Five Fatal Flaws: The Warning Passages in Hebrews (4)

This is part 4 of a 5-part series. Previous: 1 2 3

 4. A Warning About God’s Provision (Heb 10:19-39)

Thankfully, after the rigor of the last warning in chapter 6, I believe this passage should be fairly obvious. In spite of the divine offer to redeemed people to have access into the Holy of Holies to fellowship directly with God—an idea that should have sent an electric shock down the spine of every Jew, some were tempted to forsake “the assembling.” To those headed back to Judaism, the author explains a fundamental difference between what was covered by Hebrew sacrifices and what was only covered by Christ’s offering.

Notice a few verses before our section begins, where the writer introduces the conditions of the New Covenant: “Their sins and their lawless deeds (anomia, self-willed lawlessness) I will remember no more.” Such willful sins were not covered under the Mosaic system. “If a person sins unintentionally (through ignorance, KJV)…” was the proviso (see Lev 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:15; 22:14; Num 15:22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29; Deut 4:42; 19:4; etc.). This was another fatal flaw in the Jewish sacrificial system; there was no sacrifice for intentional sin. But Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity (anomia)” (Titus 2:14). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7), including our self-willed insurrection and treason against the government of the universe.

Not only was there no possibility of having “boldness to enter the Holiest” (Heb 10:19) by the blood of animals, there was also no possibility of “full assurance of faith” (v 22) for a Jew guilty of intentional sin. If a Jew walked away from Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, he needed to know what it would mean to him personally:

• if he sinned willfully after rejecting the truth about Christ, there was no sacrifice for such sins under the law (v 26).

• not only so, but he could expect “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation” (v 27).

• this, because “anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy” (v 28).

Worse still, what would it mean to God?

• that—horror of horrors—he has “trampled the Son of God underfoot”;

• that he has “counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing”;

• and that he has “insulted the Spirit of grace.”

Who are such people? The last two verses in the section leave us in no doubt: “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (vv 38-39). Clearly they are those who have drawn back to Judaism or any other works-based system, and the end of that path without Christ must be perdition (destruction, hopelessness, perishing). There is no salvation outside of Christ.

Now, just for a moment, let’s leave the textual challenges aside and meditate on these clear and gripping words: by simple faith in Christ, we are “those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Saved from our sins (Mt 1:21). Saved from being eternally lost (Mt 18:11). Saved from condemnation (Jn 3:17). Saved from our own perverse generation (Acts 2:40). Saved from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9). Saved to know Him, love Him, serve Him, please Him. Saved to be like Him and with Him forever! And saved now to introduce others today to the One who is “Ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness” (Neh 9:17).

Its OK to shout “Hallelujah!”

Saved by His power divine,
Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,
For I’m saved, saved, saved! (Jack Scholfield)

The final part of the series continues here.