Hebrews 10:26-31 – Apostasy? Me?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 25, 20112 AM
Sometimes the anticipation of something can be far more than the reality. You know what I mean, as children we may have anticipated Christmas, the presents, and then when the actual day arrives, it is not quite what we thought it might be. For the believer however, our anticipation of heaven and eternity does not come close to the reality. Paul wrote, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” How do we know this to be true, Paul continues by telling us that “God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV) I bring this up in order to say that some of us have a convoluted view of eternity.
There are those who think that heaven is some kind of ethereal place and hell is only what you make of it, neither is true. Heaven is being in the presence of God, hell is not, and both are a reality. Not believing in them is dangerous. This is why the author of Hebrews begins to relate to his audience that if they persist in going back to their old way of the Law, they are in danger of apostasy. Renouncing what they had once believed in and trusted. We reap what we sow in life and there are consequences for our actions. Let’s find out what Hebrews teaches us about apostasy…
It is one thing to disbelieve in something that is truly mythical, like fairies, trolls, goblins or gods who live in the clouds on top of a mountain. However, when you are given historical facts, eyewitness evidence, and the testimony of billions of changed lives then either you are blinded by your own prejudice or simply foolish. Then there are those who know and understand the gospel message, yet disregard both its warning and blessing. For those folks, the author of Hebrews writes that…
I. Unbelief results in judgment! (Vv. 26-27)
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
1. Spiritual defection carries consequences! We reap what we sow! What we have to understand here is that the writer was concerned for those who said they knew God, knew about Jesus, but their actions proved otherwise. He writes, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” The Old Law was worthless and now they have turned their backs on Christ! What was left for them? The answer is “nothing”, in fact, “only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God!” One plays a very dangerous game when they vociferously profess their faith, but their lifestyle proves otherwise. The author was not saying those who are truly saved could lose their salvation, rather, he was speaking to those who claim faith but did not truly believe what they said. Jesus emphatically taught, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 NIV) But these folks were false disciples. Peter would say that they “are springs without water and mists driven by a storm!” In fact, he would continue by writing, “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21 NIV) Wow! Jude, Jesus’ other brother, writes, “They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever” and that they “do not have the Spirit.” (Jude 1:13, 19 NIV) Hebrews says they are “enemies of god” and only “judgment” and a “raging fire” await them! Unbelief results in judgment!
EXAMPLE: My sister had an old hound dog named “Dilbert.” She named him long before the cartoon ever was drawn. He was the stupidest and friendliest animal I have ever seen. He never met a person he did not like to lick or make his buddy immediately. He would have held the door for burglars and greeted strangers with a wag of his tail. Then, he would have gone off somewhere to sleep. Far too many in our day and age give their allegiance away way too easily, just like Dilbert did. Sadly, Dilbert knew who fed him, gave him shelter, and took care of his every need but he did not care. There are those who understand who Jesus is, what he did, and his gospel message yet refuse to give him their faithfulness. All too soon, they will find out that their unbelief results in judgment.
There are folks on the web who spend worthless hours and miniscule intellects going from site to site trying to get others stirred up. They leave outrageous or offensive remarks, then sit back, and watch the online pandemonium that results, they are descriptively called, “Trolls.” They troll the internet looking for whom they can devour with their hit and run tactics. We can insult others, but when we know the truth that God has given us and then we deliberately turn away and try to drag others with us, we may discover that…
II. Insulting God results in judgment! (Vv. 28-29)
“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
1. You will be judged for your continued insults! Under the Old Covenant, if an Israelite spurned the Mosaic Law and at least two or three witnesses verified his actions, he was put to death. “Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Now, we have the witnesses of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Understand that we now enjoy the complete “mercy” of God, his total grace found in Jesus! Also, understand that all sin ultimately leads to death, “For the wages of sin is death!” (Romans 6:23 NIV) John would remind us that, “There is a sin that leads to death.” (1 John 5:16 NIV) What is this “sin”? Is Hebrews referring to this? It is possible, however, if one knew that the Old Law was no longer worthwhile because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, what was left for them now? “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Jesus taught, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32 NIV) Again, I believe the idea here may be for those who say they profess Christ, but their actions say something else. Jesus was speaking about disdaining the Holy Spirit’s witness concerning the Gospel, rejecting salvation through faith in him alone. The author of Hebrews is not necessarily thinking about hell here, but rather the author’s whole point lies in the seriousness of the act. To treat “the blood of the covenant” (which actually makes believers holy) as though it were an “unholy” (koinon, “common”) thing and then to renounce its worth with one’s words or deeds, is to commit a sin so dreadful as to dwarf the fatal violations under the Old Covenant. Be very careful then how you treat God’s grace in your life and his love for you in Jesus. You will be judged for your insulting lifestyle and you will not like the outcome. Insulting God results in judgment!
EXAMPLE: Have you ever been insulted? We can survive being hurt of offended, but when we insult God’s grace that is a whole different story. God is not some old guy with a pinstriped suit, horned-rimmed glasses, and a cigar. Nor does he wink at our sin and ungodly lifestyles. Psalm 94 reminds us, “Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.” (Psalms 94:8-11 NIV) This is why Paul would remind us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV) Insulting God results in judgment!
When Jesus related, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NIV) he was not saying that we can never be judgmental of someone else’s ungodly actions. Rather, his point was that a person should not be habitually critical of a mere sawdust speck in someone else’s eye when he has a plank sticking out of his own eye! God, however, does judge us. In fact, we learn that…
III. It is a horrible thing to be judged by God! (Vv. 30-31)
“For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
1. God never makes idle threats! Folks have a tendency to think of God in the same way they view how they would make decisions. When we do, we make some very serious errors. God is totally holy and does not make mistakes, we are not holy and we often make mistakes in our thinking and our lives. Hebrews bluntly reminds us of the biblical fact, “For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’” God reserves the right to himself for final judgment. Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV) Jude, again, would relate that Jesus would come “to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15 NIV) Jesus promised, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37 NIV) Paul understood this concept of words meaning what you say. He wrote, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:10 NIV) The author of Hebrews wanted his readers to understand completely that “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” It is indeed a horrible thing to be judged by God!
EXAMPLE: We can fool ourselves, we can fool others, but we can never ever fool God. One of the most startling statements Jesus ever made was when he bluntly told his listeners, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV) The will of Jesus’ Father was that we would come to Jesus as Savior and Lord! Jesus cannot recognize anyone who is just “nice” and does religious things; he only recognizes those who profess faith in him! It will be a horrible thing to be judged by God!
We learned today that our unbelief results in judgment, that insulting God results in judgment, and it is indeed a horrible thing to be judged by God!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.