More from the Letter to the Hebrews. Here’s yet another dire warning from the author (Heb 10:26-31):
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. 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 someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”( Deut. 32:35) and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
We may sin accidentally but to keep on sinning deliberately now that these so-precious things have been made ours for the asking, the taking, is to invite judgment, to court disaster.
Now our author is not talking about the things we often worry about –is this act a sin or is that one? No way.
He speaks here of the unspeakable sin, that of wilfully, deliberately turning away from Jesus, as we have observed previously in chapter 6. The context of this chapter (especially verses 33 to 35) make this plain. In such a state how can there be any sacrifice that can really bring forgiveness and wholeness? If we reject the ultimate gift, the treasure beyond our wildest imagination, the security apart from which there is no security, the unfathomable love that sent His Son into the hands of corrupt and malevolent mankind and the dread horrors of the cross, …. what then is left for us? Utter darkness. No salvation. No loving assurance. No hope.
Think of a lover who has done all for the beloved but then the beloved one spurns that great love and openness and turns away, spits in the face of the lover. It is the ultimate outrage.
Such is the general state of the human race. The offer of life must be received, taken hold of.
Think about this: the offering Jesus has made is a single offering. It is sufficient for all time, for all people, for all sins! It is totally sufficient. It cannot be repeated. It will not be repeated. That would be totally unnecessary, unlike the ceremonial rituals which pointed to the real and have now been replaced. Finally.
Yet this immeasurable offering cannot be taken lightly, frivolously. We cannot assume God’s grace, take it for granted, not feel the despair, the dread it replaces.
This grace is such astronomically great news. Our refusal of that gift is breathtakingly stupid, insane, suicidal.
Yet even such a decision by an individual is respected by the Lord God, the loving Father –a decision to put oneself far away from all that is good and solid, all that is real and true, so valuable is our personhood, the image we bear, that we can never escape from. Our freedom to turn away from such love remains eternally.
As followers, we may find ourselves sinning again and again after believing, because of our constant fallibility. Yet his great sacrifice remains for us. Jesus’ words about the 7 times 77 forgiveness reminds us we may be forgiven again and again and again. His forgiveness is inexhaustible. Remember, we are taught to forgive others who sin against us after that pattern in Jesus’ so-called Lord’s Prayer.
But if we take all this grace for granted without feeling the horror, the dread, the enormous cost to the Son of God in his offering, our hearts will be progressively hardened and the point may be reached when we fall away from that wonderful provision of grace and mercy. So hardened, that we may lose all capacity to turn to our loving heavenly Dad. We will have insulted the Spirit of grace.
What then is appropriate for us now, as we read these words?
In God’s purposes, it is never too late. We must enter, truly, deliberately, decidedly, determinedly, enter God’s household, by His design –by the blood of Jesus. There is no other way, no other name is given under heaven to save us. This is also the consistent affirmation of the apostles Paul, Peter and John.
No other way. Some may introduce another way— “my way”. When we face judgment, accounting for our lives, our words, our actions, our thoughts, will you be confessing “Your will be done”?
Or will your song be “I did it my way”?