A Dreadful Thing

Hebrews 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NIV)


The book of Hebrews contains five warnings. This passage represents the fourth of the five warnings. It is a warning against apostasy, turning your back on the God of the Bible. The reason for this warning was to discourage the Hebrew Christians of the day from turning back to Judaism. 

The writer of Hebrews refers to apostasy in this way: “to deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth” (v. 26a). The apostate knows the truth of the Bible, and rejects it. He chooses not to follow the Bible. The Bible is the word of God. So the apostate is rejecting God, in the person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is a rejection of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. So, “no sacrifice for sins is left” (v. 26b). The apostate has no other path to salvation. 

Since he has rejected the means to salvation, the apostate will spend eternity separated from God. He will live eternally in Hell. He will experience the “judgment” (v. 27a) of “raging fire” (v. 27b). He will be “consumed” (v. 27c) because he has made himself an enemy of God. The Greek word translated “consumed” also means to eat or devour. It does not carry the meaning of complete consumption but more of an eating away, such as someone who is suffering from the constant, overbearing heat of Hell. 

Verse twenty-eight refers to Dt. 17:6-7. Under the Law of Moses an Israelite who rejects the Law could be sentenced to death on the basis of two or three witnesses. The testimony of only one witness was not enough. The crime of the apostate is even more serious. He has rejected Christ, Christ’s sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit (v. 29). For this crime the apostate is sentenced to a more severe punishment than death. He suffers the torment of Hell and “dies” many times over every day. His punishment never ceases. 

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Dt. 32:35-36 in verse thirty. God promises to “repay” and “judge” his people who worship other gods. What many people do not understand is that we all worship a god. Our god is whatever rules our life. If money rules our life, our god is money. If work rules our life, our god is work. God is a jealous God. He creates His people, loves them, protects them, and blesses them. He even gives them some of Himself, a conscience. All He asks in return is to acknowledge the source, God himself. The apostate is not acknowledging the source. He has turned his back on the only true God and worships his own god. 

The apostate has fallen “into the hands of the living God” (v. 31b). God is merciful and loving. But He is also just. Without judgment there is no justice. The apostate has committed a crime, and therefore there must be justice. Since God is the one who has been assaulted, He is the one who metes out the justice. “It is a dreadful thing” (v. 31a) for the apostate to be judged by God. His punishment is more severe than death itself. 

This can all be avoided. We can acknowledge and worship the true God, the God of the Bible. We can allow Him to rule our life, instead of our own made-up god. Each person is responsible themselves for making this decision. If the “dreadful thing” happens, we have only ourselves to blame. We certainly cannot blame God. He loves us and wants only the best for us. He forgives every poor decision we make, except for one. That one decision we must get right. Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary