For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries . . . Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:26–27, 29
In preaching the total forgiveness of sins and assurance of salvation, I am often asked, But Pastor Prince, doesn’t the Bible say in Hebrews 10 that if we sin willfully, we can lose our salvation and expect God’s “judgment, and fiery indignation”?
Many believers are taught this today, and as a result, they become sin-conscious—always mindful and worried about their “willful sins,” and God’s judgment to come. When something bad does happen to them (they blow a tire on the road or contract a disease, for example), they immediately attribute it to God’s judgment of their mistakes. My dear reader, having this fear and perpetual judgment-consciousness is not how God the Father wants us to live.
I submit to you that almost every sin we commit after being saved (the exceptions being sins we commit unconsciously) is committed willfully. So this can’t be what Hebrews 10:26 is talking about or every believer would be living each day expecting God’s judgment and fiery indignation! What does it mean, then, to “sin willfully”? Is it something that a believer can do?
The first thing we need to understand is that the book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews, or Jewish people (which included believers as well as nonbelievers). Hebrews 10:26, in particular, is addressing Jewish brethren who had received “the knowledge of the truth” (the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and His finished work), but never received this truth into their hearts. They heard the truth about Jesus, but were still going back to the temple to offer animal sacrifices for their sins.
This was an insult to the Spirit of grace, because they were flatly rejecting the Lord Jesus, Who in His great grace had offered Himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for their sins at Calvary. Clearly, in context, to “sin willfully” is to commit the specific sin of knowing the truth that Jesus is the final sacrifice, and yet choosing not to accept His finished work.
So you see, these verses are not targeted at believers. They are not addressing or referring to Christians who are “backsliding” or “going astray”; nor do they refer to Christians who sin in a moment of weakness or temptation. Genuine believers in Christ cannot commit this sin, simply because they have already believed in Jesus’ sacrifice and put their trust in the Lord’s finished work, and they are certainly not going back to any temple to offer animal sacrifices for sin. There is a massive difference between the two!
So what does God’s Word say when it comes to judgment and His children? The Greek word for “judgment” in Hebrews 10:27 is krisis, which means a sentence of “condemnation and punishment.” Now, turn with me to John 5:24 and read Jesus’ own words: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment [krisis], but has passed from death into life.” The same word for “judgment” (krisis) used in Hebrews 10:27 is used here in this scripture regarding believers.
My friend, can anything be clearer and more transparent? What is it that God wants us to be assured of? That we believers will never come into krisis judgment! We have passed from death into life. True believers need never fear the Lord’s judgment as all of the fire of judgment fell fully on our Lord at Calvary. Don’t let anyone rob you of your full assurance of salvation in Christ today. Amen!
This devotional is taken from the book Glorious Grace—100 Daily Readings from Grace Revolution.
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