Lesson 25: "If We Sin Wilfully. . .There Remaineth No More Sacrifice for Sins" (Hebrews 10:26)
Hebrews 10:19-39 continued
The Book of Hebrews. This is lesson #25. Welcome again and welcome back. This last half of Heb. ch. 10, is a very practical section. It gets right down to where we manufacture our tracks in the sand...where we live and breathe and have our being (as Paul said to the Athenians, Acts 17:25). God made us and then turned us loose as free moral agents and God has provided for us an opportunity to life eternal. He does not force us in spiritual matters; but, we are invited...God loves us and, thus, has given us certain rules to live by. He has made certain provisions for us. We are fortunate indeed to live in this Christian age where He has provided a "new and living way" (Heb. 10:20), "by the blood of Jesus" (v.19). He wants us to "enter" (v.19). The HEBREWS writer (in this verse) acknowledges us and identifies himself as a brother in Christ and, therefore, exhorts us to boldness, i.e. fortitude, determination, confidence, stamina, backbone and all the resolve necessary to make our calling and election sure. Jesus died in our behalf. Jesus came from heaven and Jesus went back to heaven (John 13:3). The ball is in our court.
Now, we read 10:19-39 in our last lesson and then did a quickie run or discussion (down to about v.25). Embedded in those verses of exhortation is an allusion to what we call the steps of salvation: hear, believe, repent, confess Jesus and be baptized in a watery grave to enter Jesus (Gal. 3:27) and as was elaborated upon by Peter on the day of pentecost and exemplified to us in all the conversions back in the book of Acts. Then, live the Christian life, be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). The emphasis here is to "hold fast our profession of faith without wavering" (v. 23). He is faithful that promised (end of v.23). You see, the work is done, "by grace are ye saved through faith...it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is free. We can accept it or we can reject it. We do this by the decisions we make and the actions we take. "He is faithful that promised" (end of v.23). You don't have to worry about God's part of the bargain. He is faithful. The problem lies with us. Someone has said he wrote this in the lettuce patch... our writer exhorts: let us draw near...let us hold fast...and let us consider one another (v.22-23-24).
To me this section seems very clear. When I try to imagine and associate these words with the Christians of the first century... what little I know about them...I can identify with their problems. I can identify with the hustle and bustle of their daily routine, trying to make a living, trying to keep their families clothed and fed, trying to relieve their aches and pains, trying to pay their bills, trying to put back a dollar for a rainy day and trying to do it all by the rules set forth in this book. Life was not easy for them. It's not easy for us. It's so easy to get involved in the materialistic aspects of our life that we neglect our Christian duty. It was happening then, it's happening now. That's obviously the reason why the Holy Spirit included this book in the canon of holy scriptures. When you view the first century church superimposed on the background of the Romans, the Jews religion, the competition of that day, the poverty, the state of medicine, the state of transportation, the state of technology at that time and all of that; I'm glad I live in the 20th century. But, let me say to you: it takes just as much fortitude and BOLDNESS (as our writer admonished) to serve the Lord today as it did then. The nature of man has not changed. There were bullies then, there are bullies now. There were temptations to get lost in materialism then and that temptation is still with us. It may approach us from a little different angle and appeal to different human desires; but, they're just as strong today as they were then. They were letting down on their duties then and cheating on the system and it's still happening ...day by day, week by week...where I live, where you live. If you want to "hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering" you can do it. If you want to put everything else first and toss the Lord a few scraps of your life just to sort of soothe you conscience, you can do that too! The ball is in your court. James said, "to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). Might we be so bold as to classify that as wilful sin. Our writer (here in v.26) begins to deal with wilful sins. He doesn't spare any adjectives. This is serious stuff!
Before we get to that, may I take another moment (on v.25)? I would venture to say, you have heard this verse quoted many time. There's a lot of different thinking and a lot of different interpretations. For example, the phrase at the end of the verse: "as ye see the day approaching" is disputed. Some say this refers to the day of judgment, some say it referred to the coming destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem that occurred in AD 70, still others hold it is a reference to the assembly on the first day of the week. To me, when I focus on the context, it is clearly a reference to assembling on the first day of the week. That clause in the middle of the verse, "as the manner of some is" shows that some were forsaking the first day assembling even then. The manner of some is still to forsake the assembly of ourselves together. Some just do it when they have company. Some do it only when their job interferes. Some do it only a couple times a year to go fishing or hunting or for some other recreational activity or during their summer vacation. Others work hard all week and then have what is known as Sunday morning and Wednesday night arthritis. Oh! They have it all the time, they'll tell you; but, they never miss work, school or a ball games; but, it always occurs at assembly time. Have you noticed? You know exactly what I'm talking about. They wind up attending, maybe 15 or 20 Sundays out of the year. And, those same people are quick to point out there is no commandment that says: thou shalt assemble every Sunday. It is true! The Lord didn't say it that way. He simply said: "if you love me keep my commandments," (John 14:15). It's a test of our love and obedience, you see. We are to consider one another, members of the body of Christ. We are to provoke each other... and we don't have any trouble doing that. Do we? Some stay provoked all the time, they are always irked or provoked or infuriated about something. They are always telling the preacher how to preach, the elders how to attend the flock or the deacons how to deck. They think their role is to be a critic. I have seen so much of this puckered Christianity that it really turns me off. Oh, how I can identify with this HEBREWS writer. I can only imagine how the Lord feels about such excuses. "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come" (Luke 14:20). Oh! Lord I'm going to follow you; but, "suffer me first to go and bury my father" (Luke 9:59). Jesus plugged everyone of those holes before the kingdom even came. Jesus built his church on a rock (Matt. 16:18)...that's a hard place. It's not easy! It's not play around stuff. It's our vocation (Eph. 4:1). Making a living plays second fiddle. You won't starve! Your food all comes out of a seed...every bite you eat...in some way or another you can follow that food chain back to a seed. Oh, that grass may be run through a cow first or that sea weed may go through a fish first; but, it always goes back to a seed, some way or another. Where did those seeds come from? Well, I'll give you a clue...they were not made in a laboratory. Check me out! He said: "provoke [one another] to love and to good works." That means motivate, encourage, inspire, urge and induce everyone to love each other and get involved in doing good works. Paul told Titus, "be careful to maintain good works" (Titus 3:8). It's part of our Christian duty. And, you can't do it, if you are not there. We cannot see the judgment day approaching. Oh, it's approaching; but, you can't see it. We can see Sunday coming and the time for assembly approaching, think about it. When the sun comes up on Friday you say 48 hours. When the sun rises on Saturday, you say 24 hours...you can see it approaching. They did not see that war of AD 70 approaching back there. If the Jews had recognized its approaching, they would have been prepared and not have been taken into captivity ...many of them went into slavery. "So much the MORE, as you see the day approaching" (last part of v.25). So much more what? We should get prepared for, look forward to, plan for, the assembling of ourselves together. Oh, I might come Sunday...IF...IF, the creeks don't rise and the sun shines and I happen to feel like it and about a half dozen more "ifs". That's not what this passage says. The writer is saying: put something into it. You'll be there, if you plan on it and work at it and get prepared and exhort others...that's what the verse says...encouraging one another. Look forward to it. Now, if you are chained to a tree, I think the Lord might understand that; unless you did the chaining, of course. Excuse me! I promised you I would take only a moment. It wouldn't be hard to write a book on this subject. Would it?
Verse 26 is waiting on us. Are you ready? Wilful sin! Have you got the idea?..."after that we have received the knowledge of the truth." James said, if you know what to do and you simply don't do it...that is sin (Jas. 4:17). John defined sin like this, he said: "sin is the transgression of the law" (I-John 3:4). To transgress means to violate the law...Christ's law in this case. If we do that, the HEBREWS writer makes it very clear, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." Christ's blood does not cover the sin of knowledgeable transgression. You know better; but, you just do it anyway. Boy, that is treading on thin ice. If you die in that condition, your chances of going to hell are super good. If you will simply turn the tape player off and re-read the next few verses very carefully, down through v.31, you can feel the heat and hear the flames crackling. Oh, he doesn't use the word "hell;" but, he sure describes the place in pretty clear language. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (v.31). God is love; but, there's another side to God...and you better learn it well. Those people who disobeyed the ten commandments under Moses were simply taken out and stoned to death. If you think that is sore punishment, then v.29 is saying, you haven't seen "nothin" yet. "Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord" (v.30, that's a quote from Deut. 32:35). You mean missing the assembly is that important? Well, I ask you: why did this writer follow his discussion on forsaking the assembly with this information? There is a strong message here. My comments are not worth much; but, you better read this passage close. "The Lord shall judge his people" (that's the end of v.30 here and it's a quote from Psalm 50:4). "Before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats..." (Matt. 25:32). He shall divide HIS sheep from THE goats. And "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," (v.31) i.e. unprepared. By that I mean, very simply, having sins that are not covered by the blood of Christ. Paul said to the Ephesians, "we have redemption through his blood," (Eph. 1:7). If you will turn to that passage, Paul then used the phrase "forgiveness of sins" synonymously with "redemption through [Christ's] blood." It is the gift of God, called "grace" in (Eph. 2:8). Our part is very simple. We must have faith in Jesus and we must obey. If you have faith in Jesus and you are willing to turn your life around, if you are willing to act (that's called repentance); then, upon confession of your faith and baptism for the remission of sins, he will forgive all your past sins. If you believe in Jesus, it takes about 10 minutes to get a clean slate (Acts 3:19), your sins are figuratively "washed away" (Acts 22:16 and Heb. 10:22). If we repent of sins from day to day and ask forgiveness, he has said: "their sins and iniquities will I remember no more... where remission. ..is, there is no more offering for sin." That's just up the page (10:17).
Then, let us move on (to v.32). In our writer's previous admonitions to his brethren of the Hebrew nation, he was pretty harsh in his warnings to them; but then, he would soften up (do you remember?). He said, "beloved, we are persuaded better things of you" (6:9), i.e. you can still be saved. We believe you will! But, you have need... (do you remember? 5:12) "you have need that one teach you again." Oh, they had been baptized and had their alien sins remitted. They were trying to live the Christian life; but, they were falling short. They had forgotten that they "were purged from their old sins" (to use a phrase from II-Pet. 1:9). You see it was a matter of faithfulness with them and I don't think I have to tell you what's the matter with us. It's the same disease. To me, this idea is best expressed (summary form) in v.36, "ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye.might receive the promise." Back in 6:1, our writer said it like this: "let us go on unto perfection." You see, they had started right. It was a matter of staying on track. That's the whole program isn't it? Starting right and staying on track! Now, in the 8 verses here (v.32 down thru v.39), our writer tried to motivate them to persevere. First, v.32, he said, remember the former day...the day of pentecost, how the church at Jerusalem had grown so rapidly following pentecost, how they were once so happy when they first became Christians..."they, continued daily with one accord in the temple..." (Acts 2:46). "All that believed were together, and had all things common..." (Acts 2:44). Then came "a great fight of afflictions" (here in v.32), the stoning of Stephen, the persecution that followed that. "They... were scattered abroad" (Acts 8:4). Then the Jews persuaded Herod to persecute Christians (Acts ch. 12). James, the apostle, was killed by Herod and Herod tried to kill Peter also. In v.33, our writer says they were made a gazing-stock. Those Christians in and around Jerusalem had suffered much. When I remember that the apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (Acts ch. 21-22) and that this occurred during his mission to "bring alms to his nation" (Acts 24:17) and that Paul spent two years in prison at Caesarea as a result; I find here in Heb. 10:34 perhaps the strongest evidence in the entire book that Paul was the writer of this letter. True, it is not said, that Paul wrote this book; but, it fits pretty snug. IF, Paul was the writer (it is evident) these same Jewish brothers in Christ had helped Paul much when he was in prison at Caesarea (v.34). That event helped establish report between the apostle and those people to whom this was written. Then, v.35 contains a great statement. Much depends upon our confidence or our faith (same thing). "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (v.22). Are you getting the message? Jesus is coming again (v.37). Would you reread that? "Yet a little while!" Think about it and I hope during that "little while" I'll be back with you in lesson #26...and more. Have a good day.