DANGER OF NEGLECT
Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV)
1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,
3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
First Warning: Danger Of Drifting Away.
The writer is writing to a Jewish audience and because of the severity of the times against the Jews he was greatly concerned they might be tempted to drift from the faith.
In verses 1-4 he speaks of neglecting salvation through God’s Son.
The Book of Hebrews is written to Christians and must be taken in context of the faith.
The writer talks about the danger of neglect which leads to drifting.
Many things in life are destroyed simply through neglect.
Things that are wholesome and good. Things that no one would intentionally destroy – they just become careless and neglect it.
Because of neglect one can bring danger, not only unto themselves, but unto others.
If a sailor neglected his duties he would endanger, not only his life, but that of the whole crew.
Think of the consequences if a soldier neglected his duties while on guard duty.
What is the best way to destroy a marriage? Neglect it! A home? Neglect it!
For a farmer to destroy his crops? Neglect it! To dirty up a house? Neglect it!
To destroy a Sunday School Class, a choir, a church? Neglect it!
All these things and more ban be destroyed just by simple neglect.
In fact, the whole Book of Hebrews warns us against apostasy that leads to a wasted life.
That is what these first four verses speak of.
They were issued as a warning to the Hebrews, and to us today against a wasted life of neglect and indifference.
Paul warns us of a day that is coming when there will be a wholesale departure from the faith and the truth of God’s Word.
We read in 1 Tim. 4:1-2, 1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
Also in 2 Tim. 4:3-4, 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Drifting from the message and morality of the Gospel has always been a problem and it will become more and more prevalent as we near the return of Christ.
The writer alerts the people that: There is a danger of neglecting the Word of God and letting it slip by unheeded. (1-4)
1. “Hebrews 2:1 “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”
a. What Is The Cause Of Neglect?
There are, no doubt, many reasons we Christians become careless concerning our walk with God.
One reason, I believe, is that our salvation is free – it is a gift of God – it cost us nothing.
Paul tells us in Eph. 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
(1) Because we know that salvation is free and also eternal I think it is just human nature to slack off on something we get as a gift more than we do for something we have to work for.
If we had to earn salvation and if there was a danger we could lose it I think we would give more attention to it.
But because this salvation is a gift, people tend to take it lightly, and therefore a warning is needed.
(2) The problem is not of understanding – it is not of hearing – it is of heeding.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
The one that hears God’s Words and paths them into practice, that lives by them is the one who heeds them.
Because of this the readers are warned to not neglect their Christian duties.
b. Therefore, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” The writer says we “must.” There is an urgency in the this word, for when we get saved there is an urgency to listen more carefully to the message that God has for us in the person and work of His Son. We must listen wee to God’s Word or, we too, drift into dangerous waters.
(1).`The word “must” comes from the Greek word DEI and is translated as “must” 58 times in the NT.
Matt. 16:21, Jesus said “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Matt. 24:6, He said, “all these things must come to pass.”
Mark 13:10, “and the Gospel must first be preached to all the nations.”
Luke 9:22, “the Son of Man must suffer many things.”
From just these few verses we can detect the urgency involved
(2). When we see the word used in these terms it removes any options concerning our responsibilities and duties.
It is a compelling word that leaves no alternatives – we must perform our duties as Christians.
The writer of Hebrews is telling us something that is of a necessity if we are going to mature as Christians.
(3). So, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard.”
The writer makes clear that the problem is not a lack of knowledge or of hearing, but of failing to heed.
Jesus said in Matt. 7:24 “…whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:”
They all heard and they all knew. Some heeded and were blessed. Others did not heed and paid the consequences.
We are to respond in a positive manner to the things we have heard – we are to be diligent and give “pay more careful attention,” so that we “do not drift away.”
(4). “Drifting away” carries the idea of a ring slipping unnoticed off the finger.
It is like a boat upstream from a waterfall – we let our attention be drawn to something else and without us realizing it the boat begins to drift toward the waterfall.
This is the Christians greatest spiritual danger.
It can be and usually is so subtle. That’s why we must “give earnest heed.”
The writer makes the point very clear.
We must give heed, we must discipline ourselves, we must give careful attention to God’s Word.
If we do not we will be in danger of drifting from our spiritual moorings.
Christians don’t openly and defiantly rebel against God – they just slowly drift away, and the sad thing is that often it takes some tragedy or misfortune to jolt us awake and make us realize that we have drifted away from God.
That is the reason the writer warns us that we, too, must pay close attention to what God tells us in His Word.
(5). What we must be diligent to: We must discipline ourselves to make time for Bible study and determine in our hearts to obey the Word of God.
No one accidentally becomes strong spiritual Christians – it isn’t something that just happens.
Paul tells us in Gal. 5:16 to “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
“Walk” means our demeanor, our behavior, our conduct or deportment.
The NLT reads: “…let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”
The Bible is very clear that we choose our walk. We can choose darkness or choose light.
We can walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh. We can walk according to the ways of this world or walk in the Spirit.
We read in 2 Pet. 1:3 NLT, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.”
2. Hebrews 2:2-3 (NIV) “For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.”
Note that the argument goes from the lesser to the greater.
If the message brought by angels was not heeded and brought grief to those who disobeyed it, how much more grief will come against those who neglect God’s plan of deliverance brought by His Son.
a. “Transgression” literally means “to cross the line.”
There is a point in which we are not to go beyond.
When we transgress we cross the line.
b. “Disobedience” (Gr. PARAKOE) means “refusing to hear,” therefore, an act of disobedience.
The Hebrew Christians had come to a point where they refused to hear.
It wasn’t that they couldn’t hear, but that they were not willing to hear what God had to say.
The New Living translation reads: “The message God delivered through angels has always proved true, and the people were punished for every violation of the law and every act of disobedience.
What makes us think that we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation that was announced by the Lord Jesus himself?”
c. “So great salvation” is the salvation that God revealed through His Son.
The salvation experience known to the OT saints through the angels and the prophets cannot be compared to the salvation announced through God’s Son.
The salvation announced by the prophets and angels came from the same source, but the difference is we know the author personally because He has revealed Himself to us.
It is no wonder the writer said that if the OT saints could not escape if they transgressed and disobeyed – how do we think we can escape if we neglect His salvation?
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?”
God wants us to know that He isn’t playing games. Many Christians make a pretense. They may not take it serious, but they are going to be awakened to the fact that God does take it very serious.
The message here is that there is no way of escape for the consequences of a wasted life.
If we ignore the things that God has spoken to us there is no way of escape.
d. What does the word “neglect” mean?
Matthew 22:1-5 provides a good definition: “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:
2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,
3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘
5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.”
“Made light of it” is the translation of the same Greek word translated “neglect” in our text.
Salvation is not something we do – it is what we are – it is serious business.
- It requires everything we are and everything we have.
- God’s salvation costs us nothing – it is absolutely free, but when we accept it – it costs us everything.
- We are free moral agents and God has given us the choice to accept or reject His free salvation.
If we choose to accept it, then we are no more free mortal agents for we belong to God.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV), “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body”
Note how this salvation came to us.
“which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord.”
(1). It was announced by God Himself.
Jesus Christ is God. He announced it. He revealed it. And it is greater than anything the world has ever seen or heard.
That is why it is greater than the message given by angels or by the prophets.
(2). Another point about this salvation is that it “was confirmed unto us by those who heard him.”
The writer is speaking of the first hearers to whom the authentic Gospel was entrusted.
Any and all later preaching must agree with theirs.
If it does not, then it isn’t the genuine thing.
For the writer, and for his readers, the message was “confirmed” by the original disciples, and then passed down to him and his readers.
God Himself verified the message.
4. Verse 4: “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
The NLT reads: “And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.
All through the Book of Acts we see this verse authenticated.
We have the full revelation of God and we need to give the more earnest heed and to give diligence to that which we have heard lest we let them slip away.