can make himself guilty of. Hence the gospel, which is the declaration of grace, mercy, and pardon, though it condemns all sin, yet it pronounces the final condemnation of persons only against this sin, He that believes shall be saved, but he that does not believe shall be damned. This unbelief either refuses to believe when it is required or rejects the faith after it has been received.
As to the first of these, three things do render the unbelief of men positive:
- A revelation of the things to be believed made known in the way of God.
- Sufficient evidence given to the thing proposed.
- A just assertion of the authority of God requiring faith and obedience. Now as this unbelief has its root in the natural darkness and blindness of the minds of men, so it is acted out not without new sinful prejudice and stubbornness of the will, refusing to even consider the evidence that are given to the truth proposed.
Some instances may clear these particulars:
- The root of unbelief is the original depravity of our natures, with that spiritual impotency and enmity to God wherein it does exist. There is such an impotency in us by nature, that no man of himself by his own strength can believe, can come to Christ. None can believe except they are specially taught of God (John 6:44-45). Men in a state of nature neither can nor will believe the gospel.
- Besides this general cause of unbelief, when it comes to special instances, and the gospel is proposed to this or that man, for his ascent and submission to it, there is always some special corruption of the mind or will, voluntary acted, if the soul be kept from believing, and on the account there of principally, and not merely of original impotency and enmity against God, is the guilt of unbelief reflected upon the soul of sinners. Some are kept off believing the gospel by the inveterate prejudices in their minds, this shut up most of the Jews in unbelief is absolutely received into their wills. And whether it be discovered or no, this is the condition with many in all times and seasons.
- Lots of sin is with some the immediate cause of their actual unbelief. The light of the gospel comes into a place, they come so near it as to discover its aims and tendency, but as soon as they find that it aims to part them from their sins, they will have no more to do with it. And so, on this account does condemnation follow the preaching of the gospel through its own proper end be salvation and only that. And this is the common way of ruin of souls, they do not like the terms of the gospel, because of their love of sin and so perish in and for their iniquities.
(To be continued after Thanksgiving Day)
Catechism Question 86
Q: What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A: The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.
1 Corinthians 10:10
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
“Prove it” Catechism Question 121
Q: What is the second petition?
A: Thy kingdom come
Prove it: Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.