“Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews iii.13
Christian life is not a solitary pilgrimage where each Christian should be mindful of just his or her own salvation. We are responsible for the spiritual well-being of other members of the body of Christ. This duty to watch out for the safety of other Christians is not just the job of a few who are appointed to pastoral or leadership roles.
The New Testament warns us to keep away from sin. Christians, although they were set free from the power and penalty of sin, can get entangled in sin. Worse still, they can be so deceived by the pleasures of sin that their hearts get hardened and resistant to calls to repentance. They might hide behind a fortress made of several excuses and justifications. Christians who wilfully get entrenched in sin are not shielded from the consequence of sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans vi:23a). That was Paul’s warning to Christians who had been set free from sin but would not proceed to become slaves of God! (vi.22)
The Hebrew church was weighed down by sin. They had long ago forsaken all serious attempts to resist temptations and sin. In their struggle against sin, they had “not yet resisted to the point of shedding [their] blood” (xii.4). The writer of Hebrews, therefore, exhorted them to lay aside every weight and “sin which clings so closely” so that they could finish their race successfully (xii.1).
These Hebrew Christians were exhorted to get their Christian life in order. They were to encourage one another to attend their church meetings (x.25). Most of all, they had to “exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Like soldiers on sentry duty, each Christian in that church was to make sure
“that no one fails to obtain the grace of God” [Although God’s grace is free, backsliding Christians persists in their sins will fail to obtain it!]
“that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
“that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau …” (xii.15, 16).
In addition, they were to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (x.24). That must have required a lot of creative thinking and action!
We can either keep watch over our brothers and sisters in accordance with the law of Christ or try in vain to excuse our apathy by asking, “Am I the keeper of my brother?”