1) Do you have someone in your life who was an apostate? Do you sense the tendency in your own heart to drift from Jesus?
2) How can you tell the difference between a Christian struggling with sin and a Christian who might be headed toward apostasy? How does this passage in Hebrews help you know how to better help people caught in sin?
3) How does this passage help correct misunderstandings about the difference between the God of the OT and the God of the NT? How does the rejection of God’s holiness lead to so many other doctrinal errors?
Scripture: Hebrews 10:26-31
I. God’s judgment is more severe for new covenant apostates than old covenant apostates.
A. We see a description of the Hebrew Christians in verse 26. These Hebrew Christians had received the knowledge of the truth. What is the difference between these true Christians and the ones attending the church who eventually turn apostate? (An apostate is someone who seems like a believer in Jesus but is not.) Apostates who fall away from their supposed faith in Jesus, were never truly Christians. And apostates receive the same judgment as the wicked (vs. 27). The author does not expect the Hebrew Christians to become apostate and be judged (vs. 39).
B. The good news is that true Christians will not become apostate. True Christians, like the Hebrew Christians, will listen to the warnings of the Bible as it is read and preached. As true Christians, they will necessarily persevere in their faith. The warnings of the Bible are one of the means by which believers are preserved in their Christian faith. Examine yourself regularly with this question: Am I really a Christian? This passage in Hebrews is telling us that real Christians listen to the warnings about the judgment of God.
C. If you deliberately rebelled against God in Moses’ day, you would receive the death penalty (vs. 28). But verse 29 says that falling away from Jesus will lead to an even more severe penalty. The punishment will be eternal, spiritual death. The argument is from the lesser to the greater. Revelation 14:10: “He also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”
II. God’s judgment means there is no hope of forgiveness.
A. The old covenant of animal sacrifices did not work (vs. 4). Those sacrifices did not bring you the forgiveness from God you need. Only Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can give you forgiveness. So, he warns again those tempted to apostasy in vs. 26, “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Jesus is the only sacrifice that works. Jesus is the only Savior.
B. This passage in Hebrews 10 speaks of two truths that our culture has clearly forgotten. The first truth is that God is the kind of God who judges sin. See verse 30. Verse 27 says that His judgment is a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. And verse 31 says: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The word fearful means terrifying. If you stand before God on Judgment Day without Jesus, you will be terrified. Jesus is the only one who can save you before a holy God. The second truth our culture is that Christ’s blood is truly precious. By shedding his blood for you, Christ has taken the judgment you deserve. 1 Peter 1:17-19: “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Don’t reject Jesus. Instead, rejoice in Jesus. He took the judgment you deserved.
The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study by Michael Kruger