Horatius Bonar

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest
any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
(Hebrews 3:13)

We do not walk alone in our way to the kingdom. We go in company,
each one helping the other in various ways. We are not isolated, so as
neither to be helpful nor hurtful to others; we are so called and situated as
to be necessarily either the one or other. We are not like plants or trees,
each with an individual root, and growing without reference to others.
We are branches of one vine; stones of one temple; members of one
family, one body. This the Epistles all take for granted; this our text does.
We are to help each other onward; watch each other’s steps; lovingly
reproving, or comforting, or animating, or rousing, or cheering; looking
not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of

In reference to this condition of things in the Church of God, mark, in the
words of our text, two points: (1.) The duty. (2.) The danger.

The Duty
It is that of “exhortation”. The word has four meanings, or shades of
meaning, exhort, beseech, comfort, plead for. The idea is that of calling
one to your side to speak something to him or for him; and implies
nearness and personal intercourse, as well as concern for the individual.
As father, or friend, or brother, or advocate, we thus exhort, or beseech,
or comfort, or plead for. This duty is here presented to us in the
following aspects: It is to be mutual; daily; urgent.

(1) Mutual. It is not the exhortation of the pastor; it is that of the
members one to the other. “Exhort one another” is the precept. Keep
your eye on the condition of all the brethren, and endeavour to be helpers
of each other in spiritual things. With regards to knowledge, holiness,
consistency, progress, faith, love, zeal, we are to exhort one another.

(2) Daily. It is not to be occasional and inconstant. It must be neither too
frequent nor too seldom. “Daily” is the word. We set out each morning
for a daily walk or race, so we must remember our daily duty of mutualexhortation.
It must be part of our daily work, done conscientiously and
with love.

(3) Urgent. It must be done “today”, while the proclamation is made
“today”. There must be no procrastination. The thing must be done
without delay. For the time is short; the evil will wax greater; the duty is
neglected. Exhort one another daily while today is proclaimed. It will be
tomorrow soon, and tomorrow may be too late.

Let love, then, abound; let it be in constant exercise; for it is only love
that can animate such duties. It is love that dictates, and love that gives
effect to the exhortation, love yearning and watching over a brother’s

The Danger
There are many dangers to which Christian men are liable; but the apostle
singles out one to which they were specially exposed – hardness of heart,
impenitence, obduracy. It is to Christian men that he addresses the
warning. This hardening implies such things as these –

(1) A losing our first love.—When iniquity abounds, the love of many
waxes cold. The affections get dull and blunted.

(2.) Losing the edge of our conscience.—The conscience ceases to be
sensitive and tender. It does not shrink from sin as it used to do.

(3) Callousness as to truth. We get so familiarized with truth, that it
ceases to affect us. It loses its power over us.

(4) Insensibility to sin. Our own evils are not felt as they used to be; sin
itself is not so hated and shunned as formerly. Thus. our whole man gets
hardened; our feelings become dull; and spiritual things no longer tell
upon us. Great is our danger of becoming hardened; greater still our
danger after we have become hardened. Oh, beware of sliding back and
sliding down; beware of coldness and indifference. Keep your whole man
ever on edge; let not hardness creep in.

This process of hardening is accomplished through the deceitfulness of
sin, or rather of ‘this sin,’ that is, the sin of unbelief spoken of in the
previous verse. All sin hardens. The sight of it hardens; connivance at it
hardens; indulgence in it hardens. But especially is this true of
unbelief. There is nothing so hardening as unbelief; and one great
reason for this is, that there is nothing so deceitful. It does not look a
great sin; nay, sometimes not like sin at all, but like modesty and
humility. It pretends to be jealous for God; to be conscious of personal
unworthiness; to be unfit to venture on a hope of acceptance. Thus, it
deceives. It makes us think that no sin which is the sin of sins. It
actually hides itself; palliates its own enormities; veils its hatefulness
under the name of humility. In all these ways it contrives to destroy
faith, to cherish itself, and so to harden the heart.

Let us then specially beware of unbelief and its deceitfulness. Let us be
on our guard against the hardening process, which it effects. Let us
dread the evil heart of unbelief which leads us away from God. That
which leads us away from God must harden; that which denies the love
of God must harden; that which separates the word and promise of God
must harden. Have faith in God, if you would preserve a soft and
sensitive heart.