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A Terrifying Warning That Offers Hope Sermon Outline - Hebrews 10:26-31

Call to Worship: Psalm 85:1-7

Before I became a pastor I did my devotions quite differently than I do today. Back then I would spend months reading through one minor prophet. Because of this these prophets would become my friends. Therefore, when I would leave that book I experienced grief and loss.

We have spent almost a year in the book of Hebrews and I hope that your time in this book has created within you a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

This book was written to create strong relationship with Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews was written because these Christians had begun to drift away from Jesus, the Gospel, and His people (2:1). In its place they had begun to build a relationship with Moses, with the Levitical priesthood, and with the Law. As a result of this Jesus was considered less and less (3:1). They were considering other believers and the leaders of the church less (10:24-25; 13:7,17).

As this happened they did not realize that they were walking away from a true friend, a wonderful Savior, and a Great High Priest. They withdrew from the church and abandoned the sweet fellowship that they had once experienced with other brothers and sisters in Christ even under difficult circumstance (10:24-25, 32-34).

It is because of this that the author of Hebrews exhorts them to return to Christ (13:22). He has spoken to them of the great promises that are found only in Christ. He has given them commands to respond to by faith. He has also come to them with great threats that should make them tremble (LBC Chapter 14;1). Our text today is a warning passage that makes us tremble.

Hebrews 10 has been a wonderful chapter! In the verses leading up to our passage this morning we have seen two great truths. First, Hebrews 10:1-4 showed that the Law was a shadow of the realities that were to come. Because it was only a shadow the author of Hebrews declared, ‘It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins!’ (4)

After making that statement were given second great truth. We learned that God did not desire sacrifices so Jesus Christ became a man to offer Himself for our sins. Hebrews 10:14 says, ‘For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.’ And now the Holy Spirit bears witness to us that the LORD will remember our sins and lawless deeds no more (17).

Christians can now have confidence to enter the holy places because we have a great priest over the house of God (10:19-21). By faith every believer is to respond in three ways.

  • Hebrews 10:22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

  • Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

This brings us to our our text this morning. Hebrews 10:26-31 says,

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Would you agree with me that this text is just as wonderful as the rest of this chapter?

How can I say such a thing when this text is intended to make us tremble and to fear? The Puritan minister Richard Baxter reminds us how this text can be both terrifying and beautiful when he said, “It is easier to hear about hell than to feel it!

This text is intended to bring us to respond in saving faith. When I speak of ‘Saving Faith’ I am not just speaking about the moment of our conversion. Saving faith is expressed when we are regenerated and we increase in our saving faith throughout our life of sanctification. (Luke 17:4) (LBC 14:1)

In our text the author of Hebrews describes a terrible sin.

  • There may be some who are guilty of deliberately sinning after they have heard the truth.

  • There are some who will hear the truth and then trample underfoot the Son of God.

  • There were some who profane the blood of the New Covenant by which they were sanctified.

Because of this we are told that there remains no sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume God’s adversaries. We are told that their sin has outraged the Spirit of grace!

You may be asking yourself some questions right about now.

  • What sins are being referred too here?

  • Who are these people who have done such things? (believer or unbeliever)

  • Have I committed these sins?

  • How do I know when I have committed these sins and outraged the Spirit of grace?

  • Is it presumptuous for me to be waiting eagerly for the return of Christ? (Hebrews 9:27-28 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.)

  • Or should I be waiting for Christ’s return with a fearful expectation?

This morning I would like to spend some time with you answering these questions by considering an Old Testament text. In this story we will find a man who has committed a terrible sin.

  • This man committed was one of disbelief in God (faithlessness)Similarly, in our text we find that there are some in the visible church who ‘go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth’.

  • This man failed to uphold the LORD as holy before the eyes of the people. In our text today we see that there are very religious looking people who ‘trample underfoot the Son of God…and profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace.’

Our text says that the severity of such sins means that ‘there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.’ And those who commit such sins need to be reminded that God will judge them. The LORD says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay. The Lord will judge his people.” Our texts ends with these words, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Turn with me to Numbers 20. By the time we get to Numbers 20many things have gone wrong for the people of Israel. The LORD has not allowed them to enter into the Promised Land. For forty years they will wander in the desert until that generation dies off.

Despite the fact that God had kept them from entering we should realize that the Spirit of grace was always at work around them. Yet, they continually enraged the Spirit of grace!

  • At any point they could have responded in faith and repentance and been saved. This would not have necessarily meant that they would have then entered into the Promised Land, but they would have entered into the rest that had been promised (Hebrews 3:1-11).

Consider Hebrews 3:16-19, “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Israel was chronically, repeatedly, continuously, persistently and habitually unbelieving! In Hebrews 3 & 4 we were told not to be like them and I think Hebrews 10:26-31 is just another warning to not sin like them.

In Numbers 20:1 we find that Moses’ sister Miriam has died. We read these words, ‘...and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.’ Moses must have been terribly saddened by this. They cannot enter the Promised Land and now His sister is dies and is buried in the wilderness. Could things get any worse for Moses?

In Numbers 20:2 we see that things do get worse. We read, ‘Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

Are we surprised by this reaction by the people?

This has been the defining response of this people ever since they came out of Egypt. They will not believe so they continually sin. They murmur, grumble, complain and quarrel against the LORD.

Because of this Moses and Aaron go to the tent of meeting and fall on their faces before the LORD. God gives them instructions through which the LORD would provide water for the people. The LORD says to them, ‘Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.’ (8)

So far, Moses and Aaron have done everything right. When the people complain they go before the LORD, the LORD gives instructions, and the LORD gives a promise that He will act. However, we will see that something is not right with Moses’ heart.

Moses gathers the congregation and says, ‘Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ (10)

When God spoke of the people He called them a congregation and an assembly. When Moses speaks to them he calls them rebels. Who is right? They both are right. They are the LORD’s congregation and they are rebels (Numbers 14:26; Hebrews 3:8,15,16-19).

Moses is frustrated by the peoples tendency to rebel in unbelief. In frustration Moses lifts up his hands and strikes the rock twice. The LORD brings water out of the rock and the people drank.

However, afterwards the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and says, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’ (12)

Does it surprise you that it was Moses who has sinned in this way?

One of the kids in our Sunday School classes saw this and said, “This doesn’t seem fair that God does this to Moses after all that Moses has done. Moses should be allowed to go into the Promised Land”.

The London Baptist Confession on Good Works (16.5) says, “...when we have done all that we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from the Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s punishment.

All that Moses had achieved was only his duty. All the good that Moses did was produced by the Spirit of grace but his good works were still defiled and mixed with weakness and imperfection.

God explains that this has happened because when Moses struck the rock he did not believe in Him!

When we sin like this we do not typically say that it was because of a lack of faith. We will often say that we snapped under some pressure, we came to the end of our rope, we let our emotions get the best of us, we say that we were not really feeling that well at the time, or we say, “They made me do it”.

If our response is of faith we will not make any excuses. When the people of Israel were told that they could not enter the Promised Land their response was not of faith (Numbers 14:20-45). There were excuses that Moses could have but he didn’t . He could have said, “My sister just died and I’m just not myself.” He may have said, “These rebels made me do this!

If Moses would have used these excuses the LORD would have said to him, “Pay attention to yourself! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in a day, and, turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4) When Moses sinned he was not paying attention to himself, but he was looking at that rebellious people. God had intended for this to be another opportunity for this sinful people to repent and believe. Moses’s response was not of faith and he missed a Gospel opportunity. [How are we doing in these situations?]

God gives a diagnosis to Moses, “…. you (Moses) did not believe in me…”. This moment of faithlessness led Moses to not “...uphold the LORD as holy…”. And this led to Moses not entering into the Promised Land.

Let’s take a moment to make two broad observations about this text. First, God says that Moses ‘did not believe in Him’. This diagnosis is shocking. It seems impossible that such a thing could be said about Moses, but this is God’s diagnosis!

Moses’s momentary unbelief caused him to fail to uphold the LORD as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel. I say that this was momentary because this faithlessness was not the norm but the exception.

Moses is not like the ‘rebels’. Moses is not like the apostates who are described in Hebrews 3 & 4.They were a people who hardened their hearts, provoked God, straying hearts, and who did not know His ways. They were a people who had an evil and unbelieving heart that fell away from the living God (3:13; 10:31). Moses was not like those who heard the good news but did not respond in faith (3:16). Hebrews describes Moses in a different way. Hebrews 3:5says, “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later...” (3:5).

In Numbers 20God says that Moses had sinned through unbelief, but in Hebrews 11:24-28we see that Moses is described as a man of faith (3x).

  • By faith Moses refused to be called a son of Pharaoh…(24)

  • By faith he left Egypt…(27)

  • By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood…(28)

Even though the scriptures testify that Moses sinned on this occasion he would be forgiven and see the eternal kingdom for which He longed (25-26). Moses was NOT like that rebellious generation that he led. Nor was he like the apostates who are spoken of in Hebrews 10.

  • Moses received mercy, the apostates do not.

  • Moses did not continually and willfully sin, the apostates do.

  • Moses believed the truth, the apostates do not.

  • Moses looked to the Promised One for forgiveness, the apostates do not look to Jesus.

  • Moses had moments of sin, the apostates trample underfoot the Son of God continually.

  • Moses kept the commands, the apostates continually outrage the Spirit of grace.

Second, the consequences of Moses’ sin had temporal ramifications but his salvation was secure.

  • When Moses was disciplined he did not throw a temper tantrum but responded in faith.

  • He did not become angry with God.

  • He did not shrink back from faith (10:37-39).

No, Moses responded in faith by accepting the discipline. Can you see Moses’s faith in Hebrews 12:5-11which says, “‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and life? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Earlier we asked ourselves some questions:

  • What sins are being referred to in Hebrews 10:26-31?

  • Who are these people who have done such things?

  • Have I committed these sins?

  • How do I know when I have committed these sins and outraged the Spirit of grace?

  • Is it presumptuous for me to be waiting eagerly for the return of Christ (Hebrews 9:28)?

  • Or should I be waiting for Christ’s return with a fearful expectation?

Numbers 20, and the example of Moses, shows us that faithful men and women sin. Faithful people can have moments of unbelief and act inappropriately. That does not mean that they are ‘rebels of heart’. It does not mean that they are like those who are mentioned in Hebrews 10:26-31.

Which type of person are you?

Are you a sinner who has been saved by grace and who received the truth by faith?

Or are you a religious person who is ever learning but never able to come to the truth?

Do you sin but repent, or do you sin and excuse it away consistently?

Are you thankful and God glorifying, or are you consistently complaining and ungrateful?

Are you a Christian who may sin, or are you an unbeliever whose life is characterized by sin?

My friends, a true Christian should not leave here this morning terrified; rather they should wait expectantly for Christ’s return (9;27-28).

However, if you are content to hear the truth and not respond in faith you should not leave here with any comfort. You have one response to make: repent and believe. The sin that we commit when we do not have faith may have significant ramifications for you and I but the promise of entering into His rest is still being offered to us (2 Samuel 12). Will we respond in faith and obedience?

Closing Prayer: Psalm 86:1-13


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