If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebr 10:26-31)
The author of the Hebrews has gone into great detail explaining the prevalence of the New Covenant compared with old. He has gone to great lengths assuring the believer about his new standing with God, and he even asserts that a child of God does not need to have any consciousness of sin because of a once and for all sacrifice. He even cites God saying: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Then he writes this passage which has caused the opposite effect of security in many a believer. We even get the impression that the author is contradicting himself.
The profundity of this verse is that it confirms us as persons with the ability to choose, we are something far more than mere automats. The if-clause makes this passage a hypothetic discussion of impossibilities – a paradox. He in a way says that if you were in a position to choose Christ you are also in a position to reject Him even though you have tasted His goodness and mercy. The paradox is that if you again is returning to sin, which is the spirit of error, there must be a change of spirits again. However, that is impossible, because it was God who shut the door to the ark when everyone had entered.
The author of the epistle has through various examples shown how the believer has been transformed from an outer person to an inner person. An inner person has the law written in his heart and he spontaneously expresses it as the fruit of the Spirit. For such a person there is no law, and moreover, he has no consciousness of sin and he is safe. He has found peace with God in his Spirit. A return to being an outer person arouses sin consciousness, he has no longer peace with God, he will again behold God as a God of wrath and he has rejected Christ’s sacrifice. This hypothetical person’s faith has thus become void. Another point is that Jesus has made a once and for all sacrifice. Therefore there remain no more sacrifices for sin.
How did man become a self conscious person? What is a self conscious person? When are infants awakened to that they are persons? Isn’t it when they come to realize that they can choose? God placed two kinds of trees in the middle of the Garden. Eve thus had a choice and it was when she exercised her ability to choose she acquired the awareness of being a person and not a mere automat. She made, as we all know, the wrong choice. However, Eve tasted and discovered the opposites in life. Without her discovery we would not have been in a position to choose, and most importantly; choose Christ.
Our conclusion must be that the author in this passage continues his exposition of the good news, and here in particular he confirms the authentic personhood of a believer. It is crucial if we are to be true witnesses of Christ that we are completely safe in our relation to our Father, and that we are firmly established as true persons. Free and safe sons, just as Jesus demonstrated, are in a position to be intercessors for a needy world.