Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 20
Last time, we left off with Hebrews 10:26. I’d like to try to complete this section of Scripture with this post and if successful, we’ll move onto our next series, which is still tied to this one called, “Christ, Our Fellowship.”
6 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, 27 but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies. 28 Someone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
We noted last time that the use of the word “knowledge” in verse 26 above signifies full knowledge, the kind of knowledge that leads a person to salvation. If this is the case, then the writer to the Hebrews cannot have in mind simply people who profess to know Jesus. He is actually referring to people who know Jesus through having become recipients of salvation.
This person – a saved individual – who willfully and deliberately continues sinning after receiving salvation exists under God’s judgment. The writer says there is virtually no more “sacrifice for sins left” for that individual. Is the writer of Hebrews talking about sin, even deliberate sin from time to time? This cannot be so because he describes a person as someone who is deliberately sinning as an ongoing way of life.
The person who lives in such a way as to deliberately, willfully, rebelliously continue to sin against God will find that there is “no further sacrifice for sins” available. It’s not that Jesus’ atonement has come to its end, but more likely that God has placed a limitation on it because of the extreme nature of the apostasy in view. For this to occur, the individual is thoroughly set in his ways and stands literally against God and His Truth.
We might wonder how this can happen, but in reality, it may be long in coming for these types of people. They may start off as Christians fine, believing the essential doctrines of the faith. However, over time, Satan’s deception are whispered in that Christian’s ear. While the person might reject these deceptions at first, eventually, he begins paying attention. Over a long period of time, finds himself abandoning biblical theology that seems to ostracize certain people or groups. The person begins to find this offensive and comes to believe that God is not offensive and loves everyone, therefore, he must love everyone too. Love, in this case, becomes a mere acceptance of all people without regard for their sin and/or rebellion against God.
I think it is incumbent upon us to begin considering just how deceptive Satan can be. It is for a reason that the apostle Paul tells us – after describing various attitudes of people during the last days and the apostates that will mark those days (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-9), pointedly tells us to avoid those types of people (v. 5). He doesn’t tell us to hate them or to stop loving them. He tells us to avoid them for our own benefit, so that we do not get caught up in the same type of apostasy that quantifies their life. All too often, I think we hide smirks when talking about people we believe are apostates. “Oh, they’ll get theirs, that’s for sure!” What we should be doing is asking God for mercy on their behalf (they’re going to need it!) and asking God to protect people from the lies they spread. Remember, Paul felt an obligation to do what he could to protect the flock, as an overseer, as someone who had actually planted churches. He wanted them to maintain their loyalty to Jesus and to be protected from falling away. The writer to the Hebrews actually wants the same thing. He wants these Jewish believers protected and he knows that this comes largely from being on guard against apostates.
In truth – as I’ve tried to put forth and maintain throughout this series – it would appear that all Christians could fall away without proper safeguards in place. It won’t do for you to think that it won’t happen to you because of your love for the Lord. Remind yourself of Peter’s denial.
Christians can and do fall away from our Lord. We do so every time we knowingly, willingly sin. We break off fellowship with our God. Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, immediately begins the process of drawing us back to Him through knowledge of just how we have grieved the Holy Spirit. Failing this, God will begin to chastise us for our sin. He wants us back in fellowship with Him because that is the safest place any child of God can be! As we come to our own senses about our sin, we become humble enough to admit to God that we have sinned. We then confess it and move on once again in fellowship with Christ. This is what people like Andrew Murray called abiding in Christ, but because he never really explained it well (at least to my understanding), I never really “got it.”
Every Christian must endeavor to abide and remain abiding so that we remain in fellowship with Him. When we don’t, we are in some form of failure. The average Christian’s life is one of trying (and often failing) be and remain in fellowship with Jesus. If we were to die during a time we were out of fellowship with God, we will not have lost our salvation. This seems clear from the texts we’ve gone over. Our salvation is a guarantee that God is faithful even when we are not.
The other type of Christian failure is found in the apostate discussed in this section of Hebrews. This individual, though a Christian truly, began slipping away from Jesus and specifically, we are talking about a pattern of theological thinking that warped his outlook. It immediately began to affect his fellowship with God in Christ and eventually, it led him away from Jesus altogether. The individual he knows now – who he thinks is Jesus – is an impostor or a figment of Satan’s imagination. Unfortunately, that Christian, having bought into the lies of the enemy because of his failure to fully understand the revealed truth, no longer has fellowship with Jesus, but certainly believes he does. He would even likely say that he knows Jesus better now than ever before. The truth is that he has been out of fellowship with Jesus for so long that the lies he believes have had plenty of time to appear to him as truth, truth that he embraced and embraces, but nonetheless are complete fabrications.
Please note carefully, the person I’ve just described above will experience God’s fire of judgment. This is the exact same fire that God will use to destroy His enemies. So why doesn’t it also destroy the apostate? Because of the fact that the apostate has salvation and God’s fire cannot destroy that since it is connected to God Himself. If God, via the Holy Spirit, actually lives in at least some apostates (those who have actual salvation), then they are also sealed unto the day of redemption by God Himself (the Spirit). There is nothing that can harm God. There is nothing that can eradicate God’s promises concerning His elect. The apostate who falls away from God (if originally and truly saved) will continue to be saved.
If this is biblical truth, how do you react to it? If God has promised that salvation is irreversible once gained, do you find yourself being angry with apostates who fall away? Do you find yourself thinking, “Wow, that’s not fair! God should be treated much better!” or something like that? My suggestion is to give that up to God and let Him deal with it as only He can – righteously. Neither you or I have the capacity to deal with this as God would deal with it. Our job is to love these people in spite of their error. We need to pray for them and ask God to protect those who hear their false message.
It’s not as though the apostate gets off easy. Hebrews 10:29 states, “How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace?”
The above is a sobering question. I think back when I was a kid and the few times (thankfully) that my dad felt the need to spank me. I learned quickly how to avoid spankings, yet at the same time, there was always that “look” that either one of my parents could give me that tended to freeze me in my tracks. The apostate who falls away from Jesus, does so at his own peril. It will not go unpunished and as we learn from the verse, he is actually showing contempt for God, the Son and profanes the very blood that Jesus shed on the apostate’s behalf in order that he might have salvation! Beyond this, the apostate insults the (Holy) Spirit of grace.
Folks, we are living in an absolute age of grace. God’s grace extends to us because now is the time of salvation. For those who have it, they are supposed to be committed to Jesus, His ways, and His purposes. Instead, like the Laodiceans (starting with Revelation 3:14), many today are growing lukewarm where Jesus is concerned. I confess it has bothered me for some time when I’ve heard others talk about the lukewarm (or even cold) nature of many within Christ’s Bride. I always thought, “Look, the Church is doing fine!” In actuality, while God always maintains control and His purposes will be accomplished, there are many Christians who need to get their act together and they need to do it yesterday! That includes me because there is always room for growth in all of us.
Hebrews 10:31 states something that is stark, harrowing, and dreadful.
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I don’t believe we understand exactly how terrifying it will be to stand before God in judgment. I’m sure I don’t truly get it. Because we live in the age of grace, God actually protects us from His righteous fury at the abject lawlessness, demonically-inspired hatred toward God and others, and general spiritual poverty that is so prevalent not only in society in general, but within too many of those who call themselves Christian. Yes, we have salvation. Wonderful! But we need more of Jesus and that only comes through continued fellowship with Him.
We must press on in Christ, renewing our fervor, deepening our faith and commitment to Him, and purposing to love Him above all other “gods,” which are really no gods at all. It is our purpose for living. It is the reason God left us here after we became Christians. We must learn to abide in Christ.
Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Folks, as I’ve stated before in this series, Jesus is knocking on the door for a people that are already saved. He stands at the door of the Laodicean church, a local body of believers, yet here He is on the outside waiting for them to open the door!
He’s not standing at that door for His health! He’s not standing there waiting for them to invite Him that they might receive salvation (they already have it!). He is standing there knocking so that they will invite Him in for fellowship! He wants to fellowship with you! Can you believe that? Jesus, the perfect gentleman, who has every right to simply open that door and enter (for those who have salvation), will only enter (for fellowship) once the door is open to Him by someone from within.
How long will we keep ignoring His knocking? How long will we make Him stand there?
We need fellowship with our God, Jesus, God, the Son. We need it. As the Lord enlightens us through His Word, we will endeavor to highlight the process of fellowship in our next series and we’ll probably begin with 1 Corinthians 1:9. There will be some crossover with this one because the two are connected, but we will try to focus on various portions of Scripture that teach us how to fellowship with our Lord. I hope you’ll join me for that and thanks for making your way through this one. I know it was longish. I hope it was worth it to you.
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: christ our fellowship, christ our righteousness, fellowship with jesus.