If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving a knowledge of the truth no sacrifice for sin is left except a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire which will consume the enemies of Christ.
Harsh words. Terrifying even.
But rest assured, beloved Children of God, the writer of this letter is not writing to you who have been cleansed once for all by the blood of Christ, as he says in verse 14:
By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who have been made holy.
Now, if Christ’s sacrifice has made us perfect forever, how can we then be destined for the raging fire?
Verse 26 seems to imply that even though we have been made holy and perfect by Christ’s sacrifice, we still go to hell if we deliberately sin.
Well, that means just about every person who ever lived is destined for the fiery furnace then!
So, come on writer of Hebrews, what do you mean?
Either we have been made perfect by Christ’s sacrifice once for all, or we haven’t.
Either salvation is a gift of God, as Paul states in Ephesians 2:8, or it depends on our own ability to stop sinning.
If it depends on us, then we are back to the law.
But Paul says we are saved apart from the law:
…a righteousness not of my own that comes from obeying the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.
And the writer of Hebrews says we have been made perfect forever by Christ’s sacrifice.
So what’s going on?
Let’s look at the context.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews is writing to, you guessed it, the Hebrews, the Jewish people who still believed that sacrificing animals could take away sins.
But this writer was telling them that after Christ there is no more sacrifice for sin.
The verse ‘If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving a knowledge of the truth’ isn’t talking about any old sin, the kind of sin that we talk about today, sexual sin, lust, or things like that.
The ‘sin’ the writer is referring to is the sin of rejecting Christ.
As Matthew Henry’s concise commentary states:
The sin here mentioned is a total and final falling away, when men, with a full and fixed will and resolution, despise and reject Christ.
The writer is telling the Hebrews that if they keep rejecting Christ, no sacrifice for sin is left. That there is no point continuing to sacrifice animals, because animal sacrifices don’t work.
In fact, earlier in the chapter, he says that animal sacrifices never worked, but were merely an ‘annual reminder’ for sin.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.
Only Christ’s sacrifice can take away sin.
If anyone rejects Christ’s sacrifice, no sacrifice for sin is left.
This is what the writer is saying.
It isn’t aimed at me or you.
We have accepted Christ’s sacrifice, and therefore our sin was taken away, on the cross, making us holy and perfect forever.
Thank you, Jesus!