What does the Hebrews 10:26 mean concerning 'willful sin?'


Hebrews 10:26

ESV - 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

Clarify Share Report Asked March 13 2017 16957887623996908263104115284753 Wanda Jenkins

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
Heb 10:26 is part of a larger section (Heb 10:19-39) where the author exhorts believers to hold unswervingly to faith. His admonition not to engage in willful sin, in brief, is an admonition not to return to slavery to sin after having entered a relationship with Christ - since if you return to the world in rejection of Christ, Christ's blood cannot cover you a 'second time.' 

He is not speaking of believers struggling with sin or even deliberately sinning, but specifically and willfully returning to an ongoing state of sinfulness.

In more detail:

The author is speaking to believers, to 'brothers and sisters' who have confidence to enter the Holy of Holies through the blood of Christ (Heb 10:19), who have had their hearts cleansed from guilt and been baptized (Heb 10:22), who have been sanctified by the covenant (Heb 10:29), who received the light (Heb 10:32), and who have the assurance of lasting possessions due to the promises of God (Heb 10:34-36)

In Heb 10:26, he specifically warns these Christians of the dangers of returning to a willful state of sin after having received personal/exact knowledge of the truth. The word used in Heb 10:26 for knowledge is 'epignosis' - relational or true knowledge, first-hand experience of Christ. (John 16:13, II Pet 1:3, II Pet 1:8, Col 3:10, Col 1:10, Col 2:2, etc.) Scripture treats the true knowledge (epignosis) that only Christians have of Christ as very distinct from mere 'head knowledge' (gnosis) about the way of salvation.

But what, exactly, does the author mean by willful sin? Is he referring to a Christian deliberately ignoring God to engage in a sin, or to something we could accidentally do? No on both counts.

'Hamartano' (go on sinning) here is a present active participle in the Greek, denoting an ongoing action or continuous state. Hekousios is an adverb, meaning willingly, voluntarily, or of one's own accord.

This warning, then, does not apply to the general struggle Christians have with sin involuntarily, such as Paul describes in Rom 7:23-25, or to one-off sins that we commit knowingly (James 4:17).

Rather, this would apply to those people who once received Christ and had a personal relationship with Him (true knowledge), but then either immediately or at a later date returned to a state of slavery to sin, rather than walking by the Spirit. Going back to the beginning of Heb 10, Paul is specifically warning these Christians not to give in to persecution and try to return to being under the law, rather than trusting the promises of God in faith.

The law of grace is opposed to the regulations of the old covenant (Gal 2:15-21, Gal 3:1-14, James 2:8-12). If we return again to dead works rather than diligently abiding with Christ with faith, long-suffering until the end (Heb 6:1-12), then we are rejecting the sovereign Lord who bought us (II Peter 2:1-3, II Tim 2:18-13). 

Christ only died once, and his death was sufficient. However, if that payment is rejected, what then? Can Christ die a second time? No. (Rom 6:10-14, Num 20:6-12, Heb 9:28) The warning is dire. We were redeemed from death once, but if we later reject that redemption, we cannot be redeemed a second time. To do so, Christ would have to die a second time - which would mean death still had power over Christ (which it does not) (Rom 6:9-10, Acts 2:24).

This warning to hold fast to the faith and not turn back to our previous, pre-Christ state is found many places in scripture. (John 15:1-8, II Pet 1:3-11, II Pet 2:21-22, Heb 3:14, I Tim 1:18-19, Jn 8:30-32, I Cor 15:1-2, etc.)

Yet this warning is not without encouragement. God has given us everything we need to get through trials (II Peter 1:3, Phil 4:13), including each other, and we have the assured hope that at the Ressurection God will make good on the earnest payment he has given us (the Holy Spirit) and grant us eternal life (Eph 1:11-14).

For more on Heb 10:26, see http://ebible.com/answers/7631?ori=167400

March 14 2017 22 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Dan Butorovich
To answer questions like this, it is good to read the whole passage leading up to the verse so you know the entire point being made. The author is talking about those who are offered salvation through surrender to Christ and who want to follow Jesus, but then also don't want to be reborn in him nor do they want to give up their sins in any real way. They have the appearance of Christians but have not submitted to Christ. They want justification without commiting to sanctification. They want the reward of heaven without acknowledging the cost. The author is warning that God sees through hypocritical faith, and it is not acceptable to just go through the motions. God wants a real relationship with us and not a false friendship from us because his love is real and genuine. Ours love for him should also be real and genuine or when the end comes, our faithlessness will be revealed and we will face judgement without the protection of Jesus.

It is important to understand that you cannot lose your salvation if you are truly saved, but you can fail to progress in sanctification and thus bear no fruit for God. To arrive at the throne of God in such a state is a tragedy.

March 14 2017 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Q jcryle001 JD Abshire
In Numbers 15:24-31 scripture catorgizes two types of sin. The first is ignorant sin, a trespass committed in error, inadvertently, the offender did not know better, misunderstood. The passage referenced above provided the remedy.

The second classification is presumptuous sin. This type sin is deliberate, committed in self willed defiance to known authority. I.E. "I don't care what the law says, I'm doing (or not doing) what I want". I believe presumptuous sin is what Paul was describing In Hebrews 10:26 as willful sin.

March 14 2017 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
In studying this scripture I believe these were Jewish converts that were being pressured in to going back to Judaism and animal sacrifices. The writer was warning them that it is either Christ or nothing. 

There would be no more sacrifice for sin because the blood of animals can not cover them from sin and they would be trampling on the Son of God afresh.

Jesus is the only sacrifice for sin. They would be sinning willfully by leaving Christ for Judaism. Also if they went back under the law, they would have something to boast in and as Christians we have nothing to boast in except the cross.

And I have to believe what the bible says, that when we trusted Christ as our savior we were given eternal life. Of all the promises of God throughout the new testament eternal life is a given. 

John 5:13 says God wants us to know we have eternal life. John 3:16 says that we will not perish but have everlasting life.

Only Jesus can save us. We can not save ourselves. How do you know you are saved? Not by your works? Our works have nothing to do with salvation which is all by grace. So, how do you know you are saved now?

If you have trusted Jesus to save you then you must have eternal life and can never be cast out because that is what the bible says. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 Eternal life is a free gift by accepting that Jesus paid the penalty for all our sin so that we do not have to go to hell to pay for them. It has nothing to do with what we do or do not do because then we could earn salvation and that is impossible for a sinner, and it would be by works.

But I believe the bible is true, and what Jesus said is true, then my salvation rests in what He did for me, and not on anything I do or my works. I can not trust in myself to save me, then I would be the savior.

No, I trusted Jesus to save me over 70 years ago and He has not let me down yet and I know I am going to heaven because of what He did for me and nothing from me or my works. Romans 4:5

We are saved by faith, and once we believe it we are saved forever. That Is what the bible says. We are counted righteous before God by faith alone in His finished work on the cross. We either accept it by faith or not. Our works can not save us.

I believe Jesus die for the sins of the whole world, and those that trust Him as savior have eternal life because that is what the bible says. If we trust in anything else to save us, then we are trusting in the wrong thing. 

When we trusted Jesus to save us we are given His righteousness and all of our sins can no more be imputed to us. Romans 4:1-8 But we have to accept it by faith alone to receive it.

Some say that well, theologians have argued this for years. But one is a false gospel that can not save. There is only one gospel, the gospel of all grace without works, that Jesus blood sacrifice is the only way to be saved. 

Many are going to hell because they have not believed in the all sufficiency of Christ to save sinners which we all are. First John 1:8 No one can live without sin in this life because we still have our old nature. If we commit one sin we are guilty of them all.

Jesus came to die for sinners, so that we could be saved by His life, death, and resurrection. If we believe it we have eternal life and can not be cast away.

March 31 2017 15 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
To me, the passage that is most applicable to the situation described is 1 John 1:8-10.

All Christians continue to sin, even after coming to Christ. This does not excuse that sin (especially deliberate or willful sin), but it also does not mean that salvation is, or must be, lost because of it.

The key is ongoing recognition, repentance, confession, and receiving of God's forgiveness for Jesus' sake. (As Martin Luther said in the very first of his 95 theses that started the Reformation, "1.When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent' (Mt 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.")

To me, the very fact of repentance (whenever it occurs) indicates that the situation described in Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-27 does not apply. 

If Jesus instructed Peter to forgive someone who sinned against him an effectively unlimited number of times, then surely God is ready to extend the same mercy (and more) to those who seek it (Matthew 18:21-22).

There may still be earthly, temporal consequences that the Christian has to deal with because of that repented sin, but the believer's forgiveness by God and the believer's eternal salvation are not lost.

June 07 2018 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining