Wilful Sin
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 10. We have been considering some Scriptures that appear, in the minds of some people, to be contradictory to the truth concerning the security of the believer. I am sure most of you are aware of the fact that there are two schools of thought theologically. One is an Armenian school, and the other is a Calvinistic school. The Armenian school of theology believes that after you are born again, you can do certain things which would cause you to lose your salvation so that you could never be sure of it. The Calvinistic school of theology teaches that when you are born again, you are saved eternally, and you never lose your salvation.

We believe the latter suggestion, not because we are Calvinistic, but because we believe the Bible. We have tried consistently in our teaching of the Word to teach what the Word of God says, regardless of who might hold that particular opinion on that particular thought. However, we believe that a careful examination of the Word of God will reveal that an individual who is born again is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and that an individual who has come to the Lord Jesus Christ receives eternal life. We believe that that life is eternal.

We have suggested to you, and recently attention was drawn to it in one of our newspapers, that there are approximately twenty-five verses of Scripture which, if taken out of their context would seem to indicate that you can lose your salvation. These twenty-five verses of Scripture, if you just put them on a little card and said, “Now look at this!”, might cause you to think that after you were saved you could be lost. So we have been examining these passages of Scripture, not so much with the intent of proving that you can't be lost, but with the idea of finding out what these verses of Scripture have to say, with the suggestion that whatever they have to say, we are going to accept whether it nullifies what we have always believed or not.

Background Of The Passage

In this lesson, we come to chapter 10 of the book of Hebrews, noticing a passage of Scripture which is often used to suggest that an individual can lose his salvation. We're going to begin to read with Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 22:

Hebrews 10:

22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

That is as far as we are going to read. You will keep in mind that one thing I told you in the consideration of the book of Hebrews, regardless of how or why you are studying it, is to keep in mind that the book of Hebrews is addressed to three classes of people. It is addressed in some instances to born-again believers just like you and me—born-again believers who have found the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Then it is addressed in other instances to Hebrews who were convinced in their own minds that the claims of Jesus of Nazareth were true, and that Jesus of Nazareth was actually the Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scripture. They were convinced of that, but they had not come out and made public declaration of that fact. Therefore, the apostle found it necessary to say to them time and time again, “Let us go on. You believe it. You accept it. Now confess it.” Then it is addressed to those Jews who considered the facts very carefully and were concerned intellectually that this thing could be true, but who were saying in so many words, “We were born Jews, and we're going to die Jews, and we're not going to change our way of doing things for anyone else.” To them the Apostle Paul would say, “There is only one way, and if you come right up to the threshold of taking that way, and you turn back from it, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin because Jesus Christ is the only way.”

As we look at this passage of Scripture, let us recognize that he is saying in verse 23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” The word profession here and elsewhere in the book of Hebrews is translated “confession.” “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering.” They had confessed that Jesus Christ was Messiah, and he was saying, “Now, let us hold fast that confession. Don't waver.” And he gives some advice to them which is good for us today. He tells how you might hold fast to your confession without wavering. Keep in mind that he is faithful that promised. Never take your eyes off the fact that Jesus will never fail. In moments of discouragement and despair, He is faithful that promised.

Importance Of Assembling Together

In verses 24-25, he emphasized the importance of assembling together with the saints of God. The Apostle Paul would never preach a sermon on church loyalty because he didn't know anything about that. But he did constantly encourage people to be sure that they seek out the fellowship of other believers for a very definite purpose. Notice in verse 25, skipping verse 24 for a moment: “Nor forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together with other believers. That doesn't mean to go to church every time the doors are open, or to all committee meetings, or all the rest of it. If you do that, you'll become a legalistic automaton who goes just because you're supposed to go. But if you have a desire in your heart to fellowship with the people of God, don't miss any opportunity to gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for fellowship.

Provoking To Good Works

Here is the reason of this gathering together. Someone comes along and says, “Well, I don't see why I need to be in a church service. I don't see why I need to have a little cottage prayer meeting with some of my neighbors. I don't see why I need to be out with other Christians. I can go out in my boat and worship the Lord all by myself and have as good a time as someone else has.” Beloved, the reasons it is necessary for you to assemble yourself with others are several fold, as given in this paragraph. Notice verse 24:

Hebrews 10:

24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

If you go out in your boat all by yourself, you're not going to provoke anyone to anything unless you provoke the Lord, because He wants you to assemble yourself with other believers. If you assemble yourself with other believers, the first thing you're going to do is provoke people. Ordinarily we don't like that, and we don't like to be provoked. Sometimes we get very irritable, and we say, “So-and-so provokes me.” What we mean is that they irritate us and make us mad.

God doesn't want that kind of provocation. The kind of provocation that He's talking about here is provoking you, first, to love. You need to gather with someone who loves the Lord and in whose presence you sense their love of the Lord. There's just something about being in their presence that's a benediction. And the Spirit of God probes you just a little bit and says to you in so many words, “You ought to love the Lord like they do.” And you find yourself slipping off by yourself and saying, “Oh, Lord, give me a love for the things of God like so-and-so has. Thrill my heart with that kind of love.” You don't get that by yourself. You get it because the Spirit of God has used someone else to provoke you.

Then notice verse 24 also: “Provoke one another unto love and to good works.” You meet together with the saints of God, and word gets around about the good things that someone else is doing. You know, that's one thing about testimony meetings, if they are Spirit led. Some testimony meetings turn into a mutual admiration session, and when they do that, they don't accomplish anything at all. But if you have a testimony meeting that is really led of the Lord, and the Spirit of God is really directing, someone tells what they have been able to do by the grace of God, and the first thing you know, you take courage and you say, “You know, if they can do it, maybe I can do it, too.” And you're provoked to love and to good works.

That never happens when you are by yourself, so that's the reason it is so important to meet together around the Word of God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Bible that is the only way that folk meet together. In the Bible they didn't meet together around a name, and they didn't meet together around a program. They met together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ around the Word of God.

Recognize Approaching Judgment

Notice the added exhortation in this paragraph in verse 25: “and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” If you are familiar with the book of Hebrews, you know that this phrase has a particular local interpretation. The city of Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. The Jews were about to be scattered throughout the entire world. The book of Hebrews, as we have mentioned to you, is God's last appeal to the Jews of that generation before He let His hand fall in judgment. The day that was approaching was the day of judgment—the destruction of the city of Jerusalem—and so that is the particular interpretation of that verse. He was saying to them, “As you realize that judgment has to fall because of conditions that are existing, then don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together.”

As we have emphasized to you again and again, all Scripture is for our edification. We may have one interpretation, but the applications are numerous. If the apostle could say to the Hebrews of this generation, “Don't miss gathering together as you see the day approaching,” how much more apt is this exhortation for the people of our generation as we certainly see the day approaching.

You know and I know that men who are not interested in spiritual things feel that the day is approaching. They do not know what day it is, and they don't know how it's going to approach. They don't know but what some nation might drop a bomb on us, but they believe the day is approaching. Of course, we who are enlightened by the Word of God know that it is the day of God's wrath. We who are able to discern the signs in the sky as well as the signs in the Scriptures know that it is the day of judgment that God has promised which most certainly is approaching rapidly.

As we recognize that fact, how much more important it is for us to assemble ourselves together. If we do not assemble ourselves together around the Word of God, with a full realization that the day of judgment is coming, then certainly we are not going to be prepared when it comes. We're not going to be able to face it when it arrives. These are the reasons for the assembling of ourselves together, taken from the reason that the Jews were given to assemble themselves together in the last days before judgment came. This is the background of the contradictory passage of Scripture that is presented in this text. Now, notice verse 26:

Hebrews 10:

26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Those who believe that you can lose your salvation use these two verses of Scripture to suggest that if you sin, there's nothing but judgment waiting for you. If you sin, there is nothing but calamity waiting for you that God has ordained for all unbelievers. That looks like what it says, but we're going to have to examine it to be sure.

Look again at the word wilfully . It is a translation of a Greek word that suggests the idea of sitting down, giving careful consideration to a specific thing, weighing everything about it very carefully, then doing the thing that is suggested. That is wilful sin.

Deliberate Sin

I think that you will agree with me that most people who deliberately sin do not wilfully sin. I hope I am not making too thin a line of distinction. For example, here is a Christian who may feel it is wrong, sinful, to get drunk. The Word of God teaches that. The Christian knows it, but the Christian goes ahead and gets drunk even though he knows it is wrong. That is deliberate. It is not wilful. If it were wilful, he would sit down and say, “I know it's wrong to get drunk. God, I don't care what You think about it. I don't think You know anything anyway. I do what I want to do because You are really no God at all.

Do you see the difference? It is possible for people to deliberately sin without wilfully sinning. Wilful sin involves the idea of sitting down, carefully contemplating the thing in question, and then wilfully doing it.

Then you will notice that this wilful sin can only be committed after we have received the knowledge of the Truth. This word knowledge is not the ordinary word for knowledge. It is the word that speaks of full knowledge without any reservation, without anything that is not fully understood in relation to the question. This is a full knowledge of the Truth, knowing the end from the beginning. He says if we sit down and carefully contemplate everything that is laid before us, on the basis of full knowledge without one thing being withheld from us, and then do the thing we have been contemplating doing, there is no forgiveness.

Three Things Comprise Wilful Sin

Why is there no forgiveness? Because of that with which the wilful sin is related. Notice, please, verse 29:

Hebrews 10:

29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

In that verse of Scripture, there are three things which comprise wilful sin. We are going to look at them in a moment, but in order that we might be thinking clearly, I want to suggest to you that wilful sin includes these three things. It is not wilful unless these three things are included. There is a difference between deliberate sin and wilful sin.

Deliberate sin is going ahead and doing something though you know it is a sin, and you may not be strong enough not to do it. Or you may be like the man who said, “Lord, I'm fixin' to steal this chicken. Forgive me, please.” That is deliberate, presumptuous sin.

Wilful sin is a specific sin that includes only three things. What are these three things? In verse 29, you will notice the first thing that is mentioned. The individual who has committed this wilful sin “hath trodden under foot the Son of God.” This means, literally, to tramp in the face of Jesus Christ.

Lacks Respect For The Deity Of Christ

How could you tramp in the face of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is in Heaven; you are here. How could you tramp in the face of Jesus Christ? This is a figure of speech, and an examination of the figure of speech in the Scripture will certainly reveal that this is true. We don't need to think of it as an unusual, strange thing, because we talk in that manner all of the time. For example, we may say, concerning an individual, “Well, he really kicked me in the teeth!” No one thinks for a moment that his foot deliberately came in contact with your teeth and knocked your teeth out. No one even thinks about that. No one would go around and look for your loose teeth. You know what you mean, and everyone else knows what you mean. You got a raw deal from him.

This passage of Scripture says that the individual “trods under foot the Son of God.” It teaches us that the individual shows absolutely no respect for the deity of Jesus Christ. It emphasizes, as far as the individual is concerned, the worthlessness of Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ said, in chapter 5 of the gospel of Matthew, that “if salt has lost its savour, it is fit for nothing, except to be cast out and trodden under foot of man.” That is an illustration. If salt is ineffective, then tramp on it. It is no more than the dirt of the ground.

Do you see the point? Are you getting the illustration? An individual may say, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God? That's silly. Jesus Christ isn't the Son of God. Jesus Christ is just an ordinary man.” When an individual refuses to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that individual “has trodden under foot the Son of God.”

Wait just a minute. Don't jump to conclusions. You say, “What about the man who has never heard that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? What about the man who has never been taught that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Therein lies our explanation earlier in the lesson. Do you remember we talked about the man sitting down and carefully examining all of the facts, contemplating everything very clearly? After he has had a full revelation, a full knowledge of the fact, he's to say, “I still don't believe. Jesus Christ is nothing.” That individual has trodden under foot the Son of God.

The Blood Of The Covenant

You will notice the second thing that is suggested here that comprises wilful sin. I do not believe it could be possible for you to do one of these things without doing all three of them. I think they represent a compact whole. You will notice, in verse 29: “trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.”

Keep in mind, that this is primarily addressed to the Jews. They were familiar with the blood of the covenant. The covenant that God made with all of the Jews was that without the shedding of blood, there was no remission for sin. But if the Jew brought his sacrifice at the appointed time, on the specific day, and the blood was shed, God would roll forward his sin another year. That was the blood of the covenant, the blood of the agreement.

Of course, it all culminated in “the lamb of God” that was to take away the sin of the world. Remember when the Lord Jesus Christ made His appearance, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” He was saying, “All during these Old Testament days, there has been one lamb after another that you've sacrificed. Here is the Lamb, the final one, in whom all of these lambs culminate. This is He, and He is able to take away the sin of the world. This is the Lamb of God.”

They were familiar with the blood of the covenant. Because of the blood of the covenant, they were sanctified—that is, they were set apart from all other people. That is the reason that you find in the Scriptures references to the Jews and the heathen. That is why the Gentiles are spoken of as being without God and without hope in the world. As far as the Jews are concerned, they were a special people set apart by the blood of the covenant.

The blood of the covenant, the apostle has shown in the book of Hebrews, up to this moment is the blood that has come to its fulfillment in the blood of Jesus of Nazareth. So what he is talking about here is the blood of Jesus Christ. He is saying, “If the individual says Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, he steps in the face of Jesus Christ. If the individual says the blood of Jesus Christ is not holy, then that individual has committed wilful sin. If that individual says the blood of Christ cannot atone for sin, that individual has committed wilful sin.”

There is a man who is prominent in the religious world today who said, quite a number of years ago, that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, so-called, has no more efficacy for sin than the blood that flows in his own veins. That is a terrible thing to think about, but that is what he said. He said that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, so-called, has no more efficacy for sin than the blood that flows in his own veins.

What was he saying? He was saying that the blood of Jesus Christ is an unholy thing. He was saying the blood of Jesus Christ is a common thing. It is no different from the blood that flows in the veins of any human being.

Do you see how you can make the blood of the covenant an unholy thing? Can you begin to see today, why I say that it is highly improbable that the ordinary person would commit this sin? This is a sin that one does not commit on the spur of the moment. This is a sin that one does not commit in ignorance. This is a sin that one does not commit because of the stress of a great temptation. This is a sin which is committed after a person has had full knowledge of all the information concerned, and then sits down, deliberately contemplates the subject at hand, and makes his decision.

You will notice in verse 29: “hath counted the blood of the covenant, an unholy thing.” That word counted is a word that suggests the idea of deep consideration and then the decision based upon that deep consideration.

Now notice the third thing. The third thing mentioned in verse 29: “and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” Now the Spirit of grace is the Holy Spirit, and here we are told that the people who commit this sin for which there is no forgiveness “hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” To do despite unto the Spirit of grace means to insult or blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Resisting The Holy Spirit

If you are familiar with your Bible, you know there are a number of things suggested that may be done in relation to the Holy Spirit. For example, we are told that we can resist the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes an appeal; He makes a call, and the individual resists Him. He holds back, and he won't surrender to the call. The apostle said the Israelites during their wilderness experience resisted the Holy Spirit. But resistance to the Holy Spirit can be forgiven. When you reach that place in your life where you won't hold out against the Holy Spirit any more, when you reach the place in your life where you will yield to the Holy Spirit, then resistance can be forgiven.

Quenching The Holy Spirit

Then we are told in the Word of God that we may quench the Holy Spirit. The word quench involves the idea of putting out a fire. Here is the Holy Spirit, indwelling the believer, and the Holy Spirit is inspiring the believer to do something, but the believer puts out the fire. He quenches it.

The Holy Spirit moves you to speak to someone about Jesus Christ. But maybe that person is important in your life, and you don't feel like you want to do that. The Holy Spirit says, “Now is the time,” and you say, “I'm not going to do that.” You quench the Holy Spirit. That can be forgiven as soon as you recognize what you have done. It can be forgiven. I dare say, there isn't one of us who love the Lord Jesus Christ who has not resisted the Holy Spirit at one time in our lives and has quenched the Holy Spirit some time in our life.

Grieving The Holy Spirit

Then the Bible teaches us that we can “grieve the Holy Spirit.” Grieving the Holy Spirit is like resisting, and it's like quenching. The difference lies in the fact that you are more unconscious of it. You know when you resist the Holy Spirit. If someone is pulling on you, and you pull back, you know you are doing that. If the fire begins to burn up inside, you know if you are pushing it down. But when you grieve the Holy Spirit, many times you do it unconsciously, and you don't realize you have until after it has been brought to your attention.

When you have time, read chapter 4 of the book of Ephesians, and you will find there the things that grieve the Holy Spirit. Anger grieves the Holy Spirit. If you lose your temper and get mad, you grieve the Holy Spirit. You don't do that deliberately. I don't know of anyone who deliberately gets mad. It's just like the kettle boiling over. It's boiled over before you know it. Then you grieve the Holy Spirit.

Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit. You don't manufacture bitterness. You don't sprinkle a little bitterness in your heart. You suddenly wake up to the fact that you are bitter. If someone asks right at that moment, “What made you bitter?”, you might say you really don't know. Then you get to thinking about what made you bitter. The first thing you know, the bitterness is there. That is the reason I'm saying grieving the Holy Spirit is an unconscious thing. You're not conscious of the fact you've done it until after you recognize the thing that has grieved the Holy Spirit. The other thing that the Word of God says we may do in relation to the Holy Spirit is to insult the Holy Spirit, to do “despite unto the Spirit of grace,” to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit

The Lord Jesus Christ, in chapter 12 of the gospel of Matthew, explained what the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was. He said, right along with what the apostle said in Hebrews 10, that blasphemy cannot be forgiven.

You ask, “What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?” Let me tell you first what it is not. It is not the continual rejection of Jesus Christ. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is that spirit of mind and heart that causes an individual to carefully contemplate the ministering of the Holy Spirit, denying it, and then saying “it's not the Holy Spirit; it's the Devil.”

The Lord Jesus Christ raised a man from the dead. The Pharisees were very much concerned about what was going on because everyone was saying, “He must be the Son of God.” The Pharisees were wondering what to do. They couldn't deny what had happened. The evidence was there, and they couldn't deny it. The Pharisees said, “Do you think He did this because He is the Son of God? He didn't do it because He is the Son of God. He did it because He is in with the Devil. That is why He did it.” The Lord Jesus Christ interrupted and said, “Anything you say against me, anything you do against me, I will forgive it. But what you have just done can never be forgiven because you have done despite unto the Spirit of grace. You have insulted the Holy Spirit.” That will never be forgiven.

Conclusion

Do you see what wilful sin is? Wilful sin is stepping in the face of Jesus Christ, saying His blood is no more important than the blood that flows in our own veins; saying that whatever power the Holy Spirit has, the Holy Spirit gets from the Devil. That is wilful sin. That is why I say to you that I doubt very much that anyone would commit this sin in the ordinary sense of the word.


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