The writer of Hebrews is addressing his friends who have knowledge of the truth (truth = Christianity) as portrayed in Scripture. He has emphasized maturity in Christ and highlighted foundational truths such as the nature of Christ, redemption, and forgiveness of sin through His blood shed on the cross.
v. 26 “If we deliberately keep on sinning…”
The “If” introduces a hypothetical situation. However, the writer is concerned about his friends knowing the truth and turning away; moreover, (I’d say, and not necessarily the text here) then and today, there are those who “hear” and even “understand” the gospel message, but are not willing to accept forgiveness of sin through Christ alone.
He is also saying for one to deliberately or willfully sin continually, that person’s life will end in fearful judgment, especially if he or she has not accepted Christ. A similar “If” and warning scenario is addressed in chp. 6:4 ff.
Questions for reflection and discussion:
• Do genuine Christians deliberately keep on sinning without constraint?
• Do transformed believers deliberately keep on sinning and disregard Christ?
• Is it possible for a Christian to sin and not feel a sense of guilt or conviction?
• Does conviction/guilt for sinful behavior vary in degree depending on where one is (maturity) in relationship to Christ?
• Does receiving or understanding the knowledge of the truth equal “knowing/experiencing Christ as Savior and Lord?”
Mental assent vs. transformation and regeneration of one’s being.
Hawthorne (1986) reminds us that, “There is no objective evidence that one who has made his Christian ‘confession’ and has been baptized is indeed a Christian, other than the daily perseverance in love and good works—a persistence in the very essence of what his confession implies” (cf. 23-24).
A genuine Christian perseveres in Christ. (cf. Jn 15: 2, 5; 10:27; Rom 11:22).
The implication then is that outward professing Christians can reach a point of being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (cf. 3:13). When this point is reached and the hardened person refuses to repent, “no sacrifice for sins is left.” The hardened heart—a representation of the person who rejects the only possibility for redemption.
The assumption here is that the hard hearted person refuses to _________________ and be saved.
When is it time to give up and leave the hard hearted person to their demise, as they continue living apart from Christ?
What can we practically do for those we perceive and experience as hard hearted and refuse to accept Christ as Savior and Lord?
v. 27 In the end, this person (non-Christian) faces a “fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (cf. Isa 26:11).
Wrath and punishment are clear throughout the Scripture for those who do not know and obey God, especially through Christ in the new covenant (cf. Psalm 79:5-6; 2 Kings 1:10, 12; Numbers 16:35, 26:10; 2 Thes 1:8).
Who are the enemies of God?
Outside of the text Question: How do we as genuine believers stay motivated to experience the benefits in Christ?
v. 20 by a new and “living” way
v. 22 draw near to God with sincerity and assurance
v. 23 hold on unswervingly to the hope we profess
v. 24 spur one another on toward love and good deeds
v. 25 meet together with other genuine Christians
v. 28 The author presents a contrast between the old and new covenant. In the old, a person died without mercy on the testimony of __________ ___ ___________ witnesses for rejecting the law of Moses.
v. 29 In the new covenant, Jesus is greater, “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has ________________ the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an __________ __________ the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the ____________ of grace?” God the Holy Spirit is insulted, highlighting the third person of the godhead.
Morris (1981) said, “Willful sin is an insult to the Spirit, who brings the grace of God to man.”
v. 30 As genuine Christians, “we know” our God is Holy! He will follow through with judging sin in people. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
(cf. Deut. 32:35-36; Psalm 135:14)
Morris indicated that the word ‘judge’ may mean ‘give favorable judgment’ as well as ‘condemn.’ He also said that “In both Deut 32:36 and Psalm 135:14 it is deliverance that is in mind; and both times the RSV… translates it as vindicate.”
We have learned from the Scripture that all genuine believers are saved by God’s grace through faith. We have emphasized that this is true throughout Scripture, both OT and NT.
God vindicated those who remained faithful and persevered in obedience. The same is true for us today through Christ. Here the writer is addressing the “apostate” who fails to persevere—hence not faithful, this person will face condemning judgment.
v. 31 For the unbeliever, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
What about those of us who persevere, maintain faith, and strive to demonstrate our love for God through our obedience? David, wasn’t perfect, but faithful, and he put his fate in the hands of God. 2 Sam 24:14
We will stand before our God vindicated because of Christ. However, our favorable judgment (reward) is based on our obedience in living out our faith in this life (cf. 1 Cor 3:8; Eph. 6:8; Rev 22:12).
Persevere and keep growing in Christ!
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1981) Frank Gaebelein (ed)
The International Bible Commentary (1986) F. F. Bruce (ed)
NIV Study Bible (1985)