Hebrews 10:26-31

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 3, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” -Hebrews 10:26-31

In the previous section, the author just encouraged his readers to draw near to God in faith, hold fast to hope, and encourage one another in love. Following that, you may be expecting some more “warm fuzzies,” right? Wrong! In this passage, the author gives his readers some hard consequences.

Now, keep in mind that even those who have been saved by grace through their faith in Jesus Christ will still sin, even intentionally. That’s not who the author is addressing here. He’s talking to those who commit apostasy – abandoning the beliefs that they once had. These people have “received the knowledge of the truth” (verse 26). The language here for “deliberately keep on sinning” refers to those who are habitual or continual sinners. Yes, we all sin (often!) but true followers of Jesus Christ desire to break that pattern rather than desiring to continue to live in it.

Note that the author uses “we,” to show that he’s not looking down on those who keep on sinning. The author recognizes that he, too, is a sinner and could fall into this trap – which is why he provides such stern warnings for himself and his readers.

What happens to these people? They have a “fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire” (verse 27). Clearly, the judgment for those who willfully and continually turn away from God is not a good situation. This is a serious judgment that they will be facing. These are not people who are neutral toward God but rather His enemies, those who are actively fighting against God.

In verses 28-29, the author gives an argument that goes from a lesser offense to a greater one. Rejecting the law of Moses was bad, and that person would die for that sin. But the author then elaborates on how much worse it is to reject Jesus. Since the way of Jesus (grace) is so much greater than the way of Moses (the law), the punishment for having that knowledge and willfully turning away from it must also be so much greater.

There are 3 charges listed for this offense: trampling the Son of God underfoot, treating the blood of the covenant as unholy, and insulting the Spirit. The expression of trampling underfoot was considered one of strong hatred; this judgment will be inflicted on the person who has this strong and passionate hatred for Jesus. The blood of the covenant represents Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. It is what has made us holy in God’s sight, but this judgment will be inflicted on the person who does not consider Jesus’ sacrifice as something holy. Finally, the person deserves this judgment when he insults the Spirit. The Spirit is the person who works faith in us, so actively going against that faith is an insult to the Spirit.

In verse 30, the author quotes parts of Deuteronomy 32:35-36. As the author has often quoted the Old Testament throughout this letter, he expects his audience to be familiar with the words of the Scriptures. He points out that it is God who judges the people. Revenge and judgment both belong to God. It is not up to us to condemn another person when they turn away from God. We are called to encourage one another (verse 25), which may be needed in an extra measure when a person is willfully sinning against God, but it is not our place to judge them. We do not know what is in their hearts, only God does.

The author wraps up this condemning passage by emphasizing again that this is a “dreadful thing” (verse 31). This word translated as “dreadful” also means “fearful”; it’s from the same Greek word as in verse 27. The author is clearly pointing out how afraid we should be of these things happening in our own lives.

We often think of the hands of God as being a good image – God creating with his hands (Psalm 19:1), God giving us the Ten Commandments with His finger (Exodus 31:18), God’s loving hands of protection (Isaiah 41:10), etc. But in this case, the hand of God represents the tormenting judgment on God’s enemies.

This is one of those passages that reminds us that the Bible is not all happy encouraging words. Passages of warning and judgment like this one are necessary to help us keep our lives in the proper perspective. We do need to be careful to not fall into the trap of continual sin and intentionally living our lives in disobedience to God. Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ have the Bible to tell us the right way to live. We know what God desires of us. Yes, we all fall short of that, but it’s all about the attitude of our hearts. Do you desire to please God with your life, or do you desire to be God’s enemy? The choice is yours.

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