Monday, September 25, 2006

Willful Sin

Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (KJV).” This verse has caused many people undue anxiety. J. Vernon McGee says, that this verse should cause the hair on the back of our necks to stand up, but not in the same way it does for many who read it out of context. If we were to look at this verse by itself we would assume that if we sin after we are saved we are without hope and should simply await judgment, but does the author of Hebrews mean any sin or does he have a specific sin in mind.

The first thing we need to do with this scripture is to check the context in which we find it. First, according to Henry Virkler we need to find out some basic information about the book in which we find the statement. We should start by asking, “to whom is this book written?” When studying scripture, the best place to start looking for answers to questions like these is scripture itself, because it is infallible unlike external sources. Without much effort we will find that it is written to the Jews who have converted to Christianity or at least have made some commitment to it. This is quickly apparent because according to Albert Barnes, in his Notes on the Bible, the author of Hebrews speaks about Jewish customs without any explanation. It is apparent that the audience was Jewish and knew what these customs were and what they represented.

Another question we should ask is, “why is this book being written?” As we study the book we find that it has a general purpose, first it describes what Christ has done for them as the only true sacrifice for sin and then warns them against falling away. The concern about falling away was not due to persecution but to many who were tempted to go back to the old sacrifices which were only symbols of the true sacrifice which is Christ (Heb. 10:14).

After we have the overall argument of the book the next question we should ask is, “how do these verses of scripture fit into the overall argument of the book?” As we read the book we see that chapter 10 seems to bring the first and major section of the book to a close. Chapter 10 starts by showing that Christ is and was the only sacrifice by which any person will ever be saved. The author in verses 19-25 lays out the “new and living way”, which indicates that the old method of sacrifices are no longer of any value and to continue in them is sin.

It is in this context that we find our text. When the author says, “if we willingly sin” he is clearly speaking of willfully rejecting the sacrifice of Christ and going back to the old symbols which can never cleanse anyone from sin. If a believer does this then there is no sacrifice for their sins and they can only await judgment. In a broader sense the sin that the author is speaking of is apostasy. Now whether or not a true believer could actually do this is another question. But as J. Vernon McGee said, it should cause the hair on our neck to stand up, because this is a strong warning to keep us from ever letting anyone lead us away from trusting in the only true sacrifice that can cleans us from our sins; Jesus Christ.

If the book of Hebrews’ internal evidence is not enough to comfort a trembling soul who thinks they are forever lost because they have willfully sinned, then we must always remember that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” In them we will find no contradictions. If we ever have trouble with a difficult verse that is not immediately clear to us then we need to go check the scriptures that are clear, for Scripture is it best interpreter. In doing this we will find a verse like 1 John 2:1, which is crystal clear and says, “and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” In a quick study of the context we see that John is speaking to believers. We also have the story of David being a man after God’s own heart even after committing adultery with Bathsheba and having Uriah killed. There is also the encouragement found in the account of Peter’s three denials and the forgiveness he receives from Christ, or of Paul in Romans 7 struggling with the flesh and committing sins that he hates. All of these are ample evidence that the two verses in Hebrews 10 are not saying that if you commit a sin you are lost and no longer have hope. It is saying that if you reject the sacrifice of Christ you have no hope.

-Doug Eaton-

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6 Comments:

At Tuesday, September 26, 2006 5:26:00 AM, Blogger Les Brown said...

Thank you for those comforting words, Doug.

 
At Tuesday, September 26, 2006 7:55:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

This is a good exposition of this verse.

 
At Saturday, November 26, 2011 1:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you so much, i have been haunted by these verses for 11 months now, they have comepletely destroyed my faith, and the doubt was preventing me from living a spirit filled life. finding out that i had been misinterpreting those verses the whole time changes everything...maybe god hasn't abandoned me afterall. i ca already feel faith and confidence returning after reading that.

 
At Monday, August 20, 2012 8:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you for your outreach and message. It troubled me somewhat as well, or rather it really put the Fear of the Lord in me. It is good to know we have an advocate even if we sin. After putting those two together and asking God for wisdom, I have total confidence and faith He will continue my obedience unto perfection. Thanks Doug.

 
At Sunday, December 30, 2012 10:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug, this really blessed me and cleared up a lot of confusion in my head. I had recently asked God to help me understand if one can lose their salvation. My concern was for a friend of mine who willfully and regularly commit sins of the flesh. At one time they had even convinced me to join them, but the guilt consumed me and led me to repentance and deliverance after a short period of time. Even though he is a tongue speaking, Jesus believing, bible-teaching, confessed Christian, When I ask him if he thought this was alright to keep walking in the sin (since God's word clearly said it is wrong), he said well God never really expected people to only sleep with one person their entire lives. So, he is convinced that he can continue to commit adultery regularly and with several people without issue. It's really a sexual addiction in operation here...and he is justifying the addiction just as a drug or alcohol addict would do. I understand the power of these demonic strongholds, and only after repentance AND deliverance from these demons, can one be more empowered to fight the temptations. Christians can and do have demons, but Jesus came to set the captives free. The problem is most Christians, have not appropriated the Blood of Jesus, and commanded these unclean spirits to come out! After reading your article, I think I see a more definitive line of what is happening in situation like my friend's... I'm understanding that people will still be saved, but their are earthly consequences for disobedience. I feel comforted in believing that God knows his sheep and we know his voice. I believe he will give each of us who have given our life to him an opportunity to get right with him before our last breath. Just as he gave me another chance to repent. I then asked him to create in me a clean heart as in Psalm 51. He did it!!!! I have been set free, restored and renewed. Those things that used to hinder me, have no power over me anymore, and for the first time in over 40 years, I feel like I'm walking in my purpose and calling. Thank you Jesus!

 
At Sunday, May 12, 2013 6:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your truth and Doug thank you for your explanation. It helped me to remember even when I don't deserve anything, God is faithful.

 

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