Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
This passage of scripture used to create an enormous amount of anxiety for me. I knew the Bible said I was saved by my faith in God’s grace and not my good works, but I also knew every sin I ever committed after getting saved was willful. I never accidentally told a lie or mistakenly looked at pornography. It’s not that I wanted to sin, but sometimes my flesh got the better of me and I committed a sinful action. I would then wonder, “Does this mean I need to get saved again?”
If I was the only person that ever dwelt with this question, I wouldn’t write this article, but in my time in ministry I have met many people who have asked, “Do I lose my salvation if I sin willfully” and the follow up to it, “Do I need to get saved again?”
At first glance Hebrews 10:26-27 seems pretty damning to any person who sins after they get saved. It also seems to make the Bible pretty confusing when you consider the following scriptures:
- Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
- Galatians 2:20-21 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
These scriptures say we are saved by God through His grace and made a new creation in Christ Jesus apart from our good works. How do we reconcile them with the passage in Hebrews 10:26-27 about there being no more sacrifice for sins to the person who sins willfully?
The key to understanding this passage is to understand why the letter of Hebrews was written. The book of Hebrews was originally a letter written to Jews who had converted to Christianity and were facing immense persecution. Many of these Jewish Christians were questioning their faith and considering returning to their old way of life under the Mosaic law. The entire letter of Hebrews is written to counter this perspective and to encourage these Christians to keep believing in Jesus. This means the willful sin the writer of Hebrews is talking about is to reject Jesus after once accepting Him as Lord and Savior. Hebrews 10:29 verifies this:
29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
The writer of Hebrews says that to stop believing in Jesus after we have accepted Him and then try to earn right standing with God by our good works is equivalent to trampling Jesus underfoot and considering His covenant a common thing, which insults the Spirit of grace. Notice it’s the Spirit of grace and not the Spirit of legalism that is insulted. Hebrews 10:35-39 confirms this:
35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
These verses are encouraging these Christians to hang onto their confidence in Jesus, not their good works. They go on to say that the just shall live by faith and to not draw back into their old lifestyle of legalism which will ultimately lead them to perdition (hell). The great irony of this passage is the way most people interpret willful sin leads them to try to never commit actions of sin to maintain their salvation. This means they are trusting in their performance more than what Jesus did, which is the exact opposite of what the writer of Hebrews was wanting.
I hope this article has helped and encouraged you. As I close I want to encourage us to take time to understand the context of scripture when we are trying to interpret it. This means we need to understand which covenant it was written under, who the original audience was and the issues they were dealing with, etc. Context is king! Always remember when we remove text from the word context all we are left with is a con!
If you’d like to learn more about the New Covenant check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church.