Derek Prince - What If We Willingly Continue Sinning?
Now we're going on to verses 26–31. This is the fourth passage of warning. I think we need to turn back to our introduction for a moment. Keep your finger there in 10/3, turn back to 0/2. All right. There are five passages containing solemn warning in this epistle. There is no other passage of the Bible that I know that contains so many solemn warnings as this. And they are the most severe warnings that I'm familiar with anywhere in the Bible. But I do believe it's very important we continue to remind ourselves of the order of the things against which we're warned. Number one is neglect.
See, most people don't see neglect as a serious danger. But it's the beginning of the downward path. Then secondly, unbelief. Again, our churches are just full of unbelief. But people don't see that as a sin. The writer says "an unbelieving heart is a sinful heart". Then we get to apostasy, falling away. You say, "How could such a person apostasize? Why, they've been coming to church regularly for years". Probably the steps were neglect, unbelief, then apostasy. But you see, we don't see the danger signs in our own lives or sometimes in the lives of others. We see neglect and think they're really not on fire for the Lord. But anyhow they're coming to church.
Unbelief, well that's a polite religious sin. In fact, in some churches humility is a polite name for unbelief really. What they call humility is not taking God at His word. Then we come to apostasy. Now we come to this terrible, willful, continuing to sin. And the writer here says certain things about this which are terribly serious. I don't think I'm going to try to amplify them too much, I'm just going to present them to you. Hebrews 10:26–31, I'll translate from the Greek. Hebrews 10:26–31: For if we willingly continue sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth...
See, God deals with people differently according to whether they know the truth or not. I got away with a lot of things I did before I came to know the truth. I wouldn't dare to think that God would let me get away with them now. If we continue sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer left a sacrifice for sins. See, Jesus was the last sacrifice. If we don't avail ourselves of that and we continue sinning, after that there is no more sacrifice. It would be an insult to Jesus to suggest that there's anything more that anybody else can do than He did on the cross.
The only thing that's remaining is: ...a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire about to devour the adversaries [those who turn against God, who resist God]. Anyone who set aside the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will the person be considered worthy who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has considered profane [that is not holy] the blood of the covenant after he has been sanctified [or by which he has been sanctified], and has insulted the Spirit of grace? That word insulted is a very strong word. I don't know whether anybody here knows any Greek but there's a Greek word hew-ber-ous, which in classical Greek was the ultimate disaster.
If you were guilty of hew-ber-ous then fate was going to get you. Most classical tragedies are based on the man who commits hew-ber-ous sin and the fates get him. It's really the essence of Greek tragedy. There is no stronger word in the Greek language for to be proud, arrogant, self-assertive and to flaunt the gods. I say gods because you understand Greek mythology acknowledged many gods. Verse 30: For we know the one who said... I just have to ask the question whether we really do know? For we know the one who said, "Vengeance belongs to Me, I will requite". And again, "The Lord will judge His people".
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. I have no pleasure in continuing particularly to emphasize this but it seems to me that it's unreasonable to pass it by as if it wasn't there. Verses 26–27. I'll just read now from the New American Standard. If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Just read my comment. Knowledge of the truth makes us doubly accountable. If we reject the mercy we have received through Christ, no other ground for mercy is left.
This picture of judgment is drawn from Isaiah 26:11. Let's turn to that for a moment. I'm reading from the New American Standard. O LORD, Thy hand is lifted up, and yet they do not see it. They see Thy zeal for the people, and are put to shame; indeed, fire will devour Thine enemies. But I prefer the translation in the margin, some of you don't have a marginal version, but it says, "Let the fire, for Thine enemies devour them". God has a fire reserved to devour His enemies. That's what the writer of Hebrews is speaking about. "The fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries".
Going on in verses 28–29. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean [the word really is profane] the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? Rejecting Moses' Law brought death. But the person here is described as guilty of a far worse, threefold crime. We'll look at the crime in a minute but let's look at a passage which isn't in your outline.
Deuteronomy 17:2–6. "If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the LORD your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded..."
Notice this is not every disobedience but this is the disobedience of worshiping other gods which was to be punished invariably by death. Incidentally, I want to say this, that's the same sin as being involved in the occult. That is the real nature of the occult, is other gods. "...and if it is told you, and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. And behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel..." Notice how very careful God is. He says "make sure it really did happen". So often as Christians we hear something, we believe it, we start to report it, but we never investigate it.
Notice the care that God requires. Look in verse 4. "if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. And... if it is true, and the thing certain..."
There's no doubt whatever, it really did happen, then take action. Most scandals in the church have never really happened. Somebody heard it and started to talk about it but it was never investigated. You notice how extremely careful God is. Don't start to do anything till you've established beyond any reasonable doubt that the crime actually was committed. Verse 5: "...then you shall bring that man or that woman who has done this evil deed, to your gates [which is the place of judgment], that is, the man or woman, and you shall stone them to death. On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness".
I checked on that statement. If I remember rightly, that principle is stated nine times in the Bible both in the Old Testament and New. Again, how many times in church dealings we accept the testimony of one witness. It's totally unscriptural; we're not free to do that. Verse 7: "The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people". Why do you think God said the hand of the witnesses are to be the first to throw the stones? Because if you bear a testimony against somebody, God requires you stand behind that testimony. It's not sufficient to say they did so and so, then they say you throw the first stone and you say, "Oh, no, I don't feel like throwing a stone".
See how seriously God takes this? Again, if this principle were followed in the church, we wouldn't have half the problems that we have. Failure to apply those principles there is the source of at least half church problems today. The point we're saying now is if it is established under the Law of Moses that a person has done this thing, then when two or three witnesses are found, there's no option, he is to be put to death. Now let's go back to our outline at the bottom of Page 10/3, and the top of Page 10/4. Rejecting Moses' Law brought death, but the person here described is guilty of a far worse threefold crime.
These are the three things that the writer of Hebrews says such a person has done. Trampling on the Son of God. Desecrating the blood of the new covenant, after experiencing its sanctifying power. And insulting the Spirit of grace, who is the Holy Spirit. I have to say that's terrible language. To trample on the Son of God, to desecrate the blood of the new covenant, after experiencing its sanctifying power. Let's look there in verse 29. It says in the latter part of the verse: ...[he] has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified... Lots of people have got theological theories but we have to fit them in with the scriptural facts.
Here is a person who had actually been sanctified by the blood of the covenant and yet because of his subsequent conduct he's past hope. I don't believe that applies to the ordinary backslider or the person who just struggles, and never really gets victory. I think that applies to a person who, deliberately... first of all, has put his faith in Christ, and proclaimed that faith and then deliberately denies Jesus Christ. I don't think there is any way back for such a person. That's the way I understand it. Such a person has trampled on the Son of God, desecrated the blood of the new covenant and insulted the Spirit of grace. I'd like to say in this connection that we all need to be tremendously careful how we treat the Holy Spirit.
Let me say something also. As many of you know, I've been involved in helping to raise a pretty large family. All the members of our family at one time or another have had a definite experience with the Lord. I'm talking about my daughters. All of them were baptized in the Spirit, most of them before they were eight years old. Some of them later have had real spiritual problems. But none of them has ever denied their faith in Jesus. I have come to see that it's very, very important that I never questioned their faith. See, I think there's an example there with Jesus and Peter. Jesus said to Peter, "You're going to deny me three times". Then He said, "But I've prayed for you. Not that you won't deny Me, there's no way to avoid that".
What did He pray? That his faith wouldn't fail. So if you're sorely tested and under pressure and you've felt like giving up, my advice is, hang in there. Never go back on that one basic confession: Jesus Christ the Son of God has died on the cross for my sins and rose again. You see, there's such power in that, that as I said that I felt heaven's electricity go right through me. Let's be a little more simple minded, let's keep proclaiming the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. I was with a group of Christians that went up into Lebanon this past summer and we visited a Marionite monastery. We were entertained there, I would have to say, royally entertained, I'm not free to give the details of the entertainment but they were unusual.
My fellow Christians, my kind of Christians, said, "Do you think these people are really born again"? Many of those people had actually risked their lives for their faith in Jesus facing the PLO. I said to them, "If you think that heaven is only for people who walk down the aisle of a certain kind of church, shaken the pastor by the hand, and signed a card, there are not going to be many people in heaven. There wouldn't be anybody in heaven until the last century or this".
The Bible says if anybody believes that Jesus is the Son of God, he's born of God. See? We've got such a myopic view of what it is to be a Christian. I think there's a Scripture there, Matthew 12:31–32, that it would be good to look at. "Therefore I say to you, any sin, and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come". It's very, very solemn. Be very, very careful how you relate to the Holy Spirit. He's a dove, but He's a flame of fire, too. Why do you think that once you've insulted the Holy Spirit there is no way back?
Now this is simply my opinion, but as I understand it, the Holy Spirit is the contact agent of the Godhead. We talk about coming to Jesus, and that's perfectly correct. But in actual fact, the first person you encounter is not Jesus, it's the Holy Spirit. I encountered the Holy Spirit months before I encountered Jesus, as I was telling you. Interestingly enough, that's the way it is with the Jewish people. God is drawing them back to Himself. Everybody thinks they ought to confess Jesus, but that's not even scriptural. God says He will pour out upon them the Spirit of grace. Then they will see the one whom they pierced.
That's Zechariah 12:10, I think. At the moment, it's the Holy Spirit that they're encountering, and it's very exciting to watch because they have no idea what's happening to them. Who would have imagined five years ago that I would be invited to speak at their synagogues? What's doing that? The Holy Spirit. They haven't met Jesus, but they're meeting the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the first one you meet and the last one you say good-bye to. And when you say good-bye to Him, that's it. People have said the most terrible things about the Lord Jesus Christ and been forgiven. But never about the Holy Spirit. It's a really solemn thought.
Going on, verses 30–31. I'm going to read from the New American Standard because I can go a little quicker that way. For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay". And again, "The LORD will judge His people". It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. That's a quotation and I didn't put it in your outline, I should have done it. Keep your finger in Hebrews 10 and turn to Deuteronomy 32:35–36. God is speaking and He says: "Vengeance is Mine, and retribution..."
We don't need to read the rest of that verse. At the beginning of the next verse: "For the LORD will vindicate His people..." But the Hebrew word is judge. So the Lord says, "I'm the one that takes vengeance. The time will come when I judge My people and I will execute vengeance for them". Remember in Romans Paul says "Don't revenge yourselves, vengeance belongs to the Lord". He'll do it.
Now, let's go back to my outline for a moment, verses 30–31 on Page 10/4. I've written something there which I think is tremendously important. To know God truly is to know and fear His vengeance. People who talk as though God would never punish don't know God. That's my conclusion. It's a totally unscriptural picture of God. God is love, but He's also a just God. He's a Savior, He's a judge. Paul said in Romans, "Consider the kindness and the sternness of God".
Never give people a coin with only one side, it's not a valid coin. Never present to people a picture of God which is all love and no judgment. You don't know God until you know His vengeance as well as His love. We come to the fifth passage of practical application. Remember and endure. We can look perhaps at the first three verses of that passage, 32–34. But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.
Going back to verse 32 for a moment. I think there's something a little tragic when we have to say as Christians "remember the former days". You know, some Christians are always talking about "the good old days". I want to be living in the good now days. And if we've always got to remember what it was like of old, I think there's something wrong with our spiritual condition. The writer of Hebrews reminds them of what they endured and I've just listed it there. Conflict, suffering, made a public spectacle, sharing the sufferings of others, and seizure of property. What he's saying is, Don't suffer all that in vain. Remember how much it cost you. Don't throw it away.
Then he says, "after you were enlightened, you endured a great conflict". I think that's an almost standard order. Enlightenment leads to conflict. It's wonderful when you get new truth, but how many of us are prepared to understand that it'll lead to conflict almost invariably? I think of John the Revelator who was given a little book to eat. Do you remember what he said? It was a sweet as honey in my mouth, and bitter in my stomach. That's new truth. Sweet when you eat it, but there's something bitter afterwards. So why I'm saying this is, Don't be discouraged if you run into conflict. It's nearly always the way that the truth you've apprehended is going to be tested.
Have you really grasped it? It'll see you through the conflict. But if you've just got an intellectual appreciation of new truth, the conflict will show you that you haven't really grasped it. We could look at Acts 14:22, and then close for tonight. Acts 14:22, we have to read 21 as well. After they had preached the gospel [that's Paul and Barnabas] to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God".
So the fact that you run into tribulation may be a good indication that you're on your way into the kingdom of God. If you take a road that contains no tribulation, I believe the truth of the matter is it will not lead you into the kingdom of God. Every road that leads into the kingdom of God has tribulation along it.