Hebrews 10:26-27 – Can a Believer Lose Salvation by “Willfully Sinning?” – Once Saved.org
 

Hebrews 10:26-27 – Can a Believer Lose Salvation by “Willfully Sinning?”

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In this video I’m going to answer the question: According to the book of Hebrews, can you lose your salvation by willfully sinning? Many, many Christians believe that Hebrews chapter 10 says that you can. Really? Let’s look into it.

Here are the verses from Hebrews chapter 10 that have struck dire fear in so many Christians:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27 KJV)

This sounds really scary.

Many Christians believe that what this verse is saying is that, if we are saved and choose to willfully sin, we’re done. There is no coming back from that. There is no chance whatsoever that you could still be saved, because it says right here that there is no sacrifice left for you. The only thing you can expect after you willfully sin is judgment and fiery indignation from God. You have lost your salvation, all because you willingly sinned.

That is heavy. That is really, really bad.

But is that what these verses are saying? I want to say this emphatically…NO! That is not even close to what these verses mean.

So how do we determine the true meaning of these verses?

One word: CONTEXT!

It is said of the Bible in its entirety that you have to examine verses in context, not looking at verses in isolation, like I just did, but examining who the author was writing to and what the message was before and after each verse to see how this verse fits it to all that the author was saying. That is especially true of verses like this that appear to have eternal consequences if a Christian sins.

So let’s look at these verses in context and show how there’s absolutely nothing here to fear for someone who has been saved by the blood of Christ.

The context is that entire letter of Hebrews was written to….wait for it…HEBREWS! This letter was written to Hebrews. Hence, the name of the letter.

This should surprise no one. It was written to Jews in that first century church, both Jewish believers who were saved and those who were not yet saved but were attending the church. All of them had come out of a culture that was deep in Temple worship, including animal sacrifices. That was their past: Temple worship. And with all that history of traditional Temple worship, here they are now in that first century church.

Can you imagine what that was like for them. Those Jewish people were under enormous social pressure to go back under Jewish Law, including Temple worship and animal sacrifices. And some of them were doing that. Some were going back to Temple worship, because to abandon that means you would be shut out from Jewish society. It was a steep price to pay for being a Christian back then if you were a Jew.

Think of Jewish believers and those Jews who were not-yet-believers, those who had heard the Gospel but were not yet saved, trying to then go back to animal sacrifices. That’s what was going on at that time. That’s the issue this entire letter of Hebrews is trying to address. You have to understand that purpose of the letter to understand the context of each chapter.

And so the author wrote this epistle to prevent them from abandoning their new faith in Christ. The entire letter is a defense of Christianity over traditional Hebrew Temple worship. An outline of the book of Hebrews shows this:

  1. The superiority of Christ – Heb 1:1-8:6
    1. Better than the prophets – Heb 1:1-3
    2. Better than the angels – Heb 1:4-2:18
    3. Better than Moses – Heb 3:1-4:13
    4. Better than Aaron’s priesthood – Heb 4:16-8:6
  2. The superiority of the New Covenant – Heb 8:7-10:18
    1. Based on better promises – Heb 8:7-13
    2. Based on a better sanctuary – Heb 9:1-28
    3. Based on a better sacrifice – Heb 10:1-18
  3. Exhortations to remain faithful to Christ because of His superiority – Heb 10:19-13:25
    1. Draw near to God and hold fast – Heb 10:19-39
    2. Run the race of faith with endurance – Heb 11:1-12:29
    3. Other exhortations – Heb 13:1-25

So the whole purpose of this letter was to encourage Jewish believers and those Jews who were in the church but were not yet saved to resist the pressure to return to Temple worship and animal sacrifices, and instead remain faithful to Christ.

And when we get to Chapter 10, look at how this chapter starts by talking about animal sacrifices:

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made] of sins every year. For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Heb 10:1-4 KJV)

So the topic of chapter 10 is animal sacrifices. Why? Because some Jews in that church were thinking that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough, that animal sacrifices were still needed to wash away their sins. They were having enormous problems letting go of their old culture.

For us today, we can’t even fathom why someone would be pulled toward believing in animal sacrifices. But these Jews had lived under that system for centuries. It was deeply ingrained in their culture and thinking. It was extremely hard for them to walk away from Temple worship and, really, their culture. And when they did, they were shut out from society. They paid an enormous price.

With this background, let’s read again Hebrews 10:26-27 and see how they fit into this context:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27 KJV)

With respect to the context of this letter, what is the willful sin that some of these Jews in that 1st century church were going to be guilty of if they returned to Temple worship?

The willful sin was that of abandoning Christ and returning to the belief that they needed something other than Christ, in this case Temple worship and its animal sacrifices, to cleanse them of sin. The willful sin was saying, “Christ is not enough. I still need to follow Temple worship and sacrifice animals for God to forgive me.”

The willful sin was that of not believing that faith in Christ is all you need to be saved, that you had to go do something else to earn your salvation.

So many Christians today look at these verses in complete isolation and completely ignore the context, believing that the phrase “willful sin” could be any sin you commit willfully: Lust, sexual immorality, stealing, greed, envy, pride. Those are certainly willful sins if you do them. But in context of this book and this chapter, those, what I would call, “everyday sins” are not the willful sin the author is referring to. It doesn’t fit the context.

The willful sin is that of rejecting Christ and, instead, going back to a system of animal sacrifices, or really anything other than believing in Christ.

If they do that, if they willfully reject Christ, the author tells them that there is no more sacrifice for sin available to them other than Jesus, meaning they won’t find God’s forgiveness in animal sacrifices because the Perfect Sacrifice (Jesus) is the ONLY sacrifice. So if they “willfully sin,” meaning that they refuse to believe in Jesus but instead return to animal sacrifices and put their hope in that, then they can only expect fiery indignation from God.

The “willful sinning” in the context of chapter 10 is not talking about your everyday sins. It is specifically referring to those who have heard the Gospel but willfully reject Christ and instead seek a different way to find salvation from God, such as in this case returning to Temple worship and animal sacrifices.

So these verses are not saying that by committing willful sins in your everyday life (lust, greed, stealing, etc.), that you will lose your salvation.

How else can we prove that “willful sins” does not refer to everyday sins but only to that of rejecting Christ? By comparing these verses with other verses, because God’s Word never contradicts itself.

There are so many verses I could cite here, but let me just give you two key references:

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul discussed the issue of a Corinthian believer who was willfully sinning by have a sexual relationship with his mother-in-law. This believer’s sin was known in the church but he was totally unrepentant and was continuing in that sin. What did Paul say about it? Paul said he would:

“deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5 KJV)

According to Paul, this unrepentant believer who was willfully sinning would die early because of his sin but would still be eternally saved. He would not lose his salvation even though he was willfully sinning.

But if you believe Hebrews 10, verses 26 and 27, talks about any willful sin being just everyday sins, then this willful sinning believer should have lost his salvation. Why didn’t he? Because the “willful sin” spoken of in Hebrews chapter 10 is that of rejecting Christ. This Corinthian believer was not rejecting Christ for his salvation, so Paul says he will still be saved, even though he was committing the willful sin of sexual immorality, and was unrepentant.

One more example:

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul wrote about how believers will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. At that judgment, each believer’s works on earth will be examined by Christ. Some will have works of gold, silver, precious stones, while others who have wasted their time on earth will have only wood, hay and stubble.  Look at what will happen to each of those Christians: Both types will be saved.

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 KJV)

I would contend that any believer who wastes their life in Christ away and does absolutely nothing for Christ while on earth, no good works whatsoever, is willfully sinning in the general sense of the word, by living for this world instead of living for Christ. But Paul said that this same believer who had absolutely no good works, will still be saved. Our works or lack of good works does not affect our salvation. According to this verse, it does affect our eternal rewards, but salvation is not a reward. Salvation is a gift that cannot be lost, even if you are saved and do absolutely zero for Christ with your life.

In fact, I would submit that such a Christian who only has wood, hay and stubble to show for his or her Christian life is the very definition of a lukewarm Christian, someone who has placed their faith in Christ but isn’t going to change their lifestyle because of it. Yet Paul says here that this lukewarm Christian will only suffer loss of eternal rewards but will still be saved.

Now I can hear some saying, “Wait. Revelation 3 says that Christ will spit lukewarm Christians out of His mouth, so lukewarm Christians will not be saved.” Really? Let’s look at that verse in Revelation chapter 3, verses 14 through 17:

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:14-17, 20 KJV)

The church of Laodicea is a picture of the end-time church that will exist when Christ returns. Perhaps you know of some churches like this near where you live.

Christ says He will spew them out of His mouth because they are lukewarm. What else can we tell about these people?

First, Christ describes them as “wretched, miserable, poor,  blind, and naked.” When and where in the New Testament is a believer in Christ, one who is saved and has placed their faith in Christ for salvation — when is such a believer EVER referred to as being wretched, miserable, poor, blind or naked? Never. These are not terms that are ever used to describe a believer in Christ, any believer.

Second, where is Christ in relation to this church? He is on the outside knocking on the door. This is an amazing picture. We have people who are calling themselves Christians, who are gathering together as a church, but who have locked Christ out of the church. Jesus has to stand outside and knock on the door to see if there are any in there who will let Him in. This is a Christ-less church.

And then third, what does Jesus say He will do if they open the door? He says He will “come in to him.” What does that tell you about these people in terms of their state of salvation? That Christ does not already indwell them.

What do we call someone who does not have Christ indwelling them, who has closed the door on Christ and is, in fact, wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked?

We call such a person an unbeliever.

These are people who are not saved, but who have deluded themselves into thinking that they are saved, but they have shut Christ out of their lives and have no real relationship with Him at all. And they’ve heard the Gospel so many times that they are now lukewarm to it. It doesn’t affect them.

These are unsaved people in the church to whom Christ says He will spit them out of His mouth if they don’t let Him in, so as to be saved. This verse is NOT speaking of a saved believer who is lukewarm in his or her faith. Such a saved believer who is lukewarm and has nothing to show for his or her Christian life is more correctly described by 1 Corinthians, chapter 3:

“if any man build upon this foundation … wood, hay, stubble…the fire shall try every man’s work. … If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13, 15 KJV)

So from 1 Corinthians chapters 3 and 5, we see that both the unrepentant sexually immoral Christian and the lukewarm Christian will both still be saved. That’s because salvation is based ONLY on faith in Christ and His sacrifice, not on our own behavior. Our eternal rewards WILL be affected by our behavior, but salvation is not one of those rewards. Salvation is a free gift based only on faith in Christ and His sacrifice.

So when we look at Hebrews chapter 10, the “willful sin” that’s mentioned cannot mean everyday sins that we may do willfully. It specifically refers to rejecting Christ. That’s what some these 1st century Jews were doing: rejecting faith in Christ as their means of salvation and instead going back to animal sacrifices.

So Hebrews 10 should not be a source of any fear to those who trust in Christ for salvation. Only those who willfully reject Christ will face God’s fiery indignation.

And if we…actually, I should say, when we… willfully sin by committing lust, sexual immorality, etc., all those everyday sins, the Apostle John tells us in 1 John, chapter 1:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:8-9 KJV)

So instead of God slamming the door to salvation on us when we willfully commit those everyday sins, the opposite is true: God stands ready to forgive us if we will just confess those sins and seek His forgiveness.

But if we don’t repent and confess our sins, what happens then? Well, like the Corinthian believer who was engaging in unrepentant sexual immorality, your life may be ended by God early as a penalty and you may suffer consequences in this life and the loss of eternal rewards in the next life, but you will still be saved because you have trusted in Christ.

Salvation is a free gift that can NEVER be lost. Trust in Jesus! Salvation is by faith alone in Christ, believing in your heart that Christ died for you to pay your debt of sin to God. Jude 24 through 25 says that, once we are forgiven and saved through faith in Christ, it is God who keeps us from falling so that we don’t lose our salvation, which means keeping yourself saved is not up to you or your obedience.

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 1:24 KJV)

God has taken it upon Himself to preserve every believer in the faith. That’s why none will be lost. A believer’s obedience or disobedience has absolutely NO EFFECT on his or her salvation, because it is God’s power, not ours, that keeps us from falling. This means we can never lose our salvation. God will let a believer suffer consequences for sinning in an attempt to get that believer to turn back to Him, and may even take a believer home early rather than let that believer become irretrievably lost.

So trust in Jesus, be at peace that you are saved and enter His rest by walking in His Spirit and confessing sins regularly, not to keep your salvation but to keep in good fellowship with God, so that He doesn’t have to discipline you. 

….   

Lastly, Jesus is coming back very soon. If you are not 100% sure that you are saved, that if you died today, God would welcome you into heaven, I urge you, urge you, to make your commitment to Jesus secure right now. Here is a prayer for salvation that you can pray. But keep in mind that a prayer does not save you. You are saved only when you place your faith and your trust in Jesus alone, believing in your heart that He died to pay your debt of sin to God and that He rose again from the dead to show you the eternal life that He offers. This prayer, then, is just a way of formalizing that decision, putting a stake in the ground, saying that you are trusting in Him and never going back. If that’s what you would like to do, please pray with me:

“Lord, I have sinned and I need you to save me. I believe that Your Son Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins and that He rose from the dead to show us the new eternal life You have for us. I believe solely in Jesus to save me, that He paid my debt of sin 100%. Please forgive my sins and save me now, Lord, according to your promises. In Jesus Name.”

If you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, know right now that you are eternally saved.


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