The first thing to note in Hebrews 10:26-27 is the word "sin." Paul is not speaking of sin in general but the specific sin of apostasy from the faith that was once known and professed. The apostasy he has in mind is not so much an act but a state brought on by many individual attitudes and sins, reproducing the original, carnal antagonism a person has toward God before conversion.
Some commentaries insist that the Authorized Version is not quite correct in translating the term in verse 26 as "willfully." These argue that the Greek word, hekousios, will not permit this translation. It appears only one other time, in I Peter 5:2, where it is translated as "willingly." The commentators insist that it should be rendered "willingly" in Hebrews 10:26.
The American Heritage College Dictionary supports their conclusion. To do something willfully is to do it purposely or deliberately. The commentators say all sin is done purposely because human nature is set up to do so, even though weakness, ignorance, or deception may be involved as well. To do a thing willingly is to be disposed, inclined, or prepared to do it. Its synonyms are "readily," "eagerly," "compliantly," "ungrudgingly," "voluntarily," and "volitionally." This sense is contained in the context because, by the time a person reaches the apostate stage in his backward slide, where he has forsaken God and His way, he has no resistance to sin.
The sinner is deliberately, even eagerly, determined to abandon Christ, to turn away from God and His way, having completely become an enemy once again. He sins with barely a second thought, if with any thought at all. He sins automatically, as there is none of God's Spirit left to constrain him. His conscience is totally defiled; he has forsaken God.
Who is in danger of committing this sin? All who have made a profession of faith in Christ but are now neglecting their salvation.
The message of Hebrews is that it does not have to be this way. If the person takes heed and stirs himself awake, if he truly seeks to overcome and grow once again, if he returns to being a living sacrifice and seeking to glorify God, if he truly denies himself and takes up his cross, if he keeps God's commandments to live life as a Christian, he will not apostatize.
He may fall back from time to time, but as long as he repents and honestly seeks God when sin occurs in his life, the sin is readily forgiven. I John 1:9 confidently proclaims, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." John 14:23 assures us that as long as we are keeping His Word, we are safe.
Hebrews 12:5-10 explains that God is faithfully working in our behalf, even chastening us if He sees fit, to get us turned around and headed again in the right direction and attitude. He does this faithfully because He does not want to lose us. Christ died for each child of God, thus each child He loves - and He loves them all - represents a substantial investment. Christ did not die in vain for anybody. In Hebrews 13:5, He charges us with the task of putting to work His promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy
Most Protestants believe their salvation is assured once they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Many call this doctrine by the very familiar phrase, "once saved, always saved." To them, this means that God's grace eternally covers them, and thus they have eternal security that God will save them. God is bound to accept them and to give them salvation no matter what occurs after they accept Jesus. In his worldwide crusades, evangelist Billy Graham has popularized the Protestant hymn, "Just as I am, Lord," which sings the praises of this doctrine.
To us, this idea of "eternal security" is a completely ridiculous concept. God is pure and holy (I Peter 1:15-16). He will not accept people who are not as He is. He forsook His own Son, Jesus Christ, when the sins of the world were placed on Him (Matthew 27:46)! Why would He accept us, who are far more personally sinful, if we failed to repent of our sins and came before Him demanding Him to save us "just as we are"?
An analogy from the real world may be helpful. Just because a criminal is absolved of committing a certain crime does not mean that he will never again be guilty of another crime. For example, if the governor of a state commutes a murderer's sentence, but the criminal commits another crime later in his life, he is not innocent. The law says he is guilty of the later crime.
In the same way, a Christian who commits sin is guilty even though God's grace has covered him in the past. If he continues in the sin until it becomes a habitual way of life, he is in danger of losing the salvation promised to him. Notice Paul's quite concise statement in Hebrews 10:26: "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."
This is plain. If we sin in rebellion against God, setting our will to go against God and His way of life, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ no longer applies. In essence, we have spit in His face. Paul continues by telling us what applies at that point (Hebrews 10:27-31).
Peter says, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17), and if we live a life of sin, we will reap the punishment that those sins deserve. Our God is a God of justice. The idea of "eternal security," then, is foreign to the Bible. It is puzzling how theologians could develop such a doctrine when the Bible repeatedly comments, warns, and advises that we can lose it all through sin.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Do We Have 'Eternal Security'?
The key phrase here is “sin willfully.” The author is describing an overall mindset rather than a single action. Many times when we sin, we have a willingness to sin because we give in out of weakness and do what we know is wrong. But willful sin occurs when a person expresses deliberate and sustained opposition to God and His law, and his heart has hardened enough that he defiantly refuses to repent. In this regard, the unpardonable sin is not a specific sin. Rather, it could be any sin that is committed with a heart that is against God and that refuses to soften.
The Bible shows a number of sins against the Holy Spirit that still fall short of willful blasphemy. Ephesians 4:20 speaks of “grieving” the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51 mentions “resisting” the Holy Spirit. I Thessalonians 5:19 warns against “quenching” the Spirit. All of these show some opposition to the outworking, the power, and the fundamental nature of God.
But blaspheming the Holy Spirit ratchets up this opposition to the point that the things of God are deliberately despised and denigrated after receiving knowledge of the truth. It has the effect of trampling the very Creator underfoot and belittling the holy covenant of which He is the Mediator. Repentance is impossible because self-confidence (as opposed to faith in God) has hardened into an arrogant and insolent refusal to recognize God's preeminence. The rejection of God becomes so complete that the very idea of repentance becomes ludicrous. By rejecting the Spirit of grace and the forgiveness it allows, the blasphemer has nothing with which to pay for his sins, except his own life.
This condition can come about in a couple of ways. One is through deliberate choice. In this regard, among the biggest dangers to our walk with God is resentment and bitterness because these emotions can poison the mind to such a degree that we can simply stop caring about God and His way. The object or circumstance of resentment begins to take up more of our view—more of our thoughts—than God Himself, and our inclination toward His will becomes overthrown in the internal rage.
A second way is through spiritual neglect, the path these Hebrews were treading. Through neglect, God's truth slips away over time, and the things of Satan's world begin to fill the void. The result is such spiritual weakness that what truly matters is no longer a part of the reasoning process. God's law becomes unimportant, and Christ's sacrifice becomes irrelevant, like distant memories with no immediate value.
David C. Grabbe
What Is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
To whom is this written? To Christians, to people who have received the grace of God and are justified. And Paul is warning them: "Don't sin!"
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Four)
This is what the unpardonable sin ultimately accomplishes. Through willfully practicing sin, the sinner rejects the very basis of his covenant with God, the blood of Jesus Christ. If one deeply appreciates and values His sacrifice, he will not willfully practice the very actions that made that sacrifice necessary. God forgives with the understanding that the one forgiven has turned from sin and will continue to overcome it.
When God designed this creation, He considered His purpose along with our free-moral agency. He concluded that He had to devise a payment for sin so profound in its implications that the heirs of salvation, out of overwhelming gratitude, would drive themselves from sin. Such a price of redemption could not be the death of any common person or animal, for these have neither the worth nor the ability to pay for all sin. Only the sacrifice of the sinless God-man, Jesus Christ, could meet these qualifications.
What we see in Hebrews 10:26-29 is the end of a person who, by the very conduct of his life, reveals his pitiful assessment of that sacrifice. The author makes a three-fold indictment against this person. First, he repudiates the oath taken at baptism. Second, he contemptuously rejects Christ. Third, he commits an insulting outrage against the merciful judgment of God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover
Plainly, when this occurs, the sacrifice of Christ will not apply. These people, whoever they are, have put themselves into a carnal state again, and their enmity against God is exposed, as evidenced by their law-breaking.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Nine)
Considering Ezekiel 20 and what happened with Israel, that God's rest is introduced earlier in Hebrews 4 and that assembling is mentioned here make an inference of the Sabbath in these sobering verses seem inescapable. The Sabbath commandment is just as important as any of the other nine.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)
To receive salvation, a Christian must now live a life of obedience to the law of God. Those who claim that they know Christ and still continue in a life of breaking God's commandments are liars.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: Salvation
These verses can only be speaking of Christians because we are the only ones under the blood of Jesus Christ.
In John 15:2, Jesus Christ adds that branches (Christians) who do not bear fruit are cut from the vine. He adds in verse 6 that those who do not abide in the Son—and certainly a branch cut from the vine no longer abides in it—will be cast out as a branch and thrown into the fire.
John W. Ritenbaugh
After Pentecost, Then What?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Hebrews 10:27:
2 Corinthians 13:5
1 Thessalonians 5:1-9
1 Timothy :
2 Peter 3:9