For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31
Hebrews 10:26-31 provides a warning. Considering the person and work of Christ, what happens to those who refuse to believe Jesus?
The author reminds us that we aren’t dealing with earthly adversaries. We are dealing with the one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (1:3). Jesus is waiting from the time of his ascension, until the end of time when his enemies shall be made a footstool for his feet (10:13).
But we don’t have to be his enemies anymore. He has done the will of the Father. He has obeyed perfectly, fulfilling the law for us, and died to pay the penalty for our sin. He’s ascended into heaven, and he’s there now, at the right hand of the Father, sitting, ruling, reigning, and serving us as our great High Priest. He has accomplished all the work to bring us near. If we will listen to him, we will find in him a friend, one made like us to help us in our need.
If we refuse him, the Bible is clear. There no longer remains a sacrifice for sin (v. 26). There is a fearful expectation of judgment (v. 27). There is a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries (v. 27). There is a worse punishment than there was under the law (v. 28-29). The Holy Spirit is outraged (v. 29). “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” There is one way to God– through the blood of Jesus Christ. Every other way is not only a dead end but an offense to the One who gave his life for you.
The author wants his readers to not only hear his words and heed them, but to press these words into one another. In verses 24 and 25 he says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The word used for “stir up” is the same word Luke uses in Acts 15:39 when talking about the strong disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. That’s the negative connotation. Here, in Hebrews, is the positive connotation. What he’s calling us to is not a “don’t be hard on yourself,” “give yourself some grace,” “life gets busy, I understand,” “we miss you, it’d be great to have you back when you are able” kind of encouragement.
He’s calling us to a robust, durable encouragement that has a bite to it.
What you and I need is not merely a pep talk or to get off the hook. We need an exhortation. We need a warning as if we’re on the edge of a cliff that we can’t see. We need to look one another in the eye and communicate that no less than the glory of God is at stake. We need strong words because we are weak people. We need strong words from one another because the glory of Jesus is too wonderful to miss out on. That can’t happen if we isolate ourselves. It can only happen when we intentionally meet together. If you want more of the assurance of God in your life, you must be in regular community with other believers.
Therefore, let’s not let one another miss out on the grace of God. Let’s not let one another fail to draw near to God. Let’s not let one another sin in secret. Let’s not let one another fail to stand for Christ. Let’s encourage one another all the more as the Day draws near.
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at David's blog (Things of the Sort) and is used with permission.