Forgetting or Remembering, Pt. 1
Hebrews 10:26-31 • Jeff Crotts • Drifting is the choice to ignore God and forget about God's wrath.
Research suggests 21 days to form a habit.
As long as “all you want to do” is drink a glass of water after breakfast.
Anything longer will take longer to become a really strong habit! Some activities, much longer.
- Still, we develop really good habits and really bad
- Bad ones take just as long but often are developed by just going on “auto-pilot.”
Last time, our passage dealt with the significance of coming to church.
- On the face, this might not seem like a very big deal topic.
- This is actually a litmus test for Hebrews, whether or not you are still in the faith!
- Drifting though subtle and often slow is spiritually determinative.
- I have been in regular church attendance my entire life.
- One of my earliest memories was being the church nursery.
- Locked inside the nursery cribs attached to the walls, with drop down bars.
- Early preparation for prison ministry!
- Not going to church (suddenly) would feel awkward.
- The danger is that drifting, by nature, is not easily detectable.
- Drifting is actually the symptom of a far deeper problem.
- What we are talking about is walking away from Christ.
- Our text exposes what is going on inside someone’s heart when they do.
- Spelunking, a cave expedition of the human heart.
- A diagnostic of an apparently “strong Christian church-goer” who simply walks away.
The pivot point in this section comes at the beginning of verse 32.
- “But recall” (v. 32) translated, “remember.”
- To “remember” certain truths is the deterrent (“combats”) to drifting!
- To “forget” is the drive train (verses 26-31) toward apostasy.
- “Forgetting is drifting” and vise-versa “remembering is persevering” (verses 32-39).
Drifting is the choice to ignore God. To forget God’s wrath.
Forgetting – What forgetting looks like (vv. 26-31)
a. Willfully sinning
The church’s responsibility is to “encourage one another” (v. 25).
- We are called to inoculate this disease called “drifting.”
- “Stirring” or reminding “the Day [is] drawing near” (v. 25).
- “Jesus is coming, so do not be outside of God’s family when He does!”
Verse 26 digs inside of someone’s heart who will not listen.
- Not confronting an outsider. Someone off the street. However, that is necessary!
- Talking about, “we who are here in the room.” “We seem fine!”
- Confronting a heart condition.
The heart attack does not happen on the first cheeseburger.
It is the 10,000 cheeseburgers going unchecked. Something gives way.
- Person who is “sinning deliberately” (v. 26).
- Not sinning out of ignorance (cf. Lev. 4-5; Numbers 15:22-31)
- Old Testament differentiates sinning out of ignorance verses willfully.
- This is the latter.
- Premeditated (knowing) acts deserving severe punishment.
As a young teenager, I explicitly went surfing in dangerous conditions without adult supervision. I knowingly broke an explicit rule set by my parents. When the moms of the boy I went surfing with, talked, I was caught. My “good friend” who did not have the same rule openly mocked defining my problem as “deliberate disobedience!” I then knew my punishment would be severe.
“After receiving the knowledge of the truth” (v. 26) is a phrase meaning “salvation” (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Tit. 1:1).
- The Pastorals are clear that this knowledge is for the elect!
- What makes this so severe!
- Clear on the Gospel as someone regenerate.
- The contradiction is as severe as the punishment.
“…there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (v. 26).
- An Old Testament saint desperately looking for a “sacrificial lamb!”
- “Cannot find an offering - he will not stop sinning long enough to find one!”
- Catch 22!
- For a New Testament “church-goer” this is where someone has become anesthetized (“numbed”) to the Cross.
“What does this mean?”
- Certainly does not mean the Cross is not sufficient to save.
- Emphasis not on sufficiency but on functionality.
- Actively hardening against grace, practically rendering the Cross ineffectual.
- This is the danger of the Holy Spirit’s exposure and influence.
ESV Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible, in the case of those awho have once been enlightened, who have tasted bthe heavenly gift, and chave shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and ahave tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,6 and athen have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since bthey are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
- Hebrews 10’s warning is equally severe.
- This is “rocky soil.”
- Claiming Christ while repudiating Christ with a contradictory life!
b. Wallowing in self-pity
The diagnosis of “self-pity” is the state-of-heart embedded in the phrase, “…a fearful expectation of judgment” (v. 27).
The same sentiment is repeated in verse 31.
- “Fearful” [phobos] is not a holy fear but a pitiful fear.
- A crushed conscience, caught between two worlds.
- Knows the right path while taking the wrong path.
- “Demon faith” (cf. Jam. 2:19).
- The “Cross” would save you from “Wrath” but you will not yield!
- Guilt leading to remorse not repentance.
Tears of Judas, who sold out the Lord for 30 pieces of silver who tried to give the money back!
ESV Matthew 27:3-5 Then when aJudas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus1 was condemned, bhe changed his mind and brought back cthe thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? aSee to it yourself."5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, ahe departed, and he went and hanged himself.
“…a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (v. 27).
- Hell for God’s enemies.
- Looking at yourself in the mirror saying, “I am living a lie and I am afraid for my soul.”
In the Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is on the dangerous journey to the Celestial City.
- Won a man named Pliable to join him.
- Pliable is fascinated by the thought of going to this City, talkative, asking all kinds of questions.
- Not paying attention, they fall into, “The slough of Despond.”
- Christian is still carrying a rucksack strapped to his back, representing the burden of guilt from sin.
Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and CHRISTIAN, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.
Pli. Then said PLIABLE, "Ah! neighbor CHRISTIAN, where are you now?"
Chr. "Truly," said CHRISTIAN, "I do not know."
Pli. At that PLIABLE began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, "Is this the happiness you have told me of all this while? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect 'twixt this and our journey's end? If I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave country alone." And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was next to his own house: so away he went, and CHRISTIAN saw him no more.
[Narrator/Bunyan] Wherefore CHRISTIAN was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket gate: which he did, but could not get out, because of the burden that was upon his back.
But I beheld, in my dream, that a man came to him whose name was HELP, and asked him what he did there?
Chr. "Sir," said CHRISTIAN, "I was bidden to go this way by a man called EVANGELIST, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come; and as I was going thither, I fell in here."
Help. But why did you not look for the steps?
Chr. Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way and fell in.
Help. Then said he, "Give me thy hand." So he gave him his hand, and he drew him out; and set him upon some ground, and bade him go on his way.
"He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2
The outcome is determined by the response to personal guilt.
- Guilt is not simply felt repenters.
- Sin breeds guilt and fear.
- Beneath the surface, people want out of there catch 22!
- People want to be found out for relief.
c. Blaspheming the Cross
Verse 28 again throws back to the times of the Old Testament.
- Author argues from the lesser to the greater.
- From obscurity to clarity.
Before Christ and little was known about the afterlife. The netherworld.
- A Jew had a chief concern for safety.
- Staying within the covenant community!
- You held fast to “the law of Moses” (v. 28).
Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
ESV Deuteronomy 17:1-7 a"You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God.2 a"If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, bin transgressing his covenant,3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or athe sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, bwhich I have forbidden,4 and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire adiligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel,5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you ashall stone that man or woman to death with stones.6 aOn the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.7 aThe hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So byou shall purge1 the evil2 from your midst.
- This person “dies without mercy” meaning capital punishment.
- No second chances.
- Dreadfully, the afterlife is not revealed.
“This is the lesser punishment?” Yes, in terms of the afterlife.
Verse 29 promises “worse punishment” that is “deserved” (v. 29).
- What warrants greater punishment is greater exposure to so much truth.
- Clearer revelation about Jesus and grace.
- Not rejection Moses and rejecting Jesus!
- Rejecting Jesus is “trampling underfoot the Son of God” (v. 29).
- Stomping down Jesus’ name!
- “Profaned the blood of the covenant” (v. 29).
This is saying, Jesus’ “blood” is “common” like everybody else’s blood.
- Jesus’ blood is meaningless.
- What was before claimed for salvation.
This “blood” is what “sanctified” this person (v. 29).
“What does this mean?” Only genuine believers are “sanctified.”
- This has to be taken as a hypothetical.
- When the “blood” of Jesus is applied savingly, someone is “sanctified” or “set-apart” forever.
- “Having spurned (called ‘worthless’) the Son of God” you are thought to be “sanctified” but really are not.
- “Sanctified” is superficial “identification” with Christ blood!
- He has “…outraged the Spirit of grace?” (v. 29).
- “Insulted the Holy Spirit” (v. 29).
- “Grace” moves toward someone by the Holy Spirit!
- You stare saving grace down (extended by the Holy Spirit) and reject Him!
- “Insulted the Holy Spirit” (v. 29).
This is the grace of Jesus performing miracles where the Pharisees attributed Christ’s miracles to Satan.
ESV Matthew 12:24-32 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, a"It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." 25 aKnowing their thoughts, bhe said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, aby whom do byour sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.28 But if it is aby the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then bthe kingdom of God has come upon you.29 Or ahow can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed bhe may plunder his house.30 aWhoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.31 abTherefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but bthe blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.32 And whoever speaks a word aagainst the Son of Man bwill be forgiven, but zwhoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in ethis age or in the age to come.
When Christ was present, all the Kingdom of God was present!
- Attributing Christ’s Holy Spirit Power to Satan was spiritual suicide.
- Not the wrong phrase.
- Not a trap door.
- Drifting too far.
Judas Iscariot our chief example of this kind of apostasy.
- Hand selected by Christ.
- He experienced Christ’s teachings, miracle power, and friendship.
- Judas had maximum Light and rejected it, fulfilling Psalm 41:9.
ESV Psalm 41:9 Even my aclose friend in whom I trusted, who bate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
ESV John 13:18 aI am not speaking of all of you; I know bwhom I have chosen. But cthe Scripture will be fulfilled,1 d'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’
ESV Matthew 26:24 The Son of Man goes aas it is written of him, but bwoe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! cIt would have been better for that man if he had not been born.
ESV John 17:12 aWhile I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have bguarded them, and cnot one of them has been lost except dthe son of destruction, ethat the Scripture might be fulfilled.
- A defecting “church-goer” grieves the Spirit and ultimately “outrages the Holy Spirit” (v. 29).
Back to the front of verse 29. “How much worse punishment” speaks to degrees of punishment in Hell.
Jesus’ parable teaches this:
ESV Luke 12:47-48 aAnd that servant who bknew his master's will but cdid not get ready bor act according to his will, will receive a esevere beating. 48 aBut the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, bwill receive a light beating. cEveryone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
- “Apostates” will find themselves in a reprehensible condition.
- Sharing space with Judas’ Iscariot’s!
Both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels teach those in Hell will be “weeping and gnashing their teeth” (Matt. 13:42; Lk. 13:28).
Anyone who says the God of the Old Testament is of Wrath contra to Jesus of the New Testament, does not read their Bible.
- Jesus taught on Hell more than any other topic.
- You can understand why!
“Weeping and gnashing” may describe two kinds of people there.
- “Gnashing” for those angry and have no idea how they ended up there.
- “Weeping” for those who despair, clearly knowing the Gospel, rejecting with full knowledge.
d. Ignoring God’s recompense
Someone straying ignores God’s recompense.
- Payment for sins will be transacted.
- Judgement exacted.
- Unrepentant sin offends God who is Holy.
- Two choices. Two paths.
- Belief and Apostasy.
The conspiracy of Ananias and Saphira who knowingly lied to the Holy Spirit was met with God’s judgment on the spot.
Verse 30 quotes Deuteronomy 32:35, from the song of Moses.
- Moses penned Deuteronomy (Second Law), a final song to the Jews who will enter the Promised Land.
- A prophetic and poetic song recounts the first wilderness generation who committed apostasy.
- They spurned God’s care.
- Going after idols, worshiping demons! (Dt. 32:15-18).
ESV Deuteronomy 32:18 You were unmindful of athe Rock that bore1 you, and you bforgot the God who gave you birth.
- Exactly what someone inside of the church community is warned not to do!
“The LORD spurned them!” (Dt. 32:19).
Moses brings things to a crescendo in verses 34-35 with the “recompense” stored up against them!
ESV Deuteronomy 32:34-35 "'Is not this laid up in store with me, asealed up in my treasuries?35 aVengeance is mine, and recompense,1 bfor the time when their foot shall slip; for cthe day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.'
These verses were the basis for Jonathon Edwards’, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
- During the period known as The Great Awakening (mid-1700’s) revival swept Britain and the 13 English Colonies.
- Edward’s sermon represents this period.
- Edwards lost his job while in Northampton, Massachusetts.
- A church filled with “drifters.”
- Grandchildren who had grown up under Edward’s grandfather (Solomon Stoddard) - pastor and predecessor.
- Edward’s sermon represents this period.
- They were under a “half-way covenant.”
- Children of “baptized unbelieving parents” were allowed to be baptized!
- Baptism was a work of grace!
- “Riding their grandparent’s coattails into heaven.”
- Children of “baptized unbelieving parents” were allowed to be baptized!
- Edwards ultimately barred these Grand kids from the Lord’s Supper and was dismissed!
- And preached sermons warning them about Hell!”
“Edwards gave his people a whiff of the sulphurs of Hell that they might deeply inhale the fragrances of grace” [Hughes]
Verse 31 repeats the word “fearful” (cf. v. 27).
- “Fear” meant to snap someone out of unbelief.
- Seeing God as “Judge” to wake them up.
Someone, truly converted will be caught up short!
Will “come to himself” like the Prodigal son! (cf. Luke 15:17).
Knowing what to run from is important. ---- From Wrath!
Equally important, for you to know where to run to! --- Next week!
- Running toward Wrath is Forgetting God. His wrath!
- Running toward Grace is Remembering. His grace!
“Think lightly of hell, and you will think lightly of the cross” [Spurgeon]
Our lives hang by this mere thread, and eternity is gaping!