The Unforgivable Sin; Heb 10:26-31

This is a passage most Christian were rather not in the Bible. It is extremely uncomfortable reading. Having urged believers to draw near to God with consciences cleansed by Jesus, the writer now warns of the opposite in the most urgent and serious words:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God Heb 10:26

I want to ask two questions:

1. To what sin does this refer? All sin after we become Christians? Or something more specific?

2. Why does God have enemies?



1. This cannot refer to any sin committed by a Christian, for then there would be no Christians. It would make a nonsense out of other passages like 1 John 1:8-9 which expressly say that we do still sin sometimes (though that is now abnormal not normal for us) and that we have an advocate with the Father for our forgiveness and protection.

To what sin does it refer then? It seems to be the wholehearted turning the back on God after you have committed yourself to Jesus. We see this in v29: the punishment is deserving to the one who tramples underfoot the Son of God, who treats Jesus' sacrifice on the cross ("the blood of the new covenant that sanctified him") as unholy and who insults the Spirit of Grace. In other words the person who takes all the blessing they have received from God and says "I want nothing more to do with Him."

Jesus himself said that there is an unforgivable sin - blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 10 fleshes out what that is. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace. He makes people born again from Heaven. If someone throws this over, there is no other way for them to get back to God. As the writer says "there is no sacrifice for sins left." Jesus' sacrifice is the only one, and the only way to get its benefits is to be born again by the Holy Spirit. If you repudiate and insult the Spirit of grace, there is no salvation, only judgement.

2. It is deeply unpopular in the postmodern UK to say anything like "God has enemies." Hebrews does say it. Lots of people would like to suggest that this proves that the Bible is no longer valid. "Let's get rid of the nasty bits so we can have a domesticated God who never challenges us - let along punishes us." I have even heard some Christians say that judgement makes God seem like a monster.

I simply want to say this: to reject God's truth, despise his Son, trample on his sacrifice, insult the Holy Spirit and then say "I expect God to just accept it and forgive me - even as I carry on doing it" is sheer nonsense. To live deliberately rejecting God - which is the very definition of evil - and expect him to roll over and meekly accept it is wilful self-delusion of the most flagrant kind. That is the behaviour of Satan, the great enemy of God. If a person lives and acts as God's enemy, as an friend of Satan rather than of God, we shouldn't be either surprised or outraged to find that God treats them as such at the Final Judgement. Why would they ever think he should do anything else?

There is SO much more to say on this one but no room: doesn't God tell us to love our enemies? Didn't God forgive us when we were his enemies? Didn't God send his son to die for sinners? If God behaves towards his enemies with judgement and raging fire why does Jesus insist that Christian should love our enemies (who, by implication are also God's enemies)? How is it that someone can have been as big a persecutor as Paul and still get saved if this is true? Huge and important themes all - let's never be trite or simplistic or unloving or unthoughtful when it comes to matters of God's judgement.

We need to embrace the whole technicolour way that God reveals himself in the Bible. In this passage we need to realise that God is both "the Spirit of grace" and a consuming fire - the living God into whose hands it is a dreadful thing to fall (v31). If we only do the second then he is a monster. If we only do the first he easily becomes a cuddly-teddy bear God. No, this is the real God. Not domesticated, definitely not tame and most certainly not just existing to serve me, validate me and make me feel good or secure. This is the One before whom we deeply bow in reverence and humility.

Which is the way to avoid the danger of Hebrews 10. Bow to him today. Acknowledge your sin and turn quickly from it. Seek the help of the Spirit of grace. Plead, rather than trample, the blood of Jesus. And worship him rather than insult him. This is not a God to treat half-heartedly or with whom to play religious games.