Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins
Read out of context, and at face value, this verse apparently supports the view, that if we sin knowingly, purposefully, voluntarily or wilfully – that’s the end of a relationship with God and our salvation!
Sin is wilful!
The first obvious problem with this interpretation: it doesn’t make any sense – sin by its very nature is willful! Yes, you could sin accidently, say break the speed limit, but most sin is a decision. Watch your children, they choose to sin. A child doesn’t need much education to end up sinning wilfully! Adam couldn’t plead ignorance – he deliberately sinned by taking the fruit from Eve.
Reading in context
So what does it mean, why the confusion? There are two mistakes that are made when interpreting this verse.
1) Firstly, people assume that the Epistle was written directly to them, when in fact it was written by a Jewish Apostle to his Jewish brothers: some born again Messianic Jews and others who maybe had heard and understood the Gospel and are even meeting with believers but are not yet true converts! The phrase “received the knowledge of the truth” is referring to these Jews.
2) The second is not to read it in context. For example, at least read it in the context of chapter 10 where it is explaining why the sacrifices are now redundant because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus!
Hebrews 10:18 “Now where there is forgiveness of all these things, there is no longer any offering for sin”
The sin of rejecting the messiah
The willful sin therefore, is a deliberate choice to reject Jesus as Messiah even when the truth is known and even experienced. It is a sin against the Holy Spirit.
Stephen says to the Jews just before they stone him to death:
“You men who are stiff-necked an uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did”
This is a deliberate and wilful rejection of the truth!
One of the bystanders to that execution: the Apostle Paul however, describes the grace of God towards him in 1 Tim 1:13:
“a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
In other words, he didn’t reject Jesus wilfully.
Likewise in Hebrews 12:25 the warning is to unbelieving Jews:
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:”
There are other multiple examples in Hebrews which are warning the unbelieving Jews within the community who have heard the Gospel:
Hebrews 2:3 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”
Hebrews 3:12 Take care brethren (Jewish believers and unbelievers) , lest there be in any one of you an evil (works filled) unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore let us fear lest, while a promise of entering his rest any of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us just as they also but the word they heard did not profit them because it was united by faith in those who heard.
Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience
Hebrews 6:4 “For in the case of those who have been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come and then fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the son of God and put him to open shame.
So what about us?
So do these scriptures apply to us today? Certainly. I believe that even in our churches today, there are many who call themselves Christians, who go to church, tithe, read their Bibles, sing in the choir and even know a bit of theology– yet are not saved and born again.
2 Cor 13:5 “ Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
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