Does Hebrew 10:26 teach that we can and should reach a certain level of perfection? Answered by Jimmy Buehler
Hi, this is Jimmy. On today’s episode of ask Theocast, I’m going to be seeking to answer a question from one of our listeners, Zach, who asks about Hebrews chapter 10, verse 26, which says this: “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” In light of that verse, Zach asked the question, “Does this verse teach that we need to reach some sort of perfection in this life in regards to our sanctification?”
Well, I want to give you a short answer and then a long explanation. The short answer is no, that is not what this verse is teaching. It is not teaching that we reach some sort of sinlessness or sinless perfection in this life.
The word I want to focus on in that passage, Hebrews chapter 10, verse 26, is that word “deliberately”. Something that you see both in the old and new testaments, particularly in how God talks to those who are in sin, is that God kind of has a category for those who are caught in sin and yet come to him in repentance and faith, but also has a category for those who are caught in sin, know they are sinning, and yet have this deliberate, or as I like to say and as we see it elsewhere in scripture, a high-handed approach to sin. We see this in the book of First Corinthians with the gentlemen, I believe it’s in chapter five, who is knowingly committing sexual sin and is celebrating it and inviting others to celebrate it, and Paul invites that church to put him on some sort of church discipline. This is what we would call a deliberate sin, a high-handed sin: somebody who looks at the law of God, the commands of God, and says, “I don’t need them. Even though they may be true, they’re not for me, and I’m going to choose a sinful lifestyle.”
Verses like this can be really terrifying, particularly to those who have a sensitive conscience or perhaps have been burned in the past through legalism or even pietism. They can read a passage like this and they can think of all of the ways, just in one day, that they have failed to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength and failed to love their neighbor as themselves because they feel like, well, I’m sinning deliberately at times, and certainly even I, myself, there are times that I’m sinning deliberately, but really what it comes down to is what Paul talks about in Romans chapter seven, that in our flesh, in our human nature, we are going to struggle with sin for the remainder of our lives. We are going to feel its presence in our everyday lives until Christ returns or until we die.
So, Romans seven kind of talks about this idea. Paul says he does the things that he doesn’t want to do, and the things that he doesn’t want to do, he keeps on doing, and so on and so forth, and that’s just kind of the everyday reality within the life of the Christian, but this, what we see in Hebrews chapter 10, is a completely different mindset. This isn’t the Christian who is struggling with sin, and yet, goes to the Lord in confession, running to Christ, who in Matthew chapter 11 invites us to come to him, for he is gentle and lowly in heart, but rather, what we see, this mindset in Hebrews chapter 10, is the person who says, “I just don’t care. Even though Christ may be real, even though the law might be right and just, I want to choose this sinful lifestyle. I want to choose this sinful pattern of thinking or behavior or whatever it may be.”
It’s in this case that the Bible, the New Testament, really does give us some stern warnings, which the writer of Hebrews does throughout this book. He warns his Jewish listeners not to be hard-hearted. He warns them not to go on sinning deliberately, but rather, to run to Christ in faith, and so, if you’re listening to this and you would consider yourself to be of that sensitive conscience disposition, let me just say this, that when you sin and you struggle with that and you feel those senses of shame and guilt, it’s in those moments that Christ’s heart actually is drawn out to you, because in that moment, what you’re experiencing is being crushed by the law of God, crushed by his holiness and his perfection, and it’s in that moment that the pump is primed for the gospel to come in and tell you that you’re not enough, that you are sinful, that you do struggle, and insert your own adjective there, but Christ is enough and it is by sheer grace through faith on account of Christ that he credits his perfect righteousness to us.
Hopefully you found this answer helpful. You can find more resources like this at theocast.org. Thanks for listening.