19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
37 “For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
This section of Hebrews 10 contains some strong words that, when misunderstood or misapplied, can cause great concern. As we look at today’s passage, be sure to keep in mind the important truth that we are studying God’s unmerited favor. We have this favor through Jesus and mistakes that we make in life can’t undo what He did. So let’s explore this section of Scripture through the lens of grace.
We saw yesterday that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to perfect us forever. It wasn’t like the blood of bulls and goats. The blood of bulls and goats is common and can’t perfect those who bring the offerings. Because Jesus’ blood is perfect and can perfect those who come to God through that sacrifice, we are able to enter the Holiest of All. Remember that only the High Priest could go into this place under the Old Covenant, and then only once annually. But we now have access to God’s presence at any time!
Keep in mind that this letter was written to Hebrew believers. They had a long history under the law. This letter was to help them understand that the law is fulfilled and that we are now in a New Covenant. The temptation they faced was to go back to the law and attempt to approach God through the Old Covenant. In fact, many Jewish leaders were teaching that Jesus was good, but He wasn’t enough to free people from the burdens of the law. Paul dealt with this forcefully in his letter to the Galatians. (If you haven’t read our Galatians devotional, what are you waiting for?)
In today’s section of Hebrews 10, it is important to keep the audience and context in mind. Otherwise, we can end up with a big misunderstanding. Many people have read verses 26-31 and been struck with fear regarding their salvation. After all, we all deal with sinful thoughts, words and actions in our lives. Does this passage mean that our struggles void our salvation? I believe that verse 29 holds the key to understanding this section of Scripture.
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
Our mistakes, whether losing patience and lashing out at a spouse or child or more severely, perhaps even killing someone in anger, are not sufficient to void the blood of Jesus. God forbid that I think that my actions are more powerful than His Son’s. In those shortcomings, are you discounting Jesus’ blood, counting it as common as the blood of bulls and goats? What does it mean to insult the Spirit of Grace?
Grace is unmerited favor. It is given freely and cannot be earned. How could we insult the Spirit of Grace? By returning to religion and trying to earn God’s favor. Attempting to earn our righteousness before God means that we discount what Jesus did, consider His blood common and insufficient to perfect us forever, and insult the Giver of grace. If you gave someone a beautiful, heart-felt gift and they threw it away and said, “Thanks, but I can buy this myself,” would you feel insulted?
Galatians 5:4 says, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Falling from grace isn’t failing to live perfectly. It is returning to religion to try to earn God’s favor by our efforts. Dear friend, your mistakes, no matter how dark, are not strong enough to undo Jesus’ finished work. Rest assured that your salvation is secure in Him.
This passage closes with encouraging words. Verse 38 says, “The just shall live by faith.” We receive God’s grace by faith, and we live lives of faith in the finished work of Jesus. We don’t fall back by returning to religion and depending on our own efforts. We are those “who believe to the saving of the soul.” How are we saved? By believing. This doesn’t come without trials, as we see in verses 32-34. But the reward is great and the purpose of this letter isn’t to cause us to doubt our salvation – it is to give us confidence in our enduring heavenly possession. You might say that it is to help us to brave grace.