Bad Apples

26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.
28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29 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 blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”
31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31

ApplesIt doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring up the seriousness of running afoul of God’s way unless there’s a real problem with apostasy in the church. Hebrews, I believe, from the oft-used term “brethren,” was written primarily to Hebrew Christians. Yet the writer’s just as adamant, it seems, to deal with bad apples as he is to encourage the fainthearted.

I can’t even imagine committing the three acts described in verse 29. These words are not hyperbole. The problem is not backsliding. They describe an outright disregard for the spilled blood of God’s son, a stiff arm placed squarely in the chest of the Savior, and a deaf ear turned to the conviction of his Spirit. This is not asking God “why” as Job did in times of intense testing, or stepping outside the lines as we all frequently do, but exclaiming contemptuously “no way” to the extension of the Messiah’s gracious right hand.

The writer of this book possesses the “x-ray” vision needed to see that there are some, even just one, in any audience, treading on very thin ice. We can’t know the state of one’s heart, but God does. Every assembly has a few souls not there yet, or who are already returning to old ways, having clearly heard and vividly seen the truth. That’s why these verses are sandwiched between slices of strong exhortation and encouragement. There’s a method to the “madness.”

But what does this message practically mean to you and me? Here’s my take. If I’m “humiliated” by verses 19-25, and “cut to the quick” by verses 32-39, and I’m distressed when I read verses 26-31, and I’m only consoled that, but for God’s grace and mercy, I’d be facing a terrifying end, I’m exactly where I need to be.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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