Hebrews 10:26-27 says:
“If we willfully keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
These verses are some of the most taken-out-of-context verses in the Bible.
Most Bible teachers and Pastors teach these verses to mean that if a Christian purposefully continues to live a life of immorality after coming to faith in Jesus then this person is an enemy of God and will be consumed in the raging fire of judgment, therefore losing one's salvation.
Is this what these verses mean?
To understand these verses we must understand the context.
The book of Hebrews was written to Jews who lived under the law of Moses for 1500 years.
The law of Moses is the old covenant.
It is impossible...let me repeat, impossible to understand the book of Hebrews if the law of Moses is not understood indepthly by the BIble teacher or Pastor.
The Law of Moses is found in Exodus 19-40, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.
It prescribes in detail the exact requirements of behavior for the Jewish people and the animal sacrifices for failure to follow the behavioral requirements.
The blood of sacrificed animals covered the death penalty for sin, providing temporary forgiveness for the sins of the people, thus avoiding the death penalty.
With each sin, a sacrifice was required.
Once a year, the Day of Atonement, all the sins the Jewish people committed unknowingly throughout the year were placed upon an animal which was sacrificed for the unknown sins.
The Priests’ responsibilities under the law included carrying out these sacrifices.
The Priests rotated around the clock, never sitting or resting because there were always sins to be sacrificed for and sins in need of forgiveness.
This endless cycle of sin...sacrifice...sin...sacrifice was life for the Jewish people under the law of Moses...the old covenant.
Within the old covenant was the promise of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8).
It would be a covenant where God would remember sins no more.
The new covenant was established by Jesus when he, with one sacrifice for all sin, for all people, and for all time shed his blood for the eternal forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12-16), making those who placed their faith in him holy and perfect before God (Hebrews 10:10 and 14).
This is what the entire book of Hebrews is about.
The book of Hebrews was written in AD 65 to convince the Jewish people that the old covenant of law, the law of Moses, had been replaced by the new covenant, the grace of Jesus (Hebrews 2:9).
Yet most of the Jewish people remained hard-hearted to Jesus, his blood, and his grace when he died for all people, for all sin, and for all time (Hebrews 3:12).
The writer of Hebrews said they had “sinful, unbelieving hearts” (Hebrews 3:12) that rejected Jesus and refused to rest by faith in what Jesus had done for them by grace through his blood (Hebrews 4).
They demonstrated their rejection of Jesus and refusal to rest in the new covenant of grace by continually practicing the requirements of the law of Moses, along with its rules and rituals.
They continued to sacrifice animals to gain God’s forgiveness, seeking to make themselves holy and perfect in his sight through obedience to the law.
The writer of Hebrews goes into great detail to provide the knowledge of the truth about the new covenant of grace.
The writer meticulously teaches how God, through the blood of Jesus, replaced the old covenant of law with the new covenant of grace, thus making the old covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:13; 10:9).
Contained in this knowledge was the truth that Jesus provided in his blood the full and final forgiveness of sins...eternal redemption (Hebrews 8-10).
Consequently, there was no more sacrifices for sins needed (Hebrews 10:18).
God had fully and forever achieved forgiveness by grace through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 2:9).
Jesus then sat down at the right hand of God and rested from his completed work (Hebrews 10:12).
God was remembering sins no more...they had all been paid for by Jesus.
Yet with each animal sacrifice...with each ritual performed...they were reminding God of their sins and were seeking to acquire forgiveness from God.
By doing this, they were totaling ignoring the great salvation God provided them in Jesus and were seeking to achieve salvation through obedience to the law of Moses.
God, through the writer of Hebrews, was exhorting the Jewish people to leave behind the works of the law of
Moses and enter into the grace of Jesus.
How would they do this?
They would do this by faith (Hebrews 4 and 12).
To fail to enter into the new covenant of grace by faith and receive God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and rest from the rules, rituals, practices, and sacrifices contained in the law, would be to have a “sinful, unbelieving heart.”
To deliberately or willfully continue to follow the law of Moses rather than enter into the grace of Jesus by faith would be sinning for a Jew.
To willfully reject the person, blood, and work of Jesus as God’s means of forgiveness, holiness, and perfection by continuing to live according to the law of Moses made the Jew an enemy of God, whom God would consume in judgment when he purified the earth of all sin and sinners prior to establishing his kingdom of peace and righteousness on earth.
Thus, in its biblical context Hebrews 10:26-27 means the following:
-“willfully keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth”
Jewish people who, with a sinful, unbelieving heart, purposely reject the truth of the new covenant of grace God had promised and given to them through the blood of Jesus.
-“no sacrifice for sins is left”
Jesus was the final, full, and forever sacrifice for the sins of people...there is no more animal sacrifices needed, there is no more forgiveness needed because God remembers sins no more since Jesus was the full and final sacrifice.
-"but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
If a Jewish person rejected the new covenant of grace God established through the blood of Jesus and, instead, depended upon the works of the old covenant of law to rescue them from the coming judgment, then they could only expect to be consumed in judgment as an enemy of God since they rejected the blood of Jesus which was given to bring them eternal forgiveness and rescue them from the coming judgment.