Encourage So That None Shall Fall Away

I read an interesting post today at Julie Ganchow’s blog about addiction. I was interested to hear what she thought about the subject because she is a biblical counselor and because I don’t really believe in addictions for believers. However, as this was not what her post was about, we will leave that discussion for another time.

Julie makes the statement near the beginning of her post about groups such as the AA: “For the unbeliever, they are the best route to ceasing these behaviors. They provide both Believer and Unbeliever with fellowship, and like-mindedness. I think that each of these groups has pluses and minuses, and while they may be helpful in addressing the issues of the flesh they are sorely lacking in the vital areas of ‘recovery.'” This was especially interesting to me, as I had just been reading in Hebrews 3 the night before.

Here is a (very) quick summary of verses 1-17 (keeping in mind that Hebrews was written to Jews):
1-6 Jesus is greater than Moses
7-11 Quoting from Psalm 95, written by David looking back on the generation that was made to wander for 40 years in the wilderness because they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land.
**cool note on verse 7, note that the author of Hebrews is quoting the Psalms and introduces by saying “as the Holy Spirit said” WOW! There is an awesome reference to the point of Scripture being God-breathed that I never noticed before!
12-19 Points out that the Israelites were not able to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief. Warns the readers of Hebrews that the only way to know for certain that one is a believer in Jesus Christ and His gospel is that they do NOT fall away in their lifetime.

Verse 13 is the one that I would like to focus on for this post “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” The author of Hebrews is warning us that sin is deceitful. He is warning us that the Israelites, who had seen more miracles than any of us ever have, still managed to fall away into unbelief. He is reminding us that the validity of our belief is tested by our perseverance in our belief. Notice the first line “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today.'” There are several applications that we can take from this statement.

First, we need to be in a position to encourage one another. We need to have deep enough relationships that we can take part in mutual encouragement. “Hey, look out for sin; it’s bad,” does not count as encouragement. More of a “Hey no kidding, thanks for nothing!” statement! We need to be aware of what is going on in each other’s lives. We need to be aware of what is going on in each other’s minds and hearts and emotions. We need to be aware of each other’s struggles and trials. If these things are not happening, then we are simply not in a position to encourage.

Second, we need to be in a position to encourage one another daily. Saying a vauge “hello” to a couple of people on your way in and out of church on Sunday morning does not count. We need to be in relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ to the point where we have the opportunity to encourage day to day.

So where am I going with all of this? People go to AA meetings every day. If they truly want to stop being an alcoholic, they work as hard as they can to get accountability and support from those who are going through the same things they are. They stand up in front of large groups of people and declare, “I am an alcoholic.” They encourage successes and, when failure occurs, work to get the one that fell back on his or her feet.

This is all well and good for unbelievers. But as Christians, we have something far greater. We do not need to go to groups such as AA to help us recover from sin. Why? Because we have the church. We have a group of brothers and sisters who are all going through the same things that we are. We have people who are always there to hold us accountable and offer us support. We should be cheering the growth we see in each other’s lives and encouraging more. We should not be afraid to share our sin with others, knowing that we will not be judged, but exhorted to repent and offered assistance in doing so.

And why should all this be happening? Because sin is deceitful. And there is always the possibility of falling away. We do not know each other’s hearts and so we accept that if someone say that they are a believer then they are. But we know that many have fallen away so we encourage each other in the faith every day.

Sisters, may I encourage you to find someone today, a sister in Christ that you do not know well, and seek to develop a relationship with her? May I encourage you to take a more active role in all of your relationships with believers?

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