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).
I was thinking this past week about cases where a person who has been a professed believer, maybe even a well-known Christian leader, falls into public sin or even apostasy, walking away from the Christian faith. Sadly, there have been many such cases in the news lately.
We often think, and maybe even say, afterward that in hind sight there were some tendencies we could see in that person’s life that led to their eventual demise:
“I did notice he treated his wife very coldly, so come to think of it adultery is not that surprising”, or
“I do recall now that they were always seeking approval from people, so I suppose its only natural that they followed that bad crowd”, or
“I did hear her constantly complaining about her circumstances, so I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that she ended up declaring she was angry with God and deciding not to be a Christian any more.”
But the fact is, those tendencies toward destructive sin, even apostasy, are alive in every one of us every day!
We must not put off until tomorrow the repentance that is needed today.
There is not a human alive who does not struggle every day with some sin that, if left unchecked, will bring him or her to spiritual ruin.
This is why daily repentance, deep and meaningful accountability within the church body, and a willingness to be lovingly counseled and rebuked is so absolutely crucial to the Christian life. We must not put off until tomorrow the repentance that is needed today.
We, every one of us, have the potential to destroy our marriage, or to be consumed with bitterness, or to be blinded by self-righteousness, or succumb to peer pressure, or to give in to hopeless depression, or to give way to sexual temptation. And, as a church, we are no less vulnerable than we are as individuals! Do you think your church is indestructible just because it has orthodox articles of faith, or has been blessed at times in the past, or has existed for a certain number of years? Certainly not!
What is true of us as individuals is also true of each church.
It is absolutely essential as a church, just as with individuals, that we are in a state of constant self-examination, humility, confession, and spiritual pursuit of Jesus Christ. Unity does not come naturally; usefulness does not come effortlessly; growth does not come without learning and change; and power does not come without utter submission to God in his Word.
We are all daily in need of confession and repentance.
We glibly read over the admonition to exhort each other daily, and we are barely moved by the warning that sin can deceive us and literally bring us to ruin in a single day. Yet the reality is we are all daily in need of confession and repentance, daily in need of counsel and accountability within the body of Christ, and daily in need of longsuffering grace in order to strive together as Christians.
Do not put off this vital warning until tomorrow. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, tomorrow may just be too late.