“And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:21-22)
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (Heb 10:19-20).
On the cross, Jesus’ body was nailed and speared to tear down the curtain that had separated us from God’s presence. By letting his body be torn, Jesus opened a new and living way beyond the curtain. And as our high priest, he entered the Most Holy Place first so that we could also enter it with him.
The confidence that allows us to boldly enter the Most Holy Place isn’t based on who we are or what we’ve done, but on Jesus’ perfect work of salvation. By the blood of Jesus, all our sins were forgiven. And only by the precious blood of Jesus, can we become God’s children and have direct access to him. These are the wonderful spiritual blessings we have in Christ Jesus who is our high priest forever.
How To Respond To The Truth
Today, I’d like to talk about how we should respond to this truth revealed to us in Jesus Christ through the remaining part of Hebrews 10.
What’s important in every teaching in the Bible is that it is always related to believers’ lives. All of the authors in the New Testament wrote to connect their doctrines to Christian life. When Jesus taught people, he always emphasized the importance of actually following his teachings.
Christianity is not a religion of knowledge and understanding, but a religion of experience and obedience. It means that simply knowing about Jesus can’t be considered true faith until that knowledge is actually lived out and shown through our lives.
Faith without actions is dead. No matter how much we know about the Bible and Christianity, it means nothing unless we try to live out the truth of Jesus we find in the Bible in our lives.
In Jesus Christ, many things were achieved for everyone. But it doesn’t mean that everyone could enjoy spiritual blessings without any effort on their part. That’s because they are only given to those who willingly and actively respond to the truth of Jesus with their lives. That’s what the author of Hebrews talks about in the latter part of Hebrews 10.
1. Let Us Draw Near to God (Heb 10:21-22)
First of all, we’re encouraged to draw nearer to God. Verses 21-22 say,
“Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:21-22)
In the previous passage, the author mentioned what Jesus achieved as our high priest. He tore down the curtain and made a new and living way. In Jesus, now we can have confidence to go into the Most Holy Place. Then, we should respond to this great truth by trying to draw nearer to God with a sincere heart and with confidence.
To have a sincere heart, we should have our hearts sprinkled. This brings up the image of priests in the Old Testament sprinkling blood to make atonement.
On the Day of Atonement, high priests entered the Most Holy Place with bulls’ and goats’ blood and sprinkled it on the altar 7 times with his finger to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites and make atonement for all the members of the community.
Likewise, Christians under the new covenantshould be sprinkled and covered by Jesus’ blood to cleanse us from a guilty conscience so that we can freely go to God.
Having our bodies washed with pure water, which refers to water baptism, is an outward mark that shows our inward holiness which was obtained by Jesus’ blood.
So, as Christians who received this spiritual blessing, we are to try to draw near to God with a sincere heart and full assurance. Full assurance means complete trust. It refers to the confidence to go before God’s throne of grace. Faith in Jesus brings us confidence and full assurance to stand before God because by believing in Jesus we completely rely on him for our salvation.
Again, the reason we can stand before God is not within us but through Jesus. Even though we’re still weak and sinful, we can still have full assurance of our salvation by relying on Jesus and putting our faith in him.
2. Let Us Hold Unswervingly to The Hope (Heb 10:23-25)
Second, we’re encouraged to hold firmly to the hope we have in Jesus.
Hebrews 10:23-25 says,
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:23-25)
In Hebrews 3:14, the author encouraged the readers to “hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Heb 3:14)
Here the readers are urged again to hold unswervingly to what they professed about Christ when they first believed in him. They had to make every effort to keep their faith in Jesus based on the hope he showed them.
At that time, Christianity wasn’t regarded as an official religion. Rather, since Christians refused emperor worship and professed that Jesus was the true king, they were persecuted because of their faith.
Jesus wasn’t respected in society, God’s word was disregarded, and Christian faith wasn’t regarded as valuable. Christians were often persecuted, and they had to live with all kinds of mistreatment.
In this difficult situation, they had to hold firmly to the hope they found in Christ so that they wouldn’t be shaken by their circumstances but keep their faith in Jesus.
And for that, they had to look after and encourage one another to continue to be devoted to love and good deeds. They needed to gather with other Christians and try to meet with as many as possible to share their faith in Jesus and stand strong together.
In fact, the author of Hebrews emphasized the importance of community many times. According to Hebrews, Christians are holy brothers and sisters in God’s family and they build God’s house together under Jesus who is the head of the house.
Because we’re so weak, we can’t stand firmly on our own. So God allows us to have a spiritual family to support, encourage, and help each other so that we won’t fall down. Regarding the importance of community, Ecclesiastes 4:12 says,
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ec 4:12)
We should know that the person next to us is God’s blessing he gives us to keep our faith. We can do things together that we can’t do alone. When Jesus sent his disciples to towns for evangelism, he didn’t send them alone but in pairs.
So, we really need each other to stand strong in faith. We should try to gather on a regular basis to praise God together, pray together, and listen to his word.
I know it might be a little bit awkward for you, but the reason I always want to take time to share our faith and our thoughts after sermons is because that’s how we challenge and encourage one another not to drift away from faith.
3. Do Not Throw Away Your Confidence (Heb 10:26-35)
Now, let’s move on to the third encouragement. After two positive appeals, now the author warns readers not to lose their confidence or fall back from their faith by telling them what not to do.
He said in verse 35, “So do not throw away your confidence” (Heb 10:35).
Here, confidence refers to the full assurance we have in Jesus. The readers were surrounded by difficult situations in which they could easily lose their faith. Nevertheless, they had to make every effort to remain faithful because if they lost their faith, the result would be much worse.
Hebrews 10:26-29 says,
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb 10:26-29)
Here, the author’s tone is quite strong. He is talking about ‘deliberately sinning.’ It doesn’t refer to general sins, but a specific sin—to trample down the Son of God, which means complete renunciation of Christ.
We can still stumble and sin even after we believe in Jesus because of our weaknesses and sinful nature that remains in us. It is not good, but it’s still okay because those sins can still be forgiven.
But, according to this passage, the sin of completely deliberate and intentional abandonment of faith in Christ can’t be forgiven and no sacrifice for the sin is left because it doesn’t come from our weaknesses and sinful nature, but from complete rejection of faith.
It is to trample the Son of God underfoot. It is to treat the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing. It is to insult the Spirit of grace. The author warns that if we deliberately commit this sin, there won’t be a second chance.
I think this is in line with what Jesus warned us about in Mark 3:28-29.
“Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mk 3:28-29)
So, from these verses, we know that there is sin that can’t be forgiven. Even though we must be careful about all kinds of sins, we must be especially wary of the sin of rebellion against Jesus Christ.
We can also find a similar warning in Hebrews 6. Hebrews 6:4-6 says,
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Heb 6:4-6)
When writing this passage, the author likely had in mind some Jewish Christians who ended up abandoning their faith in Jesus and returned to Judaism to avoid suffering.
They had once believed in Jesus and admitted his divinity. But they no longer believed in him as the Son of God, but insulted the precious blood of Jesus that he had shed for them. And, if they deliberately continued to committhis sin, there would be no sacrifice left to atone for their sin of rebellion.
That’s why we should be careful not to throw away our confidence in Jesus, but try to remain in him no matter the circumstances.
4. Do Not Shrink Back (Heb 10:36-39)
Lastly, the author warns the readers not to shrink back from their faith. He said,
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Heb 10:36-39)
Here, the author compares two results. First, if we throw away our confidence and shrink back from faith in Jesus, the result will be God’s wrath, judgment, and raging fire.
But if we persevere and hold firmly to our faith in Jesus and God’s promises in Christ, “It will be richly rewarded” (Heb 10:35), and we will be allowed to participate in God’s wonderful salvation in Christ.
Today, we talked about how we should respond to the things Jesus achieved for our salvation as our high priest. We’re encouraged to do two things. We should try to draw near to God day by day out of the confidence we have in Christ. And we should hold unswervingly to the hope we have in Christ Jesus by relying on him and by encouraging one another in God’s family.
The author also warns us not to throw away our confidence in Jesus by deliberately committing the sin of rebellion. We may stumble because of our weaknesses but we must never intentionally decide to abandon our faith in Jesus.
We should be careful not to shrink back from our faith, but to try to keep our faith with perseverance. Then we will be able to stand firmly in our faith in Jesus under all circumstances.
I hope that all of us here have stronger faith in Jesus and draw nearer to God day by day and year after year so that we all join in God’s wonderful salvation and his great reward for us in the end.