Please explain Hebrews 10:26-27
The book of Hebrews is primarily concerned with Jewish Christians who have decided that it is not worth living Christianity anymore and who have decided to go back to Judaism. The writer of the book of Hebrews is exhorting and encouraging these Christians NOT to go back to Judaism. The book is laid out much like a sermon with several points being made within the sermon. The theme of the book is “The way of Christ is the better way.” The main points of the book are as follows: 1) Christ is a better mediator. 2) Christ is a better high priest. 3) Christ offers a better covenant. 4) Christ offers a better sacrifice. 5) Christ’s way is the way of faith–a better way.
During the course of the book, the writer often stops and exhorts the listeners to faithfulness. For example, in Hebrews 3:12-13 he stops to exhort against unbelief and disobedience. In Hebrews 4:12-13 he stops to magnify the word of God. In Hebrews 5:11-14 he pauses to rebuke those who have not grown as they should. This type of exhortation is what is happening starting in Hebrews 10:19ff. The writer is exhorting the reader to faithfulness. He is careful also to remember the main point about which he is discussing, namely the better sacrifice that Christ offers. Let’s now read Hebrews 10:19-25.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Notice that the Hebrew writer is drawing upon points he made earlier about entering into the Holy place with Jesus as our high priest, he exhorts us to three things: 1) Drawing near with a true heart (vs.22), 2) holding fast the confession of our faith (vs.23), 3) considering one another to provoke unto love and good works (vs.24). It is out of this third point–considering one another–that we have the exhortation to NOT forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but exhorting one another.
Now, the Hebrew writer turns in verse 26 to what will happen if we do not heed his exhortation. That is, if we fail to draw near, hold fast, and consider one another–things that we KNOW we should do–the Hebrew writer considers this failure to be sinning willfully. When we sin willfully, there are consequences. These consequences are: 1) There remains no more sacrifice for our sins; 2) we can expect judgment/condemnation from God; 3) we can expect a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. Two good parallel verses to these verses would be Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-22. In other words, it is possible for a Christian to so sin as to lose his salvation.
Now that we have looked at the general context, perhaps a few additional questions are in order regarding verses 26 and 27. First, what does it mean to sin willfully? In essence, this means that a person has learned and obeyed the truth and that now, in spite of knowing the truth, that person has decided not to heed it anymore in their life and they have turned away from it. This could be in regard to a personal habit in someone’s life. It could be in regard to disobeying the laws of the land. It could be in regard to sexual immorality. It could be in regard to false worship. In the context, however, it is specifically in regard to those who simply had stopped coming to the regular assembling of the saints when they knew it was the right thing to do. Remember James admonition in James 4:17. “Therefore, to him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Second, what does it mean that there does not remain a sacrifice for sins for this person? John comments on this in 1 John 1:6, 7, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” The idea is that the blood that Jesus shed no longer is effectual for us. It will no longer cover our sins if we simply abandon what we know to be true. Therefore, the sacrifice itself is no longer effectual for our sins.
Third, what does verse 27 mean? It simply means that if one continues in this state of rejecting the knowledge of the truth, then one can expect God to punish him just as God would punish those who had never obeyed the truth (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8). It is serious, serious, SERIOUS business to have a correct understanding of God’s word and then to leave it for willful sin. Let’s each resolve in our minds this very hour that regardless of what trials and temptations come our way, we will always have a heart that is soft enough and tender enough to let God’s will rule in our lives.