Hebrews 10 is the most frightening passage of Scripture in all the Bible, and it is meant to be frightening. It’s a harsh warning to the whole church, not unbelievers. The fourth thing that needs to accompany our regular, consistent, and confident approach to God is in Hebrews 10:35-36:
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
In the middle of that, there is a warning passage, and it’s brought to bare upon the consciousness of those who gather. So far, there are three things that must accompany our approach to God. First, followers of Jesus Christ are to enter the Holy place with confidence. The first two messages included a challenge for prayer, and prayer is the greatest expression of the Christians lifestyle of faith, which is depending on God in prayer both private and publicly with the assembly.
Second, in accompanying our approach to God, followers of Jesus Christ are to draw near with sincerity, which includes drawing near to God with an honest and cleansed heart. Thirdly, followers of Jesus Christ are to hold fast their confession, and they are to do that together. In fact, that includes two responsibilities: hold fast for yourself and together. Hebrews 10:23:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful
In other words, we have a responsibility to mutually encourage others to hold fast. These responsibilities also included this exhortation in Hebrews 10:25:
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
This admonition is put forth very strongly. The failure of some to continue attending the gathered community is not cast simply as neglect, but as a wrongful abandonment. In fact, the Greek term used for forsaking is found one-hundred-and-seventy times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for when Israel reproached God. They had abandoned the Lord, His ways, His covenants, His laws, and commands. Therefore, it is a very strong word, and the New Testament church is not to abandon or get into a bad habit of skipping meetings together. Rather, it should be a very high priority on your list.
Why is it that some would forsake the assembly? Well, some may have abandoned because of persecution, affliction, or suffering. Some falsely assume that Christ has delayed His return, so they left in disappointment. To return to the old religions, some stop attending. Remember, Hebrews has a specific audience of Jews. Therefore, they wanted to go back to the synagogue, temple worship, its rituals, and ceremonies.
Back to any system, in which a person tries to establish a righteousness based on their own good deeds and works, not accepted by free grace. When tested for their faith, some did not want to hold fast. They concluded that it wasn’t something they signed up for, so they didn’t want to hold fast to profession of faith in Christ. As a result, they became rebels to the way and the work of Christ by giving up all belief in Christ.
For whatever reason someone would stop attending, it discredits their faith, especially knowing that the Word of God teaches that the church lies at the very center of the eternal purposes of God. We have been called out from a dark world to gather to hear the apostles teaching, fellowship with one another, take the Lord’s table, and publicly pray with one another, which is all God’s plan for us.
Today, the thinking is still very much alive, and it is still possible for a man to think that he is a Christian, yet abandon the habit of worshipping with God’s people, in God’s house, and on God’s day. It’s like the person who boasts, “I’ve been in church two times in my life. The first time they sprinkled me with water, and the second time they sprinkled me with rice.” Someone retorted, “and the third time they will sprinkle you with dirt.”
Personally, I have met and know people, who are very close, that think that way. Today, to darken the door of a church is almost an anthem. However, at this very juncture, the fourth warning passage is injected into this message, and abandoning the gathered assembly of believers is linked to the first indication of potential apostasy, a falling away from God.
In other words, someone who decides that they don’t need church is the first indication that they are leaving the faith. If they persist and continue in that year after year, shows that they don’t think God’s word is important or needful for them. Brethren, no matter what the condition might be, believers are to stick with Christ and the local church. We should exhort one another to continue attending faithfully, especially in the light of the Lord’s return and the shortness of life.
The Bible is a big book, so we must learn God’s mind to grasp the great glory of God. God will always remain big to us, the plan of God will always remain special to us, and we will always think that we are so privileged to be a Christian. There is no greater privilege than to be in the family of God. To live with that in your mind, is very much in the mind of the writer and pastor writing in this book.
In our text, here is sandwiched in between an exhortation for believers to worship God, and along that exhortation, three things are included to corporately worship God. When you see a sign that says “WARNING,” you stop and consider: why am I being warned and what danger lies ahead of me that I should be warned at this point?
On the other side of the sandwich in the warning, there’s an appeal for believers to persevere. In Hebrews 10:36, when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. In the middle of these is sandwiched a warning passage concerning God’s judgement on willful disobedience, a warning that is intended to provoke fear. Before looking at the details, here is the main warning: those who have attended and heard the truth might spurn the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Even the thought of that should provoke fear throughout the whole body. Therefore, corporate worship is important.
To neglect worship gatherings or withdraw from the Christian assembly, leads to either or both these things: deliberate and despicable behavior. If you get away from the teaching of the Word of God, the fellowship of believers, breaking of bread, and public prayers, then you start to live in the flesh, by the world, and within the realm of Satan’s place. Then, you start going down.
Secondly, there is the liberate rejection of God, in this message, spoken through the Son. Here is a warning to avoid a sin that is fatal. The text before us, shows what this sin is, how it is committed, and the inevitably consequences of committing this sin. Those who are inclined to fall into this sin are not just temporary backsliders, who lost interest in the things of God for a time. Neither are they believers, who are in despair about spiritual failure or temporary floundering they found themselves in, nor are they believers sinning unintentionally or in ignorance.
In this passage, the response of these people is inappropriate all the time before the Lord. At all costs, it should be avoided by us, which is the point of the warning. Therefore, don’t commit this sin. The warning doesn’t mean anyone of his hearers have committed this willful sinning yet, but some could be close to falling over the edge of the cliff, which is always the warning.
The warning is: don’t go that way and don’t drive down a road that the bridge is out. This is the warning for the church, and it is to be taken seriously. It is a warning in which you should have your ears on and your mind engaged. It’s a warning that you should examine the way you have been living your Christian life. It is a warning for you to reconsider the importance of the church, and the gathered assembly.
We will be looking at the description of the one who is committing this fatal sin, or who could commit this fatal sin, which could be anyone. First, they despise and release the truth of God. Hebrews 10:26:
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins
Only used twice in Scripture, willfully means to have an inner, voluntary will or to have a compulsion to do something. Here, it is voluntarily sinning. Notice, this person voluntarily sins after receiving the knowledge of the truth. After they have received the full message of the saving truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are sinning deliberately. If anyone does that, what is left?
If a person hears the whole message of the gospel, receives it, and rejects it, then what is left for them? It doesn’t mean that such a sin cannot be forgiven, but there is a larger argument here that Christ sacrifice is God’s full revelation and provision for sin. Anyone, who knowingly rejects that sacrifice, is without hope and mercy. In Hebrews 10:26, this willful sin is the defying rejection of the sacrifice of the Son of God after hearing and grasping the whole message of the Gospel.
Here, the great concern is that the effects of Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t extend to so called, “believers,” who sin persistently or willfully in this manner. If they reject Christ, what else is there to save their souls? Their repudiation of Christ and His sacrifice leaves them with nothing. If one spurns God’s mercy, all that is left is God’s judgement. Hebrews 10:27:
but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.
In other words, this person, who once believed and once professed, has become God’s enemy. The phrase, “expectation of judgement,” means right here and now, they will be hunted by the fear of hell, not only in the end when they truly suffer. Zephaniah 1:18:
Neither their silver nor their gold
Will be able to deliver them
On the day of the LORD’S wrath;
And all the earth will be devoured
In the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make a complete end,
Indeed a terrifying one,
Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
In their willful sinning, the first thing this person does is letting go of the truth, especially since they are not in the gathered assembly to hear the truth. Therefore, they begin to let go of it, and the truth is replaced with something else. Secondly, they despise and reject the Son. Hebrews 10:29:
How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Meaning, they treat the son as having no value. In fact, this word is used in other passages of Scripture. Where it says, “trampled underfoot,” is used in Matthew 5:13:
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
A salt that is not salty is useless, so throw it on the ground and let people walk over it, which is how they’re viewing Christ. Matthew 7:6:
Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Again, pigs have no understanding of the value of pearls. If you throw them on the ground, they will walk on it just like they walk on anything else. Therefore, he is saying that they treat the Son as having no value or anything special. Then, in Hebrews 10:29, they make a gross miscalculation.
The New Covenant inaugurated by the sacrifice of Christ provides definite forgiveness for consciousness, brings us into a sanctified and holy relationship with God, and wins us eternal redemption, which they consider and calculate His sacrifice as unclean. In other words, it is unfit and ceremonially impure, which is how they view and calculate Christ.
A Christ without value is not the Christ in Scripture. Brethren, do you believe that the salvation the Lord has acquired for us is indeed a great salvation? That Jesus’ priestly and sacrificial work is indeed magnificent as the beginning chapters of Hebrews laid out. In Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 2, concerning the son Jesus Christ, the Son is the inheritor and creator of all things. He is the radiance of the glory of God, the representor of God on earth, the sustainer of all things, the savior of all the redeemed, and He is the finisher of all things. When He died, he was exalted to the right hand of God, who is there making intercessions for the saints.
In these passages, Jesus has been displayed as the apex of divine revelation, in which Jesus fulfills the office of prophet, priest, king, and is a finisher of all. God has spoken; therefore, the incarnate Son is the superior revelation of God. God has spoken in His son. It is His ultimate communication to humanity, and it is the final word on everything. O, the superiority of the Son, that Hebrews has established before we get to this point. How could you treat Jesus in that way? Obviously, you did not understand something.
When you get lost in the grander of this so great salvation, you will indeed conclude that it is the greatest thing that could have ever happened to you. It is the most supreme gift that could be received, by God, on this good earth. You will not want to let go of the grandest gift that could ever be bestowed by God himself into your care, which is the gift of salvation.
When you understand the salvation and implication of salvation to you, it is not small, but it is great, grand, and huge. You didn’t receive something small, but something so great it’s even hard to define. This is what we need to communicate to our family and friends. The greatness, the grandness, the vastness, and the excellence of the way of salvation through Christ Jesus. When you gather together for worship, with that in mind, you’re going to worship and blow the roof off!
Now, you understand that you don’t deserve what God has given you. He elected you to salvation, He brought you into His family, He wiped out your sin, and He put his righteousness on your account, so what more could be greater than that? Instead of this person counting Jesus as Messiah, this person concludes Him to be an imposter. Considering Christianity as the true way of salvation, they conclude it was a conning, devised fable. Instead of concluding that salvation through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the revelation of God and the will of God, they concluded that it is a hellish delusion.
They commit a fatal sin of no return, and this sin could be committed by someone who comes to church, sits in the pew, and they just let it all run off them, not through them. You never understood the greatness of salvation, or the fatal sin that could be committed with that kind of thinking. At first, these may have been converted to a group, then converted to a church or likeability of a group, but they were never converted to Christ. When you are converted to Christ, everything changes.
People don’t realize that there is yet a third thing in the description of this willful sinning, and this is where the coffin is sealed. In the last part of Hebrews 10:29, the unmerited favor extends to the guilty, who deserve damnation of justice. If that mercy extended to them, by the Holy Spirit, is rejected after having full knowledge of the truth, what then?
Since they heard it all, the problem is not ignorance. In the full light of the truth, they reject Christ and they commit what some have called the unpartable sin. Matthew 12:31:
Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
To reject what the Holy Spirit has offered is to have no hope. Here, this sin describes against the persons of the God head. A rejection of Christ’s sufficient sacrifice means that all that is left is punishment. Therefore, God will hold them responsible, especially since He is a just judge. Hebrews 10:28:
Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Here is an illusion to the Old Testament of those who had sinned under the lesser covenant and the consequences it brings, so there is a lesser argument, in Scripture, for those more aware of the grander. This is an argument from strength, the lessor to the greater such as when Jesus said in Matthew 10:29-31:
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Sparrows are less valuable than we are to God, so it is the lesser to the greater. Here, the lesser is the covenant as mediated through Moses. As in Hebrews 10:28, anyone who has set aside and forsaken the law of Moses, dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 17:1-6:
“You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the LORD your God.
2“If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the LORD your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, by transgressing His covenant, 3and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, 4and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. 6“On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7“The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
In other words, he is saying that if you find this sin going on in the camp, you identify, you investigate it thoroughly, and then those who are the two witnesses are the one’s who throw the stones first. Make sure you are right, right? Then, the whole congregation throws the stones.
If those who violated Moses law died without mercy, under a lesser covenant, then what do you think God will do to those who violate a greater covenant, the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:29 gives a picture of those who sin under the greater covenant and its consequences. Before looking at the verse, here is the argument: if God was steadfast on how He held people responsible to the law under the Old Covenant, which acted as a signpost pointing to God’s final revelation, then how much more will He hold people responsible after He has given His final revelation in Jesus Christ in the New Covenant?
The writer of Hebrews lays down this quote from the Old Testament, which is concerning God’s character. In other words, the sinner will get full justice. In this passage, the Lord assumes personal responsibility for taking vengeance on those who become His enemies. Since God is the witness, He casts the stone. If God has thoroughly investigated, then there is nothing else to investigate. Apostates are enemies of God. Hebrews 10:30:
For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.
Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.
In due season, they will slip, and they will be found out. When they are found out, God will take personal responsibility to hold judgement on them. There is a terrifying nature to God’s judgement. Hebrews 10:31:
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
To fall into the hands of someone means to fall under their power. To come under the power, not of a dead idol or a fictitious God, but under the power of the living God, who keeps His promises and executes His threats and judgement. No one can escape, and He knows the ones who have committed this sin. The warning to the church: don’t commit this sin.
Make sure you are found in the assembly, under a constant washing of the Apostles doctrine, fellowshipping with one another and with the Lord, praying together, trusting God, and partaking of the elements of the Lords table, which emphasize His death and His shed blood. Don’t be like a person who steps back and steps out of God’s assembly, who is left to possibly commit this sin.
This willful sinning gives its first indications in the abandoning of the gathered assembly. Confronted with some who have made a profession of faith, and formerly have visible signs and marks of being truly committed to the Christian faith, but by their refusal to gather, grow, and continue in the faith, they now give fruit that they were not genuinely born again by the spirit at all.
At one time, they may have convinced others that they were believers and persuaded even themselves that they belong to Christ, but their so called, “conversion,” proved to be counterfeit. When the test of their faith, persecutions, and afflictions came along, and because of the Word of God, they didn’t want to hold on.
Remember, this is in the context of holding on. You are holding on while God holds you, but to continue to grow, these are the means of grace God has given us to grow. When the test of faith came, they didn’t want to hold on, but became rebels to the way and work of God. Therefore, it is appropriate for all believers to genuinely examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith. It is appropriate, for all believers, to honestly examine whether they are living the life of faith.
From time to time, ask yourself: am I storing up, in my mind and heart, the truth of God’s word? Do I desire God’s word? Do I desire to be in the fellowship of believers? Do I desire to hear the preaching of the Word of God? Do I desire to put it into practice? Am I living by what I am hearing? Have I developed an appetite for more food and spiritual growth? Am I progressing or has my growth been arrested by the destructive weeds and thrones of anxiety, self-centeredness, and materialism? Am I faithful to the gathered assembly?
In reading the book, Why We Love the Church, by two young guys, they said:
No Christian conferences, no Christian books written, bought, or published, but just Bible reading, prayer, and church attendances. No more reading about doing community. No more incubation for social change meetings. To be fair, no more books on discussion groups. Simply, reading the bible, praying together, and church attendance.
What do you think about that? I think we can close every single Christian book store and club, especially since a lot of books are written around the Bible, not about the Bible. We have all these books, and we have an addiction to books, but have you read through the Bible? The vital question we need to ask: how have you been faithful to the simple things God asks us to do?
A good vision statement: reading, praying, church. We can do that. Don’t do any other thing except read your Bibles, come to church, fellowship with one another, and pray with one another. If we do that, we would learn to love the church more. Hebrews 10:38-39:
BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
That’s the church. We don’t shrink back or give away the truth. We keep holding onto it no matter what happens in our country, our families, or our lives. Because the Spirit of God is in us, we persevere in the faith until we die. Then, God takes us to glory where we will enjoy ourselves. That doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy ourselves now, but it takes the mind of Christ to enjoy ourselves, and you get the mind of Christ through the Scriptures. Through prayer, you depend on Christ. By reading the Scriptures, you will know more about God. Let’s Pray:
Lord, I Thank You for warning us. It is a frightful passage of Scripture, Lord. Not only today, but tomorrow and the next day, it is needed. I Thank You that You place in front of us warning signs just like the warning signs of possibly knowing you may have a heart attack. Thank You that You give us a warning not to go to a certain place, or to not take seriously, Lord, our Christian walk and faith. To take seriously the Word of God, the gathered assembly, and the things we do as a church. To take seriously prayer. Thank You that You warn us. Lord, keep all of us from this sin that we wouldn’t even hear of anybody committing it because they take the warning and desire to live for God through thick and thin. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for warning us. Help us now to consider, more faithfully, our own Christian walk, Your church, Your word. Lord, that we would take it seriously in a way that we have not before. Lord, Thank You for what you will do in our life. I pray this, in Christ’s name, Amen.