The Book of Hebrews is a most detailed look at sanctification and why Christ is superior to the Old Testament system of sacrifice. It was written to a Jewish audience in an attempt to explain to all who read it, believer and unbeliever, why Christ’s sacrifice took the place of the blood of animals and how it enables us to progress in the Christian life.
In the course of explaining this subject, the Apostle Paul wrote some controversial passages of Scripture. We must remember that Paul was speaking to an audience of both believers and nonbelievers. I will deal with the second of those passages here.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinningg after we have received the knowledge of the truth,h no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging firei that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.j 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of Godk underfoot,l who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenantm that sanctified them,n and who has insulted the Spirito of grace?p 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d q and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e r 31 It is a dreadful things to fall into the handst of the living God.u (NIV).
No other passage of Scripture is perhaps more somber than this one in its warning. And also it is one of the more controversial. Many who read this will fear that they have willfully sinned “too much” and have thus trampled the blood of Christ and have nothing to expect except fiery judgment. And it is easy to see how one would think that given a simple reading of the passage. God takes sin very seriously, even in the life of a true Christian.
But what does “keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth” mean in this passage” mean? Answering this question will unlock the meaning of the entire passage.
We must note that it mentions sinning after receiving the knowledge. So it means hearing the truth (receiving it) and then afterwards keep on with sin. The KJV renders it as “if we sin wilfully”. This I think is a bit better.
Clearly this passage speaks of someone receiving an angry and fiery judgment. No doubt it is talking about Hell as it mentions no sacrifice for sin is left. Notice it says no sacrifice is left! Throughout this book Paul has been telling them why Jesus was superior to the sacrifice of animals. It is like he is saying to them that to turn from Christ is to reject the sacrifice. In fact this is exactly what he is saying. He is telling them if you turn from Christ, no sacrifice can save you!. These people had received the Gospel (heard it) and were in danger of rejecting it. The sin talked about here is to remain in unbelief. Those who rejected it were like the sow that was washed and then returned to the mire. They were “sanctified” in an outward sense and had sinned against the Holy Spirit (v.29). This is mentioned previously in the Gospels as being the only unforgivable sin, remember? The Pharisees had seen enough of Jesus to know the truth but yet rejected Him out of hard hearts.
It does also mention believers though. The Lord says He will judge His people. We as Christians are accountable for our actions as ambassadors for Christ. The world sees what we do as does God. He will judge us for the good and the bad.
When you interpret this passage from this angle, you see that it lines up with what the Word says about the rejection of Christ being the only unforgivable sin. People can appear to be Christians but in reality they have not accepted Christ.
There are times when we become fearful because of sin we have committed. And that is a good sign that our conscience is in working order! However guilt can also weigh you down. Remember that Christ died to take your guilt away from you. He placed that on His own shoulders, that burden you could never deal with!