Monday, June 27, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 36

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Sinning Willfully

Hebrews is full of statements that many interpret as proof that salvation is a blessing that can be lost. Here is one them:

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31, NASB95)

I dealt with this topic at length in this series and you can read that section by clicking here. Hebrews does challenge us to ensure that we are men and women of faith, but it also reveals that we can know that we have faith to the "preserving of our souls. (Hebrews 10:35)" So we must understand what the Writer is saying here in the context of the entire book and, indeed, this very section.

The key is that having a "knowledge of the truth" is not the same as the "great salvation" that Jesus has provided for us by His blood. The glory of the New Covenant over the Old is the gift of the cleansing of consciences from dead works, the ability to approach the throne of grace in time of need, the Law written on our hearts, the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. These are the realities of the New Covenant. To have a knowledge of these truths and then to say in your heart, "I want to keep my sinful ways" is the height of folly. The New Covenant is the solution to sin.

Another key is to remind ourselves of the Writer's audience, which is his Jewish brethren. He fears for them. They are receiving the knowledge of the truth of Jesus their Messiah, and they are rejecting the message. There is no more reliance on the Old Covenant sacrifices possible. The new has come and the old is obsolete. There is a path, by faith, to enter the Holy Place in heaven today. To reject that gift is to find oneself, at death at the same place without the covering of Jesus' blood before the terrifying God of Mt. Sinai (Pentecost #1) instead of the indwelling and close God of Pentecost #2.

This is an appeal to the Writer's Jewish brethren to change their hearts and enter into the bounty of the New Covenant. If it was bad to break the Old, how much worse will it be to spurn the offer of the new.

I will continue this topic in the next installment.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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