It isn’t unusual for me to be reading the newspaper and see something that it outside my realm of thinking.  When you read of the murder of huge numbers of people in the name of religion it is shocking.  When I read of the abuse of an innocent child it is just beyond my ability to comprehend why anyone would do such a thing.  It isn’t unusual to see things on TV that are mind boggling to the degree you sometimes wonder if it is actually true.  But it is entirely different from any of that kind of thing when you run upon one of those shocking statements in Scripture that grabs your attention and causes you to go back and re-read, re-think and stop to pray about what is said.  Just such a statement is found in Hebrews 10:26-31 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 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? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Think about this statement and remember the difference made all through the Old Testament between sins done in ignorance and sins committed presumptuously or intentionally.  Remember how God had the Israelites to set up seven cities of refuge for the person who killed another person accidentally to be able to rush to that closest city to escape the avenger of blood, who was a near relative who took it on himself to repay for the death of the relative. If you reached the city of refuge and it was determined that you had killed the person without intent or premeditation you could remain in that city and be safe from the avenger of blood.  God made a huge difference between the intentional, premeditated sin and the sin committed in ignorance or without malice or forethought.  No wonder David prayed for God to keep him back from the intentional sin.  Building on that same concept the writer of Hebrews declared that if we sin willfully, intentionally, then there remains no other sacrifice for my sin. Instead we face that fearful expectation of the judgment and of raging fire.  What is the writer telling us here?  Is he saying that if I intentionally sin I can’t ever be forgiven of the sin?  Is there some particular sin that he has in mind?  What is the point of there being no other sacrifice waiting?

Keep in mind that he was writing to people who had come to Christ out of Judaism and now were considering going back away from Christ to their old way of life and worship.  His point was that if you reject Jesus Christ and turn back to the old ways of worship under the Old Law, you need to understand there is no other sacrifice coming to take away your sins.  If one lived during the days of Abraham before the giving of the law there was the sacrifice coming under the law, something more to anticipate.  If you lived under the Old Testament era and you turned away there was the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us.  He blood would be poured out for the sins of the world and I had another opportunity coming.  But, when Jesus died on the cross and the New Covenant was sealed by the blood of Christ that was the final sacrifice to be offered.  If you reject Jesus nothing more is coming.  You either live in anticipation of facing the very one you rejected in judgment as the judge or you turn back to Jesus the one you are rejecting.  Salvation is now available in Christ and no where else.  “Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which you must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  So, he wanted us to understand that if we are following Jesus and turn back from that we are intentionally sinning against God.  To ever be saved again I must turn from that intentional sin back to Jesus in repentance to intentionally follow him as my Savior and Lord.

He wanted us to grasp the seriousness of what was being considered.  Under Moses Law one who rejected the law and thus rejected God died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Remember the story in Numbers 16 of the man picking up sticks on the Sabbath Day.  It seems to us a small infraction.  Yet is was an intentional act of disobedience to God and thus a rejection of God as my Savior and Lord.  God’s response when the man was brought before Moses and the people was, “Take him outside the camp and stone him to death.”  There was no mercy because he had intentionally rejected God in his sin.  So God sees it very clearly.  Any act of intentional sin is a rejection of God.  Now if God saw it that way under the Old Law when it was just the blood of a lamb that was offered. “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?”

Can’t you imagine the man picking up the sticks saying, “Why is this such a big deal?  It is just a few sticks we are talking about.”  But God saw such sin as a rejection of Him.  Now He sees any deliberate sin as a rejection of Jesus himself.  He sees any turning away from Jesus as savior and Lord as trampling Jesus underfoot.  He sees such turning from Jesus as one counting the blood of the Covenant as something useless, meaningless and worthless.  We take the most holy thing imaginable and treat it like used toilet tissue.  The greatest act of grace ever done was for Jesus to take our sins upon him and go through the punishment we deserved so that God could be just and still justify us.  He suffered so we wouldn’t have to suffer.  No wonder God sees our rejection of Jesus as such a big thing.  When He paid the highest price ever and his whole law of the New Covenant is a law of grace.  To now intentionally sin is to insult the whole Spirit of grace.

Here is the problem humanity has always faced.  It is so hard for us to realize how serious sin really is.  Our sins sent Jesus to the cross.  He took his blood that was poured out for us and made that the offering on the altar of God in heaven for our sins.  Through that blood we can be totally washed from our sins as though we had never sinned in our life.  Such grace, such a gift, such a promise from God should change our attitude about sin and about living for Him.  It is only when I can somehow change my view of things and see them through the eyes of God Almighty that I will grasp the seriousness of deliberate sin.  It is as though we pick up the nails that crucified our Savior and choose a hammer and playfully begin to drive the nail into his hands and feet all over again.  Anything that required the massive price of Jesus blood cannot now be taken lightly by us.  No wonder then it is a “Dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.”  Your salvation came at awful cost! Never treat it lightly!

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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