By Any Other Name

IMG_1010I preached my second sermon this morning. I included the manuscript I wrote out to practice it with but it isn’t exactly word for word. Here is the link.

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Good morning! I’m going to start this morning in Hebrews chapter 3 then we will visit Numbers 20, Genesis 3 and stop in Romans 7.So if everyone is in Hebrews 3 we will start at verse 7 and go to 19
Hebrews 3:7-19 (New International Version)
I want to focus on three things that are said in this section of scripture.
Vs. 8 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
Vs. 11 11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
And Vs. 13 so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
First I want to point out that this is addressed to Christians verse 1 of this chapter says therefore Holy brothers and sisters, so the author is talking to fellow Christians. Let’s go back to verse 8 where the writer tells us that the Holy Spirit says; “do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Notice that; “do not harden your hearts.” It is an act of our will to harden our hearts. In Exodus we see the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart referred to in two ways.
The Lord said I will harden his heart. (Exodus 4:21) and
Pharoah hardened his heart (Exodus 8:15)

The hardening of our hearts is not something God does so we will be like little robots. God Hardening Pharaoh’s heart is just God allowing Pharaoh to do what is already in his heart. The hardening of our hearts is something we do. We choose to soften our hearts or harden them sometimes God arranges events to help ge our hearts where He wants them, but just as pharaoh’s pride forced him to harden his heart we let circumstances harden or soften our hearts.<!--more-->

 So we are told not to harden our hearts as they did in the rebellion. I want to first address the broad way the author of Hebrews is approaching this scripture and then I’m going to tighten it up a little and look at the narrow way of looking at verse 8. The author is talking about how God did not allow the Israelites into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. God has saved and delivered them. That is important to see. The Israelites have already been saved. As I pointed out earlier the author of Hebrews was talking about Christians and here we have the saved Israelites, kinda of like the Old testament version of Christians.So they have been saved and delivered but the Promised Land that they were to be given is not going to be theirs during their lifetime because they doubt. They did not believe that God was truly going to take care of them. Numbers 13 tells of the spies being sent into the Promised Land and they come back talking about the military strength and the fortifications of the cities and then they compare their selves to Grasshoppers amongst these people who were giants. These spies say “we can’t do this. We can’t do this. “
And they are right. They are right, they can’t do it. But God can. These people have already seen the miracles of the plagues. God not only delivered them but made them rich when the Egyptians paid them to leave. They saw the Red Sea split open. Think about that miracle by itself. Any one ever drained a pond and immediately walked in it afterwards. You sink to your knees in the mud but the Israelites had the sea split and crossed on dry ground. Then God allowed the waters to overtake the Egyptians. Just imagine seeing this and then to doubt God. They have survived battles, by armies much stronger and more well trained .They have had bitter water turned sweet, seen manna fall from the sky. God has taken care of these people but when He says “Go and take your reward” they say “We can’t.” Caleb and Joshua were the only two that didn’t harden their hearts and they were the only ones that got to see their reward on this side of heaven.
All the others let unbelief harden their hearts. Think about that they were saved but because sin hardened their hearts they did not get an earthly reward. I’m not saying that Caleb and Joshua didn’t suffer they went through the exact same things as all the other Israelites but to them it wasn’t as bad because they knew that God was carrying them and they got to see the reward of their belief that God would conquer the promised land

Now to the narrow look into this scripture “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”[
This comes from Psalm 95 and in Psalm 95 it refers to the wilderness as Meribah and Massah. The events at Meribah and Massah are recorded in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. they refer to Moses getting water from the Rock at Meribah. Now God instructs Moses to talk to the rock and strike it once. Let’s look at Numbers 20:10-13
He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

Moses in his anger at the unbelief of the Israelites hardened his heart and did not honor God as Holy. Because of that Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land in his lifetime. Do you see a pattern? The hardening of our hearts to sin stops us from receiving the reward that God has in store for us. Now a reward might be the blessing in getting to see someone we know come to Christ. One of the hardest things I have had to endure was seeing someone I care about hate me for being honest about what the bible says. But I endured I stayed focused on Jesus and what he wanted and the greatest reward was seeing that person start going to church regularly. If we follow Jesus and do not let our hearts be hardened by sins deceitfulness we will get to see the reward of our efforts.

Lets go back to Hebrews 3. Verses 12 and 13 12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Moses heart was hardened by the disbelief of those around him and that lead to his sin.
Let’s look at two other people who allowed sins deceitfulness to harden their hearts.
Lets back up to Adam and Eve
Genesis 3 is the infamous chapter called the fall. Let’s look at what happened though.3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. Notice we are told here that the serpent was crafty or we could say deceitful. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Notice what he just did he misquoted what God had said in an effort to cause confusion and doubt.
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

The beauty of the sinful fruit hardened the heart of Eve. Think about that the allure of sin hardened Eve’s Heart . Satan changed sin from something that kills and destroys to something desirable.
And she gave some to her husband.
Adam loved Eve and in his love for a woman Adam disobeyed God
The love of a woman hardened Adam’s heart.

Disbelief of those around hardened moses’ heart
Beauty hardened Eve’s heart.
Love Hardened Adam’s heart.
, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

So what Hardens our hearts and how does sin deceive us.

Last summer I caught a Garter Snake in the yard. Dustin and I played with it for a while a Savannah took a picture of us holding it. I put the picture on my screensaver at work. A woman I work with walked up and looked at it with disgust asking what is that. I said my son!
She replied No, not the boy. I said oh, That would be me.
I have been married long enough that I have learned that when a woman is holding sharp objects and gets that insane look in her eyes its time for the jokes to stop so I told it was a Garter snake.
A Garter snake.
A Snake.
Well yes but it’s a Garter snake. I try to inform this woman that it lived under our house and eats mice therefore it was friend of mine.
A Snake.
A garter snake.
A Snake.
I then tried to inform her that Garter snakes are harmless and can’t hurt you.
She asked does it bite. I said well yes but I didn’t give it the opportunity and even if it did it’s not poisonous so it wouldn’t have been a big deal had it bitten me.
A Snake.
A garter snake.
She then walked off shaking her head and mumbling something about poor poor Amy.
So I was trying to give the snake a fancy name to make it less harmful sounding to her. To make her hardened to the fear the snake caused
And sometimes we treat sin like that and by making sin less harmful sounding we allow our hearts to be hardened by sins deceitfulness.
I’ve got some examples I’d like to share this morning.

We don’t call it murder in the news because that would give a negative tone to it and would lead a jury to be more likely to convict. It’s Homicide or manslaughter. If I say murder you get an image of brutality and violence in your mind. but if I say homocide it’s not as bad it’s less horrific sounding. Homicide that doesn’t paint as vivid a picture in your head does it.
What about the Murder of an unborn child.
How many people had the word abortion pop in their head as I said that. The murder of an unborn child and we put an innocent sounding name on it like abortion. That doesn’t sound so bad does it. Abortion to stop a process the problem is this is the process of Life that God started we are stopping.
What about Pro Choice. Choices that sounds really nice doesn’t it. By putting a positive word at the beginning we are creating a word that doesn’t create negativity in our minds or our hearts.
What about family planning. That sounds really nice. I can see little kids and a dog named boo. But no that is the murder of an unborn child. Family planning is not killing babies family planning is waiting until your married to have sex as God has Commanded us to do.
The unnatural lust for someone of the same sex. What do we call it homosexuality give it a nice scientific name and it isn’t so bad. Kind of sterilizes it doesn’t it?
Alternative lifestyle. Isn’t that what the Amish have. An alternative lifestyle is living without electricity and traveling by horse and buggy .Having sex in a way that the bible calls an abomination just because a woman named Ellen says it’s okay is not an alternative lifestyle. It is a sin.
Pornography what do we call it Adult entertainment. Adult entertainment That doesn’t sound so bad. Go to Memphis or Nashville and you find Gentleman’s Clubs. Gentleman’s clubs that sounds like a respectable place. A Gentleman is a good thing. Pornography is not entertainment. Matthew 5:28 tells us that to look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultery. Think about that every pornographic image you have looked at is the same in God’s eyes as you committing adultery against your spouse. Pornography is a sin, and it destroys families, marriages and self esteem. It is not entertainment.
Adultery what pleasant terms can we come up with for breaking a marriage covenant. Infidelity, affair, Cheating. Cheating is what you do in the seventh grade when you peek over the shoulder of the guy in front of you to see his answers on a test. Telling your spouse that the covenat that you and her made before God does not matter. That its something as innocent as cheating at aboard game. Think about that when you commit adultery you are telling your spouse and God that what you want is more important than they are.
, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Okay but what does this have to do with me. A Christian living under grace and sanctified by the blood of Christ. Forgiven of all sins past, present and future by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Maybe you are thinking I haven’t done any of those things anyways, So this doesn’t apply to me.
Yeah, I use the political correct terms of the day so I want offend but that doesn’t cause me to sin.
What does it matter if I use more sensitive language when I talk about these subjects? If I don’t use sensitive language, sinners want listen to me when I try and tell them about Jesus. None of this is causing me to sin. My heart isn’t hardened.
The problem isn’t in using these words in conversing with people the problem is believing these words that harden our hearts.
How many have referred to a friend committing adultery as just having an affair?
You don’t believe you have allowed the deceitfulness of sin to harden your heart! How many while talking to someone who is having marriage difficulties have thought well maybe they shouldn’t be together! Maybe they shouldn’t be together. That is why the divorce rate among Christians is just as high as among none Christians. Because sin has hardened our heart.
Think about what you are truly saying, God I don’t think this couple should honor the contract they made before you They just don’t seem to be able to live up to their part. You know what though lucky for us God doesn’t decide to give up on the contract he gave lost sinners just because we can’t live up to our part of the contract. We all would be in a mess then.

When we become scared to call sin what it is because we may offend someone we have allowed sin to harden our hearts and that leads to us disobeying God.
Christians wrestle with sin that what makes God’s mercy so amazing is even though He knows we will still sin He forgives us.
Look at Romans 7 Paul is telling us that the law is there so we will know sin and notice how Paul wrestles with sin in v1515I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Look at that What I hate I do. That is a man on his knees in conviction of his sin.
16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. Now he is saying God you are right this is a sin 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Lord I can’t do this. That is a sinner begging for God’s grace and help19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. That is what a sinner on his knees sounds like!
Why is God allowing Paul to suffer and wrestle with sin. Why does God allow us to suffer and wrestle with sin.
Being saved requires repentance. Repentance is the changing of one’s way of thinking. So to repent of sin is to realize that I am committing sin and to realize that Jesus died for that sin so that I could have eternal life with the father. Jesus refers to the Holy spirit as the helper, and counselor. So how does the Holy Spirit help me or counsel me.
When I sin the Holy Spirit will convict me. Ephesians 4 gives us instructions for Christian living v 30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This grieving is conviction it is the feeling in our heart of knowing that we have done wrong. So what do we do with this feeling we pray, Just as David cried out to God in Psalm 51 We should admit against you God have I sinned. Our forgiveness is there but we still have our old nature to show us we are dependant upon God.
But when we change the name of sin so that we are not convicted when we change the name of sin so that others are not convicted we are telling God that we do not need Him and His definition of sin. We are telling God what sin is and not listening to him so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness..
Earlier I said I told the woman that even if the Garter snake had bitten me it wouldn’t hurt me. I got to thinking about that I had a friend get bitten by a boa constrictor and a fang broke off in his hand. The bite got infected and hurt him for several days just as what seems like a small private sin can grow and hurt us if we don’t call it what it is.
We must recognize sin for what it is. It is disobeying God, and changing the name of it so that we won’t be convicted is not honoring God as Holy. Remember Moses he did not get to see the promised land because he did not honor God as holy. Jesus died on a cross for you and I. He bled so that I could be washed in that blood. It was Jesus that saved me. And I can turn back and live in sin and I can change the name of it so I won’t be convicted but I will never enter God’s rest in my lifetime. Or I can thank Jesus for what he did it can drink of his living water. I can call out to Him I am a sinner Lord help me. And I will get to know what it is like to have Jesus take my burden on Him. How many have had some kind of stress in their life this week. Jesus said hey I want to take that from you rely on me, live for me. You’ll still go through the wilderness like Caleb and Joshua did but the whole time you will know that you Jesus is carrying you. By not allowing our heart to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, I will no what it’s like to live for Christ. I will get to see the rewards of living for Him. I’ll get to hear that child come to know him I get to see that friend fall to their knee’s in repentance I’ll get to hear that elderly gentleman call out to Jesus with his dying breathe. I will always have that presence around me letting me know that no Scott can’t do this But I can, God can, Jesus can. All you have to do is today “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” and do not let the deceitfulness of sin harden your heart.


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