Came across an interesting and somewhat difficult passage in the book of Hebrews 10:
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.
The implications of this are staggering. If I deliberately sin after having received salvation, does that mean Christ’ sacrifice was made forfeit? I immediately turned to the roots of the Hebrew sacrificial system which is outlined in the Levitical law and my findings were just as troublesome for my soul:
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them…” – Lev. 4:1-2
“If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and they realize their guilt, when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer..” – Lev. 4:13-14
“When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat…” – Lev. 4:22-23
“If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering…” – Lev. 4:27-28
At this point of my research, I was literally trembling before the Lord, shaken by the fact that NONE of the Levitical law provides an avenue for forgiveness for intentional sins. In fact, intentional sin was handled through severe punishments up to & including stoning to death.
This was actually a relief because Christ dealt with an intentional sin when he dealt with the woman who committed adultery in John 8. The Pharisees brought her before Yeshua and asked him what he thought of Mosaic law commanding them to stone her. Then end result: forgiveness!
But wait, Christ told her to “go and sin no more”… back to square one. If she sins after Christ forgives her, then doesn’t Hebrews 10 still apply? She’s received the knowledge of truth and is under an obligation to that salvation and there is no room for intentional sin?
I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees. The answer was staring right at me, rooted in the very people I’ve come to love over the course of my Hebrew roots studies: Israel! Not only has Israel sinned intentionally, they have done so over and over and over…. Yet, God has forgiven over and over and over.
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
– Hosea 14: 7-9
In fact, there are several references throughout scripture where intentional sin was dealt with: David & Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12), Peter denied Christ (obviously after receiving the knowledge of truth; Mark 14).
I believe that the author of Hebrews had a different intent behind this passage then what I interpreted. It was not so much about intentional sin as it was about denying the Messiah. It was a scary journey for me and one I am thankful the Holy Spirit took me through because for the first time in my life of faith, I was scared before the throne of God, fearing that there would not be any forgiveness for me. I’ve intentionally sinned before long after having received salvation.
The reality of the situation is that sin is a serious matter with severe consequences, but none of it is beyond the realms of forgiveness through God’s grace.