Question 47: "There Remaineth No More a Sacrifice for Sins" (Hebrews 10.26)
Question 45: Falling Away from Grace (Gal. 5.4) | Question 46: Will They Perish (Heb. 6.4-6)?
What is meant by "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10.26)?
"If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10.26). What is meant by "no more a sacrifice for sins"? Some people will say: "If I sin willfully after I have known the truth, I will not be saved. It is true that God has caused His Son to bear my sins and die for me that I might be saved through believing in His Son; but if I sin willfully, then according to Hebrews 10.26 there does not remain anymore sacrifice for sins, and consequently I will not be saved. Furthermore, the next verse states that there remains ‘a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries’ (v.27). So if I sin willfully, I can only wait for two things: one is judgment, the other is the fire which shall devour the adversaries, which is hell or perdition." In the view of these people this passage of the Scriptures is directed at Christians; so that if a Christian sins willfully he cannot be saved. Let us now see whether "if we sin wilfully" has reference to Christians or to another class of people. We shall also want to see if "sin wilfully" points to ordinary sin or rather to some specific sin.
According to the statement of the Bible, those people who "sin wilfully after that [they] have received the knowledge of the truth" have "a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries". Therefore, these cannot be that class of persons, mentioned in Hebrews 6, "who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift". The "truth" mentioned here is that truth spoken of in the first part of Hebrews 10, which is the redemption accomplished once and for all by the Lord Jesus Christ. Such people know of the death of the Lord Jesus, of His shed blood and broken body. They even know that they can enter the holy place boldly through the blood of the Lord Jesus and be accepted by God, and that the sacrifice for sins has been offered once and for all, so that the work of redemption is forever completed. Now if these people should sin willfully after they have had such knowledge of the truth as this, then there remains no more a sacrifice for sins.
We need to see that if the above verses could be applied to a Christian, that is, if a Christian is tempted to lie and steal, to frequent places he ought not to go, or do things he knows he should not do, and is thereby considered as sinning willfully and is therefore not saved, who then shall be saved? Even Paul and Peter would probably not qualify for being saved! Has not Paul the believer confessed: "For not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. . . . For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise. . . . Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" (Rom. 7.15,19,24) Does not Paul practice the evil he knows he should not do and does not do the good he knows he should do? And has not the believing Peter denied the Lord thrice before a maid? Does he not know that he is lying and that lying is sin? From all this we can know that the phrase "sin wilfully" must mean something special [refusing new birth] and not just committing a sin that one knows.
Yet this can be proven even in another way. To do so, we need to read the text of this Scripture passage all in one breath from verse 26 through 29:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. A man that hath set at nought Moses’ law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?*
* "Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to his people" (v.29 NLT). The New Living Translation leaves out "sanctified" as it could create confusion, since many seem to confuse God's sanctifying work as indicating these people are saved. There is a sanctifying work, in which you can outwardly seem like you are in Christ, come so close to God, but inwardly not be regenerated. This is the experience of many who call themselves ex-Christians. This was my experience too in a sense. Ten years before being saved, a miracle happened to me. At that time following the miracle, I recited my testimony of faith through the prompting the gospel message and thought I believed which lasted for about thirty days. However, I lost the feeling and belief in Christ, and for 10 years thereafter never gave Christ a single thought until one day January, 2001, I was once-saved-always-saved, forgiven, truly born-again, and realizing truly for the first time all things sum up in Christ. Actually, it is impossible to be an ex-Christian, for such a person was never born-again to begin with, but "he was sanctified." Wherewith he was sanctified--for Christ died even for him. "Sanctified," in the regenerative sense belongs only to the saved elect. But in some sense it belongs also to those who come so close, yet steer away. The broadest sense, Jesus died for us all. Calvinists tend to take the stance they came so close, but turned away. Those without comfort who think they can lose salvation refer to this verse as those who were born-again but lost their salvation. Others, like myself, refer to this verse as us all being sanctified by what Jesus did ("sanctified" is not in the earliest texts), offering a once-for-all sacrifice and salvation to us all, and those who are saved won't lose eternal life, but will lose our joy if we "throw away confidence, which has a great reward" (v.35). - Troy Brooks
Either of the person, the apostate himself, who was sanctified or separated from others by a visible profession of religion; having given himself up to a church, to walk with it in the ordinances of the Gospel; and having submitted to baptism, and partook of the Lord's supper, and drank of the cup, "the blood of the New Testament", or "covenant": though he did not spiritually discern the body and blood of Christ in the ordinance, but counted the bread and wine, the symbols of them, as common things; or who professed himself, and was looked upon by others, to be truly sanctified by the Spirit, and to be justified by the blood of Christ, though he was not really so: or rather the Son of God himself is meant, who was sanctified, set apart, hallowed, and consecrated, as Aaron and his sons were sanctified by the sacrifices of slain beasts, to minister in the priest's office: so Christ, when he had offered himself, and shed his precious blood, by which the covenant of grace was ratified, by the same blood he was brought again from the dead, and declared to be the Son of God with power; and being set down at God's right hand, he ever lives to make intercession, which is the other part of his priestly office he is sanctified by his own blood to accomplish. This clause, "wherewith he was sanctified", is left out in the Alexandrian copy." - John Gill's Exposition.
If anyone should tread under foot the Son of God, despise His redeeming blood, and resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he will surely go to hell. What is meant by "hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace"? It means that when the Holy Spirit moves in a person’s heart with grace by showing his sins and the salvation which the Son of God has accomplished, by causing him to know how efficacious is this precious Blood to forgive sins, and by persuading him to immediately accept this Blood for the cleansing of all his sins, that person in response resists the request and conviction of the Holy Spirit, loves his sins and uncleanness, and considers the precious blood of the Lord Jesus as insignificant. He may muse within himself as follows: "To listen is one thing, but to believe is too much. I have sinned, but I will continue to commit these my former sins. What do I care if the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me?" By so doing, he is condemning himself to hell because he has trodden under foot the precious Blood. - Full of Grace and Truth I: Volume 1, Watchman Nee
What is really meant by "sin wilfully" in verse 26? It points to the three things in verse 29; namely, (1) trodden underfoot the Son of God, (2) counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified as an unholy thing, and (3) done despite to the Spirit of grace. In sum, it means to reject the gospel of salvation. He has heard the word of God which states that Jesus is the Son of God, yet he answers by saying that Jesus is a bastard. He has heard God’s word which says that Jesus has shed His blood for the remission of sins and that His blood is most precious—even as the blood of a pure spotless lamb [to sanctify-to make holy], but he replies by saying that the death of Jesus is a martyr’s death and that the blood Jesus shed is common just like anybody else’s. He has heard the word of God which says that the Holy Spirit brings repentance and gives eternal life, nevertheless he retorts by declaring that he does not believe God will impart to him what Jesus has accomplished nor does he believe in new birth. Because of this kind of reaction, the Bible’s word is that there remains to him no more sacrifice for sins.
What is meant by "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins"? "No more" indicates that there once was. We must pay particular attention to this word "more". In this connection please note the following passages of the Scriptures:
"Who needeth not daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people: for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself" (Heb. 7.27).
"Nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9.12).
"Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. . . . So Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many . . ." (Heb. 9.25-28).
"Else would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins" (Heb. 10.2).
"By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb. 10.10-12).
Why do all the above passages indicate that the Lord Jesus has not offered himself many times but only once? It is because, beginning from Chapter 7, the book of Hebrews dwells on the comparison between the sacrifice which the Lord Jesus has offered and the sacrifices offered in the Old Testament period. The Lord Jesus Christ has offered himself only once and has forever accomplished eternal redemption; whereas the sacrifices mentioned in the Old Testament were in the form of bulls and goats which were offered year by year. Individually speaking, anyone living in the dispensation of the Old Testament had to bring and offer a bullock or a goat or a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons as a sin-offering each time he sinned. Corporately speaking, the whole congregation of Israel had to offer yearly, on the day of atonement, the sin-offering.
Why must they offer bulls and goats as sacrifices year after year? Because the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins. People had to offer sacrifice for the sins of this year as well as the sins of last year. Only Jesus Christ through the eternal Spirit has offered himself to God, and by so doing has obtained eternal redemption so that He has perfected forever us who are sanctified (Heb. 9.14,12; 10.14).
Consequently, Hebrews 10 follows this up by saying that anyone who has heard the truth and yet has sinned willfully has rejected the Holy Spirit as well as the blood of the Son of God. For such a person who has despised the Son of God there remains no more sacrifice for sins. For people in the Old Testament time, if they missed the opportunity for atonement one year they still might have it the following year. But today, if any man should reject Jesus Christ, there does not remain anymore sacrifice for sins, since even the sin-offering of the Old Testament dispensation has passed and is therefore no longer effective. Whoever has the knowledge of the truth but rejects it has no more sacrifice for sins available to him. For "in none other is there salvation" (Acts 4.12). God had done His uttermost when He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to this world to accomplish the work of redemption so that we might be saved. There is therefore nothing more He can add. Accordingly, the Bible tells us that if any man should sin willfully, that is, reject the gospel which he has heard and known, it is finished and done with for him. His end is nothing but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries.
Hebrews 6.1-8 says that the end of the class of people therein mentioned is "nigh to a curse"; but Hebrews 10.26-29 says that the result for its group of people is to be burned with the "fire which shall devour the adversaries"; how then can this latter group ever point to Christians? This passage can mean none but those who have knowingly rejected the gospel, therefore there is no other salvation. Otherwise, why should the word "more" be used in saying "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins"? Why should the word "once" be used repeatedly in the preceding verses? By joining these words within their context, we can easily discern the meaning of the words "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins".