[Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?]
These verses are probably the no. 1 misquoted portion of scripture which cause believers to doubt their eternal secure position in Christ. These scriptures have been quoted out of context, abused and exploited to manipulate the body of Christ for centuries. Let us take a closer look at the context.
The book of Hebrews was written to the 12 tribes of Israel, many of whom still held the Old Testament Law system in higher regard than Christ’s sacrifice. Most of the book of Hebrews is dedicated to illustrating the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant over Moses and the Old Covenant rule keeping system with its traditions and rituals. Some examples are:
[Heb 3:3 For this One (Christ) has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house].
[Heb 7:28 The Law of Moses appoints men who are imperfect to be high priests; but God's promise made with the vow, which came later than the Law, appoints the Son, who has been made perfect forever] (GNB).
[Heb 8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second] (ESV).
Now in this context, with the Jewish nation still preferring their ritual sacrifices over the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews was showing them the folly of their ways. The “sin” mentioned in Heb 10:26 was referring to the sin of refusing to believe in Christ, just like the Israelites continually doubted God’s goodness when He led them out of Egypt, always suspecting Him of wanting to kill them in the desert (Heb 3:7-12). Here in Heb 10 the writer was admonishing the Jews for still relying on their own ability to keep the law and perform the ritual sacrifices to make atonement for their sins, rather than accepting God’s free gift of forgiveness which was appropriated by Jesus’ sacrifice. A little further up from our key verses we see the context:
[Heb 10:11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified].
It suddenly becomes very clear what the writer actually meant in Heb 10:26-29. Here is a paraphrased version:
Heb 10:26 If we purposely reject Christ’s sacrifice after He has been clearly shown to us as the only way to Heaven, then there is no other sacrifice which can be offered as an atonement for our sins. 27 There remains only judgment and punishment for God’s enemies. 28 If a person was killed for disobeying the Old Testament Law, 29 of how much worse punishment do you think a person is worthy if they trample Christ’s sacrifice underfoot, despising Jesus’ blood which was shed for the forgiveness of their sins, regarding it as a common thing, and threw God’s gift of Grace back in His face?
Whenever a Bible verse seems to condemn us, we need to remember that there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1). All scripture has to be interpreted through what Christ accomplished at the cross, reconciling us to Himself (2 Cor 5:18) and making peace between us by removing the demands of the law (Eph 2:15). Anything that appears to contradict this, most likely has been taken out of context.