Hebrews 3:13 says
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
As Christians, we aren’t called to love one another in theory—we’re called to actually love one another. It has to be lived out. And, among many things, this means that we are always dealing with one another’s temptations and sin. If you can’t name a few sins a brother or sister in Christ struggles with, then you probably don’t know them very well.
So, how do we deal well with one another’s sin? We are called to exhort one another. An exhortation is what I’m doing right now. My goal is not to put your conscience on a spit and turn it over a bed of coals until you sizzle. Instead, I hope these exhortations give you the opportunity and the courage to face your sin.
We are to exhort one another so that we might not be hardened. Sin hardens us. Exhortations soften us. And that’s how deceitful sin is. Sin makes us blame exhortations for hardening people. But, the Word of God constantly challenges our natural way of thinking. We tend to think that speaking strongly about sin in church is a surefire way to make people hard to God.
Now, there are churches that are legalistic—and there are ways to exhort one another that pulverize hurting people. And that’s why all of our exhortations are followed by an assurance of pardon. We do this because, and this is crucial, you are not accepted based on your obedience. You are not embraced by God because you respond well to exhortations. You are not received because you are a rule keeper.
You are welcomed by God because Jesus was cast out in your place, and you have come to him by faith alone. So, let’s go to him now and confess our sins, as we exhort one another daily.
You have called us together as a church family for the purpose of making us like you. You have chosen these people by hand. No one is here by accident. And you mean for us to share our lives together in this community. You don’t mean for us to sin, but you do intend to use the sins we commit in front of one another and against one another as a way of leading us to maturity. You intend for us to confront sin. You intend for us to exhort one another. You purpose to soften our hard hearts by those exhortations.
- Father, if we’re honest, we struggle to fully commit to this community.
- Our flesh doesn’t want to exhort a brother in Christ.
- In our foolishness we fear the exhortation of a sister in the Lord.
- Others of us still struggle with legalism. We’re constantly pointing our the minor flaws we see in everyone else, while we are blind to our own failures.
Father, don’t let us abandon one another to sin and call it love, and don’t let us crush one another in condemnation and call it truth. As we seek to root out sin, help us to do it as people full of your grace and mercy. And as we obey your laws help us to do it full of love and courage.
Father we also know that if we say amen to this prayer while we intend to go on singing this prayer will be ineffectual, and so we confess our sins to you now individually. Receive our prayers…
We offer this confession in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.
Please rise for the assurance of pardon.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Therefore, if you are connected to Jesus Christ by faith alone—then in Christ, your sins are forgiven, and you are made clean.