By Brannon Howse
The Scripture: For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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 Twist: As with Hebrews 6:4-6, this scripture is also used to teach that a believer can lose his or her salvation under certain circumstances.
To understand what is really being taught here, let’s start with verse 26 specifically: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Similar to the intent of Hebrews 6, this refers to people who have received knowledge. Another word used in Hebrews 6 is “enlightened,” and in both cases, it’s important not to construe that someone who is enlightened or receives the knowledge of the Gospel is necessarily saved.
Many people hear the Gospel and receive the knowledge or the truth. There may be people, for instance, who have watched my television program many times and have heard me explain the Gospel over and over. These people have received the knowledge of the truth. The question is: what do they do with the truth that they have heard? Will they understand their sinfulness and the need to repent and place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ? Will they understand that it’s not by works, lest any man should boast, that it’s a gift of God? Will they understand that He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God? If an unbeliever is watching the program, he or she has received the truth, but has the truth been accepted or rejected? Anyone who has heard the Gospel is accountable for what he or she knows as a result.
Romans 1-3 even makes the point that regardless of whether or not people have heard the Gospel, per se, they are accountable on the Day of Judgment; there is no excuse. God has revealed Himself through general revelation—through Creation—and that alone is sufficient witness to Him. The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows His handiwork.
Furthermore, we have the moral law written on our hearts and minds. This is our conscience. “Con” means with, and “science” means knowledge. It implies that we sin with the knowledge that what we’re doing is wrong because of what is written on our hearts through the way God created us.
The bottom line truth is that we’ve offended a holy and just God. Your conscience and mine bears witness to that when we sin. That’s why there is universal consent about what is right and wrong. Murder is wrong. Lying is wrong. Adultery is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Everybody knows this. Why? Because the moral law is in place in the heart and mind—the conscience—of every person.
Each of us has knowledge of the truth. Some have received the knowledge of the truth in great detail—especially if they’ve listened to my broadcast. And if you reject the truth, Jesus Christ (in John 14:6, Jesus says of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”), then there no longer remains a sacrifice for your sins. There’s nothing more anyone can do for you. If you have received the knowledge of the truth, heard the Gospel, rejected it, and trampled it underfoot—as we saw the Pharisees doing in Matthew 12— there no longer remains a sacrifice for your sins. You’re going to die in your sins. That’s it. That’s what Hebrews 10 is saying.
The passage speaks to this result when it says there is “a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” This reflects a principle first taught in the Old Testament, that “anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” But now that Jesus has come, it gets worse for those who don’t believe: “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot?” It’s a frightening thought. People have heard the Gospel and mocked it. They’ve blasphemed and openly rejected it. They trample what Christ did on the cross, despising His work. They consider the cross foolishness and have “counted the blood of the covenant by which he [Christ] was sanctified” (set apart by God for the purpose of seeking and saving those who were lost). He came to be sin for us. So how much more punishment will they be worthy of? More than I care to imagine.
Over the years, I’ve received far too many e-mails from people who do not have the peace they need as believers because they have been taught they can sin and lose their salvation. We are to examine our lives to make sure we’re walking in the faith, to make sure we’re really believers. In that way, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But that “work” is not a work unto salvation. It is an enduring work of being faithful and obedient, persevering in the faith, submitting ourselves, to the authority of God’s Word.
So while we should be examining our lives to make sure we’re walking according to God’s Word, once we have the evidence and proof of our salvation, the fruit we produce reveals that our salvation is true and legitimate. The Bible is crystal clear that when you place your faith and trust in Christ, your sins are buried in the depths of the sea to be remembered no more. They’re separated as far as the East is from the West.
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.