Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 3

The sin of unbelief

Hebrews 3:12

In Hebrews 3:7-11, the author repeated Psalm 95:7-11 for us. And now he begins his explanation of that passage. His explanation will continue until Hebrews 4:11.

Most people understand ‘sin’ to mean wrong things that they do against God. But our sins are not just our wrong actions. Sin also includes wrong and evil attitudes in our hearts (or minds). Jesus taught that wrong attitudes in people’s hearts cause all kinds of wicked behaviour (Mark 7:21-23).

When Moses led God’s people through the desert, their worst sin was the wrong attitude of their hearts (Hebrews 3:8). They did not want to trust God, so they would not obey him. Their other sins were the result of this wrong attitude.

This particular sin is called unbelief. But by ‘unbelief’ here, I do not mean the doubts of a sincere person who really wants to know God. I mean the opposite. The people whom Moses led were not sincere. They did not want to have a relationship with God. And their problem was not really doubt. They knew about God. Their problem was the decisions that they chose to make about him. They refused to accept his authority over their lives.

Another name for unbelief is lack of faith. Faith means active belief and trust in God’s word. It is impossible to have faith unless we first hear God’s word (Hebrews 3:7). But if we then refuse to trust and to obey, that is unbelief.

The results of unbelief are very serious. The people whom Moses led could not enter Canaan because of this sin. Canaan was the country that God had promised to their nation. And the result of unbelief is still very serious for people today. Unbelief will ruin a person’s relationship with God. And because God is the living God, nothing is more important than to have a right relationship with him.

Next part: The danger of unbelief (Hebrews 3:13)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.