Home > Bible Study, C. H. Spurgeon, Hebrews, Malachi, S. Lewis Johnson > The Evil Heart of Unbelief

The Evil Heart of Unbelief


Some thoughts from various sermons:  S. Lewis Johnson’s Hebrews series, also the Malachi series, and a Spurgeon sermon I read recently.

By nature man thinks “horizontally” about relationships to others, giving far less attention to the vertical relationship with God.  We see this in many ways throughout the Bible as well as actual experience.  From the Malachi series (and really all the minor prophets), we see a people much like the modern church, focused on outward worship and hypocrisy, going through the motions but without true heart worship of the God with whom we have to do.  The book of Hebrews is addressed to Christians who have become cold and indifferent, and the writer challenges them to beware the “evil heart of unbelief.”  Yet in several places in the OT prophets, God rebukes His people for their lack of love toward Him, for their empty, meaningless sacrifices that He actually hates.

Spurgeon made a great observation concerning the fact that we focus more on the sins against other men, not on sins against God:
From “Limiting God,” #272  (Aug. 28, 1859)

When God gave forth the Law it was engraved upon two stones. The first table contained the commandments concerning man and God, the second dealt with man and man. Sins against God are sins against the first table—sins against man are offenses against the second table. Man, to constantly prove his perversity, will put the second table before the first, no, upon the first, so as to cover and conceal it! There are few men who will not allow the enormity of adultery, fewer still who will dispute the wickedness of murder. Men are willing enough to acknowledge that there is sin in an offense against man. That which endangers the human commonwealth, that which would disturb the order of earthly governments—all this is wrong enough even in man’s esteem, but when you come to deal with the first table it is hard, indeed, to extort a confession from mankind! They will scarcely acknowledge that there is any such thing as an offense against God, or if they do acknowledge it, yet they think it but a light matter.

What man is there among you who has not in his heart often lamented sins against man, rather than sins against God? And which of you has not felt a greater compunction for sins against your neighbor, or against the nation, than for sins committed against God and done in His sight? I say that such is the perversity of man, that he will think more of the less than the greater! An offense against the Majesty of Heaven is thought to be far more venial than an offense against his fellow creature. There are many transgressions of the first table of which we think so little that we scarcely ever confess them at all—or if we acknowledge them, it is only because the Grace of God has taught us to estimate them aright. One offense against the first table which seldom agitates the mind of an unconvicted sinner is that of unbelief and with it, I may put the lack of love to God. The sinner does not believe in God, does not trust in Him, does not love Him. He gives his heart to the things of earth and denies it to his Creator! Of this high treason and rebellion he thinks nothing. If you could take him in the act of theft, a blush would mantle his cheek. But you detect him in the daily omission of love to God and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and you cannot make him feel that he is guilty of any evil in this! Oh, strange contortion of human judgment!

Oh, blindness of mortal conscience, that this greatest of iniquities—a lack of love to the All-Lovely and a lack of faith in Him who is deserving of the highest trust—should be thought to be as nothing and reckoned among the things that need not to be repented of!

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