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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, July 15, 2016
Hebrews 10:26-27
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. - Hebrews 10:26-27 [NASB]
I think every pastor eventually gets a knock on the door from some believer who, after earnestly reading this passage, has experienced an agony in their soul because they know that they have continued to sin willfully after having received the knowledge of the truth (the gospel). 

Let's ask and answer the question this text, and the example given beg:  Does this text mean that the death of Christ will not cover sins you've willfully committed?

Let's begin by noting that the bulk of every honest reader of this post's sin has been willfully committed, whether you're a Christian who has been willfully sinning after you've received the knowledge of the truth, or whether you've never comprehended the gospel, or your need for it.

I trust that you're know yourselves enough, and can be honest enough when pressed like this, to admit that you often sin on purpose.  You give into your temptations, knowing that to do so is sin, but you intend to sin anyway - and so you do.  We all do, but lest you imagine that there is a form of Christianity that you (and I) have never attained to, one where all your sins are accidental or unintentional, and where you never commit an intentional sin, I will show you briefly, by way of examples from the scriptures, that were this the case, no one in the bible except our Lord would ever have attained it.

Consider King David:   
 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. - 2 Samuel 11:1 [NASB]. 

This is how the record of David's adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba begins.  He should have been out there on the field with the rest of Israel's army, but sent Joab in his place.  One night King David got up and walked around on his roof, and saw Uriah's wife Bathsheba (a very beautiful woman) bathing.  We have no reason to believe she was doing anything lewd - people had to bath sometime, and bathing at night invited fewer eyes - if anything, it was the most modest way to bathe.  The scriptures tell us that she was beautiful, and that David, upon seeing her, desired her so much that he inquired who she was.  He was informed that she was Uriah's wife.  That should have been the end of that - and David knew that.  But he sent for her anyway, and intentionally took her to his bed.

This wasn't an accident.  David knew before he sent for her that it was not God's will for him to do so.  He knew what he intended to do when he sent for her, and he knew, as he waited for her to be brought, what he was planning to do was sin - but he hardened his own heart in order to continue in the sin he had planned. When he had slaked his lust, he sent her back to her house - but she had conceived his child.  When she discovered her pregnancy she notified King David.

It takes weeks for a pregnancy to show up, so David had ample time to confess to his sin, and repent, and try and make things right, but he did no such thing.  When it became obvious that his sin would be discovered - he tried to (albeit, clumsily) cover it up by having Uriah come back from the war, and hopefully spend time with Bathsheba - but Uriah was more righteous than David, as we see in 2 Samuel 11:11 - Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.” - [NASB]

At this point, David should have realized that he was kicking against the goads.  It was the time for him to fess up, but instead, he intentionally premeditated the murder of Uriah  - eventually sending him back to the front with a letter for Joab with instructions that would certainly (and intentionally) bring about the death of Uriah.  Problem solved, sin, covered up.  Uriah was sacrificed on the altar of David's lust and desire to cover up his sin - all of which was completely and entirely intentional.

But God forgave David, and since his forgiveness required the blood of Christ (the blood of bulls was a placeholder, and could not atone for sin), it follows that the blood of Christ is sufficient even for sins that are committed willfully.  In fact, give that sin itself is best defined as a willful refusal to obey God's rule, the notion that one can unintentionally refuse to submit themselves to God's will, is a difficult thing to picture.

So what do we do with Hebrews 10:26-27?

We should start by looking at how the author gets to this text, what he hopes to say with this text, and why he hopes to say that.  We should look at the texts in the Old Testament that this text is paraphrasing, etc. etc.

Let's start with an observation:  Did you know that there is no sacrifice in the whole of the Mosaic Law that is set aside specifically for "intentional" sin?  Yet in many translations you will find a several sacrifices for "unintentional" sin.  Why do you think that is?

It's easy to say that the translators chose a poor word to translate the original intention, but the truth is that there is a nuance in the language there that just doesn't come over well in a word-for-word kind of way.  When you translate a single nuanced word into another language, you often leave the nuance behind.  There is a notion of high handedness associated with texts like Numbers 15:30 (which Hebrews 10:26-27 alludes to),  But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people [NASB]. Other translations use the word presumptuously, brazenly, or highhandedly in the place of defiantly.

What Moses was saying in Numbers 15, was that anyone whose heart attitude towards God was that his commandments could be ignored, was to be cut off from Israel, because that attitude blasphemes the name of God.  There is a difference of heart between the one who knows the commands and yearns to obey them (but fails), and the one who disregards the commands as beneath his contempt.  The former had a place in God's people the latter did not.

It is the same in his text in Hebrews 10.  The author is concerned with Jews who having been made aware of the gospel, would set that aside and return to Judaism. To do so, is to put yourself above God's revelation (taking a high handed position with regards to truth).  It is to place no value on what God says because you've already decided that even if it is true, it doesn't matter to you at all, you're going to do what you want to do, and what you think is best for you, and you could care less what God has to say about it.

The author is saying, that if that if you're going to return to the Mosaic system of animal sacrifices, after you've come to understand that Jesus is what those sacrifices pictured - but you don't care about that, then the true sacrifice doesn't apply to you, even as the Mosaic placeholders cannot be applied to you - because you're putting yourself outside of the camp if you go back to that.

The author shows this when he goes on liken anyone who would set aside Christ in favor of the Law of Moses, to those who set aside the Law of Moses in Moses' day - they were put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or more witnesses.  Those who set aside the Law of Moses were those who regarded the Law of Moses as nothing, having no authority over them.  They weren't people who simply broke the law - for the scriptures (both old testament and new) make it plain that no one can keep the Law.  Breaking the Law of Moses was not the same as setting it aside - which was to stand aloof from it in one's heart.

If you believe that God doesn't care if you sin, and you think that you can be a Christian without humbling yourself before God and His word - you're outside the pale friend - you're not a Christian.  If you believe that God expects your obedience, and you hate your own disobedience, and lament at your failures - in short, if you hunger and thirst for a righteousness that you find lacking in your self, then you're on much better ground.

This text isn't about losing your salvation, it is saying rather than if you flush the truth down the toilet after you've heard it, you shouldn't expect what that truth promises to apply to you.
posted by Daniel @ 9:07 AM  
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