Friday After Twenty-Second Sunday After Trinity Hebrews 10:26-39
FRIDAY AFTER TWENTY—SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.
This is an essential and serious truth. You have to understand it correctly. It isn't a question of being "overtaken in a trespass" (Galatians 6:1) or "opposing him to his face,” something that happened to Peter himself (Galatians 2:11). There's forgiveness for things like that. "If someone sins, we have someone who intercedes for us before the Father, Jesus Christ." In this case it's a question of a very particular sin. It's described earlier in Hebrews (6:4 and following) in this way: that one apostatizes and once again crucifies God’s Son on his own account and holds Him in contempt. This happens despite the fact that he has received the light and tasted the heavenly gift and received the Holy Spirit and learned to recognize the powers of times to come. In other words: he has been at the very heart of the most holy. He has received a piece of Christ, he knows from experience who Christ is and he has tasted all the good things Christ has to give. Nevertheless he falls away once again and goes over to his enemies, blasphemes His name, and scoffs at His gifts. It was just like what the Pharisees almost did, when they saw Jesus' good deeds with their own eyes, but said that it was Satan's work. Then Jesus warned them about the sin against the Holy Spirit, the sin that cannot be forgiven. That sin consists of trampling on forgiveness with your feet, blaspheming it, and forever throwing it away.
The ancient Christian Church saw examples of that. People fell away, became fierce adversaries, and murdered Christians. Not because they didn't know what Christianity was. Not because of any misunderstandings. Not because of disappointments caused by bad Christians. Instead, it was just because they knew what true fellowship with Christ really means. They had rejected Christ Himself, His love, His forgiveness, life with Him, and deliberately chose something else, something opposite, something that was a denial of Jesus and His love. One has to call attention to this terrible fact: It’s impossible to get them back. As the writer of Hebrews quotes in 10:38, "'My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back. My soul has no pleasure in him.'" They are beyond recall.
When the text speaks of sinning "deliberately," we have to remember that all sins, when we see them ourselves and acknowledge them, appear to have been committed deliberately. There was always a voice inside of us that said yes and desired whatever happened. In that sense, all sins are intentional, even if they partially are caused by ignorance and hastiness. When it comes to receiving forgiveness, there's no difference between intentional and unintentional sins. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins" (1 John 1:9); they may have been intentional or unintentional.
Will the Lord spurn forever and never again be favorable? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion? Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying. Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved; for You are my praise. Amen. (From Psalm 77 mid Jeremiah 17.)