Tuesday, 12 February 2019
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, Hebrews 10:26
Paul now begins this verse with “For.” He is making a continued addition to what he has already presented. Throughout the chapter, he has been speaking about the sacrifice of Christ. He began with the thought that the temple sacrifices were only a shadow of what is coming in Christ (verse 1). He then said that because of this they could never take away sin (verse 4). He when on to explain that the same writings which mandated those sacrifices also stated that One would come to replace them, and that in His coming, the second (covenant) would replace the first (verses 5-9).
In verse 10, he then said that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” After this, he again noted that the sacrifices of the Old Covenant could “never take away sins” (verse 11). In verse 18, explaining the scope of Christ’s sacrifice, he then said, “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” After stating these truths, he then entered into exhortations for a proper walk with Christ, and to do so “much the more as you see the Day approaching” (verse 25).
It is this context which “For” is now introduced. From it, he makes an obvious statement by saying, “if we sin willfully.” The word is a new one in the Bible, and it is found only here and in 1 Peter 5:2. It signifies “voluntarily.” It is an act of free will. He then next says, “after we have received the knowledge of the truth.” It is a word used frequently by Paul and which indicates “knowledge of a particular point.”
It is speaking about the knowledge of Christ’s fulfillment of the pictures, types, and shadows of the Old; that He alone can take away sin. And what is the result of a rejection of such knowledge? The author says, “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Well, of course not! And, what is the willful sin? It is to reject Jesus.
The author is speaking to the Hebrew people about what Christ has done. If they reject Him, there is nothing that can atone for their sin. The temple was still standing at the time of the letter. Another temple is prophesied to be coming someday as well. The sacrifices which are conducted there cannot take away sin. To go back to them then is to reject Christ Jesus’ offering and it is willful sin. As He replaced those sacrifices, there is no longer a sacrifice which can be found suitable.
This verse is not speaking of individual sin after being saved. It is speaking of those of Israel who determine to return to the temple, to its sacrifices, and to works which could never save in the first place. The author has already said (as noted above) that “where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Paul had said in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that for those in Christ, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Similarly, John says in 1 John 2:12 –
“I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.”
On an individual level, accepting Christ’s workplaces all of a person’s sins – past, present, and future – in the past tense. Paul says that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4). He also says that “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13). That is the truth of individual salvation after coming to Christ, and it is not what the author of Hebrews is speaking of in this verse.
The coming verses will continue to substantiate this. Israel has only one avenue to forgiveness. They have been given this knowledge, and they have rejected it for the most part. Some have been saved, but for any who sin by willingly rejecting Christ Jesus, then they have no other sacrifice for forgiveness. The true Day of Atonement has come in Christ. Their annual offering is without merit and it is pointless. This verse is speaking of a willful rejection of Jesus Christ by those who have not been saved by Christ, not a willful sin after being saved by Christ. Because one who is in Christ is not imputed sin.
Life application: Context clears up confusion. Understand the context; don’t be confused!
Lord God, the salvation of man is found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The temple sacrifices, which are prophesied to be coming again to Israel, are a rejection of the only offering for sin that You accept. We pray that they will see this and turn from those earthly rituals to the Heavenly Man who has fulfilled them all already. Amen.