Hebrews 10:26-27 (NIV) 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
On verses 26-31: There are two schools of interpretation that are worth considering when trying to understand this short passage. The first and perhaps more mainstream way to interpret this passage is to say that it is basically repeating what Hebrews 6:4-6 has already said: that we receive Jesus as Saviour (“receive the knowledge of the truth” (v26)) but later commit apostasy by rejecting Jesus as our Saviour (“deliberately keep on sinning” (v26)), we will not be saved and will end up in a Christ-less hell for eternity. That’s because by doing this we have rejected the only provision God has made for our sin: Jesus Christ.
Another interpretation of this passage is by Bible scholar David L. Allen (David L. Allen, The New American Commentary – Volume 35: Hebrews. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2010. WORDsearch CROSS e-book). Allen believes that the sin being referred to here is not rejecting the Christian faith and committing apostasy, but rather deliberately continuing to sin in other ways and thus taking for granted the mercy of God expressed through Jesus Christ. In other words, whether it’s lying, losing your temper, looking lustfully at others, laziness or other sins, you know it’s wrong but you keep on doing it without repenting. According to Allen’s interpretation, the fiery punishment described here is not hell, but a more temporary kind of judgment that translates into less rewards in heaven. Allen likens this situation to the one that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 3:15 where every Christian is saved by the blood of Jesus alone but the work that the Christian did on earth, how faithful that Christian was to their God-given calling and purpose, will be judged by God, or as 1 Corinthians 3:15 says, “it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
Whichever way one interprets this passage, the following lessons are clear:
God’s grace was never meant to be a licence for licentiousness. In other words, don’t use God’s grace expressed through Jesus Christ as a licence to sin as much as you want. If you do, you may find yourself hardening your heart toward Jesus until you reach a point of no return and reject Christ completely. God does not want us to take the sacrifice of His Son Jesus for granted. If we reject Jesus, there is no other sacrifice left to pay for our sins and judgment can be expected (v26-27).
If a person deserved to die for rejecting the law of Moses (the old covenant), how much more does a person deserve death for rejecting the grace of Jesus (the new covenant). That’s because Christ’s new covenant is so much greater and so much more gracious to us than the old covenant established by Moses (v28-29).
God loves justice and is committed to upholding justice. Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35-36, the writer of Hebrews emphasizes that God, being a just God, promises to judge (Deuteronomy 32:35) and repay (Deuteronomy 32:36) every person who does wrong if they do not repent of their sin and look to His Son Jesus for mercy. When verse 31 says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, it should remind us that were it not for the amazing grace God showed us in Jesus Christ, we would be frighteningly subject to the terrifying wrath of God against sin.
Just and holy Father, may I never take for granted the amazing grace You expressed in Your Son Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!