Beware, 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 (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Some years ago in Africa I saw first-hand what can happen when a precious brother in Christ goes astray. A man who walked with us, prayed with us, loved God with us, began seeking to prevent God’s purposes from coming to pass as we ministered. At first, it was hard to believe a person who walked so closely with us could do this. It seemed like a sudden event, but later we found that his outward conduct was being formed within him years before it showed itself.
This wonderful brother defied conscience, allowing personal pride, selfishness, and greed to weaken his conscience, eventually becoming hard-hearted toward God and harming the very people he once led. He led authorities to refuse us permission to hold an evangelistic crusade where hundreds were waiting to hear the gospel. He began to threaten us, seeking to hire people to poison our food, and to do us physical harm by throwing rocks at us as we travelled.
In 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Paul mentions Hymenaeus and Alexander who betrayed conscience and forsook God’s best. In Acts 5 we read of Annanias and Sapphira who died because of their sin against the Holy Spirit.
When we see a precious saint of God go astray, we may think that we are immune, and may wonder how this could happen. A wise believer will always remain aware that he could likewise harden his heart.
A conscience repeatedly violated opens a door in your life to the enemy and gradually shuts God out. It happens at a slow pace, and the end of a seared conscience is spiritual ruin.
It’s the little foxes that spoil the vines. Keep your heart. Watch the small things that creep into life and are not dealt with. Expose every thought, motive, attitude and action to the One who knows all and sees all. Keep short accounts with God. Remain in constant communion.
I fear for my brother who allowed himself to get into this state of utter rebellion. I pray for God’s mercy on his life. He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
Let us ever be aware of our human frailty, and our need to remain humble before God. May the Father’s hand remain upon us, as He the Divine Potter ever molds us into the likeness of our Savior.