The Journal of Biblical Accuracy
Subscribe

Download for free the PDF version of the study, optimized for your e-book reader / table / desktop / smartphone PDF version

Hebrews 10:23-29, 35-39: "if we sin willfully", "if anyone draws back".

Continuing in Hebrews, we find one more strong warning in Hebrews 10. There we read:

Hebrews 10:23-29, 35-39
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 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. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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? …. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back and are destroyed but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."

Again three fundamental questions, whose answer is obvious from the text:

i) Does this passage and especially its strong warning refer to believers? The answer is yes it does: it speaks about people who have been sanctified with the blood of the covenant and no doubt such people can only be Christians. As 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, speaking to Christians:

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. "

Sanctification and forgiveness of sins is something reserved for those who believe, and the means to obtain it is the "blood of the covenant" (Matthew 26:28).

ii) Now is it possible for someone who was sanctified with the blood of the covenant – the blood of Christ - to turn around and count this most precious blood as common, trampling the Son of God underfoot and insulting the holy spirit? Is it possible for someone who once believed to "draw back"? It is clear from this passage, and from the other passages we have looked at, that this is indeed possible.

iii) The next question is: is salvation what awaits those who though sanctified with the blood of the covenant they counted it as common insulting the spirit of grace? It is obvious from the text that the answer is negative.

Furthermore I want to point out the following part of the passage:

"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."

Later in the book we will speak more about sinning and when someone is really out of the faith. But whoever wants a short answer now, this perhaps is in the "sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth". "Sinning willfully" does not mean to sin once, having an episode of sin in a life that otherwise strives to practice righteousness. Instead, what is meant is a life that practices sin, a life that habitually, and as a way of life sins, despite the knowledge of the truth. This willful and habitual disregard of whatever we know God’s Word says is deadly and the respective person should immediately repent instead of resting in a false sense of security concerning his salvation.

Next section: Explaining away Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10

 

Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou