Can you help me with Hebrews 10:26? I feel Like It’s Too Late For Me to Be Saved. (“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…”)
Question: I’ve been terribly depressed over Hebrews 10:26. I’ve gone through periods of unbelief and sin after having already been Christian, and, based on what this verse says, I feel like it’s too late for me to be saved. Can you please help me?
Response: Thanks for your question. I need to set aside some time in the future to do more studying in the book of Hebrews, but I’ll give you a few thoughts (seven actually).
1. Of course, I don’t think it’s too late for anyone to be saved, since God in Christ Jesus is the savior of all… I think you’re familiar with many of the verses that support that Jesus will one day save all, correct?
2. If that still leaves you restless, then call on the name of the Lord. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). If you’re concerned with your lack of faith, pray, “I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:14).
3. If Hebrews 10:26 means that anyone who sins repeatedly can never be saved, it would seem that Paul could never be saved . . . In Romans, he wrote, “ So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 8:23-25)
4. I don’t think the verse means that someone who sins repeatedly can never be forgiven. However, it might mean that someone that keeps sinning “deliberately” has not received forgiveness. If I deliberately sin, I probably don’t really believe the sin is actually sin, and don’t really believe I’m forgiven, which means I don’t believe that Christ died for my sin. Once we see sin for what it is, I don’t think we want it any longer.
Until that time, the Truth and Love that is God, and His Word, burns our unregenerate nature as a holy fire. Check out John 3: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God…Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” –John 3:18-21, 36.
Understand? The wrath of God remains on the unrepentant until they repent. Jesus goes on to say, “all that the Father gives me will come to me… and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37,44). And He’s already told us in John 3:35 that the Father has given “all things into his hand.” For those that have repented, there is no need to fear judgment—they’ve passed through it. For those that haven’t repented, judgment is still a frightening proposition, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. It’s part of how God redeems them. In John 12, Jesus says he will “Romance all people” to himself. So, when the author of Hebrews says there “no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” I don’t think he means that Jesus died for the sins of the world . . . and then when you sin, he un-died and was un-sacrificed. In fact, he’s just argued (Heb. 10:10) that Jesus was offered “once and for all.”
Instead, I think he’s saying that until we see our sin as sin (truly confess), we can’t believe that we have been forgiven. We don’t see the sacrifice of Christ (it doesn’t “remain” before us). And it’s the one forgiven much that loves much (Luke 7:47). To love is to fulfill the whole law. To sin deliberately is to not see sin as sin and not see the sacrifice of Christ.
If we don’t see our sin as sin and just keep on deliberately sinning there is a fearful prospect of judgment; judgment (krisis in this passage) does not mean “endless conscious torment,” it means, “a separating.” God must still separate you from your sin and flesh. The Lord disciplines those He loves . . . And He loves all.
In other words, “forgiveness” is not a free pass to sin. To receive forgiveness is to also see sin as sin . . . and hate it.
Of course, we’re all divided. We believe and don’t believe. We love and at the same time don’t love. That’s why salvation, in Scripture, is so much more than just getting your ticket punched for Heaven. That’s why we need to pray, “I believe help my unbelief,” and with Paul “call on the Lord” when we feel condemned. In Philippians, Paul writes, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) …not fear that we can’t be saved, but a respectful longing to be saved. Check out that verse in context: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” –Phil. 2:9-13
I think working out your salvation is continually surrendering your old self to God’s Grace and thanking Him for the new Life that’s rising in you (“God… in you”). I suspect that the “old self” is “the adversary” that is consumed.
However, if we don’t truly confess, but just say some words, that old self has yet to be consumed . . . and that judgment in the future is a fearful expectation. Coming to a place of confession and repentance can involve a great deal of pain.
5. The passage is also referencing something else . . . that might be the same thing. This whole conversation in Hebrews 10 is happening in the context of an explanation of why the New Covenant is superior to the Old. In the first part of the chapter, the author talks about Old Testament sacrifices that were temporary and didn’t really take away sin, but that Christ’s sacrifice is permanent. “He abolishes the first (covenant) in order to establish the second. And by that will, we have been sanctified (made holy) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” –Hebrews 10:9-10,14
He then talks about how God promised to put his laws in our (Israel’s) hearts and “remember their sin… no more” (v.17). Then he writes: “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” –Hebrews 10:18
He then talks about trusting God’s Grace in the sacrifice of Christ.
Then he talks about their temptation to “sin…” in the verse that stirred up your question: “For if we go on sinning deliberately [KJV: “for if we sin willfully”] after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…”
I think he’s referring to Jewish Christians tempted to go back to their old covenant legalistic system of sacrifices and offerings in order to avoid persecution. They’re being tempted to deny the knowledge of the truth of Christ. They’re being tempted to renounce their faith . . . (every time we sin deliberately we do renounce our faith a bit. Don’t we?)
Well anyway, I think he’s telling these Jewish believers that if they reject the ultimate sacrifice that has been made in Christ Jesus, there is no other sacrifice that can redeem them. They can’t be redeemed by the old sacrifices, for all those old offerings pointed to Christ who is the manifestation of God their savior. He’s speaking to Jews, for whom he believes God’s promise: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” –Hebrews 10:16-17
Their “deliberate sin” does not nullify God’s promise of salvation. However, it does appear to make the path much more painful.
6. Like I said, I need to do more study on this. But I do feel confident that we can’t undo the sacrifice of Christ. However, by sinning deliberately, I believe we make the path much more painful. Jesus is the Path.
7. It sounds to me like you’re already feeling some pain. Confess whatever you think you need to confess—even if it’s thinking that you have to pay for your sin. Confess and believe you’re forgiven because you are!
Well, it’s a challenging verse… Hope that helps.