An Exhortation to Steadfastness

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, having spent some time extolling the glory of Christ, moves on in chapter three to discuss Christ in relation to his people. He talks about how Christ has a house, and that house is built of the people who ‘hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end’ (v6). So who are truly Christ’s people? Those who persevere to the end, who do not fall away, but rejoice, firm unto the end.

With this in mind, the writer gives us a solemn warning:

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end’ (Hebrews 3:12-14).

So, we are warned to take heed and be careful that we do not ‘depart from the living God’ through a heart of unbelief. Why is such a warning required? The writer gives us two reasons:

1. An evil heart. By nature, man’s heart is evil and unbelieving and so, except for God’s grace, he will naturally turn from God to seek his own ways.

2. The deceitfulness of sin. The sin in our heart never stops to tell us that it is evil and that we should avoid it; it creeps up when we are unwary, it pretends to be good, it tempts, it blinds us to the consequences, it works on our unbelief, it hardens our hearts – it lies in every way possible.

In response to these dangers, we are exhorted to do a number of things, especially to ‘take heed’, to ‘exhort one another daily’, and to ‘hold the beginning of our faith steadfast to the end’.

1. Take heed. If we have come to Christ, there is no room for taking on a lazy attitude in the hope that we will not fall. Life in Christ is a continual war and we must constantly be on our guard. Therefore, we must take heed that we are not departing from ‘the living God’, but are always relying on his grace, by faith.

2. Exhort one another daily. Because of the deceitfulness of sin, we often miss seeing it in ourselves, but God in his grace has given us brothers and sisters in Christ who may exhort us to avoid sin and hardness of heart. It is perhaps something we are often reluctant to do, for fear of spoiling relationships or out of a certain humility, but exhorting one another is not an option. It is a command and we will need to do so until it is no longer ‘Today’, but eternity.

3. Steadfast to the end. Those who become ‘partakers of Christ’, are those who remain trusting in him to the end. If we are to become an eternal part of Christ’s house, we must ‘hold the beginning of our faith’, both now and until the day we die. Again, if left to ourselves we would fail before we even started, but as it is a gift of God, He causes the faith of his people to persevere to the end.

In a society where transient ‘Christianity’ is fashionable and people often seem to wander away from the gospel they once loved, let us remain ‘steadfast to the end’! Let us lay hold on Christ by faith, praying ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). Let us exhort one another in love to avoid sin, to look to Christ, ‘considering ourselves lest we also be tempted.’ (Galatians 6:1) Let us ‘strive to enter in at the strait gate,’ and fear, ‘lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any should seem to come short of it’ (Luke 13:24, Hebrews 4:1).

Philip Mackereth

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  1. What an interesting post - thank you, Philip.

    What do you think the phrase in Hebrews 12:14, 'steadfast to the end' actually means? If we sin just once, does that mean that we have given up the chance of being steadfast? Or is it talking about something more than "to sin or not to sin"?

  2. Tabitha, thanks for your comment!

    You are right, Heb3:14 is talking about more than just sinning; it is talking about 'Holding the beginning of our confidence...' The beginning of our confidence(faith) is our faith in Christ for salvation. If we hold onto Christ steadfastly, then we will be will 'be made partakers of Christ.' We have all sinned, and will do all our lives (see 1 John1:8, 2:1); therefore we need to steadfastly persevere in faith and repentance.
    Regarding his persevering Paul says to the Philippians:
    "...that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil3:11-14)

  3. Philip, thank you for the reply. God is so gracious and amazing to work with us, even though we sin and fall short of what we should be doing, so that His plans can be perfected in our lives and those around us!

    I find that I need some sort of 'handle' or application to help me implement something like this and I've been thinking about how it actually effects my day-to-day life/faith - does anybody have any ideas?

    There are obviously the specific things already mentioned (such as repentance, exhorting other and keeping alert) but what should holding "the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end" really look like in our daily lives? Is there, in fact, anything specific to do or pray about - or is it simply part of faith and keeping our eyes on God?

  4. Tabitha, I believe faith is the handle you are looking for since it is by faith that we are partakers of Christ, and can lay hold of all the promises...



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