The Willful Sin of Hebrews 10

“For if we sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sin.” – Hebrews 10:26

A dear Christian shared with me about someone who is struggling as a Christian with a sorrowful heart, having had some real battles with specific sins, but has quite a tender heart and some real wounds from professing Christians. She wonders if she has committed the willful sin of Hebrews 10:26, which says, “for if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”

Here is my reply about THE willful sin of Hebrews 10:26

Hello, dear sister

I am responding to the question on Hebrews 10:26, which speaks about “sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”

This can be a very troubling passage of Scripture, which is often misquoted and misunderstood. This verse often troubles true Christians who really do know the Lord, but have struggled with different specific sins at times. Because of those struggles and failures at times, they think they are described in this verse. They find themselves in this verse, even though it is not be describing them at all. It is a misunderstanding to see this verse, in its context, as speaking about the true Christian.

To understand this passage, and especially the book of Hebrews, the context of the entire book is essential to not misinterpret some passages. In 10:25, it speaks about “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some”; this is speaking of FORSAKING or abandoning the Christian gathering for worship and assembling–in other words, abandoning the church altogether. This is leaving the Christian faith completely. Hebrews was written to Jewish converts who were being tempted to leave Christianity and the one-time sacrifice of Jesus, which Hebrews 10 speaks of several times, being tempted to go back to Judaism.

What makes this THE willful sin that is being spoken of is because it is a willful turning away from the one sacrifice for sin to return to Judaism which has no true offering for sin. If you know the gospel and then forsake it to return to the Jewish religion, there is no forgiveness to be found in Judaism. If someone leaves Christianity to return to Judaism, they have rejected the only sacrifice for sin that exists.

The abandoning of the Christian faith to return to the Jewish faith IS the willful sin mentioned in 10:26; if you read the entire chapter closely, this becomes more clear. So the “willful” sin is to turn away from salvation in Jesus Christ, the Jew’s Messiah, to go back to their false religion or back to the world completely. It is NOT speaking about specific moral or personal sins that the Christian battles with and sometimes gives in to. Believers have a new heart that love righteousness and holiness because their hearts have been changed and are new. So when we sin, it grieves us and we don’t want to sin anymore. We are being changed into Christ’s image and that is why our hearts repent. So we don’t “continues to sin”, as the world does and as we used to do when we were unbelievers. We don’t continue willfully in sin any longer. When we do sin, it means that we give in to sins at different times, but we don’t live in a lifestyle of sin any longer. 

So what is the willful sin of Hebrews 10? It is the willful abandoning of any profession of Christianity, and choosing to return to one’s past false religion or to the world of sin and unbelief you once lived–an outright rejection of Christianity, after you have professed to have become a Christian.

So this passage has no application to a true Christian who struggles with different sins; they still are trusting in Christ, even in their battle with remaining sin.

I hope this helps; please read Hebrews 10 closely and see all of this in the context of the chapter.
warmly yours in the Lord
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