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                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                A Warning Against Willful Sin (10:26-39)

INTRODUCTION

1. Immediately following a gracious exhortation to draw near to God and
   hold fast the confession of our hope, we find an ominous warning...
   a. It is a warning against "willful sin" - He 10:26-39
   b. It speaks of reaching a terrible state in which:
      1) "there longer remains a sacrifice for sins"
      2) There is "a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery
         indignation"

2. Is this a warning for Christians?  Some would say no...
   a. They believe in the doctrine "once saved, always saved"
   b. Who hold that true Christians:
      1) Cannot so sin to point of being eternally lost
      2) If they begin to sin to the point where they might be lost,
         God will intervene and take their life to prevent it from
         happening

3. Does the Bible teach "once saved, always saved"?
   a. It teaches "the security of the believer" (i.e., those who remain
      faithful are secure)
   b. But it also teaches that a "believer" can become an "unbeliever",
      at which point a person has every reason to fear for his or her
      salvation! - cf. He 3:12-14

4. The possibility of apostasy is taught in the Bible, especially in
   "The Epistle To Hebrews"...
   a. We have already seen several warnings implying this possibility:
      1) A warning against drifting - He 2:1-4
      2) A warning against departing - He 3:12-14
      3) A warning against disobedience - He 4:11
      4) A warning against dullness, leading to apostasy - He 5:11-6:6
   b. But perhaps now, with "A Warning Against Willful Sin", we learn
      the real danger of losing our salvation if we despise what we
      have received! - He 10:26-39

[To see if that is really what the Bible teaches, let's begin by
considering...]

I. WHAT IT MEANS TO "SIN WILLFULLY" (26)

   A. COMPARE OTHER TRANSLATIONS...
      1. "If we deliberately keep on sinning..." (NIV)
      2. "For if we willfully persist in sin..." (NRSV)
      3. "For if we go on sinning willfully..." (NASB)

   B. THE SENSE OF THE GREEK IS ONE OF REPEATED ACTION...
      1. Implying not an "act" of sin, but a "state" of sin
         a. All Christians have moments of weakness, or ignorantly sin
            - 1Jn 1:8-10
         b. It is not "inadvertent" sin, but "deliberate" sin that is
            under consideration
      2. A "state" in which one...
         a. Knows the truth - cf. He 10:26b
         b. Yet chooses to deliberately and continuously persist in
            sin!

   C. CAN A TRUE CHRISTIAN EVER REACH THIS POINT?  YES...
      1. Note the pronoun "we" (the author includes himself in the
         warning) - He 10:26a
      2. He later describes one who was sanctified by "the blood of the
         covenant" - He 10:29
      -- This warning is directed to those who have been sanctified by
         the blood of Jesus!

[When one persists in sin with "a high hand" (i.e., presumptuously, cf.
Num 15:30-31), they are in grave danger. This is especially true when
one is a Christian!  What sort of danger?  Consider...]

II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF "WILLFUL SIN" (26-27)

   A. THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SIN...
      1. What sacrifice is under consideration here?  Christ's
         sacrifice!
      2. What sacrifice no longer remains?  Christ's sacrifice!
      -- The blood of Christ is no longer available for one who
         persists in "willful sin"!

   B. THAT WHICH DOES REMAIN...
      1. "a certain fearful expectation of judgment" - He 10:27a
         a. One can expect a judgment that is "certain"! - cf. He 9:27;
            Ac 17:30-31
         b. One can expect a judgment that is "fearful"!
            1) For we must answer to Christ Himself - cf. 2Co 5:10-11
            2) And we will be in the hands of the living God! - He 10:
               30-31
      2. A "fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries" - He
         10:27b
         a. A judgment involving "fire" (figurative, but torment just
            the same) - cf. Re 21:8
         b. A judgment involving "indignation" (the wrath of God)
            - cf. Ro 2:5-11
         c. Such a judgment will "devour" (not annihilate, but destroy)
            - Mt 10:28

[Such are the consequences of "willful sin", and the warning is
directed to Christians!

Is God just to bring such a punishment upon His children who have been
redeemed by the blood of His Son?  Evidently so...]

III. THE JUSTIFICATION FOR PUNISHING "WILLFUL SIN" (28-31)

   A. WHAT WAS REQUIRED UNDER THE OLD COVENANT...
      1. Death without mercy! - He 10:28
      2. Such was the punishment for a particular kind of sin:
         a. Sin that was "deliberate"
            1) In which one "rejected Moses' law" (NKJV)
            2) In which one "despised Moses' law" (KJV)
         b. Sin that was "open"
            1) It had to be seen by two or more
            2) For death was not rendered unless there were "two or
               three witnesses"
         -- Again, it is sin with "a high hand" that is under
            discussion
      3. While there was mercy for sins of weakness or ignorance, there
         was none for open and deliberate sin under the Old Covenant!

   B. WHAT IS REQUIRED UNDER THE NEW COVENANT...
      1. One is worthy of "much worse punishment"! - He 10:29
         a. What could be worse than physical death?
         b. Only "fiery indignation"! (i.e., hell)
      2. Why?  Because a Christian who "sins willfully" has...
         a. "trampled the Son of God underfoot"
            1) The word "trampled" comes from katapateo
               {kat-ap-at-eh'-o}
            2) It "denotes contempt of the most flagrant kind" (MOFFAT)
            -- Such a person treats Jesus who died for him like dirt!
         b. "counted the blood of the covenant by which he was
            sanctified a common thing"
            1) The "blood of the covenant" clearly refers to Jesus'
               blood - He 9:14-22; 13:20
            2) It is by this blood one is "sanctified" (i.e., made a
               Christian)
            -- Such a person consider Jesus' blood a "common thing"!
         c. "insulted the Spirit of grace"
            1) Perhaps a reference to the Holy Spirit
               a) Through Whom the message of salvation was given - Jn
                  16:13-14
               b) Through Whom our sanctification takes place - 1Co
                  6:11; Tit 3:5-7
            2) Or perhaps referring to the spirit (disposition) of
               God's unmerited favor
            -- Whichever, a person who openly and deliberately sins
               "insults" God's grace!
      3. This passage clearly teaches two things:
         a. That a Christian can so sin as to reach this point of open
            rebellion against Jesus!
         b. That the punishment reserved for such is "worse than
            death"!

   C. THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH GOD'S NATURE...
      1. Isn't God a God of love?  Of course! - cf. 1Jn 4:8
      2. But He is also a God of justice, One who judges His people
         - He 10:30
         a. To who much is given, much is required - Lk 12:47-48
         b. Those who despise His love, set themselves up to be
            recipients of His wrath - Ro 2:4-6
      3. Therefore it truly is "a fearful thing to fall into the hands
         of the living God" - He 10:31; cf. He 12:28,29

[What can we do to ensure that we do not become guilty of "willful
sin"?  In the remaining verses of chapter ten, I believe we find the
answer...]

IV. THE SOLUTION TO AVOIDING "WILLFUL SIN" (32-39)

   A. REMEMBER YOUR EARLY CONFIDENCE...
      1. The writer reminds his readers of their "former days"...
         a. Those days after they were "illuminated" (enlightened)
            - He 10:32
            1) I.e., shortly after their conversion
            2) In the days of Justin (ca. 167 A.D.), this term was a
               synonym for baptism
         b. Those days in which they were "made a spectacle" - He 10:
            32-34
            1) By their own sufferings
            2) And by sharing in the sufferings of others, including
               those of the author
               a) In whom they had compassion in his chains
               b) In which they "joyfully accepted the plundering of
                  your goods"
            -- Knowing that they had "a better and enduring possession"
               in heaven!
      2. It is such confidence they must be careful not to "cast away"
         - He 10:35
         a. To "cast away" is the opposite of "hold fast"
         b. Only in "holding fast" our confidence is there "great
            reward" - cf. He 3:6,14
      -- Likewise, we need to rekindle the fire of that newfound faith
         we had when we first responded to the gospel! - cf. Re 2:4-5

   B. ENDURE TO THE END...
      1. Endurance is needed to receive the promise - He 10:36
         a. For the Lord is coming - He 10:37
         b. And the just lives by faith - He 10:38
         -- If we draw back (become unfaithful), the Lord will not be
            pleased! ("My soul has no pleasure in him.")
      2. The author speaks of his own confidence - He 10:39
         a. He is not of those "who draw back to perdition" (who cast
            away their faith)
         b. But of those "who believe to saving of the soul" (who
            remain faithful to the end)
      -- We too need to "believe to the saving of the soul", or to put
         it in the words of Jesus, "be faithful unto death" - Re 2:10

CONCLUSION

1. We can look forward with great anticipation to the "saving of the
   soul", if we...
   a. Remember (and rekindle) that confidence early in our conversion
   b. Endure to the end with the faith that saves

2. But with "A Warning Against Willful Sin", we must never forget that
   one can...
   a. Fall from grace!
   b. Fall into the hands of the living God!
   -- Which is a terrifying thing!

3. How much better, though, to be "upheld" by the hand of God, as the
   Psalmist wrote:

   "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights
   in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
   For the LORD upholds him with His hand." - Ps 37:23,24

Such is the case of those who remain strong in their faith and trust in
the Lord.  Are we believing to the saving of the soul...?
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