“SANCTIFIED” Does NOT Mean “Saved” – Hebrews 10:29
In this video, I thought I would answer a question I received about the Biblical meaning of the word “sanctified” or “sanctification,” and specifically how the word “sanctified” is used in Hebrews chapter 10. We’ll look at what this word means in general, the different ways it is used in Scripture and then specific ways it is used in Hebrews 10. A lot of people get tripped up over this word and end up misunderstanding a passage of Scripture like Hebrews 10:29 because they think that the word “sanctified” in reference to a person means “saved.” It doesn’t. It CAN refer to a saved person, depending on the context, but not always. Did you know that an unbeliever can be sanctified in God’s sight while a saved believer can be unsanctified? If you think “sanctified” means “saved, then I guarantee that at some point you will end up with a wrong interpretation of a passage and likely a wrong view of Hebrews chapter 10. So, let’s get into this word “sanctified” and see what it really means, and then look at how it’s used in Hebrews chapter 10.
Regarding sanctification, what helps is getting a clear definition of the word. The word “sanctified” does NOT mean “saved.” It is the Greek word hagiazō, which means “to set apart,” “to make holy,” “to consecrate.” It is the idea of being set apart for a consecrated reason or purpose. It CAN be used in reference to salvation, but not always. For example, an unbeliever can be sanctified:
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14 KJV)
An unbelieving husband or wife who is married to a saved believer is considered by God to be sanctified. That certainly doesn’t mean that the unbelieving spouse is saved simply because he or she is married to a believer. It means they have been “set apart,” which is what “sanctified” means. They’ve been set apart by God to receive special consecrated blessings that He gives to that marriage and family on account of the believer. God pours out blessing and protection for every believer and declares them to be holy. When a believer marries an unbeliever, that unbeliever becomes a recipient of all that consecrated blessing and protection God is pouring out to the believer, even to the point where the children that they have together are considered holy. Both the child and the unbelieving spouse are sanctified, set apart, considered holy, because of the believing spouse. That doesn’t mean either the unbelieving husband or child are eternally saved, although, for the child at least, there is an age of accountability where God will save a child if the child dies before being old enough to make a decision about Christ.
The important thing here is that the word “sanctified” does not always mean “saved.” It simply means “set apart for a consecrated purpose.” You have to look at the context of what exactly is being sanctified or set apart to see whether it refers to a believer or not.
This extends to the church. Scripture compares a marriage between a husband and wife to the relationship that the church has to Christ. In this same way, an unbeliever who starts attending a church will be sanctified, set apart, in God’s sight from other unbelievers who are not attending church. That church remains holy in God’s sight even with an unsaved person attending, just like a marriage between an unbelieving spouse and a saved believer remains holy. That unsaved person who starts attending church comes under a certain level of common sanctification that God extends to that church. He or she is set apart to receive special blessings. For example, they begin to hear and understand God’s Word, they begin to hear and understand the Gospel, they may experience the Holy Spirit in their lives in the form of blessings or healings, things that other unsaved people who are not attending the church do not experience. That doesn’t mean the unbeliever is saved. It just means that by becoming part of that church, he or she has been set apart for a consecrated purpose, receiving a certain level of common sanctification that God extends to that entire church.
Types of Sanctification
In Scripture, the word “sanctification” or “sanctified” is broadly used. We see as many as 8 different types of sanctification:
1. Sanctification of an unbeliever, as we’ve already discussed. (This does not mean salvation)
2. Sanctification of objects or food.
“And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.” (Exodus 29:43 KJV)
– Here we see the tabernacle being “set apart for a consecrated purpose, made holy,” not a person.
“And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them;” (Numbers 7:1 KJV)
– Here we see objects being sanctified, set apart for a consecrated purpose.
– In 1 Timothy 4, we see food being sanctified, where Paul writes:
“…For it (referring to food) is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1Ti 4:3-5 KJV)
3. Sanctification of people for a particular work, service or assignment.
“And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.” (Leviticus 8:30 KJV)
– Here we see Moses sanctifying Aron and his sons, setting them apart for the consecrated work of serving in the tabernacle.
4. Sanctification of a particular period of time.
“And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:3 KJV)
– God sanctified or set apart the seventh day from all other days as a day of rest.
5. Sanctification of the Lord Himself, where He is set apart and made holy in the eyes of people
“This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and He was sanctified in them.” (Numbers 20:13 KJV)
“And I will sanctify My great Name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” (Exodus 36:23 KJV)
“And for their sakes I (Jesus) sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:19 KJV)
– Jesus was sanctified by shedding His blood on the cross. That doesn’t mean He was saved for He was never lost. It also doesn’t mean He was at some point not holy and now He’s holy. No. Sanctified means “set apart for a consecrated purpose.” It doesn’t mean “saved.” It doesn’t even mean to make something holy that was unholy, although that can be an outcome, such as with the children of a believer married to an unbeliever. In the case of John 17, Jesus set Himself apart for the special consecrated purpose of dying on the cross for our sins. He sanctified Himself.
So, up to now, none of these first five uses of the word “sanctified” refer to salvation. But then finally we have salvation itself:
6. Sanctification for salvation, the one-time act of being saved.
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2 KJV)
Here, the word “sanctified” means that the person has been set apart for a consecrated purpose, namely, for the purpose of being saved, becoming part of the body of Christ. Paul is writing to saved believers in Corinth who were “sanctified” (set apart) by being in Christ, called to be saints. What makes a believer sanctified is that they are now “in Christ.” They are no longer like they were before. They have been “set apart,” “made holy,” “sanctified.”
Becoming “in Christ” is the one-time act of placing your faith in Christ for your salvation. That is what saves you. That is what brings about your sanctification, you becoming “in Christ.” The very moment you believe in Christ, believing that He died on the cross to pay for your sins and rose from the dead to give you eternal life, you are “born again,” born spiritually. God’s Holy Spirit immediately comes to live inside you, sealing Himself inside you right up to the day when your earthly body will be redeemed or replaced by an eternal body that is not subject to sickness, death or sin.
“… after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (guarantee) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV)
“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30 KJV)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)
When you are born again, the Spirit of God now lives inside you. You are in Christ and Christ is in you. You’ve been set apart for a consecrated purpose (sanctified) from what you were before. You’ve been set apart from those who have not been born again. Salvation is a one-time act of placing your faith in Christ that sanctifies you.
The interesting thing about this one-time act of being saved and sanctified, being declared holy because of the blood of Christ, is that the sanctification for salvation always remains active. In 1 Corinthians 6, after Paul gives a long list of sins and says that no one guilty of these sins shall inherit the Kingdom of God, he immediately concludes with this:
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1Co 6:11-12 KJV)
Here, the past-tense word “sanctified” is used with the present tense verb “are:” “you are sanctified.” Paul doesn’t say, “You were sanctified,” but he says, “You are sanctified.” The sanctifying work of the blood of Christ in the life of a believer is ongoing. Even when a believer commits the very sins that Paul just listed, where he said that no one who is found guilty of those sins will inherit the Kingdom of God, even then that believer is being washed, sanctified and justified in the present, showing that even future sins are covered by the blood of Christ. Therefore, Paul concludes saying, “all things are lawful unto me.” If all things are now lawful to Paul, then there’s nothing unlawful that could send him to hell, including all the sins he just listed. If those sins could still send him to hell, he could not say, “all things are lawful to me.” But he did, showing that God’s forgiveness and sanctification at the point of salvation extends to past, present and future sins. We are forever clean, forever sanctified, forever righteous in His sight on account of Christ. Therefore, we can never lose our salvation.
7. Ongoing sanctification to become like Christ – The daily, ongoing transformation of every believer to be more and more like Christ in the practice of daily life, (discipleship, progressive sanctification).
This is the heart of the question I was asked. The person who wrote to me thought that sanctification meant salvation and was a one-time act, not an ongoing sanctification. But it’s both. The moment we are saved, God freed us from the penalty of sin, which is eternal separation from God in a place of punishment called hell. But for the rest of our earthly lives, we still live in these mortal bodies that are tempted by sin. And our minds still have sinful patterns of thinking. So, from the point of salvation, we begin the life-long progress of discipleship – learning to transform our minds to be like Christ, to walk in holiness, sanctification (setting ourselves apart for Christ), denying sin, and becoming like Christ in every aspect. That has nothing to do with salvation, which is a one-time act of becoming saved. It’s about discipleship after salvation, that ongoing work of sanctification, setting ourselves apart for holiness.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2Timothy 2:19-21 KJV)
This verse is not about salvation. It’s about discipleship, learning to walk in holiness before God after you are saved.
But what about if we don’t learn to walk in holiness after being saved? Here, we see that it is possible for a saved believer to be eternally sanctified and unsanctified at the same time. From the moment of salvation, a believer is forever sanctified (set apart, made holy before God) in terms of being saved forever, and is positionally secure by being “in Christ.” While at the same time, that saved believer can be unsanctified in his or her daily walk. This is true of all of us who are saved, really, where at times we are not walking as vessels of “honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use.” New believers especially often still struggle with sin greatly until they become more mature in Christ. Over time, they become disciples of Christ, yielding themselves to God’s Will and Spirit and they become not only sanctified in their position in Christ, but also sanctified in their practice, their daily walk with the Lord.
Did you ever think about that? A saved believer can be both sanctified and unsanctified at the same time – sanctified in their position in-Christ for salvation, while unsanctified in their practice, their daily walk. How important it is to become sanctified in both.
But it’s not just past and present sanctification for a believer. There’s also a future sanctification.
8. Future sanctification, where we are forever “set apart” from the very presence of sin, which occurs when God gives us our eternal bodies.
There is a coming day, at the moment of the rapture, where God will give us eternal bodies that are not tempted by sin. At that point, we will become completely sanctified, made holy, set apart, where even the very presence of sin is not there anymore to where we are no longer tempted by sin.
“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:41-44 KJV)
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53 KJV)
This is a future sanctification, setting apart, that we will experience when we get our eternal bodies.
For a believer who is saved, sanctification is past, present and future, all three:
- Freed from the Power of sin to condemn us (Salvation – past)
- Freed from the Practice of sin to control us (Discipleship – present)
- Freed from the Presence of sin to tempt us (New eternal bodies – future)
A believer experiences all three – past, present, and future sanctification.
From these examples, it’s apparent that you really have to look at the context around the word “sanctified” to see what kind of sanctification the writer is writing about. You can’t just assume when you see the word “sanctified” that it means “saved.”
With that background, let’s look at Hebrews 10, where we see three examples of sanctification.
“…we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 KJV)
Clearly, this is talking about salvation, the one-time act of being “set apart” (sanctified) for everlasting life with God. Notice that it says we are sanctified, set apart, declared holy in God’s sight, ONCE FOR ALL. The words “for all” were added by the translator and are not in the Greek. The Greek has just one word for this phrase, the word “ephapax,” which simply means “once, at once.” We are saved, sanctified, declared holy, by the one offering of Christ. Nothing needs to be added to Jesus’ one offering of Himself. He offered Himself once and that was enough for all time. He doesn’t need to keep offering Himself over and over again.
This also means salvation is not progressive. If Christ’s one offering was sufficient, then the very moment we believe in Him, accepting that offering for our sins, there’s nothing left to add to that for us to be completely saved. Christ’s offering of His body is complete. It’s all we need. We don’t need to add things to what Christ did, like our obedience to show that we are worthy of salvation. Christ’s sacrifice was complete. It is sufficient. To say that you need to add something to Christ’s offering is saying that His offering was not enough, that it was insufficient and therefore you need to add to it. That’s what Lordship Salvationists incorrectly believe, namely, that Christ did His part, now I have to do my part, or I can’t be saved. What that’s saying is that Christ’s one offering is not enough, that it’s insufficient to save me, that I have to add my own obedience to make it complete. That’s blasphemy. That’s not believing the Gospel, the all-sufficiency of Christ.
“…we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” There’s nothing else that needs to be added to what Christ did for us to be sanctified, set apart, declared holy, so as to be saved.
This means God isn’t waiting until the end of your life to see if you really lived for Christ so that He can make some final judgment as to whether you’ll be saved. Christ’s offering of Himself once was enough to save you. Salvation occurs immediately when you believe in Jesus.
“For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14 KJV)
Notice the past tense of the words, “perfected forever.” In Christ, we have been (past tense) perfected forever. God’s not waiting to perfect you in terms of salvation. We are waiting for our eternal bodies, but not for salvation.
Jesus said in John chapter 6:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47 KJV)
He didn’t say, “he that believes on Me will one day have everlasting life.” He said the one who believes on Him already has everlasting life. We’re not waiting to be saved. Eternal salvation occurs the moment you place your faith in Christ and are born again, which is when God’s Holy Spirit seals Himself within you forever.
There’s another aspect of this past-tense phrase, “perfected forever.” It also means that all sin, not just some sin but all sin, must have been forgiven at the moment you were born again. This includes future sins you commit after you are saved. If those future sins weren’t forgiven, then the moment you sin you are no longer “perfected forever.” Paul confirms this in Colossians 2, where we see that ALL sin (past, present and future) was nailed to the cross the moment we believed.
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven you ALL TRESPASSES; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;” (Colossians 2:13-14 KJV)
That’s why Paul says in Romans 8:1 that there is therefore no condemnation to those in Christ. Even when we sin as believers, that sin has already been paid for as far as eternal salvation is concerned. We may still be chastened by God for sin, but sin in a saved believer’s life can never send that believer to hell. We were made perfect in Christ the moment we believed. Our record of sin was wiped clean forever.
Now, there are those who deny eternal security who say, no, Hebrews 10:14 says those perfected are “them that are sanctified,” and some translations use the phrase “them that are being sanctified.” So, they say, if you are not walking in sanctification, in holiness, then you are not perfected forever, that this perfection is only guaranteed as long as you walk in sanctification, separating yourself in holiness. In other words, being perfected forever is conditional on you walking in sanctification, in holiness.
But look at the verse again. It says that Jesus “has perfected for ever,” which is past tense. It doesn’t say Jesus “is perfecting” those who are walking in sanctification. It says His perfecting work has already happened in the past. He HAS perfected. When did He do this? The moment you believed in Him. He ‘has perfected” (past tense) those who are sanctified. Even if you take sanctification to mean an ongoing process of “being sanctified,” Jesus’ work of perfecting us has already happened in the past.
The importance of that is this:
If Jesus has already perfected us forever, then we can never lose our salvation. If we could lose salvation, then we would not have been perfected forever.
Jesus has already perfected us forever. That’s Once Saved, Always Saved.
He didn’t perfect us temporarily until we mess it up. It says He perfected us forever. It’s a done deal. An accomplished work of Christ. As long as we remain perfected, we cannot lose our salvation. How long does it say we will remain perfected? Forever!
What about that word “sanctified?” Is it “sanctified” or is it “being sanctified?” The King James version, which I’m showing here, translates that last phrase as “them that are sanctified.” But other translations translate this last phrase as, “them that are being sanctified.” For example, the New King James version says:
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb 10:14 NKJV)
Personally, I have no problem with this verse being translated as “sanctified” or “being sanctified.” Both are true. Why?
First, the beginning of the verse clearly says that “by one offering He hast perfected for ever.” This is the one-time act of salvation where Christ has perfected us (past tense, already accomplished). So, the verse is clearly not saying that salvation itself is progressive. It says salvation is a one-time act, as shown by the phrase “He has perfected (past tense) forever.”
If the last part of this verse is translated as “sanctified,” then that’s true and refers to the sanctification that happened once for salvation. If the last part of this verse is translated as “being sanctified,” it is still true, because it would refer to the ongoing, daily process of sanctification that we go through as part of discipleship to become transformed to be like Christ, transforming our daily walk to become more and more holy, more and more consecrated, set apart in practice. When we’re saved, we are imputed perfect holiness for salvation, but in our daily walk, we need to learn to walk in the Spirit, to walk in holiness.
So, either way, “sanctified” or “being sanctified,” the verse is fine, and it fits, because the first half of the verse already made it clear that salvation itself is not progressive but is a one-time act where Christ has perfected us (past tense) forever.
The third example of the word “sanctified” is found in Hebrews 10:29, but to put it in context, let’s start back at Hebrews 10:26:
“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. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29 KJV)
This passage is a severe warning against rejecting Christ. That’s the “willful sin.” It’s not talking about daily sins that we can be willfully guilty of, like willfully lusting or coveting. The willful sin referred to here is apostasy, rejecting Christ as your Savior, to which it says that if you do that, then there’s no other sacrifice left, and such a person who rejects Christ can only expect fiery indignation from God. They’re lost forever.
The key phrase in understanding this passage and who this apostate is, is the phrase, “hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.” There’s our word, “sanctified,” and it’s tied to the phrase, “the blood of the covenant.”
The real debate over this passage is whether this warning is directed at an unsaved person in the church or a saved believer who apostatizes, showing that a saved believer can indeed lose his or her salvation if he or she stops believing in Christ. There were unsaved Jews in that first century Hebrew church who were part of the church, had heard the Gospel, had possibly been baptized, had seen healing miracles and the work of the Holy Spirit. But in the end, some of them were deciding to reject the Gospel, reject Christ’s blood as a sacrifice for sin and were returning to the Temple with its animal sacrifices. Even the saved believers in that church were under enormous pressure to give up Christianity and come back to the Temple. That’s the issue this entire letter to the Hebrews was addressing: the supremacy of Christ over the Temple, its sacrifices, the Law, and all that had come before Christ. And the author concludes with this dire warning that if you reject Christ, then there’s nothing left to save you.
There are three possible interpretations of who this person is who is receiving the warning. I’m going to give you all three and tell you which one I favor and why. But more than that, I want to tell you up front that from an eternal security, Once Saved, Always Saved perspective, I’m fine with any of these interpretations. None of them threaten Once Saved, Always Saved. This chapter has been debated for 2,000 years and I don’t expect my video will be the end of the debate, but it doesn’t matter. All three possibilities are in line with eternal security, Once Saved, Always Saved.
The three possible interpretations are:
- The “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers to an unsaved person
- The “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers to Christ
- The “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers to a saved believer who could genuinely lose his or her salvation by becoming apostate.
You might be thinking, how in the world is #3 not be a threat to eternal security, Once Saved, Always Saved? We’re talking about genuinely losing salvation here, if that’s the correct interpretation. Why, then, wouldn’t that utterly destroy the idea of eternal security, Once Saved, Always Saved? I’ll show you.
But let’s start with number 1 and I’ll give you a fair argument for all three and let you decide.
1. The “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers to an unsaved person.
Aside from the word, “sanctified,” everything about this passage says the writer is referring to an unsaved person, an unbeliever who is rejecting Christ. There are only two words that would lead you to think it might be a saved believer, the first of which is the word, “sanctified.” But we’ve already shown how “sanctified” does not necessarily mean saved.
The second word is the word, “we.” You might argue that the author uses the word, “we,” which would include himself, so the passage must be referring to a saved person who is being warned. But even this word “we,” as in “If WE sin willfully,” is inconclusive because the author is clearly writing to a mixed congregation. Some were saved. Some were not saved. So, using the word, “we,” is not a statement as to salvation. It’s just that he’s addressing the church, just as any pastor might use the word “we” in a sermon about needing to be saved, knowing that some people out there in the congregation are already saved and some are not. The same goes with a word like “brethren.” Does that mean he’s only speaking to Christian brethren who are already saved or is he just using the term to address the whole congregation which, like in any church, some are saved, and some are not. You have to look at the terms in context and not just assume because you see the word “we” or “brethren” that the statements only refer to saved believers.
In contrast to these words “sanctified” and possibly “we,” there are many words used in this passage that indicate that this is an unsaved person who is rejecting Christ, one who only received knowledge of the truth. It never says he accepted that truth.
He’s referred to as an adversary of God. Never is it mentioned that he was ever a child of God. There’s no language used in this passage that’s typically used to refer to saved people.
In fact, just the opposite. This person is compared to someone at that time of Moses who despised God’s Law. Those people who did this at the time of Moses were never saved. They didn’t lose salvation in the desert. They were never saved, for over and over in the Old Testament, God says they were always rebellious from the moment He took them out of Egypt. Here’s what Moses said about them in Deuteronomy 9:
“Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 9:7 KJV)
These weren’t saved people who lost their salvation in the wilderness. They were always rebellious. They were never saved. And this is the group that the apostate in Hebrews chapter 10 is compared to. He’s compared to people who were never saved.
It says this person has trodden underfoot the Son of God. This means Christ’s sacrifice was counted as worthless by this person, like dirt that you walk on. Is that ever said about a saved believer? Anywhere?
This person has counted the blood of Christ an unholy thing. That sounds a lot like blasphemy of the Spirit, when you accuse Christ’s work as being done by Satan. This means that this person was agreeing that Christ deserved to die.
These horrible words used to describe this person, this apostate, are NEVER used anywhere in the New Testament to describe a saved believer, even a wayward, backsliding, drifting believer. They are used to describe the unsaved.
And how could these verses be referring to a saved believer, when believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit in them Who leads them into the truth? And they have imputed righteousness that was given to them the moment they were saved? No. This is talking about an unbeliever. The ONLY thing that would lead you to say this is a saved believer is the phrase “the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified…”
As we’ve shown, the word “sanctified” does not mean “saved.” It means “one who is set apart for a consecrated purpose.” Its meaning depends on the context, and the context here is describing someone who is not saved, who is an adversary of God, who despised God’s law, who had trodden underfoot the Son of God, who had counted His blood an unholy thing. The context and language does not support this being a believer. Rather the opposite. It’s describing an unbeliever who has rejected the Gospel, rejected the blood of Christ, and was returning to the Temple. That was the central problem in that church.
But if this is referring to an unbeliever, then how could such an unbeliever be sanctified and not only sanctified but sanctified by the blood of the covenant? It’s just like an unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife in 1 Corinthians 7:
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14 KJV)
The unbelieving husband is declared sanctified and holy because of the believing wife. How is the believing wife sanctified? By the blood of the covenant. It is the blood of the covenant that sanctifies that saved wife. That same sanctification, rooted and based on the blood of the covenant, is then extended to the unbelieving husband. In essence, the husband is declared holy, sanctified, because of the blood of the covenant that covers the saved wife. That doesn’t mean the unbelieving husband is saved, for he hasn’t accepted that blood covenant for himself. Nevertheless, God considers him sanctified and holy as long as he is married to that believing wife. Therefore, God can bless that marriage to where even the children are considered holy. All of that sanctification and holiness is rooted in the blood of the covenant.
It is the blood of Christ that sanctifies the believing wife and that same sanctification, setting apart, is extended to the unbelieving husband. It all originates from the blood of Christ that makes the believing spouse holy.
In the same way, when an unbeliever becomes part of a church, sitting right next to saved believers, it is the blood of the covenant that sanctifies those saved believers and that sanctification is extended to the unbeliever who has joined himself to the church. Therefore, God can look at that church as holy and bless that church. It doesn’t mean the unbeliever is saved, but he is sanctified, set apart, considered holy, as long as he remains tied to that church and that sanctification is rooted in the blood of the covenant. In essence, he is sanctified by the blood of the covenant even though he is unsaved.
Everyone in that church was sanctified in God’s sight, even unbelievers (as an unbelieving spouse is sanctified in a marriage). That doesn’t mean they were all saved. It means they had been set apart, which is what “sanctified” means, by coming into the church, entering under the umbrella of favor and consecration that God extends to that entire church, all based on the blood of the covenant. These unbelievers received God’s favor and blessings, such as hearing the Word of God, the Gospel, seeing and hearing about miracles, and experiencing the blessings that God bestowed upon that entire church, just like the unbelieving husband is extended God’s blessings on account of the believing wife. Yet, in the end, these unbelievers decided to reject Christ for salvation.
They were sanctified by the blood of the covenant. It doesn’t mean they ever received that blood for themselves.
But there’s also another reason the writer used the word “blood.” He used it as a direct counterpoint to their willful sin. These were Jewish unbelievers who were rejecting faith in Christ blood to atone for their sins in order to return to the Temple where they would place their faith instead on the blood of animal sacrifices. They were rejecting the blood of Christ in favor of the blood of animals. The word “blood” in this verse is significant in that it points directly to their willful sin.
For 10 chapters in the book of Hebrews, there’s only 1 sin ever referenced, that of rejecting Christ. That is the “willful sin” mentioned in Heb. 10:26 – rejecting the Gospel to go back to animal sacrifices, trusting in animal blood to atone for their sins. The writer says that if they do that, they will find no other sacrifice for sin other than Christ’s blood and will experience only God’s wrath. The willful sin is that of an unbeliever hearing the Gospel and rejecting it.
Of the three possible interpretations, this is the one I tend to favor, simply because of the strong language against this apostate, words that are never used anywhere in the New Testament in reference to a believer who has been indwelt with the Holy Spirit.
But let’s move on to possible interpretation #2:
2. The “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers to Christ.
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29 KJV)
There are some commentators, including the late Bible teacher, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, who have taught that the “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers not to the apostate but to that reference in the same sentence to the Son of God, that Christ is the One Who was sanctified. There is an argument for this position, for Christ Himself said in John 17 when He prayed to the Father:
“As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them (His disciples) into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:18-19 KJV)
Again, “sanctify” doesn’t mean “to be saved.” Christ clearly didn’t need to be saved. Sanctify means “to be set apart for a consecrated purpose.” Christ set Himself apart for a consecrated purpose, He sanctified Himself, by going to the cross and offering His blood for the remission of sins. Therefore, the reference in Hebrews 10 to the blood “wherewith he was sanctified,” it could be argued, refers to Christ Himself.
If that’s the case, then this verse is clearly not speaking of a saved believer becoming apostate. Based on the harsh language describing the apostate, language never used in the New Testament in reference to any believer, we’d have to conclude that this apostate is someone who was never saved, who had heard the Gospel, but ultimately rejected it, and it is Christ Who is the One sanctified by His offering of His blood.
Personally, I think this argument is twisting the sentence construction to try and show Christ being the one sanctified, possibly as an attempt to show that this is not a saved believer who is sanctified and who then becomes apostate. The primary subject in the sentence is the apostate, not Christ. So, I personally don’t favor this argument, though it can be made.
Then we get to possible interpretation #3, and this is where it gets really interesting.
3. The “he” in “wherewith he was sanctified,” refers to a saved believer who could genuinely lose his or her salvation by becoming apostate.
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people.” (Hebrews 10:29-30 KJV)
The argument here is that the apostate is a saved believer who comes to reject Christ and walk away from the faith, losing his salvation. He was saved but then stopped believing in Christ. You can definitely make an argument for this position, because it says the apostate was not just sanctified but was sanctified by the blood of the covenant. Now, I’ve already made the argument that this doesn’t have to mean that this person is saved, but it certainly can mean that. It’s a legitimate argument.
There’s also the last part of verse 30: “The Lord shall judge His people.” Who are His people? This book of Hebrews was written to Jews, so are the Jews “His people,” which would include saved and unsaved Jews. Or is it the church being referred to as “His people,” which would lend support to this being a saved believer who apostatizes and renounces Christ?
Verse 26 also says this person “received the knowledge of the truth.” Now, I said earlier that this could just mean that they heard the truth of the Gospel but never accepted it. They had knowledge of it but then rejected it. However, you could also argue that that person truly received the knowledge of the Gospel so as to be saved. It’s a fair argument.
The reason chapter 10 has been debated for 2,000 years is that you can’t totally destroy any of these 3 arguments. You can argue one is more favored than the other depending on your point of view, but the construction of this chapter doesn’t allow you to totally eliminate the possibility of any of these 3 possible arguments as being the correct one.
I personally believe the first interpretation is correct, that chapter 10 is warning an unbeliever, someone not saved, for the reasons I mentioned. It’s a warning to those who were still on the fence, who had heard the Gospel but had not yet committed to it so as to be saved. It was a warning to them to not give up, to not leave the church. That’s my favored interpretation.
But someone who does not believe in eternal security would point to #3 as the correct interpretation. And they can make a good case for it. If they couldn’t, then this chapter would not be a 2,000-year-old debate. But in the end, they can’t destroy my argument for what chapter 10 means any more than I can destroy theirs. A case can be made for all of these interpretations.
So, which is it? Which option is true? And if the correct interpretation is #3, that this is a real warning to saved believers that they could lose their salvation, then wouldn’t that utterly destroy the concept of eternal security, Once Saved, Always Saved?
The answer to that is a firm “NO!” As far as eternal security and Once Saved, Always Saved is concerned, I’m fine with option #3. It doesn’t threaten the doctrine of eternal security at all that this could be a true warning that saved believers can really lose salvation by turning away from Christ. And I’m not saying that this is a fake warning either. I’m assuming under this option that this is a very real warning that they could truly lose salvation if they renounced their born-again faith in Christ.
Why is that not a threat to eternal security, Once Saved, Always Saved?
Just because God warns us of something, doesn’t mean it ever happens. The severe warning may be one of the ways or “means” He uses to keep it from ever happening.
I may see a warning sign that says, “DANGER – High Voltage. Going beyond this point can kill you.” That’s not a fake warning. That’s a genuine warning that you can really be killed. But it doesn’t mean that someone actually has been killed. The sign is put there to keep people from ever getting killed. In the same way, God put warnings in His Word to keep His people from falling away, to keep us in the faith. Warnings are one of the means God uses to keep saved people saved and also to keep us out of practicing sin.
In all of the New Testament, there is not one example you can point to where it clearly says someone lost their salvation, lost the Holy Spirit whereby they were sealed, were unadopted from God’s family, and became again subject to eternal condemnation in hell. It hasn’t happened and it won’t, even if the danger of losing salvation is real.
Why is that? Because it is God Himself Who keeps us from falling, even if the danger is real. He has various means that He uses to keep us saved, to keep us from falling. I’ve gone through this before in other videos but let me summarize it here. It’s important.
When we are saved, God doesn’t eliminate our free will. As saved believers, we have free will to still drive off a cliff into apostasy or sin. What prevents that? God prevents it. God is the one Who keeps us saved, and He does it in a way that does not violate our free will.
Specifically, God has a number of “means” that He uses to keep His children saved. These include:
- The leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit that is sealed inside a believer the moment he or she believes in Christ. From that moment on, whenever that believer exercises free will and drifts toward sin and apostasy, the Holy Spirit is still right there inside that believer, teaching truth, pointing out error, and leading that believer back to Christ. God doesn’t just sit idly by while that believer heads toward apostacy or destruction. He’s active. His Holy Spirit is active inside the believer, revealing truth and error. That’s why saved believers who sin can no longer enjoy sin like they did when they were unsaved. It’s because the Holy Spirit is in them, teaching them, revealing to them how horrible sin is. Most believers caught up in sin feel miserable about it. Instead of rejoicing in sin like an unsaved person, they’re ashamed of it. That’s a good sign that the Holy Spirit is in them.
What other means does God use to keep a saved believer saved?
- Blessings and Rewards – As we make good decisions that honor God, we can see God at work in our lives, blessing and rewarding us with favor that we can only attribute to Him.
- Intercessory prayer – When Christ told Peter he would deny Him 3 times, He said:
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32 KJV)
1 John 2:1 describes Christ as our Advocate, One who represents us before the Father. He’s praying, not that we would become saved, because we’re already saved. He’s praying that our faith would not fail us, just like He did for Peter.
The body of Christ working in your life – Christ gave us the Church, other believers, who can hold us accountable and strengthen us.
Angels working in our lives
Warnings in His Word – That’s why those warnings are there, to pull us back when we start to drift away.
Warnings and encouragement from other believers – We’re told to bear each other’s burdens and encourage or support one another.
God’s discipline and chastisement – If all that doesn’t work to turn a believer back, God may start to discipline or chasten that wayward believer.
“For whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:12 KJV)
“But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:32 KJV)
– God chastens us so that we won’t be condemned.
Allowing consequences of sin to happen – If the wayward believer persists in going astray, God can simply allow that believer to experience negative consequences that result from bad decisions, with the goal of leading that wayward believer back to repentance.
Allowing sickness or disease – Not all sickness is God’s chastening. But when we are sick, we should at least examine ourselves to make sure we haven’t given God cause to allow sickness.
Lifting God’s protection, allowing spiritual oppression in our lives – Demons are real and God protects His children from being harmed by them. But if that child of God drifts away in the wrong direction, God can lift part of that protection just to show the wayward believer that he or she needs to return to God. God will never give His child up to a demon, but He may use demons to help the believer come to his senses and turn back to God.
Early death – “There is a sin unto death:” 1 John 5:16 – I did a video on this verse. It’s not about eternal death. It’s about physical death. If a believer persists in sin, God can reach a point where He simply says, “Enough!” and takes that believer home early. We see this in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the Holy Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 11 with believers who were partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, and in 1 Corinthians 5 where a saved believer was refusing to leave a lifestyle of immorality, where Paul said that he had decided:
“To 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)
This sinning believer would physically die (the destruction of his flesh), but his spirit would still be saved – He would not lose salvation. But interestingly, the sentence construction here implies that his salvation might have been at risk, for it says he was going to be put to physical death, “that the spirit may be saved.” Is this implying that if he hadn’t been put to death, the spirit might not be saved? This might lend to the argument that salvation can potentially be lost. I personally don’t believe that is the case, but one could make that argument.
The point here is that, even if loss of salvation is a real threat, God’s never going to let it happen. He’s going to use all of these means and more to keep a believer saved, and He knows how to do it without violating our free will, to control events in our lives so that we make the decision to stay in the faith. Therefore, none will be lost, even if there’s a real threat that salvation can be lost. Just because there’s a real warning doesn’t mean it will ever happen. Instead, God uses that warning and these other means to keep it from happening.
Therefore, the Apostle John concludes that believers can KNOW WITH CERTAINTY that they have eternal life and do not have to be afraid. He wrote in 1 John 5:
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life….” (1 John 5:13 KJV)
God wants us to KNOW WITH CERTAINTY that we have eternal life and will never lose it, even if there are real threats out there where salvation could be lost.
So where does that put us with Hebrews chapter 10. If this is a real warning that salvation can be lost, how else do we know that it has never happened? Simply this:
Scripture tells us that those who left the church, renouncing their faith, never lost salvation because they never had it.
In 1 John 2, the Apostle John addressed this very topic about what happened to people who appeared to be saved but ended up renouncing their faith and leaving the church. Did they lose their salvation? John answered:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19 KJV)
John said these defectors of the faith “went out from us, but they were not of us,” meaning they were never saved. They may have appeared saved, but they weren’t. How do we know? From the rest of the sentence, where he says, “for if they had been of us (if they had been saved), they would no doubt have continued with us.” There was “no doubt” in John’s mind that a truly saved believer would remain in the faith. Why is that true? Because God uses all the means we listed and more to keep a believer in the faith so that none are lost.
It comes down to this:
Who keeps you saved?
Is it you and your efforts to stay faithful? Or has God taken the responsibility on Himself to keep you saved? What does Scripture say?
“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, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 KJV)
“… waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:7-8 KJV)
“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psalm 56:13 KJV)
“To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13 KJV)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively (living) hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 KJV)
Over and over, Scripture teaches that we are kept saved by the power of God. He keeps us saved. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a role to play in it. But ultimately, it’s His responsibility to keep us saved. Over and over Scripture tells us this. If He is the One keeping us saved, will He not be successful?
God knows how we’re respond. He knows how to turn us around so that we don’t become lost. And He knows how to do it without violating our free will. If God is the One taking responsibility to keep us saved, will there even be one soul, one wayward Christian, who slips through His hand into the fires of hell? God will not lose even one. That’s why this passage in 1 Peter 1 says our salvation is INCORRUPTIBLE (it cannot be corrupted), UNDEFILED (you cannot defile by sin because sin has been paid for by Christ), WILL NOT FADE AWAY (can’t be lost), RESERVED IN HEAVEN (God’s not going to change His mind about saving you).
Therefore, even if Hebrews chapter 10 is teaching that you can lose your salvation by rejecting Christ, by no longer believing, and even if that’s a real warning, that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen. In fact, in this case, where we’re talking about the possibility of a saved believer renouncing his or her faith and leaving the church, the Apostle John told us plainly that it will never happen, that there was “no doubt” that a saved believer would remain in the faith. And the writer of Hebrews even affirms this in the last verse of chapter 10, where he says:
“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39 KJV)
It sounds like there was “no doubt” in his mind either that a truly saved believer will remain in the faith. That’s why you have real warnings and, at the same time, real assurance. Both are there.
So, in conclusion, however you interpret Hebrews chapter 10, and I’ve shown you can make legitimate arguments either way, it doesn’t bother those of us who know and believe in eternal security. Regardless of the interpretation of Hebrews 10:
Once Saved, Always Saved
The real question is not whether you can lose your salvation. That’s irrelevant, because God is going to keep you saved even if losing salvation is a real danger. He knows how to do it without violating your free will and He is always good and always faithful.
No, the real question is whether you are saved to begin with.
Do you know with absolute certainty that you will be saved? It’s not just believing in Jesus, that He is the Savior, but believing ON HIM, that He is YOUR Savior, that you are putting your full trust on Him to save you and nothing else. You’re not depending on tithing or baptism or being good so that you will be found worthy. Salvation is depending on one thing: that the blood of Jesus was shed for you to pay for every one of your sins before a perfectly Holy God and that, without Jesus, you have no hope. He is your hope.
If you ARE NOT a Christian or if you are UNSURE of your salvation:
CHOOSE TODAY to believe in Christ to save you, believing that He died on the cross to pay for all your sins and rose from the dead to give you eternal life, and that He will not only save you but will keep you saved forever.
Whatever you may have done, and no matter how badly you may have blown it in the past, don’t think for a second that God has given up on you.
The Lord’s Desire is to Save You!
He is For You, Not Against You.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)
It is not the Lord’s desire that even one person should perish. It is not too late. If you think that, that’s just the enemy talking, trying to get you to give up on God. Don’t give in to that negative thought. God is for you, not against you, and He desires you with an everlasting love. He longs to pour out blessings upon you. Let Him.
So, if you are not 100% sure of your salvation, my closing wish for you is this:
Make Sure You Are Saved Right Now! Don’t put it off.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47 KJV)
So, believe on Him and let Him set you free!
Salvation = God’s Grace Alone Through Faith Alone on Christ Alone
Believing the Gospel means placing your entire trust on Christ for your salvation, believing that Christ:
- Died for your sins
- Was buried
- Rose from the dead
As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
Nothing more. Nothing less. There are no other requirements to be saved than to believe on Jesus. Once you place your faith in Christ for your salvation, you are born again, and you are forever a child of God. Our Father is a good Father Who will never abandon you but will preserve you in the faith and never let you go.
If you are not certain about your salvation, time is getting very late. Don’t take the chance of missing out on God.
Making Sure You Are Saved Is As Easy As ABC
Admit to God that you have sinned.
Believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay for
your sins 100%, was buried and rose from the dead.
Call upon Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and save you.
If you make that decision to call upon Him, God gives you this assurance:
“For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV)
Thank you for watching.