Hebrews Chapter 10:22-39
Hebrews Concluding Theological Remarks
As we have gone through chapters 8-10 the emphasis has been on the superiority of Christ over all the revelations and dispensations that came before him. In him all things come to fruition and the end result is that our eyes are squarely set upon his all-sufficiency. Repeatedly the text has told us that the Old has passed away; we see that we are saved apart from works; that we are not under the Law; the temple, priesthood, sacrifices, and the Law have been replaced by Christ; they have been done away with.
This leaves us with an important question. If we are not under the Law, how are we supposed to live? What does God require from us? We have touched upon the fact that God has put us under a new Law, but we have not really developed what that means in our daily walk with God. In this last study I hope to address that deficiency. Chapter 10 brings us to the practical application of what the author has been developing theologically.
The New Reality
Ro 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.
This new Law is described in scripture in different ways: in 1 Cor. 9:21 we are told that we are now under Christ’s Law. The Greek word for law here is not the word used to refer to the Law of Moses. It is a more general word that speaks of any law. In this case it is Christ’s law. In James 2:8 it is called “royal Law”. In English translations “the” is added (the royal law) which detracts from the point, Christ’s law is royal law. It is supreme in every way. It is expressed in two commandments: love God with your whole heart, soul, (mind, will, emotions) and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:36).
Christ fulfilled the Law (1) and we are being made into his image. But Hebrews tells us the Law of Moses was simply a poorly formed shadow of what Christ is. The Law was good and perfect and holy but it could not change man. It could not produce faith or proper motives for obedience. Christ fulfilled all of the purpose and holiness of God. The restoration implicit in this is that we are moving beyond the Law and coming into a holy relationship with God untainted by sin (because Christ bore our sins on the cross) and therefore there is no need of the Law of Moses. Hebrews chapter three tells us that Moses was a servant in the Lords house, but Christ is the Son over his own house. We see in this statement the impermanence in the role of Moses and a continuance in the house of the Son.
Grace at Work within us
In the last study we considered ultimate sanctification as the end result of the work of the Holy Spirit where we are completely made holy. The work of the Holy Spirit in Practical sanctification is to change us incrementally into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). We are promised that ultimately we will be presented to Christ without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:27). The Law of Moses could never do this. We find in the Law of Christ the permission to become like Christ as well as the promise that the Holy Spirit will complete in us this transformation. The operative notion in this is that it is not man achieving righteousness by his works; nor is it man transforming himself by his own will; it is that by grace through faith we are being transformed into Christs image by the Holy Spirit.
The law of Christ
The law of Christ is frequently present in scripture by the word “let” which is both an exhortation as well as a commandment. Do this because Christ has opened the way for you to accomplish it.
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Hebrews has many examples of this exhortation/commandment “Let”: Heb. 1:6; 2:1; 4:1, 11, 14,16; 6:1; 10:22, 23, 24; 12:1, 28; 13:1, 5,13, and 15. What this implies is the major limitation in our growth in Christ is our selves. We are invited to appropriate what we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Christ. Paul put it this way in 1 Cor. 15:10:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
We need to know what Christ has done for us and what is available to us so that we can become mature saints.
In chapter 10 we will be looking at three verses that all begin with the word “let”. It is worth repeating that this word is an encouragement as well as a commandment; it is an imperative. An imperative means “you must do this”. It is God saying become what I called you to be. It reveals how God wants us to live. As a combination exhortation/commandment it emphasizes a living active faith.
This is illustrated by Paul when he bookended his Epistle to the Romans with the phrase “obedience to the faith” (Rom. 1:5; 15:26). If we fail to live this way it does not carry the condemnation the Old Law did. It means we have failed to bear all the fruit that God created us to bear in this present life. In practical terms “let” encourages us to appropriate grace by standing upon the promise of scripture regarding how to walk upright before God.
The Law of the Spirit and Life
This is the Law of Christ? We need to understand why it is not just another form of legalism?
It is a Law, because law expresses purpose and order. God has not called us to chaos. He didn’t save us without intending to create in us something that glorifies himself. He gains no glory if we continue to self-destruct in sin. Legalism is when we attempt to perfect ourselves; to add to what God has done; to obligate him to accept us on the basis of our works; it is self-righteous. While it fails the goal it embodies remains; we are called to be a holy people. We cannot become holy apart from seeing ourselves crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Our flesh; our self-serving will, must die (Rom. 8:6) and be replaced by a heart that cries “thy will be done” (Ezek. 11:14-21). God uses the word “Law” to define or give us a vision of what we are becoming by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is expressed in the epistles by saying “let” this be what you are about.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
To understand this we need to understand how the Holy Spirit builds the law in our lives. Jesus made three statements that clarify the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Joh 16:7 ¶ Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you.
Joh 16:8 And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Joh 16:9 of sin, because they believe not on me;
Joh 16:10 of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more;
Joh 16:11 of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged.
Verse seven states that all the success in our relationship to God is contingent on the sending of the comforter, the Holy Spirit. Much theology is embroiled in what it means that God has sent the Holy Spirit. That debate largely centers around how to interpret in a way that leaves the power in the hands of the denomination. Christs explanation was much simpler.
Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
We receive the Holy Spirit when we yield our lives to God, confess our sins and accept his forgiveness. If a believer is uncertain if he has the Spirit he is told here to ask the Father. Paul sees this as an ongoing process. Though God will never leave us, or take his Spirit from us, the Spirit is described as a river of living water (Jn. 4:14). Paul offers some practical advice to those who feel that something is missing in their lives. “Don’t be drunk with wine but (Greek tense) be being filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:18)”
In verse 8 Jesus says the Holy Spirit will convince man of sin because he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ. We are told that by the Law comes the knowledge of sin. The law brings condemnation. Now Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit is being sent to the world to convince us of our sins because we don’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah. This is how we all came to saving grace. The Holy Spirit made us aware of our great failures and offences and we knew we were guilty; we knew we were lost. The Holy Spirit convinced us that we needed Jesus in our lives. Everything begins with the Father using the Holy Spirit to draw us to the Son for forgiveness (Jn. 6:44).
John 16:10 says the Holy Spirit also convinces us of righteousness because Jesus went to the Father. Jesus became a man and in his life and death he always pleased and obeyed the Father. This means that God’s standard of righteousness was satisfied by the life and death of Jesus Christ. God had, in Jesus Christ the one man worthy of him. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus demonstrated the righteousness of God. In the resurrection God demonstrated his will to save those who are righteous. He did not leave his Son in the grave to experience corruption because Jesus is sinless. Jesus as a man was worthy and the Father took him to heaven.
The Holy Spirit persuades us that by faith in Christ we have been made righteous apart from the Law; that we are worthy because Jesus is worthy (2 Cor. 5:21). God has made us holy in Christ so we can have access to him. Nothing unholy or unclean can come into God’s presence. By making a way for us to be holy through the blood of Christ, God does not see our sins; he sees our faith in his provision. God has proved his righteousness by resurrecting Jesus and through Jesus making a way to receive us onto himself. His righteousness has been validated by the resurrection of the Son. God is just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
The other thing the Holy Spirit persuades us of is judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged. The Greek word for judge here is damnation.
God sends the Holy Spirit to convince the world of damnation because Satan has been damned. The clock is running out on Satan and it is running out on this present evil world. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
We see here three things the Holy Spirit is sent to accomplish: to convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit is within us, so what exists in us is an internal communication between God and each individual believer. The Holy Spirit convinces us of sin. He assures us of our righteousness by faith; and he lets us know that judgment has begun (1 Pet.4:17) because Satan is defeated and God is in control.
The purpose of judgment is to set things right
1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Notice it is the same judgment that begins with the church and ends with the rebellious world. The word “judge” here is severe. What does it mean that the church is being judged?
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Enmity means hostility and hatred. The person caught up in the cares of this world, the lust of the flesh; the lust of the eyes and the pride of life reveals in his actions a hatred and hostility towards God. The flesh is carnal (self-serving). God has condemned sin in the flesh. It is destroyed at the cross (2).
Have a Good Conscience
Ro 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Ro 8:15 For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Ro 8:16 The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:
Notice verse 16. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit. God’s Spirit within us communicates with our spirit. When we read the scripture, the Spirit speaks to us and washes us with his word. He plants the word in our spirit so that our conscience is laid open to God. The conscience works in us to tell us when we are in God’s will. In order for it to work correctly the word of God has to teach our conscience what is right and wrong. The conscience is simply a mechanism of the heart that tells us when we violate what we believe is right or wrong. We can believe a lie and our conscience will help us to be consistent with the lies we believe. Conscience in scripture is often accompanied with an adjective. 1 Timothy 1:19 and 1 Peter 3:16 speak about a good conscience. Titus 1:15 speaks of a defiled conscience. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 talks about people who have seared or burned out their conscience” In Hebrews 13:18 the writer says he is certain he is acting out of a clear conscience. In Romans Chapter one Paul tells us that in every child the conscience is instructed by God. He says we know God, but so not want to be mindful of him or be thankful to him. The reason is that our appetites war against the conscience and pull away from God until God finally gives man over to his desires, which then become his master. People think they are free to quit a sin as long as God is striving with them. They interpret Gods work as their own will and so do not realize they are caught until God stops striving with them. Then they are trapped in their desires or addictions. God strove with them to master these desires, but they resisted him until he gave them over. Then their conscience switched to validate them in the lie they served. Every man is right in his own eyes (Prov. 21:2) even when he is walking the path of death (Prov. 14:12; Rom. 6:23).
God told Cain “sin has crouched at your door and you must master it.” Cain didn’t and we haven’t either. In the chapter we are studying the author speaks about an evil conscience. We will consider that in more detail when we come to the passage.
In Hebrews 9:14 we were told to purify our conscience from dead works. The conscience must be trained. Its job is to keep us from error. But it has to be taught. The author here says you need to erase the ideas you had under the Law and let your conscience be informed by something else; the law of love, which is also the law of holiness. The Holy Spirit works in us to train our conscience as we allow him by study and meditation (reflection on the word) to build the scripture into our lives. Romans 2:28-29 refers to this process as the circumcision of the heart. Matthew 13 reveals Christ as the sower of seeds which is the word of God. God’s purpose is to sow the word in our lives and make it grow. In Matt. 13 he is careful to tell us all the ways we can inhibit the growth. We can, by indifference, even prevent it from taking root.
So if we are faithfully seeking God through the word our conscience is able to do its job because the Holy Spirit is causing scriptures to rise to our consciousness as we have need of them in the course of our day. This is what Jesus said. I will send you the comforter, the Holy Spirit and he will teach you all things and bring them to your remembrance as you have needs of them (John 14:26). That is the law internalized; so we see here that the Law of Sin and Death which pertains to the flesh has been superseded.
All that Law could do was compel us to conform externally. The Spirit within us causes us to love God and to want to please him; it makes us hate our sins and gives us the longing to be clean; it makes us love righteousness. The internal Law becomes flesh by the Holy Spirit, so that if we walk in the Spirit we find ourselves doing the law naturally (2 Cor. 3:3). We always have the freedom to yield to the flesh. This is our battle (Gal. 5:17). His Spirit convicts our conscience of sin, and prompts us to seek and depend on him for everything.
The Means to the End
The goal to make us holy has never changed; the means of achieving it has. Holiness is the pure character of God. It was expressed in the innocence of Adam and Eve before the fall. They had an open relationship with God. There were no issues of contention between them. While we have lost innocents we are gaining maturity and restoration to his purity. This is accomplished under the Law of the Spirit and Life.
Asking the question again; ‘how are we supposed to live’ we see that we are new creatures in Christ (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) . We need to know who we are and grow in that. We were made to bear the image and likeness of God. We are being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Jesus Christ; Jesus in his body demonstrated both true deity and true humanity. That is the goal he has set for us. Our goal is not deification; it is demonstration as we reflect his glory. For this to happen we must partake of his divine work within us.
2 Pet. 1:4
“by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
This doesn’t happen by osmosis. This is a partnership. We are yoked with Christ. So we are told to work out our salvation because God is working in us to accomplish and do his will (Phil. 2:12).
Let it happen
While preparing this study I looked at over 50 verses that have this imperative “let”. They are verses that tell us to protect our faith; They speak about order. Repeatedly they tell us in different ways, to love the family of God and to continue in God with praise and thanksgiving. Jesus Christ is held up to us as the one we must emulate. We look at him and see in him the person we are becoming. Paul writes in Phil. 2:5 “let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” This is royal law. It is learning and determining to live who and what we are becoming in Christ.
The author of Hebrew has just completed the Theological part of his letter and is now turning to practical application. He begins with three “let” imperatives.
The first speaks of faith, the second hope and the third love. In all of these the point is about who we are in Christ and what we are becoming. We have everything we need, what we lack is faith to stand in God’s provisions. That is what chapter 11 will address. It will tell us that the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous person matters to God. Faith can change things. Faith produces fruit.
James 2:8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” ye do well. (3)
Here in Hebrews we are given three exhortation/commandments.
Heb 10:22 Faith
let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water,
We ended the last study talking about a true or sincere heart. We have the need to be authentic. Paul in Romans 12:9 says let your love be without dissimulation. The Greek word here means changing masks or hypocrisy, that is changing masks depending on who we are with. We need authenticity. People watch us to see if we live consistent with our claim to be followers of Christ. We are not to pretend to be what we are not; we seek Christ to make us who he is. Discernment is seeking to understand and act in conformity to the truth revealed to us. We should know who we are in Christ and not change masks when we are with other groups of people.
“having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience”,
When the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies he sprinkled the blood of an animal on the mercy seat. That is when we are told propitiation took place. The blood was a barrier between the people and the wrath of God. By that blood God’s disposition towards those people was changed from wrath to patient endurance. When Moses initiated the covenant he sprinkled blood on the people. Christ has initiated a new covenant. In the once for all sacrifice of Christ our hearts have been sprinkled clean. Not only have our sins been washed away; our hearts have been sprinkled from an evil conscience. What we have instead is faith. We don’t dwell on our failures; we trust in Christ’s sufficiency to finish in us what he has begun. We keep our eyes on the prize.
Ga 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Ga 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
In verse 22 the Greek word for “evil” (“evil conscience”) is moral culpability (4). The flesh uses the conscience to self-justify repaying evil for evil and being vindictive with regard to slights and violations of rights. The believers must see that he is to crucify his flesh in these times as Christ did, recognizing that if God is our Lord, we have no rights. Our calling is to glorify him in every situation. His blood should be sufficient to “let” his mind be in us.
Christ’s blood allows the Holy Spirit to work in us to cleanse us from all depravity and decadence. The goal of the Holy Spirit is to wash us clean with pure water. Paul says in Galatians that he lived by the faith of Christ; this is a faith given to every believer. The Holy Spirit gives us faith when we come to Christ. Rom 13:3 say we all have a measure of faith. That faith that Christ gives us sustains us. The faith we have comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. If we are covered by his blood we are clean. If we walk after the flesh and judge ourselves by the Law of Sin and Death then our conscience is evil. It is based on self-interest and works. A good conscience is in agreement with what God reveals to us.
“and having our body washed with pure water,”
Some see this verse in reference to baptism. Baptism may be an outward sign to what this is saying; but the point is more likely that no part of what we are is left out of service to God. The word “body” here means your body. God has made the physical world and our bodies so that it is possible for us to develop character. The material world allows us to have an impact. Man makes choices and changes because he can manipulate matter. God made it that way for a reason. But man born into a fallen world uses his body for his own pleasure and purpose. He loves things and uses people. In a fallen world man really doesn’t know what to do with his body or the physical world. His needs tie him to this world, but man can pervert his needs and use them to desecrate himself. Scripture speaks about gluttony, vanity, and other ways of defiling the body. So our bodies need to be washed in pure water. Our body is our means of serving God and one another; it is the means by which we let God work through us. Ephesians tells us how Christ is preparing the church for himself:
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the word,
We live in a culture obsessed with body worship. We need to see our body as an instrument by which we can worship and obey God. Scripture tells us what the purposes and proper functions of the body are. When we go against that we self-destruct. We also deny God the visible witness to his image which we are to demonstrate in the world. People use the body to express their own image and values. God wants to use our bodies to reveal the character of Christ to the world. God seeks to wash our body by conforming it to what we believe, because the body is what communicates to the people around us. I’m not talking about dress codes. I’m talking about how we project our faith.
Consider how frequently epistles begin with the statement grace, peace, and mercy be with you. James says we are told to have joy in the midst of our trials of faith. The world is desperate for peace, joy, love, and mercy. Think of all the desperate things the world does to get those things. God gives them to us as the fruit of his Spirit. God wants people to see joy in our lives; we should have peace. We should walk in his grace. Our bodies should be communicating that we have what the world desperately wants.
A smile can potentially change a stranger’s whole day (5). God freely gives us what the world desperately wants. We need to let it work in us and shine out of us. Grace, peace, and mercy be yours in Christ Jesus.
Our bodies communicate accessibility or menace, friendliness or contempt. Hebrews says we are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and should walk in faith and having our body which is our point of contact with others, washed with the pure water of his word. Wear your faith where it can be seen, through the expressions and deeds done through your body. The Epistle of James drives this point home demonstration the fruit of living in grace. God wants to shine in you.
Heb 10:23 Hope
let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful.
Hold fast here means keep in memory, seize or and retain. The Greek word hope means to anticipate with pleasure. We are not to vacillate in this hope. The reason is that Christ has overcome. He has promised us that we will also overcome and he is faithful to keep his promises. This is a sure foundation. Our victory is contingent on Christ’s ability to keep his word.
The problem is that we vacillate when we stumble. James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into different trials and temptations of our faith because they work a greater glory in us (James 1:2-4). This is not natural to us. We see falling as failure and think that God thinks about us the way we think about ourselves in those times. It is not natural to be joyful when we fall into trials or temptations. James here is not speaking about being tempted to do evil. Later he says those type of trials are of the flesh and never come from God. The trials here are about trust, obedience, thanksgiving and remaining in the truth. Our natural reaction to any failure is self-loathing. James tells us to have unadulterated joy when our faith is being tested by financial difficulties, persecution, rejection, health problems, challenges to our self-will, or sorrows for the lost and wayward. Hebrews exhorts us to hold onto the promise of Christ.
Scripture does not command us to do what comes natural. You do not find any commandment to breath or sleep. For example, if God commands us to honor our parents then we deduce that it is not natural for self-willed people to honor those who step on their will. If we are told to submit to one another thins for most people this is a great test of faith. Here the Author says “hold fast the confession of our hope.” In Exodus we see how short lived that can be. What is our hope? Jesus Christ, apart from the Mosaic Law has provided in and through himself everything we need to be saved, sanctified, redeemed, and glorified. In other words,
1) Christ alone saves us,
2) He alone makes us holy;
3) He will sustain us;
4) He will presents us to himself made into his image.
5) He promised it and he is faithful to deliver on his promise.
We are commanded to seize on those promises with anticipation and pleasure. Don’t let go of these truths. Stand on them because God is always in control. The third imperative has to do with how we ought to act as the community of saints.
Heb 10:24 Love
Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works,
With regard to this third imperative, I have said many times in these studies that God hates sin. God is love. We ought not to mention his hatred of sin without affirming God’s love for man. He loves all of mankind. God’s enemy is sin and death. Man is a contingent creature. He can chose and serve life or death. Man is not self-existent, he cannot define himself or his purpose; he has to get that from something other than himself. If he turns to sin and death to gain his identity and purpose he becomes an enemy of God. God isn’t willing that anyone perish (2 Pet. 3:9) so he has made a way for all people to have peace with him through his Son (Eph. 2:14). Our call to love one another requires that we be peacemakers. We must bring people to the cross. That is part of our duty as the body of Christ (Rom. 10:14-15).
Verse 24 is an exhortation to the body of Christ; to love one another and to encourage each other to grow in our faith; and our determination to glorify God. We are to bear fruit. We are to care for his body as he cares for his body. He has turned faith and assurance into a calling to serve one another in love. We are to hold fast to one another and to stir each other up to do good works. It is all Christ, he is the head and we are his body; but now he says because we are joined with him we should be focused on nurturing the other members of the body (Col. 2:2; Eph. 4:16). We share our faith and confidence together. Christianity is not a solitary experience. We will share eternity together and we are supposed to be busy building one another up now. We are told here to stir up one another in love and good works. We have the ability to bring out the best in others or the worst. We are told to bring out the best.
The Greek word used for “provoke” or “stir up” means to make motion or to agitate. This is serious. The second imperative told us not to waver in our hope. Now we are told to be aggressive in our love. We are always tempted to quit or withdraw. So the author uses a harsh word here. It means to fight for each other. It doesn’t require that one person be right and the other be wrong (6).
It means that sometimes we need to be bold with each other. Someone told me recently about a devotional they were reading that said don’t meddle in other people’s affairs. That is one extreme, but the other is indifference. We must not fail to provoke one another to godliness. We do this with a teachable attitude. We do it in a spirit of gentleness. Paul gives us a great example of this in a letter to Timothy. He says all scripture is profitable to us for doctrine, reproof and correction. Because of that we should be instant in season and out of season to offer encouragement, correction, and warning depending on what a situation calls for (2 Tim. 4:2).
This is exactly what we are being told in these three imperatives in Hebrews. In this verse and in Hebrews 10:24 we see that love and good works toward the family of God ought to be provoking each of us to live godly lives and to take chances with our faith. Our faith is not about buying fire insurance; it is about letting Christ work in us and reveal himself through us. The word “stir up” implies accountability. It has to do with discipleship. It implies that we need to accept correction from others. We all need encouragement. We need edification. But sometimes we need a timely word from someone. God says we grow by that which the other members of the church supplies. We should push against our weakness by giving other members of the faith permission to confront us if they think we have a blind spot. When we do confront others (in a spirit of gentleness- Gal. 6:1) we must be open to being wrong and maybe being the one who actually has the problem. We all see through a glass darkly. Regarding judging and defending positions that mitigate against the truth, Paul gives us this exhortation/command “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). It does not mean we ought to be timid, it means we ought to be teachable. God is always true, but we must be sure we rightly divide his word. Here we see that for the sake of love for one another we are responsibility to know the word.
Heb 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together,
We are not to neglect to meet together because there is a blessing in doing so. Maybe we are just blessing God. That ought to be a priority. What the church demonstrates to the world is that God can take people who have nothing in common in the world and God can still unite them in love by the Holy Spirit working in and through them. Jesus said the world will know you are my disciples when you have love for one another (Jn. 13:34-35). The author says:
not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.
The author is addressing a real problem already occurring in that church. People have stopped fellowship and returned to the old system, or old habits and ways. Later he will tell us that there was a great persecution; they had been put on public display, and had suffered the loss of all things. His concern is to warn those who remain. When a society turns against the Christians, believers have to choose between friendships with the world over friendship with the body of Christ. Maybe a lot of these people were going back to the temple sacrifices because they wanted to be socially acceptable. The desire to belong is very powerful; it comes from God; which is why he tells us to be with other believers and to attend to each other’s needs.
We Were Made to Belong to Things That Are Now at War With Each Other
We should understand our need to belong so we can know what battle we are fighting. Look at Adam and Eve before the fall. They were made to belong to God, to be individuals (Eve made a decision without Adam), to belong to each other and to belong to the world. All of mankind should have been united by a common faith in God. Man was made to be social. That is part of being made in God’s image and likeness. When Eve was deceived Adam had to make a choice between standing with her or standing with God.
Because of the fall we now often have to choose sides between the very things we were made to belong to. These choices cut to the core of our being. We are forced to take stands. This is one big reason why man is religious. He seeks to heal these gaps rather than seeing the divisions as incurable apart from an act of God.
When we accepted Christ as our savior and be reconciled to God Satan declared war on us. He comes with false goals, false hopes, false doctrines and deceitful purposes. We must have discernment and we must have the openness to point out danger when it comes. Sometimes we may have to stand alone and God will give us grace in those times; but God has chosen to use his body, you and me, the church as a dispensary of his grace. For that to happen we have to welcome those who question our beliefs or our actions. We must provoke each other to seek for and stand in the truth. We owe it to each other to know the word. Eph 4:11- 25 tells us that people within the church are a gift to the body so that we can all grow into maturity by that which each member contributes.
We are to stir each other to love and good works in order to bring each other to maturity in Christ. That means leaving our comfort zones and taking risks. It doesn’t work if we lack a teachable heart. It requires humility and recognition that God uses people to accomplish his plan for our life. Everyone has a part in this. Everyone is needed. No one is insignificant (Prov. 27:17).
Verse 25 continues:
but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.
In many translations ‘day’ is capitalized. If it is supposed to be capitalized then it speaks about the Day of the Lord, when God comes back to judge the earth. Translators have differed about whether to capitalize it or not. At the time of this writing there were three different days that were imminent events, (meaning they were events that could happen at any time without warning or the need for other things to happen first) the destruction of the Temple, the Rapture of the church or the Day of the Lord’s wrath which was a seven year period ending history. They could have all begun simultaneously. So which day fits this passage?
This letter is written to Hebrew Jews who are being shown how to read and interpret the Old Testament which makes it an argument against this being about the Rapture. The Rapture is a doctrine we get from the New Testament.
Paul wrote about two days, the Day of the Lords wrath and the Rapture. In each of these he spoke of them as events that could happen without warning. He spoke of each in the first person saying “we which are alive” indicating that those days could have occurred at that time. I think this verse speaks about the destruction of the temple specifically, but also by continual application to the church, the Day of the Lord’s wrath. What we can glean from this passage in Hebrews is a general principle of how to prepare for times when we know God is bringing judgment upon a nation, or people, or the world.
The author is telling the church that those who returned to the Temple and the Levitical system are returning to something that is facing imminent judgment. If they leave the sacrifice provided by Christ, there are no other sacrifices left; only judgment. Jesus was the last sacrifice. Jesus pronounced judgment in Matthew 12:31 and chapter 24. This day of impending judgment was imminent in the minds of the believers. God used the delay time to test the faith of those who had come to him. It was not for decades that the city and Temple were destroyed in 70 AD.
This same warning of judgment is applicable to the Day of the Lord’s wrath.
The Christians the author is speaking to had undergone a persecution period in which they suffered public mockery, brutality, and the loss of their property. Now a period of time had passed. Some may have been privatizing their faith; perhaps not wanting to be associated with those whom the society had rejected. Others were returning to the normal flow of society, in their case, the theocratic society of the Temple and animal sacrifices. The author has a strong warning against them for this behavior. He begins with the word “for” which refers back to the approaching day of judgement. He has suggested that some form of apostasy has already taken place because many have already forsaken gathering together with the saints. He says it was their custom to avoid other Christians. So there is an element here that are in apostasy and also an element that have made a dangerous decision that will bring physical judgment upon them. The author speaks first about the apostasy.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins,
Heb 10:27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries.
“If we sin willfully”. We all have moments of willful sin. If the author were referring to that we’d all be in trouble. This is talking about a willful act that is continuous and unrepentant. It is serious because it violates the number one sin in scripture which is blasphemy. The people he speaks about have returned to Judaism, a system under impending judgment because they rejected Christ and blasphemes the Holy Spirit by saying Christ did his miracles by the power of Beelzebub. They are back in a system of animal sacrifices and all the rituals that go with it. The author will make this clear as he explains the implications of their decision. This is not a sin of ignorance. It is a willful decision.
This quote about fiery judgment here is from Isaiah chapter 26:11. The epistle to the Hebrews concludes by telling us our God is a consuming fire. We are also told our works will be tried with fire and the only thing left is the fruit God has accomplished in our lives (1 Cor.3:13).
10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth,
The word “knowledge” here does not mean an acquaintance with something. It is not someone who heard the gospel message. It is someone who has a full knowledge of the matter at hand. This is what makes the willful sin such a serious matter to the author. These people could have read and followed his arguments up to this point in his letter and still gone back to Judaism. Paul (Rom. 2:13) and James (1:22) tells us not the hearer of the Word is justified but the doer of the word.
Judas is an example of someone thoroughly acquainted with the teachings of Christ, but his heart was someplace else. Jesus warned people who heard him and did not respond in faith. He told Capernaum that because of the works he did in them it would be more tolerable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for them.
10:26 clarifies their error
….there remains no more a sacrifice for sins
English translators add the article adjective ‘a’ to make things flow easier. It sometimes has the effect of diminishing what is said. This verse in the Greek just says ‘there is no more sacrifice for sin’. That is his first argument to these people. Christ was the last sacrifice. There can be no more sacrifice. If there is no more sacrifice and they are rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ what is left; verse 27, nothing but a fearful expectation of judgment. By going back to animal sacrifices they are insulting the sacrifice of Christ. They are, by their actions, telling other Jews that his sacrifice was insufficient. This is blasphemy. Here the author turns to the law of blasphemy in the Old Covenant to make this point.
Heb 10:28 A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses.
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Heb 10:30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The warnings and judgments the author gives in Hebrews are only matched in severity by those given in Revelations.
Once again we see the Hebrew style of arguing from the lesser to the greater. If somebody blasphemed under Moses and it could be proven by two or three witnesses, that person was stoned to death. Now we have a better priest, a better sacrifice, better blood, better promises, better covenant, so if it is better in every way than the old covenant, the severity for violating it should also be greater.
These people have willfully “trodden underfoot the Son of God.”
I am of the opinion that this passage is addressed to a mixed group of people. There were unbelievers who abided for a while and then left. While they belonged they talked the talk and walked the walk. We have all seen such people in the church. John wrote that hey left the church because they were never really of the church. But there may also have been believers who have compromised themselves and put themselves in harm’s way. They face the same judgment pronounced on Israel because they have put themselves back under that system.
Regarding the apostate, the author says the act of willfully trampling on the son of God and returning to the Levitical system nullifies their previous confession that Jesus is the Messiah. They don’t have to actually come out and say that. Their actions say that. But God interprets their actions as a rejection of his grace. They have separated themselves from the church and have rejoined the society that is under an impending judgment from God. If he is speaking to believers he is not telling them they have lost their salvation; he is saying they have joined themselves with a society that is facing immanent judgment. Josephus wrote that a million Jews were killed by Rome and close to another hundred thousand were led into slavery. For the people who received this letter this day is yet to come. Many that are still in the church have seen this exodus of people and may be tempted to follow suit.
Most of the people who have already left were not true believers. Scripture tells us that God does not lose anyone who is his own (Jn. 6:39; 17:12). John wrote of those who left the church: “They went out from us because they were not of us. If they were of us, they would have remained” (1 Jn. 2:19). So we may be seeing some sort of purge here, by God in which false brethren are leaving.
1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it.
1Co 11:19 For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.
Here Paul tells us that factions are used by God so we can discern who the real believers are. We often see an exodus of people from the church. Many go running after teachers who tickle their ears with something appealing to the flesh (2 Tim. 4:3). When these falling away periods happen, true believers are often confused and unsure about where to stand. The author of Hebrews is writing to them and helping them to focus on who they are and what they are about. He does this by telling them what their faith has cost them and also by warning them that those who leave, to join with those who deny the finished work of Christ, are bringing some form of judgment on themselves.
Hebrews 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Who can reflect on this verse and not be afraid?
They have trodden underfoot the Son of God. The Greek means to reject and trample with great disdain. The author is careful here. He doesn’t say they have trodden under foot Jesus Christ. He says they haves shown great contempt for the Son of God. By phrasing it this way he is saying the contempt is towards both the Father and the Son. They presume they are going back to seek the Father in the temple with animal sacrifices. Instead they are despising God, because everything in the Old Covenant pointed to the necessity of his Son, being sacrificed. Jesus puts it this way: “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.”
1Jo 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
The author of Hebrews is telling them if they leave Christ they leave the Father and the Son. Also, they have “insulted the Spirit of grace”. By going back to Judaism they were aligning themselves with Matthew 12 where the leaders blasphemed the Holy Spirit. God in his totality, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is being offended by their action.
The author says the person who has done this
has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing
The Greek word ‘unholy’ means common. They treated his blood like the blood of any other person. By that, they inferred that he died for himself, not for mankind. God’s response to their actions is severe.
Heb 10:30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
God is not simply saying he will judge them. He is saying they have insulted him and he will take vengeance on them. He says nothing scarier could ever happen to them than to fall into the hands of the living God. They have openly mocked him by their actions.
God is Not Mocked
Many scholars try to differentiate the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New Testament. They look at the Old and say that God killed people; he was judgmental; tribal, and angry. But the God of the New Testament is loving, forgiving, merciful and inclusive. We are told plainly in scripture God never changes. He is holy and he is love. His holiness cannot be compromised so God has made a way for people to escape his wrath by finding refuge in his love, the love which sent his Son to the cross for our offences. The fact that Jesus has paid every price and satisfied the requirements of holiness and justice make him the only man who has a right to bring sin to an end; to destroy all evil and rebellion. He alone has, as a man, never violated any standard of God’s justice. He paid for the right to judge because he was the innocent victim of our penalty. God did not change his character when Jesus died. He made a way to save man without compromising who he is. Romans 3:25-26 tells us God sent Jesus as a sacrifice to demonstrate his righteousness. Christ has justified all people of faith in both Testaments. To save man God had to justify himself for covering man’s sins and in Christ putting man’s sins behind his back. God has justified himself by making a way through Jesus Christ to forgive us while remaining righteous and uncompromised in himself. Jesus has earned the right to be the judge. John the Baptist said Jesus brings two baptisms, the Holy Spirit for those who believe and fire for those who reject him (Matt. 3:11-18). Hebrews says those who have returned to Judaism face a fiery expectation, God in vengeance will judge them.
The Day of the Lord’s Wrath Ends This Present Evil World
In the Day of the Lords Wrath the whole world will be judged. Those who reject Christ have no right to live forever spreading their evil just because they have a free will. The creation is not theirs. It is God’s. It was given to man through Adam who lost it and it was reclaimed though the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Satan had power over those who served him in sin (the wages of sin is death) but he broke the Legal authority he had when he killed an innocent man, Jesus Christ. By this act he forfeited what he took from Adam when Adam had yielded to him.
Fallen men will not get to keep corrupting God’s property. When fallen men reject Christ they are rejecting any claim to his creation. The Lake of Fire is a place where nothing exists that man can attach his self to; draw identity from; or corrupt by his handling. Christ will come back and purge the earth of all uncleanness and evil and that means all of mankind that hates him.
It isn’t pleasant to talk about judgment. But judgment defines our longing. A sinner rightly fears judgment. In any society criminals fear the judge. We all cry out to God to judge evil, (just not our particular evil). People want justice and the judge is the dispenser of that justice. Human judges have failings; they can be prejudiced or biased but Jesus Christ is the perfect judge; before him every knee will bow and every tongue will confess his right to judge. God’s justice is absolute. There is no appeal.
What is patently clear is that God takes us far more seriously than we take ourselves. This quote says God will judge his people. We are not dealing with religious ideas; we are dealing with a living God who is very involved with his people.
As I said earlier, I see two groups here. The first group is people who are willfully rejecting Jesus after once claiming to be a follower. They don’t have an intellectual problem with the gospel. They have a problem of the will. History is full of people who could quote the Bible backwards and forward, but they never reach the point of faith. Herod the Great loved to hear John the Baptist teach and preach; he believed he was a prophet; but he did not repent. When it cost him something personally then he had no problem putting John to death. Pharaoh understood Moses but he chose to harden his heart. Judas was given the same authority the other disciples had, but he still betrayed Jesus.
There are people in every gathering who hear the word; rejoice in hearing it; but they have never come to faith and they have never trusted Christ.
In Heb 6 someone heard, and tasted of the heavenly gifts and of the Holy Spirit. This sounds like believer. But they only tasted, they made no commitment. When we go back to the parable of the sower (Matt. 13) we understand that many are exposed to the truth of God but reject it for various reasons. Some people do not experience regeneration; they have an interest in spiritual things and then leave them because of other things. Interest and excitement are not the same as being made alive by Christ. A person who is saved will begin to bear fruit. True belivers don’t quit when trials come. They keep believing when the care of this world are denied to them. They believe In the face of persecution. The power of God to keep and preserve their faith is demonstrated by the fact that they still believe after all the trials they have been through. Chapter 6 and chapter 10 have warnings that tell us that there will be people in hell who have an absolutely crystal clear understanding of the gospel. They just never put faith in it. The second group is his people who may get caught up and go along with the apostates but keep their faith. In this passage they face the judgment of Roman conquest. In other places God will bring some form of chastisement or judgment to those in need of chastizement (7). Here he appeals to such people.
Heb 10:32 But remember the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings;
Heb 10:33 partly, being exposed to both reproaches and oppressions; and partly, becoming partakers with those who were treated so.
Heb 10:34 For you both had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an enduring one in the heavens.
Heb 10:35 Therefore don’t throw away your boldness, which has a great reward.
Heb 10:36 For you need endurance so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.
Heb 10:37 “In a very little while, He who comes will come, and will not wait.
Heb 10:38 But the righteous will live by faith. If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
Heb 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.
Here he differentiates the two groups, false brethren who have been made fully aware of the truth and walked away face a fiery judgment. Believers who may be willfully pulling away from what they know because they do not think they will be judged for it are warned that they are falling under the judgment that is coming upon the nation. This will be a physical judgment that could result in their physical death or slavery.
Is that legalism? No, it goes to the question can we, under grace, provoke God’s anger? We have been shown that we are clean and holy before God and he only sees us through the blood of Christ. Later in Hebrews we will study chastisement and there it says God goes to extreme measures to change us, but what about judgment? The judgment we see here is against those who are known in the community, and are believed to represent Christ. The judgment that falls on them is for blasphemy. The question here for believers is not about committing blasphemy; it is about failing to represent Christ. They have faith in Christ but their lives deny that reality. We are in this world to be his witnesses. We belong to God.
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The author ends on the fact that we are not of those who shrink back. He obviously wanted to put the fear of God in them. But he also assured them that their faith would see them through. Here chapter 11 begins offering all types of situations where faith is tested and those involved overcame.
Mt 5:17 ¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mt 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mt 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mt 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Here Jesus tells the Jews under the Law of Moses that the Law is equal to the universe in terms of its permanence, both in its longevity and its inflexibility. It cannot be done away with until it has been completely fulfilled. This Law pertains to Moses and so those who are under it must be more righteous than the religious leaders that appear to them to be the most pious among them. This law is grounded in the Kingdom of Heaven; the specific covenant conditions which Moses revealed to the Hebrews during the Exodus.
Jesus alone fulfilled all of the Law, satisfying all of the Law to the tiniest details. Consequently, those who put their faith in his perfect sacrifice are saved by grace through faith and are reunited with God in the Kingdom of God. Thus Hebrews tells us the Law has done its job and has passed away. Paul tells us the law was righteous, good, and just, but fallen men could not keep it. It was a ministry of condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9). Therefore the Law is a school teacher that brings us to Christ and then is done away with (Gal. 2:24).
Nailed to the Cross
Notice the sequence in the following verses. Christ nailed the law to the cross so we can stand before him without condemnation.
Col. 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
The strength of sin is the Law, but the law has been nailed to the cross. Jesus came to completely fulfil the law (Matt. 5:17) and on the cross he declared “it is finished” (John 19:30. Paul therefore tells us that we must recognize that we are now dead to sin and alive to God.
Romans 6:11 So also you, consider yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.
This recognition tells us we are new creatures; we are dead to the old ways and now Christ living and working in us is producing the will of God in our lives.
Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
This is never done by force. It is our job to complete in our selves what Christ has completed for us. We do this by walking in recognition that we are dead to the flesh and therefore we chose to abide and walk in newness of life.
Gal. 5:24 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
God tells us we are new creatures filled with the Holy Spirit, made righteous by faith; and are now being made holy as we work out our salvation predicated on the recognition that God is at work in us to accomplish his will (Phil. 2:12-16).
What the law of Moses could not do is make us holy. The command was there, but the ability to achieve it was not possible because of the weakness of the flesh. So God has condemned sin in the flesh so that through the Spirit we can become what the law could not make us. The judgment going on in the House of God is this process wherein the Holy Spirit draws us out of self-centeredness and self-control and turns us to serve the living God. He changes our desire from my will to thy will be done. That is the Law of the Spirit and Life. We are being transformed. The old Law could never do that. So God now encourages us to become what we are in Christ.
This is the law of love. Here James says “you say you have faith, but I can show you my faith by my works.” What he means is if we are walking in the Spirit the grace of God will produce works that demonstrate that God is in us and working through us. If somebody says they have faith we rejoice with them but the way people see our faith is by Christ-like fruit in our actions. The fruit that James speaks of appears as random acts of kindness and love, particularly towards the family of God. By works we demonstrated that we esteeming the needs of other believers to be as important as our own needs. It is practical.
James goes on to say that keeping the law allows God’s love to be demonstrated. He says breaking the law at any point is damaging the love we are supposed to have. If I murder, or commit adultery or steal or covet, or offend in other ways, the casualty is lost love; breaking the Law destroys the very fruit which God wants to build in the lives of his church. It robs God of the glory he wants to have from the church which is his witness on earth. If we have willful unrepentant sins in our life we are stealing from God the glory he called us to bear when he purchased us with the blood of Christ. In this context Paul asks “should we sin that grace may abound? God forbid.” We see in this that God not only wants us to love, he wants us to be holy. In this way we can show our faith by our works. This is not works for righteousness; it is the fruit of being declared righteous by Christ and walking in that truth. It is the fruit of grace. Romans gives us the root of grace. Here James says if grace is working in you here is what it would look like. That is how grace makes us lawful images of God’s character.
4) poneros pon-ay-ros’
hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence, figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners:–bad, evil, grievous, harm, lewd, malicious, wicked(-ness).
I used to walk the streets sharing the gospel. It was all I wanted to do. Without speaking to them, people often reacted to me because I had peace and joy. Once, before my mother was saved she just looked at me once and said ‘crazy people smile all the time’. She knew I was not normal. I wasn’t intentionally smiling. I was walking in the joy of the Lord. Another time when I was walking down a street I had a stranger run up to me and grab me. He said ‘I don’t know what you’re on, but I want some.’
The other place this word “stir” occurs is in Acts 15 when Barnabus and Paul contended with each other over whether to take Mark on a missionary journey. When they went on their first missionary journey Mark went with them. He couldn’t handle things and abandoned them. Now they were ready to go again. All through scripture we see Barnabus possessing a temperament that wanted to give people a second chance. He brought Paul to the other apostles after Paul’s conversion. On the other hand Paul was a determined man. He was no nonsense. Proverbs tells us that sending someone who is not trustworthy to do a job is like smoke in the eyes or vinegar on the teeth. They were going to be facing persecution and possible death. Paul needed to know the people who were with him could be trusted. He and Barnabus were divided over rival goods. It was good to take Mark, maybe he had matured. But it was also good to have people you could count on. The goal was to take the gospel out to the lost. Mark obviously needed to do some growing. Discipleship is best done in local communities where people can fail without putting other people at risk. But Barnabus obviously thought it was better for Mark’s faith to see God working in extraordinary situation. This is an example of how to two great men of faith provoked each other to godliness and brotherly love. They were both right for different reasons. In the end they separated. But in there conflict, this agitation, seeds were planted in their minds. Over time Paul changed. In 2 Timothy 4:11 towards the end of Paul’s life he wrote Timothy and said bring Mark “for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” God worked it out. How he works it out is between him and those individuals. What Paul and Barnabus did by their disagreement was to stir each other up to love and good works.
There are several examples of this. In Acts 5- Ananias, with his wife Sapphira were killed for lying to the Holy Spirit. There is no suggestion that they lost their salvation. Their death caused great fear in the church and the belivers followed God more devoutly.
In 1 Cor. 5:5 Paul turned a young man over to Satan for the destruction of his body so his soul could be saved. In 1 Timothy 1:20 Paul turned Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan so that they would learn not to blaspheme. In 2 Tim 2:16-18 he warns Timothy concerning Hymenaeus and Philetus because they failed to repent and instead started a heresy that destroyed the faith of many. In the same letter (4:14) Paul warned Timothy about Alexander because of the harm Alexander did to his ministry. Alexander was a co-laborer for a while, but like Judas, he proved to be a false brethren.
Paul also issues a warning to the church of Corinth because they abused the communion.
1Co 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.
1Co 11:30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep.
Here Paul tells them that many are sick, weak or have died because of the mishandling of communion and the injury this caused to those who received nothing. It is doubtful that they would have made this connection if Paul didn’t spell it out.Share