The deceitfulness of sin

What destroyed Israel’s relationship with God was “an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God,” Hebrews 3:12. But how did their heart become unbelieving? It certainly wasn’t unbelieving when they started out with God, because their response to him in Exodus 19:8 was, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” Their hearts at that point were very believing.

But something “hardened” their hearts against God, Hebrews 3:13, so that “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways,” verse 10. They quickly lost their trust and belief that what God was doing for them was for the best. And why was that? Because their hearts had been pierced by “sin’s deceitfulness,” verse 13. That’s what wrecked their relationship with God. And it can happen to any of us, it seems, because verse 13 is also warning Christians that “none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

So if Christians can be affected too, how does this deceitfulness of sin work? Well, in Genesis 4:7 God tells Cain, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you.” So it’s always there, ever-present, ready to pounce on people like Cain because humans are what it feeds on. And what does it want to do to us? My Greek-English Lexicon answers that in its description of sin’s deceitfulness as a “deceitful influence seducing (us) to sin.” It wants us to sin and it’s drawing on every seductive trick it’s got to make us sin. And by “sin” God means “not doing what is right” (Genesis 4:7).

So this is the score: we humans are constantly being seduced into not doing what is right, so that we end up angry at God like Cain, or unable to trust God like the Israelites. Anything to wreck our relationship with God. And Christians aren’t immune either. “For sin,” Paul writes in Romans 7:11, “seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” Paul wanted to obey God but instead of the commandments helping him obey, he found they “produced in me every kind of covetous desire” instead, verse 8. What God said, “Don’t do,” that’s what Paul found himself wanting to do more than anything!

He knew why, though. It was because “evil is right there with me,” verse 21. It’s ever-present. It never lets up. It crouches at the door of our minds, seeking any opportunity to seduce us into not doing what is right. And it never goes away. But there is an antidote: Cry out to God and he will answer, verses 24-25, because that’s the only power out there that can deal with the deceitfulness of sin.


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