by Deepak Reju
The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95, holding up the Israelites as a negative example. He speaks of their disobedience and unbelief (Heb. 3:7–11). Then he turns to us and says, “Be warned.” He writes:
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. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (vv. 12–14)
He addresses Christians and warns them about unbelief. He starts with: “Take care . . .” Take responsibility for your faith. Don’t let the poison of unbelief corrupt your heart. Note the consequences—the one who falters “fall[s] away from the living God” (v. 12) and his heart “may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (v. 13).
A hard situation comes—you fight with a loved one, a sickness overtakes your body, or you have a bad day at work. You wrestle with doubts: “Why, God? Have You forgotten me? Don’t You care?” Like termites, the doubts eat away at your faith.
You experience momentary atheism—times when you give yourself over to your doubts. You have the thought, “God must not care,” and you believe it. You choose a faithless path rather than trust in Christ.
What might active unbelief look like? For husbands:
- ⎢ I must sacrifice for my wife, like Christ gave up His life for His bride, but I choose not to. Rather than serve her, I fulfill my own comfort and desires (Mark 10:43–45; Eph. 5:21–33).
- ⎢ I ought to confess to my wife and pursue humility, but my pride gets the upper hand (James 4:6).
- ⎢ I am more competent than my husband.
Rather than following his leadership, I take control of the situation (Gen. 3:16).
- ⎢ I am hurt, so I get back at him by saying mean things or unleashing my anger (Eph. 4:29; James 1:19–20).
- ⎢ I don’t trust that God has good plans for me (Num. 14:1–4; Ps. 77:7–9).
- ⎢ I long for marriage or a better job, so I take things into my own hands. I take control of my life rather than trust the Lord with it (Prov. 3:5–6).
The antidote for unbelief and hard hearts is “encourage one another daily.” We gather together and speak truth to each other. We walk side by side in good and bad seasons. We help each other pursue faith, hope, and love.
And we hold firmly to the hope we have in Christ (Heb. 3:14). Perseverance is the mark of a true believer. We’re encouraged to hold on until the very end, when Christ returns.
With the daily encouragement of other believers, and our steadfast clinging to Christ, we can fight momentary atheism and choose a more faithful path.